Thursday, September 30, 2010

Interview with a Fashion Design Student

I recently completed an interview with a fashion design student from the Art Institute of Vancouver. Sharlyn is an aspiring designer, and invited ecocessories to be a part of her magazine project for class. I tried to impart some words of wisdom, and thought you might be interested in reading the interview too! Enjoy!

Sharlyn: When did you know that jewelry design is what you wa
nted to get into and what influenced this?

Jessica: In 2007 I graduated from business school in Ontario, and flew out West to get in touch with my creative roots. I've always been an artist, but had yet to find the medi
um that inspired me the most! I knew Vancouver, with all it's natural beauty and artistic communities, would be the perfect spot for me to explore my creativity. I was working at the North Shore News and a co-worker was designing jewelry as a hobby. She taught me a few techniques and everything spiraled from there.

Since living in B.C. I had been really focused on living an "eco" lifestyle
, so I knew if I launched a company I wanted it to be eco-friendly as well. One day, the concept for ecocessories hit me - I realized that instead of purchasing new materials, I could rely on recycled jewelry to use materials that already exist in this world. I went home and disassembled every piece of jewelry I had! I also knew that I wanted the new designs I make to be high quality. I enrolled in a silversmithing course at North Vancouver Continuing Education and studied under a local silversmith.

Sharlyn: Did your first go at making jewelry turn out well?

Jessica: I'd say so! I started revealing my designs to family and friends and the positive response was overwhelming, and exactly the motivation I needed to keep going. However, it certainly hasn't been an easy road. It's constantly a balancing act between my creativity and my inner business woman. I have to be conscientious about managing the business side of things, when in all honestly I'd love to just design jewelry all day!

These first couple years of operating have been a learning curve to find out what works for my jewelry business too. I started out selling at shows, which was great for marketing and exposure. I was able to get feedback on my designs directly from customers, and learned to be a better designer. However, shows are expensive and in some cases I just broke even making it hard to get ahead. If I could do it all over again, I think I'd try to establish a client base first and then attend the shows, but that is just me. For some other designers shows are great. It's all about finding what works for you, and not just pursuing something because others are. You have to stay true to your own abilities and resources, and sometimes be able to look at an opportunity and just say no, because of timing, fit, or whatever.

Sharlyn: Where do you get your inspiration?

Jessica: My main inspiration comes from the recycled jewelry that I work with. ecocessories has a jewelry recycling service that takes in old, broken, unwanted jewelry from women across Canada. This is the sole source of material for my designs, besides the n
ew silver that I use. This means that I am limited to the recycled materials that comes to me - but this is also the most exciting part! I love the challenge of making a design work with just the recycled beads I have, or perhaps making adaptations to reflect the materials.

For my seasonal collections I am inspired by the environment and current fashion trends. As an artist, I look at the world in detail. I see the beauty in the finest details of nature, and I identify colours and shapes that aren't so obvious. For Spring/Summer 2010 my inspiration was water, in it's many shapes and forms. This inspired the colour palette I worked with - aqua blues, coral pinks, seaweed greens etc. I also really pay attention to what is happening in fashion, and what colours seem to be represented each season, because of course I want my jewelry to work with what is in style, although most pieces do end up with a timeless appeal.

Sharlyn: Do you have a muse?

Jessica: I don't know that I exactly have one muse, but I try to stay in touch with my inner voice and my spirit guides. I believe in the spiritual world, and that each of us has spirits that help us make decisions and succeed on certain paths in our lives. For me I
just try to trust in the direction I'm heading and that everything happens for a reason. I try to take disappointments, acknowledge them, and then continue on knowing that I'm supposed to be headed where I am. If I am stuck on a design, or an important business decision, sometimes it just takes a few days of reflection to identify what the answer may be. Life can certainly be frustrating, especially working as an artist, designer, and/or independent business person, but it's important to always trust your instincts and stay true to yourself!

Sharlyn: What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?

Jessica: Honestly just believe in yourself, have confidence, and always follow your passion. The more confidence you have in your ideas, the more others will want to support you! And this is the one thing that only you have control over. If you are wishy washy about what you are doing, or constantly seeking the approval of others before you make progress, it will show. I believe that our energy goes in to the things we are creating, and so it's important to reflect on what attitude you have while designing, because that attitude could affect how that piece sells, or the success of that certain collection.

As a designer, you need to realize you are doing something way more interesting than the majority of people in this world! Use that to your advantage. People will want to hear about your product, your progress etc. because it's different from what 90% of the population is doing with their lives. I try not to focus on weaknesses - sure I have them and every day really can be an uphill battle, but if someone asks about my designs or my business I just focus on the positive, and the lessons learned. People will always think it is easier than it is, and that used to frustrate me (do they not know how many hours I spent on that piece?! how my fingers were raw from bending that wire?! how I almost torched my hair soldering that clasp?!), but I try to let it slide. They just see something beautiful and the end, and it's up to you to defend your design's value and not take anything too personally.

