Turning A Hobby Into A Profession

Editor’s note: This is part of a series highlighting member stories on SkillPages.  Amanda is a knitter from the US who uses SkillPages to showcase her skills in a new country.

Working With A Newborn

When I moved from the US to the UK, I found myself in a strange country with a newborn baby. So, in order to fill my numerous waking hours courtesy of our son, I took up crocheting and knitting.  These are interests that I’ve had since my college days but didn’t have enough time to hone at that stage of my life.  After a while it turned out I was rather good at them.  My favourite thing to knit is lace but I can do children’s clothing quite well also.

So, discovering I was good at something I enjoyed and that I could do it with a newborn attached to me, I joined SkillPages to offer out this talent to others.  I hoped there would be people out there who may have had the desire for such crafts but lacked the knowledge or skill to execute it themselves.  To my surprise and delight an old school friend found my SkillPages profile and commissioned a project from me!  That was about two years ago and I haven’t looked back since.

Doing What I Love

At the moment I have plenty work coming in with the holiday season coming up.  I really thought knitting was this thing that I was just going to do for myself and my family or perhaps for friends having babies.  Now, with SkillPages, it’s a great way for me to make a bit of money doing something I truly love.

It’s brilliant to have found this great community of talented people.  I recommend joining to anyone who has a skill that they feel confident about – there’s a place for everyone, and I’m pretty sure you can find your place here.

Amanda Needham, Knitter

Skill Highlight: TV Chef

Editor’s note: This is a series highlighting just some of the fascinating skills on SkillPages. Gianfranco Chiarini is an Italian celebrity and Michelin starred chef.  His career has included work in Michelin starred restaurants, deluxe hotels, consultancy and has even starred in over 50 cooking shows.  We chatted with Gianfranco Chiarini to find more about his skill and his advice for others starting out. 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Italy in a multicultural environment with an Italian father, Colombian mother and American relatives.  At the tender age of nine my family immigrated to New York City.  I learned to grow up between the delicious contradictions of an Italian-Latin family with strict values on a fast paced metropolis like New York; which still remains my favourite city in the world.  I guess New York describes my personality from every angle.  I am an upbeat, ambitious chef, which recreates himself in creativity and innovation with the true flavours of Europe.

Have you always known you wanted to be a chef?

I think so.  I grew up surrounded with great, natural, honest and nurturing food and had a value and appreciation for raw products.   Although I did choose at some point, a Latin musical career, I realized that the culinary side of art was less superficial and more in line with my personal values and ambitions.

Would you have any advice for people starting a similar path?

An optimistic attitude, passion for what you do, and remember to work smarter, not harder.  To become a top chef you need to learn and apply quickly to remain competitive, but that doesn’t come without a lot of effort!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently departing for Ecuador for one month and then I go to Colombia for another month. My company Chiarini Culinary Consultants are opening new frontiers not only for our business, but for the culinary world at large.  Both American and European governments have hired our expertise to immerse ourselves into the heart of the Amazons to study indigenous plants, ingredients and much more.  This could be the next generation of ingredients for the world to enjoy and for the culinary to express in different and delicious ways. I will also be doing a photo-shoot for my fifth and sixth books that will be published in 2013 and 2014 back-to-back.

Could you explain what skills are necessary to become a world class chef?

I think the most important skills for a chef are creativity and passion.  These are the skills that will contribute to culinary arts and to others.

What has been your favourite dish to create and why?

I love all my dishes, but if I have to stand out one that will be my ‘Honey Truffle glazed Duck breast, over a nest of Tropea onions marmalade and Umami-Chocolate-Rum demiglace’.
This dish combines the goodness and sex appeal of a perfect blend between Europe and the South American region. I consider this a superb dish!

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy anything and everything about my trade.  The people, the raw materials, the cultures and countries that I have had the privilege to be in contact with.  But especially the people, I love the fact that the new generation are so eager and hungry for knowledge.  I enjoy passing that knowledge on to the future of culinary.

Can you tell us about how you use SkillPages?

