Author Archives: Laura Kavanagh

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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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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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 

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

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: Arts & Crafts

Editor’s note: This is a series highlighting just some of the fascinating skills on SkillPages. Genevieve Blignaut is a craftswoman using SkillPages to showcase her portfolio of products and loves being part of an on-line community.  We caught up with Genevieve to find out more about her skill,  her experience of starting her own business and her advice for people wanting to make crafts full-time.

Arts & Crafts

Hi Genevieve, how and when did you start making your crafts? 

In a nutshell – I have a passion for jewellery making and I illustrate for fun! I started expanding my techniques in Illustration while studying Visual Communication. While working with paper it helped me to realise that I could do more with the skills that I had already acquired.  I saw this as an opportunity with my sister to start our own little business and the crafts grew more and more from then on.

Is this your full job or more of a hobby? 

This is my full-time job combined with freelance graphic design and photography.  I also bake specialized cupcakes, but crafting always comes first.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to make crafts full-time? 

I think you should make sure that you have your own working space that will inspire creativity and make you happy.  Making crafts does take time, so if you have a full-time job maybe get someone to craft with you as this will motivate you to do more.  It may seem hard at first, but keep your spirits up and enjoy the creation process.  Be willing to explore new fields and constantly challenge yourself with new ideas and projects. Also it’s extremely important to build a network of people who can help you on your professional path so be afraid of nothing and no one!

How has your skill developed over the years? 

My love for art began with my drama and dance days.  I always thought that performance would be my creative expression.  After ending my drama studies I had a difficult time trying to figure out the next step.  I had a picture in my mind of sitting in a studio and illustrating children’s books and for the first time ever I dared to create with my hands.  So my skills basically developed from nothing to design, to painting and drawing, to paper art and animation and finally crafting with different mediums.

Who has been the most influential to your skill? 

Kate Slater and my sister Veronique inspired me with their daring approach to projects.  My Illustration lecturer also played a crucial part, always pushing me to explore and expand every possible medium and every possible object or artwork.

What has been your most popular item you have made to date? 

Definitely finger puppets! I think there is such an authentic and romantic aspect to telling stories while animating characters – how can you not get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when you reminisce over memories like that?

Finger Puppet

What is your favourite part in the process of designing and making crafts? 

My favourite part is admiring the final product.  It still amazes me that out of nothing something that will last for generations had been made.  Thinking of all the stories that every piece will come to know makes the process and the product mysterious and magical to me.

What is your best advice on getting your business noticed online? 

Don’t be afraid to get your portfolio out there, create a blog or become a part of any network, more than one network is ideal.  You should also try to post new ideas, inspirations and products frequently as you want to keep your followers excited and on their toes!

Apart from being a talented craftswoman, what new skills would you like to learn? 
I would love to learn fire dancing, be able to express through music and do a yoga teachers course.

– Genevieve Blignaut, Arts & Crafts 

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

Skill Highlight: Graphic Artist

Here at SkillPages, we believe that the story behind the piece of art is often just as fascinating as the piece itself.  Our skill highlights is a series dedicated to showcasing the stories behind our member’s extraordinary skills. We caught up with Kerry Robinson to see where her inspiration came from to create her ‘Eye People’ and how her skill has developed over the years.

Hi Kerry, how and when did you start graphic art?
I’ve always loved drawing and painting as a little girl, and somewhere along the way, illustrating took over. To this day, I love to people-watch in the streets so I take my camera with me everywhere and just take pictures that inspire me. This helps me when I sit down to draw and try to capture the moments I observed.

Is this your full-time job or more of a hobby?
For now it’s just a hobby but I’m currently trying to spread my work and projects across my online portfolios to help me get seen and noticed.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar path?
I think for anyone starting out they will need to keep an open mind and gain computer software skills such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Another piece of advice would be to write all of your starting idea’s on a spider gram and if you get stuck on an idea or image you can just refer back to this. It hasn’t let me down yet!

You started at a young age, where did your inspiration come from for your designs?
My inspiration comes from Nanami Cowdroy and Tim Burton.  Nanami Cowdroy inspired me for my final college project which was based on tattoos as I love her style of work.  She uses black ink and pen and that’s how I became very fond of the biro as a technique.  I began to mimic her style until I became more confident in my drawings.  Another inspirational figure for me has been Tim Burton as he gave me the confidence to experiment with my artwork and as result I created my ‘Eye People’ that have been successful and very popular.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?
When I get stuck I tend to leave the idea for a while and come back to it later.  When I get back to that idea my thoughts on it will have changed and I’ll have other directions to take it. Other ways I try to come unstuck is by doing a spider gram of different ideas.  If I get stuck on an idea I can just look back to my spider gram. I also look at other artists to help me get started on a project.