Sharlyn: And if there is any other information you would like to share it would be greatly appreciated :)

Jessica: There is ALWAYS room for more design, beauty and art in this world. Don't ever think for one minute that because there are a lot of others out there doing what you are doing, that you shouldn't pursue this too. Your vision will be uniquely yours, and that is a wonderful thing! There will always be someone leaving the design world, and that just means it's time for you to slide on in! Good luck!!

Visit ecocessories™ to shop for recycled bead & sterling silver one-of-a-kind designs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eco Fashion Week Vancouver

Last night was the opening party and today marks the start of Eco Fashion Week Vancouver! I am sad that I could not be a part of this fantastic event this fall, but it was not possible for me with ecocessories just getting back into the swing of things after a break for my wedding this summer. However, I am excited to share with you some of my favourite eco fashion designers that will be showing their clothing collections this week at the event, as well as some influential eco fashion speakers that will be hosting seminars this week too.

{Cardigan Wrap by Nixxi}

Nixxi has been a long time favourite of mine. Designer Jada-Lee is an expert at fusing contrasts of structured lines versus casual drapes, and redefined classics with edgy cuts. I love the asymmetry of some of the pieces in the Nixxi collection, and the choice of eco-friendly fabrics including organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, soy, lyocell, organic wool, silk, and linen. The great thing about Nixxi clothing is that it can be personalized to suit your style by adding a few accessories, such as a statement ecocessories necklace. See Nixxi tonight at 8:30pm at the Creekside Community Centre.

{Integrity Top by Nicole Bridger}

I first learned about Nicole Bridger when this motivated designer won Canada's first ever Eco Fashion Designer Award from Toronto based Fashion Takes Action. Her story is heartfelt - she credits a split from her husband and the healing process thereafter as inspiring her label. Even the tags on her pieces communicate the emotion that went into designing this line, which feature the words I Am Love. These words are meant as an affirmation of her commitment to take care of the earth's people. The Nicole Bridger collection includes everything from your basic tanks and tees for layering, to unique styles such as my favourite for Fall 2010, the Healing Cardigan. See Nicole Bridger on Wednesday night at 8:30pm at the Creekside Community Centre.

{Bamboo Dress in Ocean by Lav & Kush}

Lav & Kush is a sustainable clothing line that boasts flirty feminine styles in soft buttery fabrics that flatter most body types. Carefully placed details such as gathers, pleats and ruffles contribute to the unique pieces that define this collection. Designer Amanda Saxena has a commitment to supporting non-profits with the sale of her designs, including PETA, David Suzuki Foundation and BCSPCA to name a few. Sexy styles in the Fall 2010 collection truly represent the line's slogan "The Flirt of Sustainable Fashion". See Lav & Kush tonight at 8:30pm at the Creekside Community Centre.

{Eco Model and Environmental Activist, Summer Rayne Oakes}

These are just a few of the designers with runway shows during Vancouver Eco Fashion Week and you can find the whole schedule on their website here. In addition to the designers, the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week team has lined up a speaker series, featuring one of my favourite eco fashion influencers, Summer Rayne Oakes. Summer Rayne is a model-activist who seamlessly combines her environmental vision with her modeling career. Summer Rayne uses the fashion industry as a platform for environmental activism as has successfully been named the world's first eco model. Hear Summer Rayne speak this Thursday at 10:00am at the Creekside Community Centre.

If you are lucky enough to be in Vancouver to attend these events, enjoy! And if you aren't, please support these amazing designers when choosing your wardrobe this fall (all collections are for sale online and at boutiques across Canada). It is imperative that we all become more aware about where our clothing is made, and what it is made of. In fact I just watched a video yesterday about the cotton fields in India, and if you have 10 minutes to watch, this is a worthy video to help us understand the cycle we are up against.

ecocessories to shop for recycled bead & sterling silver one-of-a-kind designs.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Support Local with Fine Finds

This weekend Fine Finds, a Vancouver retailer of ecocessories jewelry, is hosting an amazing event called Support Local. Fine Finds is located in Yaletown and are also proud to announce that they've been chosen as Vancouver's Favourite Gift Store as voted in the Georgia Straight two years in a row!

{Visit Fine Finds this weekend for Support Local and enter to win a $1000 shopping spree!}

There is really no reason not to pop by Fine Finds sometime during the weekend of September 24, 25, & 26th if you are out around downtown Vancouver. Just by attending you will be treated to champagne, chocolates, and the chance to win a $1000 shopping spree!

{Shop for new styles from your favourite Canadian fashion designers}

You will be able to shop and learn about the local designers that are carried at Fine Finds, which boasts almost a dozen glass cabinets of Canadian designer jewelry, racks of new Fall 2010 collections, and tables of the most unique gifts in town!

Stop by Fine Finds any time this weekend and if you RSVP with the subject RSVP and your name to you will automatically receive a free gift! Show your love for Canadian and Vancouver based design at Fine Finds.

