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We introduce you to four people who used the soured economy as motivation to strike out on their own.
FROM A COG IN A MACHINE TO THE GUY IN CHARGE
After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2004 with a degree in landscape architecture, ED CHANDLER went to work for a midsize landscape architecture and planning firm in midtown Sacramento. With the economy booming, the company had plenty of work. But when the recession hit, things went south. After surviving six rounds of layoffs, Chandler was increasingly unhappy at his job: too busy some days, not busy enough others. So in 2011, he left to start his own one-man firm, Loftgardens. Now 33, he’s happier—and busier—than ever.
JUMPING OFF A CLIFF
Leaving his job was both “frightening and exhilarating,” says Chandler. His wife, a biologist who was stationed on the Farallon Islands at the time, gave him her blessing over the phone. “I said, ‘Can I please leave?’ and she said, ‘Go for it.’”
A GREEN APPROACH
Chandler does both residential and commercial work, specializing in infill projects and innovative features such as green roofs and living walls. Since starting his own business, he has designed the landscapes for the Broadway Triangle project in Oak Park and an infill apartment complex at 24th and T streets.
SMALL IS GOOD
Chandler works out of a 120-square-foot rental space in a business collective on 20th Street, just a block from his old firm’s much larger offices. He meets clients at a nearby cafe. “I saw the drawbacks to getting too big,” he says. “I really like something that’s more nimble.”
SPREADING HIS WINGS
At his old job, he performed just one task: drafting. “I had virtually no contact with clients,” he says. “I wanted to learn the rest of the business.” Now, Chandler does everything from business development to R&D. “I wear all the hats. I’m the salesman, the landscape architect, the drafter, the accountant, the HR department and the head of marketing.”
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