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Taking the road less traveled: driven by their passions, ambitions and a bit of luck, these professionals found success along obscure career paths.

Not so long ago the mantra of professional ambition focused solely on the twin motivators of six-figure salaries and impressive titles.

During the go-go '80s, college students aspired to be Stockbrokers, corporate lawyers and investment bankers. Job satisfaction became a quaint reference to the motivations of those who weren't on track to become millionaires by age 25. Obviously, times have changed. The bottom line these days is that more people are chasing fewer jobs and traditional career choices-particularly those with the best earning potential--are overrun with qualified applicants. The pressure is on to look beyond the narrow confines of tradition and to take a broad-minded and creative approach to carving out a career.

Here are seven individuals who have done just that Although they were motivated less by a light job market than by a refusal to compromise their unique interests for the sake of convention or money, their stories illustrate that there are viable options out there for those determined enough to find them.

Krista Lawrence-Truss: Breaking Out Of The Lab

Krista Lawrence-Truss has no trouble recallering most memorable day on the job. "It was raining, about 40 [degrees], and I'm walking around in a ninja suit and rubbers in the swamps of Mississippi at about 3 o'clock in the morning.

"We were looking for about 50 pounds of the finished product--methamphetamine--digging around in bushes, trying to find this stuff. You're in the dark, in the mud, in the woods. You can't see too well, and you don't know if anyone else is out there. If they are, you don't know if they're going to shoot or what'

Ghostbusters? A hunt for UFOs? No. Lawronce-Truss is describing what is known in drug enforcement circles as the raid of a clandestine drug laboratory. As a forensic chemist with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal agency charged with combatting drug abuse and manufacture in the United States, Lawrence-Truss is on call approximately one week every three months for just such excursions.

Typically held in the predawn hours, chemists accompany law enforcement officials to rural outposts where the production and storage of illegal narcotics is suspected. The chemists go along to help identify substances that may later serve as evidence. They also identity explosive chemicals for agents,

helping to avert possible injury or loss of potential evidence.

The so-called ninja suits are really burn-resistant uniforms, worn as a precaution against dangerous chemical spillage or explosion. Methamphetamine is a drug, similar in appearance and effect to cocaine, that is produced largely in the United States. While no shooting took place that night there's always the possibility, leading Lawrence-Truss to note: "There are several facets to my job. That's the one I like least"

While the clandestine lab busts are crucial, thankfully, says Lawrence-Truss, they are infrequent During the last year--her third working for the DEA--she participated in two. The remainder of her time is spent largely in a Dallas laboratory, where she analyzes drugs seized in raids throughout the South Central United States, which includes Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and, her homestate, Alabama.

Whenever the drugs she analyzes serve as evidence, Lawrence-Truss is called in to testify as an expert witness at trials held throughout her region.

Lawrence-Truss, 28, says that the court-related part of her job has become rather routine, although it might not appear that way to an observer. Typically, defense lawyers become confrontational as they attempt to discredit experts. Lawrence-Truss recalls her mother coming to watch her testify in a case near her hometown. "She was upset," Lawrence-Truss recalls, laughing. "She really thought they were badgering her baby."

Most people, including her parents, aren't aware of the extent of her job. Lawrence-Truss admits to not having a great understanding of what it involved herself until she was already in the midst of it. She hadn't exactly investigated the chemical field when she embarked on her career.

Taking the advice of her older brother, she majored in chemistry at Talladega College in Alabama, with little idea of how she would utilize it to get a job. At a career fair during her senior year, she was enticed by the presentation of a DEA representative, and she had the qualifications they were seeking: A bachelor's degree in one of the sciences, with a prerequisite amount of study in physics and mathematics. Knowing that she did not want to pursue medicine or engineering, she applied. The decision represented something of a turning point.

"I had just spent a summer doing research with Bell Labs and I hated it," says Lawrence-Truss. "I came back to school and told my counselor that I didn't want to be a chemist. I just couldn't see being stuck in a lab alone for the rest of my life.

"But the description of this job mentioned something about a chemist flying off to Anchorage, Alaska, to testify in a drug case and I said, 'Hey, now this sounds interesting.'"

