By Elizabeth Hillberg
Amy Bratkovich marries her passion for jewelry design with her background in economics
For some, an undergraduate degree in economics leads to graduate study and a professorship. For others, it's a springboard to a career at the Fed. For Amy Bratkovich, her degree in economics gets her one step closer to launching her own jewelry boutique. A 2006 graduate with dual degrees in economics and business, Amy didn't start out at the university of Minnesota. She transferred in her sophomore year, drawn in large part to the strength of the Economics Department, a discipline she had first become interested in during high school.
"When I started at the U, I thought economics would be more about understanding how the economy works and being knowledgeable about current events," she says. "I was surprised at the theoretical and mathematical part of it." As the recipient of the Stockman scholarship, however, she obviously took quite well to hypotheticals and equations. But she never forgot what drew her to economics in the first place: "It's important to be aware of current events and how other countries' governments and policies work, even if it's not your focus."
The economic policies and practices of other countries soon evoked her wanderlust. Although the scope of her study of economics reached as far as Africa--her senior paper looked at the economic cost of AIDS throughout Africa--her true passion caught fire while traveling in Italy during a study abroad program in 2005. Milan was the perfect metropolitan spot to study the European labor market and economic policy, but, in the high-fashion capital, she also found artistic inspiration for her then-fledgling hand- made-jewelry business, le parapluie.
Begun in May 2004, le parapluie (French for "umbrella") had become an outlet for Amy's artistic talents. She found time in between finance and economic classes in Milan to create new designs and study the fashion marketplace as "homework" for her side business. And while traveling across the boot in Venice, she discovered the beauty of Murano glass, which has become the foundation for her most successful line of jewelry to date.
Amy's business savvy grew while working with local business owners to negotiate the best prices on materials and purchase the best products abroad to cultivate her jewelry making business. She even returned to Italy after graduation to seek out more materials for jewelry making and reconnect with friends she made during her initial trip.
In a sense, Amy's trip to Italy married her cerebral interest in global economies with her passion to create art. This interdisciplinary approach to developing her career reveals the true benefit of a liberal arts education. not content simply to pursue business and economics, her enthusiasm for borderless learning ensures continued intellectual curiosity and, ultimately, great success.
Now working as a financial analyst for Best Buy in Minneapolis, her jewelry business remains a part-time pursuit. "I'm going to work in the corporate world for a while so I can have a stable income," she explains. But she looks ahead to a time when she can turn her passion into her livelihood. In the meantime, she says, "It's great to be able to make a profit on the side while doing something that's so personally enjoyable."