Designers Bronwyn Hughes (left) and Kat McEvay (right)
It is always exciting to find new local and independent designers who use fashion as an artistic outlet and a means of connecting with others. It’s even more of a honour to be able to collaborate with them, to be given critical insight into their aspirations and creative intentions, and then to be able to write about them.
This past month, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the work of two fabulous and local jewelry designers: Bronwyn Hughes of Maitri Handmades and Kat McEvay of Kat Made Jewelry. They work from their studios in Victoria and Vancouver, respectively; and while their inspirations may emerge from different sources — with Bronwyn’s pieces drawing on crystalline energies and themes of interpersonal compassion, and Kat’s work anticipating up-and-coming alternative trends that are both feminine and empowering — both create stunning and unique designs, and both use their love-infused work to share their passions with people they meet at home and on the road.
It is with pleasure, too, that I share photos with you from a recent shoot Bronwyn and Kat did at the Government House Gardens with the fabulous Bree from Breeze Photography and Danielle of D.Lindenlaub Photography. These women in the photos — Bronwyn, Kat, Bree, and Danielle among them — are a wonderful group of friends, as is evident from the warmth that emanates from these photos. Bronwyn and Kat’s works often appear side-by-side in the same images, so explore both their pages if you see something inspiring! And check out more of Bree and Danielle’s incredible work on their Tumblr pages, here and here.
Bronwyn is a worker of brass, gemstone, and crystal jewelry — beautiful pieces made with loving intention and imbued with unique energies. I met Bronwyn at Bubby Rose’s Bakery and Café on Cook Street to talk about her work a couple weeks ago. It was a blustery day, the sky white with ambivalent clouds, the chill of autumn in the air. Bronwyn, however, is one of those people who radiates warmth and care; she is generous in her attention, listens fully, and is capable of wordlessly forming connection with others. Significantly, her presence reflects the philosophy at the core of her work: “Maitri” is the Sanskrit word for loving kindness, connection, openness — in other words, a clear heart. We talked briefly about how the world can be a hard and disconnected place, especially in urban spaces and the oft-talked about effect of our busy, modern lives. What Maitri Handmade jewelry signifies, then, is a meaningful connection achieved between people through the sharing of art and energy; from Bronwyn’s hand and heart to yours, no matter where your long days and nights may take you.
Bronwyn grew up in rural Ontario, just outside of Ottawa, where she developed a love for and connectedness within nature. Having travelled around Canada and Mexico, she arrived in Victoria last July. Identifying herself as “always crafty,” Bronwyn began creating her pieces in September 2013 as a means to rekindle her creative tendencies. And while her pieces are beautiful — cosmic, even, with the way the light changes when you look through the crystals’ translucent walls — they carry particular healing energies that operate on us on subconscious levels. She described the particular effects of the following minerals to me:
- Quartz: Possesses a positive, healing effect that amplifies our energies.
- Amazonite: Connected to the throat chakra; associated with the heart, and thus love and communication. It is also helpful in cleansing geopathic pollution (referring to the technologies that over-stimulate and confound us spiritually).
- Amethyst: Connected to the third eye, useful for opening consciousness and clearing “drunken” (delusional) thoughts.
The above pictures are from Bronwyn’s Etsy. From left to right, the minerals are quartz, amazonite, and amethyst.
While it can be valuable to know the attributes of the crystals and stones, Bronwyn emphasized that when choosing one of her pieces, it’s best to let them attract you; the one that draws you in, fascinates you, and resonates with you is the one you will benefit most from. And, aside from the ability to work with the energies of a diverse set of crystals and stones, it is this opportunity to connect with other people and provide them with healing, positive energies that excites Bronwyn the most about her project.
Victorians, West Coasters, readers near and far: I strongly encourage you to check out Bronwyn’s pages. Her jewelry is beautiful and infused with her genuine love and care. Furthermore, each piece is high-quality and completely unique, designed according to the crystal’s individual attributes and Bronwyn’s personal vision for it. She has also recently started to design canes (I got a sneak preview when we met), which are beautiful and well-suited to our outdoorsy, West Coast festival culture. Plus, Bliss Boutique downtown Victoria will soon be carrying her designs! Check out Bronwyn’s Etsy and social media below:
Kat Made Jewelry
On the front page of her website, Kat McEvay accurately describes her designs as the adornments of a “fearless babe who likes to make a statement [and] take risks.” Whether it’s the confident symmetry of a triangle suspended above the navel in a body chain, the smooth points of spikes dangling from a bracelet, or a hand ensconced gauntlet-style in diamond brass, her designs are both bold and beautiful. What makes Kat’s work even more awesome is her knack for creating unique designs coupled with a keen awareness of emerging fashion trends; when I asked her what inspires her line, she explained her creative method: “I like to create pieces that you can’t find in any stores, pieces that will make people stop and stare […]. I get ideas from fashion websites/magazines and like to see what the upcoming trends of fashion will be. I basically create pieces that I love and hope other people will love them as much as I do. It seems to be working out so far.” The results of this process are pieces of jewelry that are simultaneously contemporary, edgy, and one-of-a-kind.
Kat, not unlike Bronwyn, had a crafty disposition growing up; she began making jewelry for herself and her loved ones as a hobby. Gradually, her pieces became noticed and got complemented more and more, and so she decided to channel her passions into the creation of a small business. Now, she has a website featuring her beautiful line, and in the next year she will travel around festivals in British Columbia, featuring her work. And Kat’s professional and artistic aspirations don’t stop there; she has plans to provide local boutiques with her work, and to take her designs around the world in order to seek out new inspirations while sharing her own.
When asked what she loves most about making and selling her own work, Kat replied: “I love walking the streets of Vancouver and running into people wearing my stuff. It’s so rewarding that someone appreciates and loves it as much as I do. There really are no words when someone tells you that the piece you made is one of their favourite jewelry pieces. That is why I keep doing what I’m doing.” In this — and herein lies the beauty and importance of independent designers (and our continued support of them!) — Kat’s designs are a means of creating a community, of reaching out to other women and providing them with pieces that evoke empowering feelings of individualism and confidence.
Below are links to Kat’s website and social media. Follow her and stay touch with where her work takes her next!
I want to say thank-you to Bronwyn and Kat for this collaboration, and for the energy and passion they put into their work. It has been truly exciting to collaborate with these wonderful artists, and I know they will go far in their compassionate and creative pursuits. Thank-you also to Bree and Danielle for their gorgeous photography, and for letting me use their images to turn this page into a colour-rich dreamscape full of beautiful and mystical female beings.
Till next time,
– Style Raven