Beyond the opportunity to travel and interact with people other than scientists, the job offered fairly normal hours, ample opportunity to advance both locally as a chemist and on an agency level as a program manager. Dress requirements were casual and chemists were given a tremendous amount of autonomy. The pay wasn't bad either: Roughly $24,000 straight out of college with the potential to make about $54,000 in five years.

By the time graduation rolled around, Lawrence-Truss still hadn't heard from the DEA, so she went on to get her master's degree in math education from Alabama State University. She taught junior high school for six months, and then, after the DEA completed an exhaustive background check on her, the DEA called. Lawrence-Truss attended a two-week basic training class given to all chemists, as well as two weeks of safety and investigative training required for certification to go on clandestine labs. Although DEA chemists are not armed, the training does include a trip to the shooting range, she says, "just in case an agent is being jumped and he throws you the gun."

Lawrence-Truss admits to having tucked a can of Mace into her equipment bag during her first few clandestine missions, but, she says, "you'd be surprised at how safe you feel with these agents. They are extremely well-trained."

Now that she is a veteran, Lawrence-Truss has taken on the role of instructor herself, training state and local officers regularly and DEA agents occasionally in now research methods, safety techniques, recent developments in how to recognize, test and analyze evidence. Her efforts in 1991 earned her an exceptional performance award.

Although Lawrence-Truss is unsure of what the future holds, she says, "I wouldn't trade my experience here for anything. It's a great career development job, it's so multifaceted and well-rounded. I could not have spent my life in a lab. Here, there's so much more to being a chemist than that."

John C. Chambers Jr.: Tackling the Environment

Whenever John C. Chambers Jr., tells people that he is an environment lawyer lawyer who represents companies such as Union Carbide Corp. and Air Products and Chemicals Inc., the reaction he gets is almost always the same: "Oh. you're one of the bad guys."

The generalized image of major corporations--particularly those that produce chemicals, preservatives or fuel--as evil environmental offenders is, Chambers says, ill-founded. So, it is with striking sincerity that he typically refers to himself as "one of the good guys."

As a legal adviser, Chambers' primary role is to help his clients achieve compliance with environmental laws in a way that is both protective of human health and the environment and cost-effective. That can be difficult, since most regulations imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are quiet costly. The EPA estimates that since its inception in 1970, has imposed roughly $1.4 trillion in compliance costs on the industry. Says Chambers: "Anytime I'm able to get the powers than the to recognize that there is a better and a cheaper way to achieve the environmental ends we all want that is a victory. And I have those victories pretty often--but I tend to take cases I believe in."

A Pennsylvania-based chemical company wanted to siphon off gases that are naturally emitted by a landfill and sell them at low cost to a local utility, which would use the gases to produce electricity. The benefits were obvious: The gases would be prevented from polluting the air; the chemical company would profit from their sale; and the electrical company would gain an alternative energy source at a low cost which, presumably, would be passed on to consumers. The problem: An EPA regulation blocked the transaction completely.

However, Chambers, a nationally renowned expert on the EPA's complex Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), was able to massage the conventional interpretation of the role at issue, his client--the chemical company. After several months of negotiations, he was able to win a declaratory ruling enabling the transaction to proceed.

Although Chambers, 36, emanates with passion for his field, it is one he entered by default. The Newark, N.J., native entered American University's Washington College of Law in 1978 intending to be a criminal lawyer. A summer internship in the Philadelphia district attorney's office, caused a quick shift in his interests to sports and entertainment law. But when Chambers wasn't offered a job in that area, he sought out a position at the American Petroleum Institute, where he had also worked one summer.

The institute, essentially a lobbying organization for petroleum companies, had never hired an African-American lawyer, and Chambers did not exactly skate in free of controversy. But he did get the job. While there, he filed the first petition in a case that would become the biggest RCRA case to date. On behalf of the petroleum institute, Chambers asked the EPA to review one of its innumerable definitions of a hazardous waste. The EPA had determined that anything mixed with something considered to be a hazardous waste, made the entire mixture a hazardous was to and, therefore, had to be handled and disposed of within RCRA (and expensive) guidelines. In late 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit threw out the regulations. Although Chambers had long since moved on to other things by then, he did assist in developing the arguments that influenced the ruling, and it is one in which he takes great pride.