Is most of your business generated online or is it more word of mouth?
My business is mostly online. The best aspect of being online is that it has allowed me to present and showcase my work to a global market.  I really enjoy adding images of my work and introducing them to the world.  It’s like, hey, I DID THIS. It’s me!

Apart from designing, what new skills would you like to learn?
I would love to become more confident with programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.  Someday I would also love to work on new techniques such as graffiti and stencils.

Thanks Kerry for sharing your story!

Graphic artists from around the world 

For a sample of more graphic artists on SkillPages click the links to view their great portfolios:
Rosanna Gonzalez from Philippines is a freelance graphic artist for over five years and specialises in t-shirt designs, murals and posters.  Lukasz Owsieniecki from England recreates images from different photos and logos and also has experience in photo manipulation.  Leaza Tobias from South Africa has been involved in graphic art for over twenty years and has a huge amount of experience in all aspects of printing including silkscreen, boxes, t-shirts and adverts.

Skill Highlight: Event Planner

Every day on SkillPages more and more people are adding their skills.  As SkillPages caters for such a wide variety of skills each member has a unique story and that’s why we love hearing their stories.

We recently came across Sabrina Low’s portfolio on SkillPages and caught up with her to see how she has transformed and developed her passion into a successful event business.

Tell us a bit about yourself? 
I currently own two companies, one being a property development company and the other an events company.  I have been an event planner for over 11 years now and I quickly found a passion for creating an event and organizing to the very last detail. Event planning is not only my full-time job but also my passion. I thoroughly enjoy making my clients vision come to life!

How has your skill developed over the years? 
Over the years my skill has developed as my confidence grows.  I am a very creative person, a very driven person and I take great pleasure in learning from my suppliers and fellow event planners alike.  The beauty of being in this industry is that I’m constantly learning as new things are being developed all the time.

Where does your inspiration come from? 
My inspiration comes from my friends, family, my children, fashion, culture, fabric, television, movies, and iconic people like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart.  My favourite theme for an event has to be vintage as I’m heavily inspired by the likes of Chanel and the 1920’s.  I take inspiration from everything and everyone and always have my camera and diary with me as inspiration hits you when you least expect it!

Who has been most influential in your skill? 
I would say that I have been the most influential in my skill as I am the person who decides to take that leap of faith and try something new and fresh or even revive a classic.

Is most of your business generated online or is it more word of mouth?
For my business it’s a little bit of both right now.  But I would have to say that both my website and my online portfolio have really helped me to showcase my work and skills both to suppliers and potential clients.  It’s a fast and easy way to get yourself out there and get noticed.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in event planning?
Be calm and be brave.  It’s a tough industry to get into but once you start it’s a rollercoaster. One thing that you should always remember is to have fun and listen to your clients. It’s important to keep in mind that all events are not about you but about what you can do for your client and how you capture their vision.  How you represent your client in an event is very important.

Apart from event planning, what new skills would you like to learn?
I would love to learn to ride a bike (hands over eyes). Yes, you heard me, I cannot ride a bike! I’d love to skydive, take scuba diving lessons and do an advanced driving course with Mercedes. 🙂

Thanks Sabrina for sharing your story!

Event planners from around the world

For a sample of more event planners on SkillPages click the links to view their great portfolios:
Romsha Singh from Mumbai is richly experienced in event production and has a very strong resource network.  Nicolaas Bosman from Rustenburg specialises in event planning for weddings, private functions and Christmas parties.  Lauren Cameron from Massachusetts has been an event planner for over six years and has experience in hosting workshops, night club events and conferences.  Lallit Nayyar from Shimla Colony has managed both private and corporate events from weddings, theme parties to client coordinating.

Send us your story

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


70% Of People Will Hire Someone With A Portfolio

We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for people to get found for their skills.  We recently conducted a survey to discover what our members thought was most important when selecting someone to work with on SkillPages.

Key Finding

For 70% of respondents a portfolio was the most important thing on a member’s profile.