SkillPages has helped me to build my on-line portfolio and promote my new books and recipes. SkillPages allows your skill to become more credible when others recommend you on your performance and activities.  It’s a great tool!

Has featuring your services on-line helped you to generate business?

Absolutely!  In this new technology and on-line driven generation it is vital to be present on-line and feature your services to wider and bigger audiences out there.  My business is very healthy, thanks to the on-line presence.

Apart from cooking, what new skills would you like to learn?

I would love to learn how to fly planes and in any case I am open for new creative ways of spending my life here, whilst helping others to achieve the best of their potential, so that they can make their own dreams come true!

Gianfranco Chiarini, TV Chef

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A Great Boost To My Freelance Career

Editor’s note: This is part of a series highlighting member stories on SkillPages.  Chris is a sound engineer that has developed new relationships and landed work on a feature film thanks to creating a profile on SkillPages.

Building up an On-line Presence

As a recent university graduate I’m trying to build my career as a freelance Sound Recordist and Radio Producer.  My main experience is in location recording and audio production for film, TV and radio. I joined SkillPages to help get my skills found.  Over the last few months I’ve been gradually updating my profile and have started to get opportunities emailed to me relating to my skills.  Just over a month ago I got a couple of very interesting projects proposed to me – I instantly replied.

After contacting the members directly through SkillPages I ended up collaborating with them on a few exciting projects.  The first project was as a sound technician for a community TV start-up. Then the very next week I collaborated with a team looking for a sound recordist for a 48 hour film competition.  And lastly I contacted a fledgling radio station and I’m now producing a mid-morning entertainment show for them!

Making those all Important Contacts

In fact, the meeting with the TV station has now turned into a long term relationship and has led to more recording and pre-production work.  And the director on the 48 hour film was so impressed with my work that he has now booked me for a feature length film.  This will be my first feature length film so it’s a huge opportunity to get.

Seeking out new projects and contacts is very important for freelancers in the early stages of their careers.  Taking on small collaborations is a useful step in getting yourself and your abilities in front of new producers and directors which is essential to winning those all important gigs further down the line.  These initial opportunities have led onto some great work and introduced me to new contacts and crews that can really help my career take off.

– Chris Kouzaris, Sound Engineer

Photos by Suki Mok Photography

F.ounders – Dublin 2012

F.ounders is a yearly event that brings together company founders from across the world.  This year was exceptionally well received as over 200 of the most influential tech founders were gathered at the invitation-only F.ounders event on October 18th-20th.

This year Bono was a guest speaker, The Edge lead a pub crawl, composer Eric Whitacre and his choir put on a private performance and for the first time in over 1,000 years a dinner was held in Christ Church Cathedral!

SkillPages was on hand with a photographer to capture all the behind the scenes photos (password: dublin2012) of the fantastic 3 day event.

Speakers at the F.ounders conference; David McWilliams, Bono and Jamie Drummond

Tony Conrad and Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of f.ounders)

BP Fallon & Megan Quinn; Iain Mac Donald & Habib Haddad

Liz Milonolpoulos, Dustin Rosen, Ross Lewis, Lia Gallagher, Paige Craig, Diego Berdakin

View all photos at our F.ounders Dublin 2012 on-line gallery.  Photos by Chris Bellew

Skill Highlight: Jewellery Designer

Editor’s note: This is a series, highlighting just some of the fascinating skills on SkillPages.  A business consultant by night, Mariam Campbell carries an interesting career by day.  As a, jewellery designer and teacher, there’s no question behind her talent and deep passion for creativity. We hope you find Mariam’s advice in growing your business on-line helpful. 

Hi Mariam! First can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Hi, my name is Mariam Campbell and I was born and raised in Nigeria.  I am a social media lover,  business development planner and jewellery teacher.  My skills are diversified but interrelated and largely dependent on innovation and creativity.  By night I’m usually up to my elbows in business plans and report writing but during the day I love teaching and making different fashion accessories such as bags, hair pieces and just recently shoes.

