1. What sparked you to begin a career in jewellery design ?
I have always been an artist. As a kid I was constantly creating. I really wanted to learn to be a cordwainer (shoemaker), but education was only accessible in Europe. I went to OCAD University for my BFA, and I explored a lot of different mediums there. Jewellery was one of the courses I took at OCAD. I really liked the idea of making jewellery, because goldsmithing is such an old tradition. I decided to take up jewellery making more seriously after dabbling with it at OCAD. I knew I needed to seriously commit to learning to make jewellery in a professional way if I wanted to make it well. I went to George Brown College to learn to be a goldsmith, with the intent to leave and start my own fashion jewellery line. I have been true to that goal. Currently I am working on building my brand Betty Barbs. Betty Barbs is a contemporary minimal jewellery line.
2. What was it about design that intrigued you the most?
Jewellery design is interesting to me, because I like to make pieces that are worn in different ways than traditional jewellery is worn. I love using simple shapes to create pieces that look flat, but when they are worn they have a lot of volume and visual impact. Often people don’t know how to put some of my pieces on. I like that I can surprise viewers with these unconventional forms of jewellery. Customers have been delighted when the pieces actually fit the body even though they are not traditional pieces of jewellery.
3. Where do you draw your inspiration?
I am obsessed with Josep Font the creative director of Delpozo. I think he has mastered architecture meets textile. His clothing designs are feminine and contemporary. I want to translate his tailoring aesthetic into my jewellery design. I like how he creates volume that seems effortless. Scandinavian furniture design, interior decor, and clothing have had a big impact on my aesthetic. I have a fondness for minimalism in shape and colour. Architecture often inspires my work. I lived in grange park when the AGO and OCAD underwent their transformations. I was quite young then, so I was in awe of the construction. Frank Gehry’s AGO is one of my favorite places. It makes me nostalgic, and it offers inspiration.
4. Is there a designer that you admire the most?
Suzanne Belperron is a jewellery designer I admire for her style. She came up in the 1920’s. She was terribly innovative for her time and stood out when there were so many great designers. Her modern aesthetic has such a bold impact. Victoire De Castellane is my favorite living jewellery designer. She has had such an amazing career. She worked as the costume jewellery designer at Chanel for 14 years, and now directs Dior’s fine jewellery design. I am in awe of her career. Working for those two houses is such a coup.
5. What has been your biggest achievement/obstacle so far in your career?
My biggest achievement so far has been attending Toronto Fashion Week for the TFI Press & Buyers Brunch. I showed a cohesive collection, and people were interested in it. This was a turning point for me. I gained some good press from it, and made some good contacts. Mostly I felt confident in my brand, and my direction. It helped me figure out what I was missing with the way I am presenting my brand.
6. Any advice for aspiring #creators?
My advice for aspiring creators is to be yourself, and never try to be anybody else both personally, and professionally. Never try to mimic what other people are doing. Design for yourself. Trust your instincts.