In 1985, Chambers moved to Houston, where he was in-house counsel for CONOCO Inc., a petroleum company (a wholly owned subsidiary of DuPont). In 1986, he moved back to D.C., becoming an associate at McKenna & Cuneo, one of the districts top 20 firms. He says his move to private practice was fueled by three things. First he realized at CONOCO that he knew as much or more than the outside counsel he was hiring to handle CONOCO's more complex legal work. Second, while his level of expertise was high, his salary was not. Third, Chambers says he did not like Houston, partly because of racial barriers he encountered.

At Mckenna & Cuneo, Chambers has thrived without compromising his professional integrity. In a risky move for an associate, Chambers says he once declined to work on a case for a firm client that was dumping hazardous waste, which was clearly posing a health threat to the community. Harkening back to his distaste for criminal law, Chambers says the question foremost in his mind is: "Are these people who made a conscious decision to do the wrong thing? I don't represent those people."

In 1990, Chambers became McKenna & Cuneo's first and only African-American partner, a distinction about which he has mixed feelings. "One of the things I'm most proud of is being able to recruit African-Americans into a firm like this, that has been historically white," he says. As an equity partner, Chambers has an ownership stake in the firm. An annual survey of D.C.'s top 20 firms in the Legal Times placed McKenna's 1991 profits per partner at $295,000.

If the legal profession is, as Chambers puts its, "one of the last bastions of white male domination," then the environmental law practice represents one of the last concentrated areas; of that power. Although it is a booming area, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for law firms each year, environmental law has attracted few blacks. Chambers attributes this to the fact that "in the inner city, the environment is not something that's given a lot of thought."

Although Chambers says he has not completely discarded his dreams of sports and entertainment law, he is clearly gratified by what he does. "Its easy to try to paint the world as absolute good and absolute bad, but in the environment business, there is good and bad on both sides. Excesses by the agency that are harmful to industry are not good. Preventing them is."

Gene Hovis: Cookin' Good at Macy's

Last summer, as the Democrats declared Bill Clinton their presidential nominee, the then-governor was celebrating at a dinner party in his honor. With all of the fashionable, trendy, famous restaurants in New York City, this fete, on the night of nights for the Democratic Convention, was being held at--of all places--Macy's. That's right. The department store.

As television cameras caught Clinton and his entourage eating, drinking and dancing the night away, it was tough to reconcile the scene with the setting. Macy's?

But for Gene Hovis, who orchestrated and presided over the event as vice president and creative food director of Macy's Marketplace and Restaurants, there was nothing odd about it As he hosted the Clinton bash in the store's Cellar grill, Hovis knew he had done it again: He had thrown a great party, which had drawn a premiere crowd, and had generated spectacular national publicity for the world's largest department store.

It was more than a professional coup. For Hovis, it was great theater.

It can be a bit difficult to decipher myth from reality in charting out Hovis's life and career. A few things are certain: Hovis, 58, has great friends, including opera diva Jessye Norman, cabaret singer Bobby Short, New York Mayor David Dinkins and designers Bill Blass and Mary McFadden, some of whose pictures adorn a credenza in Hovis's well-appointed office. He makes great food, especially his renowned bourbon-baked ham, marinated turkey, lemon cake and chocolate fudge cake, all of which Macy's now sells. And, he has been great for business. He has breathed new life into the 16-year-old Cellar, hand picking an improved and expanded line of prepackaged specialty foods sold in 23 eastern Macy's stores from Florida to Albany, revamping the menus in the flagship store's seven restaurants and cafes, as well as those at the 16 other eastern branches that operate food outposts.

Hovis's Marketplace, promoted as Macy's "store-within-a-store," is best likened to a gastronomic fantasyland. There, customers can buy everything from fresh caviar, chocolates and pastas, all imported from Europe, to down-home Hovis specialties called from his maternal grandmother, such as crusty Maryland crab cakes, buttermilk-fried chicken and deep-dish macaroni and cheese.

