At the end of July I was in Toronto, Canada and right after getting my tattoo at Imperial Tattoos (more on that later) on Ossington, we passed the space that my friend Ali had used for her vintage sale the week before and saw that there was another pop-up event happening. We walked in and had a quick chat with two very lovely (and pretty!) ladies Vanessa and Regan who told us they were the creative mind and productive hands behind ‘Blackbird’, a hand-made jewelry brand. I was very impressed with what I saw and thus very pleased when Vanessa happily agreed to do an interview with me over email when I came back to Berlin.
Vanessa Marino and Regan Hayes met in high school and began collaborating on various creative pursuits right from the start. Blackbird came about very organically: “we always knew we wanted to work together and one night while travelling through Europe we were stuck in a hostel waiting for a thunderstorm to clear and started to piece together what would eventually become the basis for Blackbird.“
Even though their designs are very elegant and smoothly made, what personally struck me most about their jewelry is the raw vibe it somehow has. When asking about that, Vanessa explains: “we like working with a range of materials and incorporating different textures into each piece. Gold, silver, and gun metal are standard for us but we like to mix in plexiglass and lucite, ropes, crystals, quills, rhinestone. Basically anything we can dream up and get our hands on. Blackbird is a about a juxtaposition of moods, elements and ideas. Masculine and feminine, hard and soft, and mixing materials is an important part of that. “
A few of my favourite items from their lookbooks/collections:
The young entrepreneurs also had a piece of solid advice – something I realize I sometimes have trouble with in my own projects. “The most important part of our business is balance. We love what we do and are consistently working and creating and dreaming. So it can sometimes be hard to turn off the lights and just go to sleep.” Besides balancing their jewelry brand and hosting pop-up shops around Toronto, Blackbird also makes jewelry by request: “we love one of a kind creations. We often do special pieces for charity or brides. Because everything is handmade in Toronto, it’s easy for us to collaborate upon request.”
Vanessa and Regan host Blackbird Pop Ups in Toronto many times throughout the year. To keep an eye out, check out their website and Facebook.