How I Made a Shocking Injury in Iraq into an Amazing Media Prospect for My Jewelry Business
by Tara Hutchinson.
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)
In 2006 I wasn’t thinking about jewelry; far from it. In fact, stationed in Iraq as a Staff Sergeant and Squad Leader in the United States Army I hardly had the time and resources to take a shower every day.
That’s why on Valentine’s Day when my truck hit a roadside bomb and I was left without my right leg, I couldn’t imagine myself living the rest of my life, much less having another career and ever being truly happy again.
After I got back to the USA and started the difficult and painful process of rehabilitation, my doctors couldn’t figure out why my hands were constantly moving, even when I slept.
They did all sorts of tests and eventually discovered that during the attack when I was without a heartbeat for almost 20 minutes, a portion of my brain died, leaving me with a movement disorder.
More bad news: I was stuck with it for life.
Eventually, I had an occupational therapist who told me I should take up a hobby that helped re-tune my fine motor skills.
So, I tried beading a necklace.
This brought back my intense sense of curiosity and natural urge to learn more, and soon I was getting my feet wet with metal clay, soldering, repousee, stone setting and everything else I could learn.
Fast forward 5 years: I am now divorced and living in a house independently by myself, and I have a new jewelry business that is in the exciting stages of just getting off the ground.
I am getting ready for my first outdoor show (a bike rally) in a week, when I get a call from a producer of the Dr. Oz show. They want me to take part in an episode about women who have come back from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and they want me as their uplifting success story.
Quickly, I calculate in my head how many people I can inspire with my story, and I can’t help but add in promotion for my business, so I say YES!
Then she tells me they want me to come out to New York, in 4 days; 2 days before my jewelry show!
Also, they will be coming out to my house to film me in my ‘natural environment’ the day after tomorrow.
So I give her two conditions: first, the trip will have to be as fast as possible to facilitate me preparing for my jewelry show.
Second, they must fly me first class.
(There really was no practical reason for this, except it would be SO much more glamorous and fun!)
So, she says ok without hesitation, which made me wonder, should I have asked for more?
So that Sunday, the film crew arrived right on schedule and started filming in my living room. I was wearing my most elaborate necklace during the interview, and even made them pan out so they could see the whole thing.
Two days later I was in the very first seat of a 737 bound for La Guardia International Airport, and when I finally arrived, there was a black SUV with tinted windows waiting for me.
I finally got to the hotel and in bed a little after 2 a.m., and completely slept through my alarm the next day.
I am so glad I ordered room service!
The car that was waiting for me outside took me to NBC Studios on Rockefeller Plaza, where there was another person waiting outside to whisk me past security.
During the filming, I got to view the 30 second montage they put together from the 4 hours of footage they filmed at my home.
Inside this footage, they panned over my studio and me sitting at my bench working on a piece of jewelry.
After the short video, Dr. Oz introduced me, and I rolled my wheelchair next to him on the stage.
The first question he asked me was how I have gotten to where I am today, referring to the PTSD. So I told him it was a combination of time, therapy and medication.
It was also finding something I loved to do. I didn’t elaborate on this, because I assumed he would ask me about my business at the end of the interview.
Lesson learned? Don’t assume anything with TV. That was the biggest plug I got to give for my jewelry business.
The other questions he asked me were referring to my PTSD and my Army career. Then it was time for a commercial, and my interview was over.
I got a photo with Dr. Oz, and I had to run to catch my plane.
The trip was amazing, but when I got home on Wednesday evening, I was exhausted! I didn’t even get to sleep in on Thursday; I had a jewelry show on Saturday morning!
Working with the Media
All in all, it was a great trip. Exhausting, but I learned a lot about working with the media. Some of the lessons I learned are:
- ALWAYS ask beforehand if you can mention your business, and be specific in what you want to discuss. If I had done this, I believe I would have been able to mention my website.
- Prepare 2 or 3 different versions of a summary to discuss. If he would have asked me about my business, I am not sure what I would have said. It would have been nice if I had prepared a summary to discuss before I got there.
- ALWAYS get a wakeup call when staying at a hotel! If that room service guy wouldn’t have been so persistent, I would have missed my appearance!
- When traveling as an ambassador for your jewelry business, bring samples of your jewelry! I had many people ask me if I brought pieces to sell! I didn’t even think to do this before I left. There are sample cases available to do this, and it would have been easy to pack a few pieces in my luggage.
- Bring LOTS of business cards! I almost ran out, and I brought a 2-inch stack of them! I was giving them out to everyone I met; at lunch before I left, at the airport both ways, the hotel, I even gave one to the driver folded up inside my tip.
All things considered, I think it was a successful appearance.