In addition to traveling to Europe three to four times each year in search of new products, Hovis tries to get to each of the two dozen stores under his watch at least once a month (his record to date is five cities in one day). There, he meets with buyers, chefs sales assistants and marketing and promotions representatives. The exact number of people he supervises is simply "too many to count," he says.

Back in New York, Hovis oversees the daily operations of the employee and executive dining facilities, as well as approximately 5 to 10 special events each month--not just wine-and-cheese or teas, he boasts, but "full regalia. I love to go all out." with Hovis at the helm, Macy's has expanded its catering business. In addition to the Clinton fete, Macy's threw a party for California's Democratic delegates during convention week. Twelve hundred people attended. And when Camille and Bill Cosby hosted a party for the release of Charlayne Hunter-Gault's autobiography in November, Macy's was the caterer.

In his work, Hovis is as full of fun and enthusiasm as he is in private. He is also a demon for detail, whether he is entertaining a small group in his own home, or putting on a bash for 1,000 in a cavernous hall. For Hunter-Gault's party, Hovis devoted his personal attention to every detail from choosing the tablecloths and deciding to drape the candelabra in ivy, to approving the 18-inch hand-dipped tapers that would be burning throughout the house. Asked how he manages the time for such diligence, Hovis shrugs and says simply: "I'm very hands-on. I don't know how to do it any other way."

The attention to detail in his work does not extend much beyond. In discussing his life, Hovis reverts to broad strokes all the way.

He is one of those rare individuals who vaulted into an executive corporate position without ever having a formal resume. Although Hovis earned what he refers to as 'the requisite teaching certificate' from Talladega College, he never received a bachelor's degree. He came to New York at age 21 to pursue an acting career but is unspecific about his theater credits. According to Hovis, his true calling surfaced when he started sending chicken potpies to friends' dinner parties first as a favor, then began charging and quickly realized that cooking and entertaining was what he loved most The leap from acting was not so drastic, Hovis explains. Entertaining the Hovis way involves tremendous attention to the setting, lighting, costuming and the guest list. When the food is particularly delectable, Hovis has been known to actually receive applause. "What could be more like theater?" Hovis asks.

Hovis's pursuit of his passion carried him through an assortment of jobs as a caterer, restaurant consultant, food stylist, corporate chef and food editor at HG magazine. Through them all he continually honed his cooking skills, first with Dione Lucas in New York, at the Ecole Gastronomic in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1960, and, later, with The New York Times' food editor Craig Claiborne. In 1987, at the urging of well-fed friends, Hovis compiled many of his family's recipes in Gene Hovis's Uptown Down Home Cookbook, a delightful tome enlivened by Hovis's knack for spinning an autobiographical tale.

The book brought Hovis to the attention of the Mississippi-based Catfish Institute, which hired him as its spokesperson. For the next few years he traveled around the country lauding the virtues of catfish. "It was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me," he says, with characteristic gusto. It also appears to have worked, as catfish rose in prominence during those years from a poor people's fish to a yuppie treat.

Hovis learned of the Macy's position as he did many of his better opportunities in life, through a well-connected friend who introduced him to Joseph Cicio, then Macy's corporate senior vice president of creative resources. Unfortunately for Hovis, he entered the retail business just as the world's largest department store started to sag under the weight of the country's worst recession in decades. Macy's is struggling to pull out of bankruptcy, filed in January 1992.

Although store officials say that Marketplace sales have doubled thanks to Hovis, they are loathe to release any sales figures or to elaborate on how the foods business stacks up against the store's other profit centers. Hovis, who describes Macy's catering business as "booming," adamantly refuses to quantify it. He is equally mum on the subject of his salary, although knowledgeable sources place it on the sunny side of $100,000.

Despite concerned rumors as to how the retail food business would fit into Macy's restructuring plan, still unannounced at press time, the store did release its first-ever Marketplace catalog last November, just in time for the holidays. Inside, in addition to tantalizing photos of international cheeses, Italian salamis, British teas and Macy's own signature coffees and novelty items, were mouthwatering photos of Hovis's own lemon pound cake and chocolate fudge cake. Not surprisingly, Hovis was involved every step of the way, from refining the recipe for mass production to designing the packaging, which includes his photograph.