How and when did you start creating accessories? 

While I was doing my 1-year national youth service program, I had a friend who was an expert in bead work and I trained under her.  When I returned in February 2005, I bought materials and made some beads and I instantly found that there was need for them.  I then just practised and practised and taught myself how to make bags, hair pieces and other accessories.

So obviously you’re passionate about making jewellery, but tell us how you started to teach it? 

Truthfully it has developed rather fast.  It started out as a hobby but it is quickly developed into something a little more permanent. It has been a strange and wondrous journey as we (my sister and I) now hold classes on jewellery and bag making and the response has been great. The first class was on wire jewellery while the second one was on bag making. The participants at the classes were impressed and we even have a few of them that are already making good use of what they learned.  The feedback from all of the participants has been awesome! In a space of a year, it’s blossoming into a serious business.

Has featuring your products on-line helped you to generate business?

Yes it has, all the marketing and publicity we have done has been on-line.  I am a viral person and most of what I do is on-line.  The classes that we have had this year have all been promoted on-line and the response has been admirable.  I use various on-line platforms to get word out about my classes.  In particular, SkillPages helps me to showcase my services and has given me the opportunity to get contacted. I make a point of duty to update and visit these sites on a regular basis.

Would you have any advice for people starting a similar path? 

Yes! Everyone in this industry should have an on-line presence of some sort to showcase what they make through pictures, videos and extra content.  I also really believe in Thomas Edison’s principle and try to follow it and it hasn’t let me down yet, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.”

Apart from teaching, what new skills would you like to learn? 
I would like to go back and learn to make cloths (a skill I learned some years back but never developed).  But I would also love to be able to write books on small businesses and entrepreneurship!

– Mariam Campbell, Jewellery Designer

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DataStax Interview: Using Cassandra At SkillPages

Editor’s note:  This interview was first featured on the DataStax blog.  They chatted to George Ciubotaru, a software engineer and database administrator here at SkillPages, to hear more about how we use Apache Cassandra and DataStax Enterprise as part of the engineering behind SkillPages.  

DataStax: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, George.  Give us an idea of what you guys do at SkillPages.

George:  SkillPages is a social utility that connects people with skills to the people who need them.  We cover all skills – from software engineering to plumbers, babysitters to entertainers and everything in between.  SkillPages now has over 7 million members from over 160 different countries and we’re currently growing at a rate of one new member every 3 seconds!  Best of all, registering your skills and finding skilled people is completely free.

DataStax: What type of technical infrastructure do you use to support your platform?

George: We began by using all Microsoft technologies, and still use Microsoft in a number of areas.  For example, our main development language is C#.  However, we’ve been pushing more into Linux with our usage of Cassandra, Hadoop, and Solr.

DataStax: Do you run your systems on premise or in the cloud?

George: Our production instances run the cloud; we use Amazon for that.  We do our development locally, however.

DataStax: So how did you come to start using Cassandra?

George: We’ve been a customer of DataStax for a while now and use both Cassandra and OpsCenter.  We started out using Microsoft SQL Server for our platform, but for our particular use case we needed a different approach to scale-out and I/O, which is why we arrived in the NoSQL world.

Our main use case for Cassandra is a graph; a social graph that we built.  While there are other NoSQL databases that specialize in graphs, we decided to use Cassandra instead.

DataStax: Why?

George: NoSQL databases like Neo4J only scale vertically and that limitation was too much for us.  We felt it wouldn’t scale like we needed.

We also looked into HBase, but in the end we chose Cassandra for its scalability and much easier method of deployment over something like HBase.  Cassandra was very easy to install, setup, and test against.

That ease of deployment along with continuous availability and scalability were the primary reasons we chose Cassandra. Other reasons were product maturity, the strong Cassandra community, and the support we get from DataStax.

DataStax: How have you deployed Cassandra today?

George: Right now we have clusters that span two different data centers.  One is a production cluster of 12 nodes and a second cluster is about to go into production that is 6 nodes, but is based on bigger boxes and SSD’s, with more RAM, etc., on Amazon.  In terms of data volume, we keep around 3 TB’s on the clusters.

