A former Dolphin Point woman had no idea she would become a proud business owner when she made the life-altering decision to change career direction from nursing to building design.
Crystal Callender was at cross-road in her career when she took maternity leave a few years ago. Mrs Callender, who now resides with her family in Miami on the Gold Coast, originally enrolled in a Diploma of Building Design with TAFE Digital when she lived near Ulladulla.
She took a turn to develop her creative side in an industry she had always been interested in.
"I had just had my third child, so thought it would be a good opportunity to study subjects I'd always had a yearning to know more about," she said.
"Little did I know that this would become a new career I'm passionate about and that I would not return to nursing."
Fast forward a few years and Mrs Callender runs a thriving sustainable building design business from home and has won a prestigious industry award in 2017 to boot.
"I'm very proud of the National Student Design Award I won for a sustainable townhouse project in Chermside and am now planning to build sustainable townhouses of my own," she said.
Although Mrs Callender did not have any great career aspirations when she started her study journey, she quickly learnt that building design was the perfect career for her.
"I can't actually think of too many other professions that are technically-based, but allow you to put your creative talents to good use," she said.
Mrs Callender started working in an architect's office during her studies to gain some experience in the industry, which helped her put all the theory she was learning into practice.
She chose to study online because she lived remotely and could also fit her course schedule around raising a young family.
"I did most of my research and assignments in the evenings or over weekends, knowing I'd get quick feedback from the teachers and fellow students, who I formed 'study buddy' relationships with on Facebook."
Sustainability is of particular interest to Mrs Callender, who believes we should all be doing so much more towards living greener and working towards a more sustainable future.
"I believe designing energy efficient homes using sustainable building products should be the norm, not an alternative," she said.
"Great design shouldn't only be about the way a building looks, it should also be about how the building functions, responds to the surrounding environment and provides comfort and 'liveability' to present and future occupants."
Mrs Callender is a member of the Building Designers Association of Australia and often collaborates with industry specialists in other cities.
"Working in the industry feels like a great achievement as it was pretty daunting leaving the comfort of the nursing career I knew, to start from scratch again in my 30s," she said.