"The first time I saw 1,000 cakes roll off the conveyor belt I almost fainted," says Hovis. "And when I saw my face on the package . . ." he closes his eyes and gighs, seeming to savor the moment all over again, "that was the best." It took Hovis back to his childhood in Salisbury, N.C. "I thought about the Cream of Wheat man, and I thought now, I've really made it."

Joy Greenidge: A PLAN For The World's Children

A beautiful, but apparently impoverished child looks into the camera, wide-eyed and innocent. She smiles shyly and tugs at her tattered dress as the camera pans back to show the horrendous conditions she lives under.

"You can help," the announcer says. "For $22 a month--just 73 cents a day--you can provide the opportunity for a needy child and family overseas to change their lives .... Become a sponsor."

Such is a typical plea from Childreach, the U.S. member of PLAN International, which is one of the oldest child sponsorship organizations in the world. Since 1937, PLAN has been aiding destitute children and their communities around the world. Joy Greenidge, a PLAN field director in Haiti, has played a crucial part in that effort since 1978.

In 1991, PLAN's eight global members assisted over 620,000 children and their families worldwide, spending almost $139 million on programs in 25 countries. In Haiti alone, PLAN spent more than $7 million on field programs, reaching 30,034 Haitian children and their families.

But most people never see the nonprofit organization's annual report. They only see those poignant television ads. And despite what they know are abominable conditions for children throughout the world, it is still hard not to wonder: Is this for real?

For Greenidge, it couldn't be any more real. During her 15-year tenure with PLAN, she has administered programs focused on education, health care and community development in three West African countries and in several parts of Haiti. Last September, after spending four years as a field director in the African nation of Togo, Greenidge was transferred to the northeastern region of Haiti, where she and her staff of 20 expect to serve 22 communities and more than 4,000 children this year. Much of the $722,000 budget Greenidge oversees will go toward implementing education and improved health care facilities.

Current health conditions in the hilly region Greenidge serves are poor, even by Haitian standards. According to UNICEF, there are 92 deaths for every 1,000 born each year. Poor sanitation and water conditions are among the main causes of illness and death. Schools, mostly run by missionaries, are operating, but only 38% of boys and 31% of girls attend; the cost is too burdensome for most families.

Although Greenidge carefully addresses the subject--PLAN is nonsectarian and nonpolitical--there is no denying that the plight of Haiti has been compounded by the political turmoil and accompanying violence, which have racked the country since a 1987 coup. The deaf-and-blind attitude adopted by the rest of the world has not helped. In the wake of an embargo imposed on Haiti by the United States in 1991, the struggling country has become an international outcast.

Having served as a field director there from 1983 to 1987, Greenidge, who is 60 and unmarried, knew what she was getting into. An outgoing, no-nonsense optimist, Greenidge maintains that the benefits of working there outweigh the risks. Despite daily encounters with the harsh realities of terrible overcrowding, filthy streets, emaciated animals and people who, Greenidge says, are "visibly suffering," she is still enchanted by the island, its "picturesque views of the mountains and the sea," the charm and determination of its people.

For as long as she can remember, Greenidge's ambition was "to travel all over the world learning different languages, and when I got older I was going to write." These were lofty--if somewhat ill-defined-goals for the third of five children raised by immigrant parents in Harlem in the 1930s and 1940s.

"My parents came from Grenada and they always talked about 'home,'" Greenidge recalls. "I wanted to see this 'home.' When my parents didn't want us to know what they were saying, they spoke patois [a local West Indian dialect]. I wanted to learn languages so I would always know what people were saying."

Greenidge dropped out of New York's Hunter College after one year because, she says, "It wasn't getting me any closer to my dreams." After a brief stab at nurses training, she earned a psychiatric technician's certificate, and in 1957, she moved to California to work as a family the rapist with the Los Angeles County Probations Department. "That trip," Greenidge says with relish, "was my first step out into the world."

