WHITEHORSE — A Canadian jewelry designer discovered the impact a royal endorsement could have for her business after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit to Yukon.
While Prince William and Kate visited Carcross on Sept. 28, the Duchess wore a pair of bronze earrings by designer Shelley MacDonald.
MacDonald, who was travelling in Iceland at the time, said she was surprised to find out Kate owned a set of her earrings, let alone showed them off during the Royal Tour.
A prospective customer contacted MacDonald through her online store asking about the earrings, tipping her off to what happened. After that initial message, other requests to buy the earrings started to pour in, MacDonald said.
"For two weeks, it was just 14-hour days answering people's messages," she said.
The sudden global interest in fashion items worn by the duchess has been dubbed the "Kate effect."
From the day MacDonald opened her online store in 2014 until the day before Kate wore her earrings, she had only 51 sales. Now she's made more than 540 sales.
The pieces Kate was wearing were MacDonald's bronze Ulu earrings, inspired by the multi-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit women for cutting hair, meat and fish.
"It's my interpretation of the ulu," said MacDonald, who draws upon northern environment and culture in some of her designs.
"It's very important not to take an actual object and recreate it, so I changed it and made it to fit with my designs."
At the time, MacDonald said she had only made one pair of the Ulu style in bronze, and was puzzled by how Kate got hold of them.
It was only when MacDonald flipped through her book of sales that she remembered Andy Carvill, the chief of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, had asked all the Carcross shops to be open Aug. 5 because people affiliated with the Royal Family would be coming through.
As it happened, a woman and man came into MacDonald's boutique on that day, and the woman bought the Ulu earrings and a pair of gold nugget earrings, said MacDonald.
"I looked up (Kate's) stylist online ... and it was actually her who purchased them from me," she said.
With demand booming for her designs, MacDonald said she has had to hire an assistant and is working on 400 new pairs of the ulu-inspired earrings.
"I still wake up and I'm like, 'Is this is really happening right now?' And then I look at my bench and I'm like, 'Yes, this is really happening,' " she said.
(The Whitehorse Star)