We also distribute data among 3 Amazon availability zones.  We’ve already experienced one availability zone going down and we had no outage problems at all where Cassandra and our application were concerned.

DataStax: What advice would you give someone new to Cassandra?

George: I’ve found Cassandra very easy to explain, both in terms of the data model and how it operates. It’s very easy to learn in that respect.

The one thing someone should watch for if they’re coming from other databases like Microsoft SQL Server is that the management tools and utilities are not as advanced right now as they are in the RDBMS world. But, with each new release, tools like OpsCenter are getting there, which is nice to see.

DataStax: George, thanks for your time today.

George: Sure thing.

Skill Highlight: Interfaith Wedding Rabbi

Editor’s note: This is a series highlighting just some of the fascinating skills on SkillPages. Rabbi David Gruber is an Interfaith Wedding Rabbi using SkillPages to showcase his portfolio, which is also helping him to build relationships with other couples.  We chatted with Rabbi David to find out more about his skill, and to learn how showcasing his skill on-line has helped him to get contacted by other couples.

Hi David, tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a native of Evanston, Illinois, and an eighth generation rabbi. I grew up in Israel, where I served in the IDF Armored Corps.  Having lived in various states in USA since my return, I now live in the fastest growing city, beautiful Frisco, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas.

How and when did you become a Rabbi?

I attended Yeshivat Sha’alvim, one of the most prominent institutions of higher Jewish learning in Israel, for seven years.  I started officiating interfaith weddings in 2008, and I have done 160 weddings since, now averaging about 50 a year!

How has your skill developed over the years?

I have served in educational and religious leadership positions in the Jewish community on three continents since my teens, specifically in Israel, New Zealand and the United States.  I used to be Orthodox, but now I see myself as a Jewish secular humanist.   As such, I deeply believe in helping every couple make their wedding day the most wonderful day of their lives.

How do you get noticed on-line?

The best aspect of being on-line and using tools like SkillPages is that it has allowed me to present and showcase my work.  Because I’m showcasing my skill on-line it has helped me to get contacted by other couples.  My blog has also given me the opportunity to share all my inspiring lessons that I have learned from couples on their wedding days.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I have always seen myself, first and foremost, as a learner.  I love working with my couples, and I feel like I learn so much from them!  In fact, my personal remarks at every wedding focus on what I learned from that specific couple.

Who has been the biggest influence in developing your skill?

I have tried to learn from my colleagues and my couples, and I am always open to trying something new.  This has helped me learn so much as a Rabbi and as a person.

Would you have any advice for anyone wanting to become a Rabbi?

Make sure you love people and love learning from everyone.  This is what being a rabbi is all about.  As the ancient Rabbi Hillel said, “That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary.”

Apart from being a Rabbi, what new skills would you like to learn?

I am also an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University, and I am forever trying to learn new methods of study.

Rabbi David Gruber, Interfaith Wedding Rabbi 

Send us Your Story

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Top Opportunities This Week – US

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the US.

Wedding Photographer – California

Your wedding day is probably one of the most special times in your life.  Heidi is in need of a wedding photographer who will be able to capture some of these important moments on her big day.  Apply here if you want to snap up this opportunity!

Baseball Coach – Virginia

Meg is looking for a baseball coach to give her son one to one lessons. Preferably you’ll be available for the next six weeks during weekdays. Contact Meg now to show your interest.

Graffiti Artist- Georgia

Are you an artist with a passion for graffiti? Boogey is looking for a graffiti artist who is creative and willing to work with bold or wild colours.  If you think you have what it takes apply here today.

Quilter – Ohio

Barbara is in need of quilt maker to create a memory quilt from clothing.  No restrictions on creative – any materials, any technique.  Contact Barbara today to see exactly what she’s looking for.

Cartoonist – Los Angeles 

Chris is looking for a cartoonist who can emulate their cartoon characters and bring them to life in new scenes! If this sounds like your ideal job apply now with two samples of your artwork.

