Who are you? What do you do, and where do you do what you do? How long have you been doing it for? How did your business get started? Just a brief history.
My name is Janie Fontaine. I make jewels from material that I upcycle: I transform used things into pretty treasures! I have been making jewels for over two years, but officially incorporated Janiejewels in January 2013. I started making crafts when I became a stay-at-home mom and needed to find creative ideas to entertain my young kids. One thing led to another and I ended up making jewels (I have always loved wearing jewels). I also do birthday parties and workshops where I teach adults and kids how to make jewels.
Why partner with Goodwill?
When I opened my business, I started collaborating with a few businesses by collecting their ‘trash’, in order to do waste management and to use it for my jewels. Goodwill came right away to mind: I knew there had to be lots of things Goodwill wasn’t able to keep and had to throw away. I was very interested to partner with Goodwill in order to offer my products in their stores, while helping in managing their waste. I was also very interested in expanding my production of jewels and the Goodwill stores of Alberta seemed like a perfect match. They already promote second hand products and therefore are a very Green company , exactly what I am trying to be.
How did you get into upcycling?
I have always been very conscious of the environment and tried to reduce our consumption as a family. When I decided to quit my career to become a stay-at-home mom, I found that making crafts from used items commonly found in the house was the best way to become a green and sustainable family. There has been lots of trials and errors before becoming good at it. Practice makes perfect.
What type of products do you use to make your jewelry?
I usually tell people: think about all the things you usually throw away..that’s what I use! Stained or ripped clothes, zippers, buttons, random board game and puzzle pieces, broken jewels, washers and bolts, old keys, broken DVDs and CDs, keyboards, used coffee lids, clear plastic, pop tabs, broken balloons, twigs, and more!
Where do you find the objects you use to make your jewelry?
Many companies and families, along with Goodwill Donation Centres, keep these used items for me, knowing I reuse them. I collect them on a monthly basis.
What inspires your work?
Everything around me! I absolutely hate throwing away, therefore my mind is always set on finding a new life for an item. I do a lot of tests and trials and when I am satisfied with the look of something, I produce it in larger quantities when material is available.
Do you have a favorite piece, and if so, why?
Yes: the pull tabs bracelets and earrings. they were the first pieces I made, therefore I will always cherish them! Still, as of this date, they are some of the most popular jewels I make. They are available easily: lots of families drink pop.
Do you have a most requested item/style?
Always the pull tabs!
Tell us a bit about your experience on the Dragon’s Den.
Dragons’ Den was one of the best experiences I ever got to do. These five dragons are exceptional entrepreneurs and therefore it was an honor to meet them. In February 2013, we auditioned in front of the producers in Calgary and learned a week later that we were accepted. We filmed at the CBC studios in Toronto in April, and our show aired at the Season 8 premiere on October 2, 2013. So it’s been a long journey but one of the greatest ones ever, as a business woman. It inspires confidence and inspiration.
Got any words of wisdom for someone looking to turn their craft into a business?
I believe the key to success for any business, be it crafts or anything else, is that it has to be a passion first. I read somewhere that “the most successful entrepreneurs all came up with their new business ideas the very same way: by turning their personal interest into a business while still maintaining a full-time job.” I believe it is true.
To learn more about JanieJewels go to http://www.janiejewelscanada.com/