The 1960s assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy filled her with an urgent need to leave the United States, so she applied to the Peace Corps. But it wasn't until March 1971 that she was assigned to Upper Volta (renamed Burkina Faso in 1985), where she worked as a social worker, teaching maternal and child care, relying on her high school French.

It was a harrowing period. The West African country was in the midst of a drought that began in 1969 and would last 10 years. For the first time, Greenidge witnessed people dying of starvation. But she was fascinated by the culture and she loved her work. "In the U.S., I worked with delinquent adolescents who had everything money could buy and yet they were floundering," she says. "In Africa, I was working with people who had really basic problems, like difficulty getting food or water, health problems. They were tougher problems to deal with, but Ones I'd much rather deal with."

Remaining in Upper Volta, Greenidge joined PLAN in 1978. Her assistant field director position paid $8,000,less than she was earning when she left the United States almost a decade before. But she says she was thrilled by the opportunity to to be the link between donors and sponsored children, to work directly with those children and their parents, facilitating a chain of families who made up entire communities in need. After nine months, Greenidge was promoted to a field director's post in Mali. Four years later, she went to Haiti. Now, after her stint in Togo, she has returned.

Greenidge lives in a modest three-bedroom house just outside the city of Cap Haitien with her teenaged son, Chryso, whom she adopted in Burkina Faso. She and her staff workout of an office a half-mile from her home. She reports to a regional director stationed in Guatemala. Despite erratic electricity and a shortage of fuel and other supplies brought on by the embargo, Greenidge and her staff continue to do their job as best they can.

Today, field directors salaries range from $21,000 to about $45,000; Greenidge will say only that her salary lies toward the upper end of that scale, which is still low given that PLAN now requires applicants to have a master's degree as well as some international experience and foreign languages skills.

But Greenidge, who expects Haiti will be her last post before retiring, says there is no better career for anyone interested in foreign service, in travel, in other culture or in children. For that reason, she has not aspired to higher level organizational jobs, which would have offered more money, but less gratification. "In this job, no day is the same as any other," Greenidge says. "What can I say? It's been a wonderful life." It doesn't get any more real than that.

Interested in learning more about Childreach, or in sponsoring a child? Call 800-556-7918.

Renee Gunter And Angela Medlin: Designing Women Of Colour

It is no easy feat to launch a business in a struggling industry in the midst of an economic meltdown on all sides and have it do phenomenonally well in its first year. To multiply that success during a second year, is even more mind-boggling. Los Angeles-based Cross Colours Inc., the hip clothing manufacturer of today, has done just that. It premiered on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 last year with gross sales of $15million. By November 1992, those sales had already doubled, and then some.

Tantamount to the company's ability to mark off yet another year of breathtaking, history-making success are Renee Gunter, 40, and Angela Medlin, 24, two designers who traveled very different paths to Cross Colours, but who share a love for their work and a strong personal commitment to the company they serve. Gunter, who has more than a decade of experience in the fashion industry, manages Cross Colours' hats division, having a hand in every aspect of production from designing a concept to shipping mass quantities of the final product. Medlin, a recent college graduate, is a graphic artist who designs the eye-popping Afrocentric fabric patterns that Cross Colours' consumers have come to crave, along with the dramatic designs and consciousness-raising slogans that explode off of Cross Colours' T-shirts. Both women began at the company last year. Both earn between $40,000 and $50,000 annually. Their divisions--hats and T-shirts--are what designer and co-owner Thomas J. Walker calls "the bread and butter" of the company, representing roughly 50% of Cross Colours' annual sales.

Gunter, a native of South Central Los Angeles who holds a psychology degree from UCLA, never set out to be a designer. After college, she worked with mentally challenged children before deciding to pursue a career in the arts. She signed with an agent and appeared in a few TV commercials, then decided, at 25, to "see the world." She bought a one-way ticket to London, where she began a modeling career that would take her throughout Europe and Asia before returning home in 1985.

