If it seems like craft shows -- like The One Of A Kind -- are being taken over by indie jewelry designers, you're probably right. Thanks to sites like Etsy, more and more women (and some men) are spending their spare time crafting necklaces, bracelets and earrings. The hard part is turning that hobby into a full-time business.
"It comes down to keeping up with the trends and being innovative," say Jennifer Ger and Suzie Chemel, the two minds behind the ground-breaking line Foxy Originals.
The two friends met in university and realized they shared a mutual passion for fashion design and jewels. Ger started selling her own indie necklaces to boutiques while in high school; Chemel comes from a family of designers. After a few months, they developed the branding and logo for their company (naming it Foxy because the dictionary defines the term as crafty and cunning). Within months they were selling their wares at concerts and campus events; by the end of their university career their items were being sold in 30 to 40 boutiques across Canada.
Today, only eight years after taking their once indie dream full-time, Foxy has become one of the biggest jewelry success stories in Canada. The pair now evolves and reinvents the line on a yearly basis, and have signed on to create baubles with brands like Umbra, Barbie, Calvin Klein, Smashbox and Nike (to name only a few).
But they're not the only jewelry success story Canada can boast about.
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Stonefox, designed by Andrea Tsanos, is taking the semi-precious stone jewelry market by storm (Foxy specializes in metal-based designs). Tsanos, a former full-time clinician at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, fell into designing jewelry six years ago.
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"A colleague of mine asked if I'd come with her to check out a jewelry store at lunchtime. She had just received a well-deserved promotion so wanted to reward herself with something special, and had her sights on "one of those necklaces with semi-precious stones." Sadly, the necklaces were quite pricey. The owner emphasized the one-of-a-kind nature of the designs and that they "hailed from a New York designer" as her justification for the high price points. I couldn't help but turn to my friend and say I felt I could make jewelry like that myself."
From there, Tsanos learned the ins and outs of designing jewelry (on her own and with a little help from local bead store boutiques) and began digging for semi-precious stones in Canada and Europe. She started selling her wares to friends and colleagues at the hospital and worked her way up to selling stuff at corporate jewelry events. Media caught wind of her success and, after a few spots on local television programs and websites, her designs quickly became in-demand in Toronto and Bermuda. In 2010, Tsanos opened her first stand-alone boutique.
While there are countless beautiful jewelry lines out there, Tsanos believes her line has become successful for a few reasons.
"My pieces are original... They're handmade and one-of-a-kind... They're entirely made of gemstones... [And] many of the designs are "convertible.""
It all shows, with enough patience, creativity and tenacity, you can make it on your own as a jewelry designer.
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