by Kathy Sabo October 18, 2022
I get asked by many people what was the motivation behind starting QCGifts, so I thought I should share this with you.
For the past twenty years, I have worked mostly in Regina, Saskatchewan. I started out at Dairy Queen making ice cream cones and burgers, moved into retail, and then made my way into the corporate world doing data entry. It wasn’t until my first job after graduation, that I finally had work that I enjoyed immensely that gave me a sense of purpose, as it opened my eyes to the rest of the world.
It was December 2005 and I had a nagging feeling that I needed to check out the world. I felt like Regina was so small and boring. The problem was I didn’t have any money to travel, so I had to be creative. At the time the best option available was teaching English abroad, as flights and accommodations were included when you signed your contract. I really don’t know where I got the courage to go, but I packed my bags and jumped on a plane to Seoul, South Korea, where I accepted a job for a full year.
During my first week there, I had so many eye-opening experiences. I remember how Koreans’ work ethic was extremely strong. The expectation was to work every day- my hours would be a split shift, spanning 12 hours, with only 10 days off that year, which was more than some. As for sick days, I only had two, so you were working if you didn’t feel 100%. My expectations and beliefs of what was normal and correct work practices were challenged all the time.
The silver lining for all the hard work was the pay- English teachers made a salary comparable to local doctors. This granted us the freedom to explore and do really whatever we wanted on weekends and holidays. Every weekend I was out exploring the sites from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, to the Island of Pipi, the people, the culture, and the food, with my new friends whom I had made and who were like-minded.
I had a few goals during my time there- I wanted to travel A LOT. Seoul would be my hub to go through Asia seeing as many things as possible. I also wanted to pay off my student loans and save a down payment for a home in Canada when I returned. Hefty goals for one year, but you know what, I made it happen. I have so many fun memories during this time, it was an incredible experience that completely changed my viewpoint of the world and my place in it. Writing about this time in my life brings up such great feelings of excitement, freedom, and pride.
Fast forward a decade, and I am managing a team of international recruiters. My team of recruiters go to some amazing places like Korea, China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and everywhere in between. My role was to help set up new partnerships and the recruiters would maintain these relationships. That required me to do some significant traveling a couple of times a year. Sounds exciting, but have you ever traveled through India four months pregnant? Or what about leaving your babies behind for weeks at a time?
The love and passion I once had for traveling were now turning into a completely opposite feeling. I would dread the long flights overseas; anxiety would creep in. I didn’t have the same excitement seeing the sites, the food, the culture… I just wanted to be home.
I had little joy going to work, but how could I walk away from a career I had been building for over a decade? This was my identity that I was so proud of. My unhappiness was taking its toll on me and my family. This period of time was extremely difficult for me, I really was not happy at work, and it was affecting every part of me. How can the feelings you have for something change so drastically? Becoming a mom changed everything. My goals and priorities became completely different, and I needed to adapt. I tried my hand at a few different corporate office jobs, working 9 to 5. But that shoe didn’t fit either…
This is when the idea of QCGifts started to take shape… and it all started with a purchase of a Cricut Machine and the want for some flexibility. So there you have it, the motivation behind starting QCGifts was to find joy in the work while being present with my family here at home.
by Kathy Sabo September 18, 2023
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