From Expat Wife to Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Maria Rocher owner of Nueve Sterling

What was once a hobby has now turned into my passion.

My story begins nearly 20 years ago, when my family and I relocated from Mexico City to Paris. That was the official start of my life as an "expat wife."

My daughters were still very young at the time, so I had to juggle between their care, keeping the house organized and comfortable for everyone, and handling any sort of day-to-day problems regardless of the language I was dealing with. I should also mention that because my husband used to travel frequently, most of the time I was by myself. I once discovered that people in Korea thought I was a single mother.

But, as romantic and exciting as the life of an expat wife may sound, I was always left feeling a little empty. I was always there for everyone, but aside from being the pillar of my household, I had no personal fulfillment.

I refused to become the "leisure lady" who went shopping, drank coffee, and played tennis with other expat wives while the kids were at school. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with it; it's just that I was not that kind of person.

When my first daughter was born, my husband and I made the difficult decision for me to give up my career and become a stay-at-home mother. But we had a plan at that time. I would become a full-time mom during our children's first years, and then return to work. What I didn't know was that when my second daughter was a year old, we would embark on our "nomadic life."

I tried to fill the void in my heart by taking Art History classes at the Louvre in Paris, becoming a Spanish teacher in a language school in Singapore, and working as a Spanish substitute teacher at an international school in Seoul. I adjusted my working hours to accommodate my daughters' schedules.

But as time passed, I grew dissatisfied and realized I needed to do something else to appease my soul.

That was my breaking point.

I had an idea so I asked a dear friend I had made in Singapore if she would be interested in starting a business with me. To my delight, she agreed. I then suggested that she carry a product that I thought would be popular in Asia and even be regarded as "exotic": handcrafted silver jewelry from the famous and well-known Mexican town of Taxco.

And so it was, we started our venture, which lasted for almost 8 years. My friend used to run the business in Singapore, where we settled a table in a small shopping mall, while I was in charge of the rest of the operation, from dealing with the suppliers in Mexico, building our website, managing our spreadsheets, filing taxes, doing a bit of marketing, etc while she was in Singapore and I was in Korea. Then I moved to Canada but we kept working as per usual, until we had to close down our business because my friend moved to France.

We were devastated, our “baby” had to come to an end, despite the fact that we were having a lot of fun and not only that, but making good money!

So once again I refused to just stay at home and do nothing meaningful for myself.

When my husband and I found out we were moving to Canada, we decided not to move anywhere else for our daughters' stability and well-being.

While living in Korea, I discovered that our daughters belonged to this "Third Culture Kids" group, and I will never forget the analogy the speaker used to refer to all these children who we might think have "no roots." "Of course, they have roots, but these kids are like water plants that keep moving with the flow," she explained. Wow! That was beautiful, but it was also difficult for me as a parent to realize the kind of life we were giving our daughters.

So we decided to make those floating roots settle in Canada.

My husband gave up his privileges as an expat and requested that his employer make him a "local," which for some people might have sounded quite strange but for us, was a very important family decision.

So, sweet! We had decided to make Canada our permanent home. But then, after closing down my jewelry business in Singapore which kept me busy and challenged me to learn new things every day, I wondered, "Now, what am I going to do with my life?"

The girls were becoming teenagers and started to be much more independent, my husband was busy at work, and what about me?

Being in Canada, our new home country by choice meant that I could finally return to work, but who would hire me after so many years away from the corporate world?

I was lost, confused, and disheartened, and I had reached a new breaking point. I had to continue doing what had made me happy and proud of myself during my eight years of having my small business in Singapore, but this time on my own.

This is How “Nueve Sterling” Was Born.

What began as a hobby and a distraction for me in Singapore to help me cope with my personal distress, grew and flourished to the point where my friend and I were really busy running our small business.

We couldn't believe it when we found out we'd have to close. That was a very sad time in my life, but after getting through it, I decided I couldn't stop.

So I invested the profits from my business in Singapore to buy the inventory that would help me start my own business in Canada.

I won't lie, it hasn't been an easy journey. I began building my website months before Covid, and here I am, doing my best as a solopreneur to drive traffic and promote the site, which has a completely different business model than the one we used in Singapore. 

I've also noticed that the market is very different, and it's been more difficult than I expected to win the hearts of Canadians.

Nonetheless, I believe that this handcrafted silver jewelry has a lot to offer. It comes from certified family workshops from one of the most iconic "silver towns" in the world, where silversmithing has been practiced for nearly a century.

The quality of the silver, the detailed craftsmanship and the passion that these people put into their work, stands out at a glance.

Besides, having direct contact with the artisans in Taxco, gives me the flexibility to customize pieces in silver, just like I recently did with a renowned fashion designer in Calgary, who had her new line of jewelry, stamped with her brand, completely handmade in Taxco under my supervision.

This is the story of how I overcame the circumstances that for many years played against me, but that led me to look for a solution to make my life make sense after losing my ability to work in the corporate world again.

Although, as I have already said, the road has not been easy, I am very satisfied and proud of myself for how far I have come. The dream that my business will grow and provide income for when my husband retires, along with the goal I've set for myself to be the promoter of this wonderful silver jewelry in Canada and the rest of the world, are what keep me going.

Visit NUEVE STERLING to take a look at the stunning silver jewelry from Taxco, that is available at your fingertips with a simple click.