"I'm not the nine-to-five type," says Gunter. "I like to do things that are fresh and new and exciting." The first fresh opportunity that came Gunter's way stateside, presented itself to her in a dream. Literally pursuing that dream, Gunter launched Industrial Wear, her own small line of functional, comfortable clothes and accessories designed with the carryall needs of film crews, photographers and hair and makeup artists in mind.

By 1991, Industrial Wear was grossing about $60,000, but Gunter says she was growing restless. A friend who knew of Cross Colours' expansion, suggested she contact the company. She did, and the attraction was mutual. Although her job was more managerial than creative to start, Gunter looks forward to introducing some of her own designs to Cross Colours' line of more than 200 hats. The baseball cap, done up in a dizzying array of color combinations and materials, has been the foundation of the hat division, but the 1992 introduction of a women's clothing line has added a new dimension of possibility to hats and other accessories, says Walker. Gunter, he adds, was hired with that expansion in mind.

Gunter, who has not worked with hats before, says she is excited by the new challenge. But even more exciting, she says, is the ability to work for a company that is highly committed to the community she grew up in. Working for Cross Colours "makes me feel that I'm giving something back," she says. "We're doing something real here--even if it may seem superficial. A hat is something affordable for people, where a $75 pair of jeans may not be. That hat makes people feel they look good. It may be superficial. But a superficial feel good is better than not feeling good at all." Although Angela Medlin is equally committed to Cross Colours' distinctive culture and driving theme ("Clothing Without Prejudice"), it was the opportunity to develop her trade that drew her to the company.

Medlin has been drawing "since I was born," she says, with a laugh. "I think I came out drawing." Self-motivated by the pleasure she gained from her natural talent, Medlin pursued drawing, even completing a two-year correspondence course with the Art Illustration School of Minneapolis while in high school. At North Carolina State University, she majored in design, discovering a comfortable niche in repeat pattern printing during her senior year. It is that skill that she utilizes in creating the prints that make Cross Colours' fabrics come alive.

For a year after college, Medlin remained in Raleigh, N.C., and freelanced. During that year, she designed everything from family reunion T-shirts to elaborate fabric patterns derived from actual African textiles, into which Medlin did extensive research. "I always knew I wanted to work for a black-owned company," she says, "because my designs always reflected Afrocentric culture."

At Cross Colours, she is able to do precisely what she wished: spend 10 to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week at a drawing board, transferring her best designs onto a computer, letting her creativity flourish. Her ultimate goal, Medlin says, is to put her small hometown of Hamlet, N.C., (birthplace of jazz legend John Coltrane) "on the map." Cross Colours, she says, is a first step. "I'll learn the whole process here, from conceptualization to production," Medlin says. "Hopefully, one day I'll have my own line within the company. Hopefully, one day I'll have my own company."

Jean Renauld: Not Horsing Around

Let him, and Jean Renauld can go on for hours about how horses and equestrian activities can improve the world.

Getting senior citizens and children involved in riding will bridge the generation gap, Renauld maintains. One way to help the economy as well as the environment, he adds, is by driving cars less and riding horses more. Riding is a terrific way to get exercise and reduce stress, says Renauld; it is far superior to indoor activity. By exposing inner-city youth to riding, Renauld continues, they will develop an appreciation far nature and their place in it. In short, Renauld sees horses as a means to solving everything from the national deficit to teenage drinking and drugging.

Taken in isolation, Renauld's ideas seem, at best, unrealistic. But spend a bit of time at his seven-acre horse farm in Parkton, Md;, and they begin to seem less far-fetched.

Sunshine Acres, a lovely no-frills ranch in the heart of Maryland's most exclusive horse country, is where Renauld, 50, has built a career out of what began as a hobby and developed into a full-fledged passion. There, he raises horses, trains them, sells them and teaches people to ride--not in the classical style, which requires special dress, posture and usually a substantial amount of money for instruction--but in the natural style, an individualistic approach that constantly builds on one's own sense of rhythm and comfort level with the horse.

