Renée Lévesque, the owner and designer, grew up in Grand Falls, New Brunswick where she discovered her love of jewelry at an early age. “The first necklace I made I was in grade five,” she says. “The principal said I had to stop selling jewelry at school because I was taking students lunch money.”
However, as an adult, Lévesque did not immediately pursue her passion for jewelry design. Her first business was a grocery store, which she owned and managed while still making jewelry on the side.
“Even when I had the grocery store, I still did jewelry. I never stopped… I would go anywhere where I could to sell jewelry,” she says. “But after seven long years of friggin’ torture in the grocery store, I closed it and I opened my first store that was just jewelry, nothing else, right after that.”
Lévesque says her business has changed a lot over the 29 years she has been professionally selling jewelry. “At one point I had seven stores and four kiosks, they were all in malls,” she says. “I had a huge bead bar and people would come in and make their own jewelry.”
About a year ago, Lévesque had two other stores in Ottawa, which she closed to create the current location on Sussex Dr. She also has another studio in Montreal, but lives fulltime in Aylmer, Que.
Now her studio showcases her one-of-a-kind jewelry but also sells clothing and displays local artwork.
After making the long transition from the grocery store, to travelling kiosks, to store locations in two cities, Lévesque says she is finally settled.
“I used to want to have more, more, more, more, more. Not anymore. I had many stores. This is like my 28th store, I think. This is enough.”
Despite being in the retail business for almost three decades, Lévesque says that for her, it is not about the money. “It’s not the selling part, that part I don’t like, but it’s the creating part and the colours and mixing the shapes.”
She rolls her eyes as she warns, “Don’t go into retail.” She laughs, “No, I’m kidding,” but then says more seriously, “Retail is hard, but the creativity is what keeps you in. It’s the buying, the displays, the staff, the creativity part.”
When it comes to “the creativity part” and making the actual pieces, Lévesque says she doesn’t do much planning ahead of time. “Sometimes I don’t see it, sometimes there’s nothing. I just sit there and I look at the beads and I just do it,” she says, “I mean I’ve been doing this all my life.”
If she has an inspiration block and can’t think of anything at the time, Lévesque turns to the Monet, Van Gogh or another artist that uses a lot of colour in their work.
In the back of her studio, where she works at a table surrounded by an array of countless beads, she points out a small abstract painting. Lévesque says if she is stuck sometimes she will look at the painting and pick a random spot, swirling her finger around and then landing on some blues and purples as an example.
When it comes to her daily schedule, Lévesque says simply: “I come in. I make jewelry.” She sometimes has to travel to Toronto or Montreal to buy stock and materials, but for the most part, she says, “We’ll make [jewelry] until the day is over. We go until 6 o’clock.” Lévesque doesn’t mind the long day in the studio. She smiles and urges excitedly, “It’s fun. Try it. Sit there and make it. It’s so much fun.”
“It’s always the colours that inspire me…I’m always drawn by the colours.”