It’s very clear from this result that showcasing your skills is the most important thing you can do to get yourself noticed and in return get contacted for new work opportunities.  You can easily build up your portfolio by uploading images, files and videos for potential customers to browse. If you are confident in your work, then showcasing it is the next natural step.  You don’t need to be a professional photographer or videographer, let your work speak for itself!  Work examples not only allow you to stand out from your competition but also tell people why they should choose you for their next opportunity.

The big take away from this is that members with work examples are more likely to get hired. So don’t waste any time in making sure your portfolio is up to date. To give you some inspiration have a look at some popular portfolios:

  • Kerry Robinson a graphic designer from England updates her portfolio with her designed merchandise such as t-shirts, notebooks, key rings, mugs and bags.
  • Kelly Vanfossen a crocheter from USA adds work examples such as her hand made Angry Birds, shawls and other women’s wear.
  • Sunny Wieler a stonemason from Ireland illustrates his progression in his stone projects, uploads photos and videos of his work examples and snippets of publications of is featured work.
  • Sam McFarlane a free runner from Scotland frequently adds videos of his skills in action (I wouldn’t try this at home!).  He also uploads different photos of his performances in events/ festivals and even when he features in music videos.

We are also going to take this insight on-board for our upcoming site redesign, with an overhaul to portfolios which will help to bring your work examples to the forefront.  Stay tuned for more updates on that in the coming weeks!

Other Findings

  • 52% feel that recommendations were very important when considering to work with someone.
  • 49% of respondents wanted to see a profile picture before choosing to work with someone new.

Thanks to all those who have given their feedback.  If you have any questions or feedback to add please let us know in the comments or email us!

The survey polled more than 300 members.

Skill Highlight: Concept Artist

We caught up with Jon McCormack a concept artist from Ireland, to see how his art developed into storyboarding and what it’s like working with film directors .

Hi Jon, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a freelance concept artist and illustrator living in Dublin, Ireland.  My background is in film and I work mainly with film-makers – storyboarding and developing concept art for their projects.

How and when did you get into art?
Since I was a child I have loved drawing and it has always been a hobby of mine.  I decided to study Film & TV Production and that is where I first began sketching storyboards.  Not long after I had requests from film-makers to do their storyboards and it has just rolled on from there!

Is storyboarding your full-time job or more of a hobby?
It’s only recently that it has become a full-time job.  I love the fact that I can work from home and make my own hours.  While I can’t be certain that storyboarding and concept art will be what I’m doing in ten year’s time, I know that I will always be drawing.  I could be doing this for the next ten years or I could fall into something else because of it.  Either way is fine, as long as I’m making a living doing what I love!

How has your skill developed over the years?
Since I’ve started sketching storyboards the only aspect that has changed is that I now work mostly using a graphics tablet.  I would have to say getting to grips with the software can be challenging but also quite fun.

What has been your favourite project so far?
The project I worked on recently was very enjoyable.  It was concept art for a short film called ‘Safehouse’.  The script presented very stark and picturesque visuals that were fun to conceptualize.  It was an enjoyable experience working with the directors so closely.  It really helped me to capture the mood and imagery of their film.

Concept Artist

Where does your inspiration come from?
Anything really, I reckon it’s important to keep yourself open to anything, you never know what could affect and inspire you.  Films would be a great source of inspiration for me, the overall aesthetic of a film or simply a single frame can provide a wealth of inspiration.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?
If I’m doing artwork on commission it’s not so bad.  The director and I should be on the same page as to what the images will look like.  I may start to get fed up with a drawing but then I leave it be for a little while, do something else and come back to it.  When I’m doing my own sketches it can be more difficult.  Often I try putting pencil to paper and draw without thought.  Sometimes an idea will come to you out of nowhere, simply by letting your mind relax for a minute.

Is your business generated mostly on-line or is it more word of mouth?
I think as much one as the other.  Having an online presence has been very beneficial in showcasing my work but other times I may just get a call from someone who heard about me from someone else.

Apart from art, what new skills would you like to learn?
I would like to develop my creative writing skills so that someday I could have a graphic novel or screenplay developed.  I studied screen writing as part of my college course and really enjoyed it but I’ve kept it on the back burner for a while now.  I’d also love to learn how to play a musical instrument.  I’ve tried both piano and violin but I’m very impatient so I haven’t been very successful!

Thanks Jon for sharing your story!

Send us your story

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