An Inuvik artist from Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., who makes and sells beaded earrings, had some of her work up for sale on a well-known Canadian fashion retailer’s website late last month.
The earrings sold out within a day.
“I totally forgot about [the launch] and missed it completely because I sold out that fast,” said Erica Donovan who had five sets of earrings posted on Fabrique 1840, a section of Simons’ website, that lists and sells items created by Canadian artisans.
Donovan, who has been running her jewellery business, She Was A Free Spirit, for more than five years, had five pairs of earrings listed for sale on the site.
She said the opportunity to have her work featured on Fabrique 1840 came after she read about it in an NWT Arts newsletter.
Fabrique 1840 teamed up with the Canadian Crafts Federation to put on a virtual market that launched the day after National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Bridging a market gap
The goal for the brand was to introduce even more artists to their customers from all over Canada.
Beaded earrings from She Was A Free Spirit were selected to represent the N.W.T., while hats from Inuit artist Annie Akulukjuk Kilabuk represented Nunavut and beautiful prints from watercolour artist Rosemary Scanlon represented the Yukon.
“We came about to really bridge the gap in the market between artisans and the larger market that Simons is targeting,” said Cécile Branco, director of Fabrique 1840.
She said the brand has worked with over 300 artisans so far and hopes it will continue to grow.
“Most artists that we work with stay with us for years,” she said.
What’s next for Donavan
Donovan is already in communications with Simons to make more earrings for Fabrique 1840.
“The next batch I’m making … I’m making two of them (each) because you want to stay on the Simons platform because who knows who will see that and what opportunities come from it,” Donovan said.
She got her start in beading by taking a workshop at the Great Northern Arts Festival. Since then, she has been slowly building her business and now has a website and is currently looking at mentoring another beader.
She said having the opportunity to be featured on Fabrique 1840 is amazing.
She said more opportunities will come if she continues to work hard.
“I’m always jumping on opportunities so it was bound to happen but I never thought Simons,” Donovan said. “It feels nice to have these milestones and be an inspiration to those before me or after me.”
And Donovan’s ultimate goal?
“It’s an inside joke,” she said. “When I reach J. Lo (Jennifer Lopez) is when I say I’ll be done.”