Monday, February 16, 2015

Moms on Mondays - Jewels from La Tzigane

Today, I have the pleasure of featuring Jewels from La Tzigane!  This woman and I have been friends, on Instagram, since our babes were little tiny and I hope to one day meet her, and her sweet family, in real life (I need a little Canada in my life!).  This mama works so hard, has the cutest girls (one big, one small) and such a fun husband (it seems).  Her bead work is amazing, she makes some of my favorite kind of jewelry, jewelry I used to search antique and thrift shops for when I was younger.  You MUST check it out and go shop, she is even offering you a coupon code for 20% off:  LittleBlueberry20 on your purchase of $25 or more.  Seriously, go check out her stuff (and her Instagram), I have no idea how she does it but it is BEAUTIFUL!  :)

Tell us about what you make/sell in your shop.  
I liken La Tzigane to a sort of gypsy emporium, where I can showcase a little bit of everything I try my hand at. If it can be worn to adorn, I want to make it: scarves, hats, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, fascinators.  I enjoy trying so many different medium and techniques, that I couldn’t help expand from my beaded jewelry designs, and have in recent years added crochet, and knitting, but I know there will be so many more things to come. I’ve never liked confining myself to one single hobby, something my husband will vouch for wholeheartedly. So far, I love making jewelry and other fashionable accessories, but I try to step out of the mold and not follow ‘fashion’ too much. I prefer to
make items I like, items that I would wear, things that look good, feel good, and last. 

How/why did you start making these products and open this shop?

I’ve always been the creative type and come from a long line of creatives actually, my whole family on my mom’s side are known DIYers. Anything from painting, sculpting, knitting, sewing, building, writing, baking, millinery, anything. My family DIYed out of necessity most of the time, but this often developed into accidental money making ventures. 

I started my business back in 1998, to help sell some of the beaded jewelry I had been creating, at the urging of my then boyfriend (now darling husband), because, as he said, it was starting to take over the living room. I had contented myself in simply giving it away to friends and family, but once I started getting many customization requests, I knew that I had a possible business venture on my hands. It took me a few more years to even start sharing my work online, and after I discovering Etsy in 2007, I figured it would be the best way to get my work out there, without too much financial investment in a personalized website.

How long have you been in business?

I’d like to say that I’ve been in business my whole life. Ha! Ha! I’ve always had a bit of an ambitious enterprising nature, even as a child. But I’ll assume you mean as an adult, so since 1997.  {Ha!}

What is your background?

My work background is so varied, it would almost be easier to tell you what I’ve never done than what I have. I’m pretty resourceful, and never really worried about supporting myself, even holding a few little waitressing/bartending jobs while attending college. I graduated in 2001 from the Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology, with a diploma in Visual Arts and Graphic Design. However, this coincided with the third trimester of my pregnancy with our oldest, and I chose to remain home and raise her. Once I felt comfortable that I could return to the work force, technology had changed enough that I no longer felt I had the necessary skills to go back with my current knowledge. So I chose to pursue my creative endeavors instead, and taught myself anything and everything beading related that I could get my hands on.

Tell us a little bit about your family.

Our little family consists of myself, my husband of 17 years Chris, our oldest daughter Mimi, our (soon to be middle) daughter Didi, and a new little one due in July, we still don’t know the gender, but hope to find out at our next ultrasound. We live in Niagara Falls, Canada, in a gorgeous unique home built in 1971, in what can only be described as a mashup between Mid Century Modern, and Retro Modern style, and which I thoroughly enjoy furnishing with found and thrifted items. I manage our household, and run my little business, while Chris works at his medical bracing clinic, and we just carve our own little quiet corner of the world, enjoying each other, our kids, our two cats, and the gorgeous Green Belt surrounding us. We have the privilege of living in one of the most beautifully and naturally diverse areas of our country.  {Sounds completely lovely!  I 'm coming to visit!}

My husband is my most ardent supporter, always encouraging me to pursue my creative whims, and is always first in line to help me further myself, be that educational or professional.  

Did you ever think you'd be doing this? 


I always knew that I wanted to be a Maker. Creating with my hands is something that brings me such incredible pleasure, it’s meditative to me. And the fact that I might create something that could bring anyone else pleasure is just the cherry on top. I can’t not make, it’s almost compulsive! I could be out and about, just shopping, or browsing a museum or art gallery, even just perusing a magazine or newspaper, and something will draw my eye, an image, a pattern, a flower, and my brain automatically wants to render this, somehow, either with beads, thread, yarn, fabric, pencil, anything.

