"I never expected it to turn into a little business, but I'm so happy it did."

You never know when you might be on the cusp of a new adventure. For Shelley MacIsaac, it all began one Christmas morning when she received a pair of earrings from her sister and that pivotal thought popped up into her head - "I could make this myself." 

Shelley's a stay-at-home mom living in beautiful Margaree, Cape Breton, and is now the owner of her new handmade jewelry business, Something Handmade, crafting earrings out of genuine leather, suede, and natural wood. Her story is a gentle reminder to stay curious and open to opportunity (especially in the most unlikely of times and places), and to always work from a place of authenticity and heart.

Today she talks to us about the organic start to her business, how her minimalist lifestyle shapes how and what she creates, and what Jimmy Rankin has to do with it all. Enjoy!  - Meghan

How did you get into making jewelry?

I’ve always had a creative streak, so I’ve tried many DIY projects. The first pair of earrings I made were the “kite earrings”, to give to my friends with my Christmas cards. I discovered that making them gave me a creative outlet I was craving. I loved working with wood to create something unique. That same Christmas my sister gifted me a pair of leather earrings. They were beautiful (but gold shimmer was a little too fancy for my taste) and naturally I said “I can make these”. So I picked up some leather in colours that were more my style and gave it a shot. Everyone seemed to want a pair of each, so I started selling some to help cover the cost. I never expected it to turn into a little business, but I’m so happy it did. 

What does your creative process look like? What inspires you?

My creative process is pretty simple - I’m a minimalist at heart so my designs are usually based on simple, symmetrical lines. The walnut looks so natural (because it is) which is something I love, so I’m always eager to come up with new styles with it. And sometimes the process involves  someone saying “you should make this style next” and if I’m feeling the idea I’ll give it a shot. 

Where is your favourite place to work?

I make leather earrings at home while my kids are sleeping but my favourite place to work is in my Dad's woodworking shop. He helps me bring my ideas to life, and has taught me so much about wood and the processes needed to perfect the styles I envision. 

What does your business mean to you?

I never intended on starting a business, but I have really enjoyed the process.  It happened so organically, and is growing organically, which takes the pressure off and I love that.

The name Something Handmade actually came from a Jimmy Rankin song (it doesn’t get much more Cape Breton than that)! The lyrics are a plea for something authentic, something handmade.  That principle resonates with me. Realness is a trend right now and I hope it sticks around. I’m a stay at home mom (which has always been my dream) and with that I’ve always wanted to be like the “proverbs 31 woman” which is basically a woman who is productive and who serves her family well. So having my own business means I can do something I really enjoy, and also make it work for my family’s needs. Plus I get to wear lots of cute earrings in the process!

Thanks for a behind-the-scenes peek, Shelley! Shop our selection of earrings in-store and online.

Written by Meghan Finney

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