More and more female entrepreneurs in Canada are showing great success in investing in their own future, and Brittany Hopkins is one of the creative, driven young women doing just that. Her one-of-a-kind Jewel Boutique, Anice, opened in Toronto’s Kensington Market in early June and is a one-stop shop for creativity, inspiration, and beauty. Hopkins creates new, and remodeled antique jewelry, as well as holds workshops in-store and creates an at-home jewelry party experience that makes any browser feel welcome. We caught up with the dynamic entrepreneur/designer to discuss her industry experience, her exciting new boutique, and her words of wisdom for other budding business owners.
Emily Gray: I love anything antique that holds a story, especially in heirlooms. Tell me how Anice Jewel Boutique evolved from an idea to an actual storefront?
Brittany Hopkins: I was joking with a customer the other day when I said my current mission is to “bring life to old treasures, one jewellery box at a time”. My love affair with jewellery and the inception of Anice really began for me at the age of four, when visiting my grandparents. I saw my grandmother gracefully perched in her lawn chair, her magnificent, glistening earrings, matching her outfit to perfection, and capturing my attention instantly. Like many times before, I was enthralled by the splendor and elegance of my Grandmothers’ accessories and her name was Anice Kulak. I attribute my lifelong obsession and drive for designing jewelry to her.
EG: What were your past experiences in the jewelry business before launching your own brand and ultimately opening your own store?
BH: I worked at a bead store in Edmonton for four years, where I learned basic jewelry making, wire working, a lot of stone and material knowledge, taught workshops and gained valuable store management experience. I haven’t worked anywhere else for jewelry experience, though I have had the responsibility of operating many small boutiques and businesses.
EG: What motivated you to finally break out on your own?
BH: I originally started making jewelry for friends and family, working at the bead store, going to business school where I majored in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, hosting jewelry parties, participating in markets, and selling in a few stores in Edmonton where I grew up. All of this was before 2008. Once I learned about how to become certified and head in a more serious direction with my design, I went back to school in Toronto for gold-smithing and from there I knew it would actually be possible to make a career out of my talent.
EG: What advice do you have for women looking to branch out and start their own business while staying true to their vision?
BH: Go with your gut. Go with your heart. If you have a passion, just do it. It is not always about the perfect timing either. I was not necessarily in the ideal position to be launching my own store and business, but if you wait too long for that ‘perfect’ time you’ll be waiting forever. There is something to be said about bravery in your goals, living your life to the fullest and following your dreams. Whatever happens, success or failures, at least you went for it.
EG: Tell me a little more about the Anice brand and how it has evolved from when you first started selling to family and friends to now owning and operating your own storefront?
BH: In 2010 I re-launched the Anice brand, introducing a new logo, and a more refined image. Since then, I have been strengthening the true essence of Anice. I think owning my own store was something I knew I wanted eventually, but didn’t think that it would happen so fast. I was clouded with so many other distractions, industry comparisons and pressures, and my own self-doubt. Just like anything else though, once I made room for it, the realization of what my business was missing and what my dream really was turning into became clear.
EG: It is important to have a support system when working as a freelance designer, was there any one person or family member who taught you business ethics or encouraged your choice to open your own store?
BH: Actually, Yes! My mom is a business consultant. She is a great source of wisdom and encouragement for me. She keeps it real and did not glorify what it would be like. Growing up and seeing all the hard work my mom put into developing her own business and the gratification that came with successes from doing her own thing was certainly inspiring.
EG: Do’s and Don’ts are always something we learn in any aspect of life when we take on a new project. In your opinion, what are the Dos and Don’ts of business?
BH: Do take pride in yourself and your surroundings. Do open and close on time everyday. Don’t freak out about the things you don’t know or understand yet. Don’t pretend to know everything. Do continue to ask questions. I have been asking questions like it’s my other job because as far as I am concerned, experience is gold, literally!
For workshop and pricing information, please visit Anice Jewel Boutique online or pop in and say hello to Brittany and your next custom piece at 167 Augusta Avenue in Toronto – your jewelry box will thank you!
Image 1: Brittany’s everyday staple piece, Peruvian Opal, helps ideas flow freely. She tarted wearing it when she was developing her business plan and needed all the strength she could get.
Image 2-3: Brittany’s current favorites and examples of re-worked vintage materials
Image 4: An example of how vintage (the scaly chain is from an older lady in a small town outside of Victoria, Sidney, B.C.) and new materials can be worked into a statement piece. The stone is faceted turquoise and she’s added quartz and vintage rings as well.
Image 8: Britt and her Grandma, Anice Kulak
(Images 1-5 by Christian Bobak, as seen on Toronto Life)
By: Emily Gray, Toronto
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