Friday, November 12, 2010

Feature Friday: Toxie Designs

I am Jennifer, I live in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada. I am the designer of a line of sleek contemporary sterling silver and gold jewelry featuring Swarvoski Crystal called: Toxie Designs. I am married (just over one year now) to great man who makes me laugh and supports my creativity. My formal education is in clothing and textile design. I worked in the field for a while and now I am working for an investment company doing graphic design but I would really like to get back into the textile field (which may mean moving elsewhere).

I studied textiles with an focus on sustainable design which is why I like using Argentium Silver for my jewelry. It requires fewer chemicals for production and the maintenance.

When I went to name my jewelry line I was researching strong women and thought an Amazon warrior’s name might be fitting. I found references to Toxaris who was, according to legend, a skilled archer. From there Toxie arose; modern expression built from an ancient base.

How and when did you start making jewelry and your other items?

I have been making jewelry and other things for as long as I can remember. When I was in grade one, I made for my teacher a floral brooch using tissue as the petals and a swab for the stem. But most of my creations were for my mom - who as it turns out is allergic to nickel and does not have her ears pierced and could not wear most of what I made for her.

I continued to make jewelry as gifts and for myself (of course). When I lived in Montreal after university I collected hundreds of green beads to make a 7 ½ foot long necklace which I wear wrapped as a multi-strand necklace. I had at least a dozen pairs of earrings made before I even got my ears pieced 4 years ago.

It was not until about 5 years ago when the concept behind Toxie Designs began to emerge. Initially I was going to start a business with a friend and researched the cost of pieces and supplies. My friend and I have very different design styles and decided not to pursue a joint venture. She has always been supportive of my endeavours. I began making Swarovski crystal jewelry to sell. I have been selling through a local woman’s boutique and to colleagues since. I have even had a couple designs appear in movies that were shot in Winnipeg (The Lookout with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Make it Happen with Tessa Thompson).

Just before Christmas 2009 I decided to change from purchasing my findings to learning to make my own. This allowed me to focus the direction of Toxie Designs into a more contemporary sleek look since I was not limited by ready-made findings. Since then I have been bending, twisting, hammering and I am just starting to use a micro torch to fuse and solder silver.

When and how did you originally find Etsy?

I found Etsy some time in the spring of 2010. I am not sure how I found it. I could have been looking for supplies or jewelry tutorials or I could have been looking for an online venue - I cannot remember it was such a blur. Sometimes I spend days crawling the web for information on different subjects; one leading to another. That’s how I found out about Argentium silver (my new love) - there was a post on a website with tutorials on making jewelry. I created my Etsy ID back in May and launched in June 2010. Things are going okay - I have been featured in some nice treasuries and I donated several pairs of earrings to Helpthegulfcoast. All the donated pieces sold very quickly, which I found encouraging.

What is unique about Etsy and what about the website do you like the most in regards to your shop?

Etsy has many great things going for it. It is a leader in many ways for an online venue; it has a name and following. Since the site is so popular, with so many sellers – especially in jewelry - the competition has been good for me to focus my work. Previously my designs would be a mix of styles and price points. With so many other sellers I think it is best to create a cohesive shop.

I am constantly editing my designs. I focus on both the style of the product and the presentation (photos, logo, hangtags, and descriptions). This why I have the second store with my destash and some other designs. It is called AvaSweet. It is my venue for styles that do not fit Toxie Designs’ aesthetic manifesto - sleek, minimal, contemporary and ultra-modern.

From the online Etsy community I have learned about many other resources. I am excited to launch on Trunkt which I learned about on the Etsy forums.

What inspires you the most in regards to your creations?

Line, Shape and Cut inspire me the most; either geometric or organic shapes and the interplay between the two. The facets of the beads against the hammered curved metal. I am inspired by the challenge of exploring the options and developing my own new designs. One of my more recent challenges has been how to use drop pendants within the context of Toxie Designs. I don’t like most bails that are available and wire wrapping seems too rustic for Toxie. I have been working a new design – I have made one prototype and will be working on more options.

What is your favorite piece you’ve created and why?

Definitely the first Swarovski piece I made. It is at the opposite end of the spectrum from my minimalist Toxie pieces. If I were to name it, it would be: Maximus. It is a 5 strand bracelet made of an explosion of crystal in shades of green with pops of pink, purple, aqua blue, pale yellow and orange. I used as many shapes and sizes as I could, from cubes, margarita spacers, briolette donuts, diagonal cubes and round beads; all inter-spaced with small sterling silver beads. I still have the piece and am considering refashioning it with gold filled findings and selling it either online or in a higher end store in town.

I am very proud of all my more recent designs as I’m manufacturing all the earwires. One day soon I would like to make my own beads – not faceted crystal but silver beads – maybe out of precious metal clay/art clay.

What do you want to accomplish with your online shop?

I have pretty modest goals for my online Etsy Store. I want to expand my product line to have bracelets, necklaces and rings, yet keep the coherent line of jewelry I started. I would like to be making 4 - 10 sales month. My other goal is to have more lines - as crazy at that seems.

Where can readers find out about more information regarding your jewelry and other creations and possible special offers (including additional websites, blogs, facebook, etc)?

To find out more about Toxie Designs it best to visit my tumblr blog.

I also have Twitter.

I also can be found locally in Winnipeg at Poppie Clothing at 1724 Corydon.


  1. I am really struck by your sense of style and design - what gorgeous earrings!

  2. Beautiful designs and a great interview!

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