How do you find time to run your shop and create products?

This is something I’m still actively working on. Finding balance to raise the kids, run a house, be a good little wifey, and then to find some alone time to not only create my wares, but to photograph them, edit them, list them, and advertise them . . . well, that’s not always easy. I admit to letting it all fall to the wayside more often than not, to concentrate on our family; but I am actively making it a personal goal of mine to learn to balance it all. Balance is key, I now know this after spending too many years putting myself aside. I also know that a perfect balance is elusive and difficult. Not an impossible feat, but that as Momtrepreneurs with so much on our plates already, we need to come to terms with the fact that some days, we’ll have more time to devote to business, while others, will see no creativity at all outside of household or family management. To remember not to beat ourselves up over it. This is definitely my greatest challenge: Finding Balance. 

What do you love about this businesses?

The flexibility. I create pieces I love, so most of the items listed are ready to wear, but I occasionally make bespoke items, but still made on my own time. Where custom work is concerned, I always make sure I have the time to make it before accepting an order. 

I love that I constantly meet new people and make new friends, some online (mostly), and some at art shows, where I get to meet like-minded people who make me feel just a little less alone on this crazy big blue orb. I love meeting other Momtrepreneurs who are going, or have been, through everything I’m going through working on getting my business out there, and learning from them, garnering more knowledge as I go.

Where do you see your shop in the future?

I love that I have the opportunity to share my work online, but my greatest dream, would be to have my own Brick & Mortar shop for my wares. Somewhere in our historic downtown, with a little studio/pied-a-terre upstairs where I could go lose myself in my creativity and make as much mess as I want, and host weekly classes by different artists and artisans who would share their knowledge with everyone.

Tell us your favorite product or your most favorite thing you've created?

My favorite thing is always what I’m working on at the moment. Every piece has been like that. Whenever I create, it’s always something imagined deep inside, and seeing it develop in my hands, come to fruition, an holding something that I made, and merely started as a “What If” moment, I don’t think there’s anything much better than that for a Maker. 

Do you have any advice for future mom-entrepreneurs?

My advice to all Momtrepreneurs: Make time for You! I don’t mean just for your business, that’s a given. But for you, personally. We spend so much time losing ourselves in the caring of everyone else around us, that it’s easy to forget ourselves in the caregiving role. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but remember that there’s so much more to You. And honestly, without Self Care, you start burning out, and then spread yourself so thin, that you won’t have anything left to give anyone else. So taking the time to care for yourself, pamper yourself, take an afternoon off just to do what You want to do, in order to recharge your own batteries, that is of upmost importance.  {This is the BEST advice!!}

What are some of YOUR favorite shops/products, besides your own?

Oh there are a few. One of the very first shops I encountered and fell in love with on Etsy was For Strange Women. She creates her own blends of darkly romantic scents, liquid and solid, I just love her style. My dear friend Celia, from Paco and Lupe makes gorgeous handbags which I covet regularly (more like every single time she shares one of her latest designs on Instragram!), and I swear I’ll own one, some day soon! ;)  And when it comes to spoiling myself, I can’t get enough of Burts Bees I am hooked on the Coconut Foot Cream, and their Hand Salve, and never leave home without the Beeswax Lip Balm! Oh, and a little guilty pleasure of mine, it’s not really a product or a shop, but a lifestyle blog written by a lovely young lady, Andee Layne. She mostly shares her adventures as a new mom, health, vacations and shopping ventures, but I love perusing her lifestyle and personal fashion photos, and living vicariously through her sometimes lavish life.  

Jewels, you know I love you girl!  Thank you!!  :)

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  1. I am so grateful for this opportunity Allison, loved every one of your questions.
    I really enjoy reading your blog, and watching your beautiful family grow and play (your husband's a HOOT!!!). I'm amazed at the meaningful friendships that have developed through my Instagram feed, and to see our babies grow together (virtually) ��

    Shared on my FB page, hope you'll get more readers!

    1. Thank you mama! Same to you, love those girls of yours and am lucky to have met you!! xoxo

  2. And you BETTER come visit! This is your open invitation to Niagara Falls Canada ;)

    1. I expect you to rearrange some of that lovely, vintage furniture for us, in that awesome house, when I tell you we are on our way!! One day, mama!!