What are people who quit during the pandemic doing now? This woman started her own tattoo studio

We’re learning more about why so many jobs are going unfilled – what some economists call “The Great Resignation”. It turns out some workers are quitting to become bosses themselves.

A record 5.4 million new businesses were created nationwide last year, obliterating the previous record set the year before in 2020 by about a million.

A woman in St. Regis Falls wasn’t fulfilled by retail or office jobs she had held. So she quit and pursued her dreams.

Kaitlyn Wood of St. Regis Falls on why she decided to start her own tattoo studio

Bouncing around from job to job

Kaitlyn Wood’s family has lived in St. Regis Falls in the northern Adirondacks, for, like, forever, she says. “I have a house in the Falls that my family built in like 1884 or something like that,” Wood says.

She wanted to live her life there, too. So she got a degree in fine arts at SUNY Potsdam. She’s always gravitated to artistic endeavors. “It’s gotten me through most things throughout my life.”

But there were few art-based jobs or careers in or around St. Regis Falls. So she ended up finding work at the usual suspects. “I’ve worked at Walmart as a cashier. I worked in a restaurant as a waitress and assistant manager,” Wood says.

But those jobs weren’t fulfilling. So she tried office work at a small travel agency in Malone. She butted heads with her boss, but it was ok.

Then the pandemic hit. “It was a wild time for the travel industry,” Wood says. Because so few people were traveling, her boss had to cut everyone’s hours to part-time. Wood started working from home.

And this is when her life began to change.

“After two or three days, I was like, ‘oh, you know what I can do with all of my free time? I could do something to improve my life!'” she says. “Because it seemed like it would be a while before anything would open back up again.”

Kaitlyn Wood took the layoff to part-time work during the pandemic to reassess. And it led to her starting her own tattoo studio. Photo provided

“What’s going to be best for me as a career change?”

Wood’s mom had bought her a tattooing kit as a graduation present. Wood had tattoos herself. It was something artistic that had always been in the back of her mind.

“So I got to doing some research. I picked up some books that I had bought, set up all my fake skin and whatnot, and had a little area,” and she taught herself to tattoo.

It was all that time at home, Wood says, where she got to thinking. She had been dealing with depression and anxiety a lot in her life. Being her own boss might help. “It was kinda like, ‘what is going to be the best for me mentally as a career change?'”

She quit that part-time travel agency gig and opened KC’s tattoo studio, right in her hometown of St. Regis Falls. “This makes me way happier. The amount of control I have over everything is really good for me.”

Kaitlyn Wood's tattoo work.  Photo provided.

Kaitlyn Wood’s tattoo work. Photo provided.

Now Kaitlyn Wood is her own boss and is pursuing an artistic career that she's always sought.  Photo provided

Now Kaitlyn Wood is her own boss and is pursuing an artistic career that she’s always sought. Photo provided

Wood says that’s what’s missing in so many of those thousands of unfilled jobs out there, perhaps as much as better pay or benefits, is that sense of ownership or control or investment.

“All of my peers have been in pretty much crap jobs that they’ve hated,” Wood says, “and they do the toiling work to get through and pay their bills and live and feed themselves, and they’re all miserable and they ‘ve been miserable for years.”

The coronavirus pandemic, she says, and its accompanying stress over vaccines, masks, illness or death, and being stuck at home, put things in perspective.

“It kind of made it less scary to take those steps to leave the job that you hate and to go look for something else.”

Business at KC’s tattoo studio is good, not amazing. It’s only been open since last November. January is a slow time for tattoos.

But Kaitlyn Wood has clients. She can pay her bills. It’s a risk, she knows. But at least now, she’s in charge of her own destiny.

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