Renauld, a Maryland native who left high school to join the army and help support his mother and sister, has demonstrated a special knack with horses and with people who fear them. He convinced his mother to mount a horse for the first time when she was in her 60s. He first put his son on a horse at the age of two. Working with a new student, visibly apprehensive during her first lesson, Renauld is exceedingly patient and calm. "Trust me," he coaxes repeatedly, walking back and forth beside the horse, complimenting her timid and tentative maneuvering of the animal. Gradually, she seems to relax, her instructions to the horse become more purposeful, her tugs on the reins more confident. When the lesson is over, she complains that it has been too short Renauld looks pleased.

"Developing a comfort level with the horse, getting over the fear of the animal, that's what it's all about," he says. "Then you can really ride."

Beyond dealing with the horses, Renauld and his son, Christian, 21, maintain and market their farm. In 1991, Sunshine Acres grossed $45,000, part of which was generated by the sale of two horses. Renauld charges between $5,000 and $15,000 for a 2-year-old, already trained. He will sell younger horses in the $2,500 range. Some he has bred and raised himself, others he has purchased, "young, green and unproven," and after working with them and fattening them up, they've sold at market value, generating a decent profit. Last year, Renauld began expanding his barn, which now holds five horses, three of which are boarders.

Renauld was introduced to riding as a child when, during the summer, his great-grandfather would let him ride bareback on a mule while it plowed the fields of his Suffolk, Va., farm. As a treat when the work was done, he'd let Renauld ride down the road to visit friends. In 1973, Renauld bought his first horse for $200. The price was way below market value, partly because Renauld struck up a friendship with the seller and partly because the horse had a vicious streak and had been untrainable.

Calling on his patience along with skills learned from family members who breed and train dogs, and from watching professional horse trainers at work and asking a lot of questions, Renauld finally trained his horse. Named "She," the caramel-colored philly is half Tennessee Walker, half Arabian. She was bred for endurance and distance riding, and her gait, unlike that of many breeds, is especially smooth, thanks to her Tennessee Walker genes.

Over two decades, Renauld spent more and more time around horse farms, learning how to train horses, care for them, groom them, and even breed them. He earned a living, first as a professional musician and later as a model and songwriter. By the early 1980s, tired of paying to board She, and wanting to build a career around horses, Renauld decided to buy his own place. In 1985, he found his farm, Sunshine Acres, named after a song Renauld wrote and which Lou Rawls recorded. The farm was exactly what he wanted: a small wooden house and two sheds on several rolling acres, 35 minutes from downtown Baltimore, adjacent to a national park and near a river where he could pursue his hobby, canoeing.

Lacking the money to buy it outright he cut a deal with the owner, putting $5,000 down and leasing the property for $1,500 a month, half of which was applied toward his eventual down payment. Two years later, Renauld bought the farm for $157,000 with the help of a friend who owns 30%. "We have been made to believe that to be involved with horses, you have to be wealthy," says Renauld. "People look at me and say, 'Gee, you have a ranch, you're raising horses, you must be a millionaire.' They don't realize how accessible this is."

In addition to raising, training, boarding and selling horses, Renauld almost immediately set about developing a new breed of horse. Still fascinated by the Tennessee Walker in She, Renauld decided that the ideal breed would combine that smooth gait with the beauty of the Arabian and the strength of the Morgan. He first began breeding She in 1978 but it wasn't until 1989 that Renauld's first full "Morwalkarab" was born; the horse is three equal parts Morgan, Tennessee Walker and Arabian.

Although he has realized the dream of having a career devoted to horses, Renauld is still pursuing other dreams: To establish the Morwalkarab as a registered breed and to build the nation's first black-owned full-service equestrian center. He wants to see more horse trails etched into national parks, and corporate sponsorship of equestrian events that would provide more than recreation. Renauld expects the latter to begin this spring with Project Fragile: The Ride For Life, proceeds of which will be donated to AIDS research.

"Elizabeth Taylor. Whitney Houston, Eddie Murphy, M.C. Hammer, Brooke Shields all ride. Celebrities sing to raise money for farmers and bowl to raise money to fight cancer, they can ride to make money to cure AIDS," Renauld says indignantly. "Makes perfect sense."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:African Americans with unusual but dynamic jobs
Author:Clarke, Caroline V.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Biography
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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