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!

Skill Highlight – Film Maker

Editor’s note: This is a series highlighting just some of the fascinating skills on SkillPages.  Mihai Andrei is a film maker who loves his work so much he doesn’t consider it to be a job.  We caught up with Mihai to find out more about his skill and his advice for others starting out.

Hi Mihai, tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a film maker and photographer originally from Romania.  Since 2011, I have been wondering if I could make it in London, and more specifically as a film maker in London.  So at the beginning of this year I made the move and started working under the new name London Video Stories.

How and when did you start film making?

My passion for film from an early age made me enrol at University in Romania where I studied Journalism and Image Production.  The real film making started when I decided to present a film as my final paper.  It was a short documentary I made that presented the unique discovery of some Sequoia fossils in Transylvania.  Coincidently, I was the one who made that discovery, because I was also a passionate amateur palaeontologist.

Is film making your full job or more of a hobby?

Oh, no.  I don’t think of it as a job of any kind.  I’d say I make a living out of it but I also live to make it.  In the last few years I’ve worked with a wide range of clients, including Louis Vuitton and various international film festivals.  I enjoy the challenge of helping them tell their story while reaching out to their target market.

Any advice for people starting out with film making or trying to make it in the industry?

I think there’s no secret recipe.  Besides a strong background in cinematography, editing, writing & directing, what you have to do is persevere, fail and persevere again.  Begin with a network and keep on building it.

Is your business generated online or is it more word of mouth?

Since opening my own film studio back in Romania in 2008, I have seen that advertising and new leads are made both online and by word of mouth.

How has your skill developed over the years?

Working in both B2B and B2C has made me more cautious and selective.  I’d say overall I’ve learned not to be in a constant rush.  I can’t say the same for my editing skills however.  My style is generally fast-paced and very pushy. You really have to keep a vigilant eye while looking at my videos!

Where does your inspiration come from?

Ah, inspiration, that undefined thing.  For me, it comes from a very special person whose motto is ‘never stop wondering’.  Inspiration for me is synonymous with curiosity.  I try to capture the outlet of feelings through film and photography.  I believe that every video tells a story about people, inspiration & creativity.

Apart from film making, what new skills would you like to learn?

I’m constantly trying to develop my photography skills.  I have worked many years as a studio and event photographer and still feel that I need to know more.  Of course, photography helps me a lot in prepping my films so that’s also very useful.

Mihai Andrei, Film Maker

Film Makers from around the world

There over 45,000 film related skilled people on SkillPages for you to choose from.  Search SkillPages for film makers near you!

Send us Your Story

Have you a fascinating or uncommon skill with an extraordinary story that needs to be told? Email us!

Top Opportunities This Week – UK

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the UK.

Wanted: Special Effects Artist

Special Effects Artist – London

Kieran wants a special fx make up artist to transform him into Voldemort (from Harry Potter) for his Halloween costume.  Think you have the skills to take on this scary opportunity? Apply here.

Opera Singer – Surrey

Put your opera singing skills to use at a wedding this Christmas in Surrey.  James wants your voice to make his big day a special one.  Apply now for all the details.

Jewellery Designer – London

Mary is looking for a self-employed, experienced jeweller in London or the East Anglian region. You will be working with precious jewels and must have an eye for designing and making your own pieces of jewellery.  Contact Mary now to grab this great opportunity.

Mountain Leader – Wales

Do you love getting out in the fresh air for a hike?  Mark needs help to supervise an expedition in the Black Mountains.  It’s a 2 day hike starting next Monday October 8th.  The group consists of 12-15 students and 3 staff. If this sounds like your ideal couple of days then send Mark a message now.

Costume Designer – London

Samantha is on the look out for a highly skilled costume designer who wishes to show off their talent in many elaborate and interesting ways.  Projects will be for theatrical costumes within a budget.  No restrictions on creative – any materials, any technique.  Interested?  Apply now with some sample work.

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!