Todd McMillen was 22 years old with a degree in graphic design and working for Witmark Catalog store in Grand Rapids. “I was on a photo shoot,” he says, “and we were shooting a toaster—and suddenly I said, ‘I can’t photograph toasters the rest of my life.”
He thought about an art gallery but decided a picture framing shop might provide a better income—so he bought one in Traverse City. “I drove up with stars in my eyes and found out I had a competitor on every block. My Grampa gave me fifty dollars out of his wallet to put in the till—and I still have it.”
Kathryn Holl was teaching school in New York when her father became ill with a brain hemorrhage. “For six weeks the surgeon kept wanting to do more,” she recalls. “Then they released Dad into hospice care and it was all about love.”
As a result, Kathryn wanted to learn about death and dying—and ultimately completed a degree as a licensed professional counselor in holistic studies through Western Michigan University. Today, she is the Grief Support Services Manager for Hospice of Michigan.
“I do bereavement follow-up with families,” she says. “I’m so honored that they let me in at such a vulnerable time. Grief is transformational. Anyone who has gone through loss has an empathy they didn’t have before.”
She has created a program called Memories on the Manitou. “I worked with Traverse Tall Ships to create a memorial service on the bay. Participants tell me, ‘This makes me realize I’m not alone, that this is normal.’”
“It is difficult,” Kathryn admits, “carrying the sadness. But I can do this because I know they will move through it and I can accompany them. When you take food to a bereaved person, take it on a glass plate—so you have to go back.”
“The accounting stereotype is someone without a whole lot of personality,” Chris Cornell says, “but I love the people.” Chris also loves math and accounting. “To me it’s a puzzle and my job is to put it all together so the numbers balance.”
A graduate of Baker College, Chris became a Certified Public Accountant in 2006 and started his own company, Cornell-Szasz CPAs, PLLC, in Traverse City in 2010. “I like the freedom of being my own boss,” he says.
It’s also true that when you’re the boss, the buck—and the balance sheet—stops with you. After buying a second accounting business in Cadillac last year, he’s been working most evenings and weekends.
“Getting to know the clients is my first priority,” Chris says. “My product isn’t a piece of paper but what’s in my head, my knowledge and experience. If they don’t trust me, they’ll go somewhere else.”
Many of his clients are small businesses. “Entrepreneurs usually have some kind of dream,” Chris says, “something they love to do. But they might not know much about running a business, about the numbers. I try to get them to do what makes them happy and let me do the accounting.”
The days after Christmas were always difficult for me as a child. Not because Christmas was over but because my mother was depressed that Christmas was over. I was actually a little relieved because anticipation can be exhausting.
My mom, however, loved the anticipation and the preparations that went with it—decorating the house, baking cookies, shopping for gifts, wrapping gifts. All this activity seemed to give her a sense of purpose that was suddenly missing on December 26.
“I’ve been an animal person from Day One,” Beth Clute says. “I grew up outside the city and dogs were my friends. I’m horribly allergic to cats, doesn’t matter.”
Today, Beth is a Licensed Veterinary Technician at the Clarke-Everett Dog and Cat Hospital. “My job is my calling,” she says. A Vet Tech can do everything except diagnosis, surgery and prescriptions, she explains.