Monique Péan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in '03, but she didn't really know what she wanted to do with her life, so she did what many bright, overachieving, unsure Ivy League grads do, and took a job as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. She arrived at work every day by 5:30 a.m., and slogged on for two years before a terrible tragedy befell her: Her sister was killed in a car accident. Now, the need for a hobby, for a distraction from the corporate money hungriness of it all, the need to feel something for one's work, was greater than ever. So Péan did what any young woman with lots of money in her bank account and an eye for beauty would do, and spent $30,000 of her savings on a fossilized woolly mammoth tusk from the Arctic Circle.
Péan turned the ancient tusk into a necklace, which she wore proudly while shopping to spend some of the rest of what she made at Goldman. One day, she moseyed into Scoop, where that stylish piece of woolly mammoth around her neck caught the eye of the store manager, who asked where she found this piece of jewelry treasure. When Péan said she'd made it herself, the manager asked to see a line sheet. Péan had no idea what this person was talking about.
But Péan figured it out, of course, and started trying to sell her jewelry to other stores. Six months later, she left Goldman to launch her own company, Monique Péan Fine Jewelry. Milk Boutique in Los Angeles picked up her stuff, followed eventually by Barneys and Jeffrey. Celebrity fans include the most coveted of celebrity fans, Michelle Obama. After an investor teamed up with her last year, her company is now comprised of nine people and makes 1,000 pieces of jewelry each year. She still tracks the price of gold, as she did at Goldman, but finally, she can use this data to make pretty things in addition to money.
Crafting a Career in Eco-Chic Jewelry [Businessweek]