Where? 1014 Mainland St., Yaletown, B.C.
How to get there? Drive, walk or take the Canada Line to the Yaletown-Roundhouse station.
RSVP? Yes - send an email with your name and the subject RSVP to

Visit ecocessories™ to shop for recycled bead & sterling silver one-of-a-kind designs.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mixed Greens - Earth Friendly Shopping in Fenelon Falls

This summer my husband and I made the decision to leave our beloved home in North Vancouver, B.C. to move back to Ontario to be close to our family and friends. ecocessories is expanding nationally and will still have a strong presence in Vancouver with both Fine Finds in Yaletown, and Poppy Hair Boutique on West 4th carrying ecocessories designs and accepting recycled jewelry.

{Mixed Greens now carries ecocessories jewelry and is located at 3 Francis Street West in Fenelon Falls, Ontario}

Luckily, we have made our new home and located my new studio in the small town of Fenelon Falls, Ontario, which boasts a beautiful waterfront, abundant nature, and strong community spirit. I was excited when visiting Fenelon Falls this summer to discover Mixed Greens, a local retailer of earth friendly goods. Mixed Greens carries many of the eco-friendly and organic products that we came to know and love in Vancouver, and I am proud to announce that ecocessories jewelry is now available there too!

{Unique ecocessories jewelry designs, available exclusively at Mixed Greens}

This eco-friendly shop is run by a passionate couple, and a few minutes chatting with owner Damien Valles had us discussing everything from personal care products, eco fashion, to raising chickens! Damien explained that he'd opened the shop at the beginning of this summer and has received a wonderfully positive response from the local community. While he has started out offering a diverse range of eco products, he aspires to really engage the community by hosting workshops and showing documentaries in his Francis St. storefront.

{Me To We Style organic cotton t-shirts}

I was happy to see Mixed Greens offering some of my favourite brands, including Me To We Style, a Toronto based sustainable clothing brand who ecocessories partnered with for the Less Is More campaign this summer. Also available is Homestead House Milk Paint which I'm excited to try on some furniture redesign and my favourite Badger Balm Sunscreen which protects your skin and nourishes it too using a mixture of essential oils.

{Visit Mixed Greens in Fenelon Falls, Ontario or join the Facebook page here}

These are just a few among many amazing products available at Mixed Greens. If you are in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario, this store is a must visit destination. Shop for ecocessories jewelry and other great eco-friendly goods!

Visit ecocessories to shop for recycled bead & sterling silver one-of-a-kind designs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Eco-Friendly Wedding

This summer, on August 21, 2010, my husband and I celebrated our wedding. For us this day was about sealing the bond of our love, but we also realized it was an opportunity to share and practice our eco-friendly values with our friends and family. Of course myself, the bridesmaids, and the mothers were all wearing ecocessories jewelry, all uniquely designed one-of-a-kind pieces that reflected each woman's personality.

{Zipping of the dress - photography by Jer Wilcocks Photography}

The girls all got their hair done at the earth friendly hair salon in Petrolia, Ontario called the Rooted Bohemian. We got ready at my Nana's house in my hometown of Sarnia, Ontario and the reception was held in my mother's backyard gardens during a light summer rain (good thing the guests brought umbrellas!). Our minister was Allan McKeown, who, as a member of the Green Party shared our eco-friendly values too and incorporated this into the ceremony words.

{Me, wearing my ecocessories bridal jewelry featuring recycled pearls and sterling silver chain - photography by Jer Wilcocks Photography}

My dress was custom designed from my mother's original wedding dress. I took my mother's dress to talented Vancouver designer Tanya King, who deconstructed the original and came up with a one-of-a-kind design that reflected my style. The men all wore rented tux's, Sterling Silver Dime Cufflinks by ecocessories, and handmade ties by the Cyberoptix Tielab.

{The bridesmaids were wearing the sustainable and versatile Chameleon Gown by Isadora Clothing - photography by Jer Wilcocks Photography}

The bridesmaids all held paper umbrellas, instead of bouquets, as the wedding day featured absolutely no cut flowers. This was a big way for us to cut on costs and reduce our carbon footprint. My bouquet was made of hand-crafted paper flowers and was completely recyclable. Our centerpieces at the reception hall were all potted plants, all contained in clay pots hand-painted with low VOC paint, that our guests were able to bring home.

{Even the transportation was eco-friendly - here we are heading to the reception by horse drawn carriage - photography by Jer Wilcocks Photography}

Other details that reflected our eco-friendly style were the organic cupcakes we made and served for dessert, the recycled glassware cupcake towers, and the recycled cardboard "Just Married" sign. With every single decision we made (and believe me, there were a lot of them!) my husband and I truly asked ourselves what the best answer was considering the environment. I am so happy and proud of our special day and encourage any bride and groom planning a wedding to think about what eco-friendly details you can incorporate too!

ecocessories offers unique designer wedding jewelry for something old & something new on your wedding day. Browse the designs available online, or please contact me for a custom piece, perhaps incorporating heirloom jewelry of your own.

Visit ecocessories to shop for recycled bead & sterling silver one-of-a-kind designs.