The trend to buy local need not only apply to coffee and vegetables. With a bevy of talented local designers in the city’s fashion scene, Winnipeggers can support their community and look stylish doing it.
Tesia Rhind is an environmental studies student at the University of Winnipeg and uses her talents as a designer to help support herself. She hand paints various images on to T-shirts and sculpts with polymer clay to create many of her unique jewelry designs.
Ranging from faux feather earrings to an octopus pendant, Rhind’s jewelry collection is unique and extremely diverse.
She offers custom orders for jewelry and for T-shirts at affordable prices.
Although custom-made orders are more time consuming projects to take on, being able to offer one-of-a-kind pieces to customers is a valuable quality to have for a designer.
“I get strange requests out of nowhere, but it’s fun to do those,” she said, referring to some of the orders she’s received, like a giraffe and a piranha.
Hoping to get her name out in the Winnipeg fashion scene, Rhind took her jewelry to Paramix on Osborne and asked the owner to sell her line, called Tesia Coil, in the shop.
Though the store gets a 50 per cent cut from her jewelry sales, being able to sell her pieces in a trendy store like Paramix is one of the best ways to get noticed and gain a reputation in the industry, Rhind said.
Belinda Morales is another local designer, specializing in dressmaking.
Like Rhind, Morales wanted to get her name out in the Winnipeg fashion scene and knew the best way to do that was to sell her clothing at a retail store.
With a backpack full of dresses she designed, she biked over to Osborne Village and asked different storeowners if they would sell her designs.
Her clothing line, Bel, is now available at Splurge in Osborne Village.
Online marketplaces like Etsy are another useful outlet for local designers and artists to show off their skills and make some money off them, too.
Sarah Jonasson sells her clothing line, The Velvet Vixen, at some local Winnipeg stores, but mainly sells her items online.
“The good thing about selling online is they don’t take a huge chunk of profits, compared to shops that charge 50 per cent or more of the sale,” explained Jonasson in an email.
Her clothing line, often inspired by her Icelandic heritage, has caught the attention of Sandbox Magazine, and some of her dresses will be featured in their upcoming issue.
Each designer agrees that one of the most important things local artists should do to get noticed and involved in Winnipeg’s fashion scene is to make connections with other people in the industry.
Attending craft sales, fashion shows and connecting with fellow local artists and designers is the best way to gain success.
But you need to have the talent, too.
“Winnipeg is incredibly creative ... (which is) a great thing, but it also makes it a little bit harder,” said Rhind. “You have to be incredibly unique because there are so many creative people here.”
Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)