It will inspire a countless number of women who are currently experiencing PTSD, and if they are interested in what I am doing now they can Google me!
The show will air on Thursday, April 21, 2011 on NBC, and I hope you will tune in!
Watch the video of
Tara Hutchinson on the Dr. Oz show.
Jewelry Business Media Opportunity
Tara, thank you for sharing your phenomenal story of transforming from soldier to jewelry artist. I admire your strength and your dedication to everything you do.
And your detailed wirework is extraordinary!
I enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how TV programs like Dr. Oz operate. And amazing that the crew shot 4 hours at your home and condensed it to 30 seconds! I’m glad they included some good footage of your jewelry.
(On your jewelry website you can now say, “As seen on Dr. Oz!”) :o)
It sounds like you did a fantastic job of getting your business cards into the hands of everyone you possibly could. You never know what may grow out of those connections.
I loved your tips for working with the media. Lots of helpful information there! I appreciate your sharing the lessons you learned throughout your media opportunity.
And Tara, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service and sacrifice for our country. Because of you and all of your brave fellow service-people, my son and I have the blessing of living in a safe home in a country where we’re free to live life on our own terms. “Thank you” can never possibly cover how very much we value this gift you’ve given us.
I agree with Rena on you being an American Hero.
Your jewelry is quite beautiful and Your great sense of humor will make you a big success in the future . My wife shares the same enthusiasm as you with making jewelry . Always she has used magnetic clasps for her necklaces and when she was told by doctors last January that she needed a pacemaker she refused. She thought that it would interfere with her jewelry making … her passion which gives her zest for living. Her heart continued to take naps until finally she will have it done on April 18 th .
We will tune in with Dr. Oz on the 21st and give you a great American salute . Take care !
What a story!
by: Kim I.
What an exciting story, Tara! I am so glad you opened your life to a new passion – jewelry making! Thank you for sharing the story and the jewelry pictures. I hope that you find good markets for your attractive jewelry. This community can really help with feedback from experiences gained in building a jewelry business. I know that Rena has helped me to target my particular market.
Thank you for your service to our country. I was just thinking this evening of the sacrifices made by our veterans and how indebted we all are to you. You make the commitment to face dangers, and we live in safety and security often oblivious to it. May God bless you, Tara!
I’m so incredibly proud of you, my friend. In the few days I knew you before that particular Valentine’s Day showed me how wonderful you were as a person. However, since that day I, and everyone else, can see what an absolute amazing and beautiful woman you are. I thank God for having allowed me the opportunity to know you, even if only for those few short days. I’m proud of your accomplishments and continually pray that your courage will spread like wildfire to others in their times of need. Love and miss ya, girl!
You are Amazing!
by: Ruth Biese
I am so proud of you for serving our country, and for moving on and not holding on to bitterness, or giving up. I for one never gave up on you. I tell everyone how proud I am of you for what you have done for us and for what you now are doing for you! Love you Girl!
Today is the Big Day!
by: Tara Hutchinson
Thank you all for your lovely comments! It helps me to hear other people tell me I am an inspiration. (which is kind of ironic, if you think about it) But for me, some days are harder than others. Now, most days are OK. But I used to be very discouraged, and I had no hope. That is the worst thing of all; when you have no hope, what else do you have?
Today is the airing of the show, and the past few days I have seen myself on the commercials for the ‘Upcoming Episode’. So, I look forward to your comments!
Thank you for all of your support and encouragement!
Just watched the video!
Tara, I’ve just watched the video of you on the Dr. Oz show. (I don’t have TV reception at home, so I had to wait till the video was posted on his website.)
I think you were outstanding on the show. You were very poised and professional, and you did a fantastic job of representing women in the military.
It was so inspiring to hear more of your story, and to see more of the things you do.
And your jewelry looked awesome in the close-up shots that showed you wearing it.
At the end of your article above I’ve just added a link to the video, for everyone else who didn’t get to see you on TV.
HI FROM A JET TEAM MEMBER
by: Norah- Your Daily Jewels
What a great story! Thank you for sharing your experience. I can’t wait to see your sales soar! See you ’round the JETS.
The beauty of your story….a testimony of your continued recovery, and the beauty of your jewelry, using the cool colors of the caribbean, which symbolize peacefulness, serenity and calmness after a storm have touched my heart to the core. The woman whom you have become after going into the military, I’m sure is the wonderful, blessed, talented and inspirational individual that was evident on the video and through your exquisitely beautiful and creative jewelry pieces. May you continue to strive and grow as you empower us civilians who have not had your experiences. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for your service.
Great story, beautiful jewelry & some great advice.
Thanks for all of it.
You will have an awesome future, no doubt.
Much success, it is well deserved.