1992 – 2017 Celebrating 25 Years

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017

O.K. So I might not be in the same league as my favourite imported Italian Food Specialty Store, Pasquale Brothers, who are celebrating their 100th year in business this year. But their business was started by Great-Grandfather Edward Pasquale. My business begins and ends with me. There will be no 100th anniversary; heck, there probably won’t be a 50th either! But I’m good with that. The fact that I started my business 25 years ago still boggles my mind. Where did the time go? I guess the old adage, “time flies when you’re having fun” really is true!

It’s a bit too early in the year for me to contemplate how I should mark this occasion. I don’t have any special celebrations, events or sales planned for this year….well, not yet. It really doesn’t feel like it has actually been that long. So for now, it’s just business as usual.

How my 25 year journey began.

Upon graduating from GBC, I was accepted as a resident at The Harbourfront Centre Craft Studios. It was there that I met Arina Ailincai and Karen Franzen (ceramic artists) and Robert Mitchell (Jeweller). In the Fall of 1993, their residencies were finished and they asked me if I was interested in joining them and sharing a studio on Carlaw Avenue in the East End of Toronto. We called our collective artist studio “Beyond The Front”.  

This is the card we snail mailed out to celebrate the opening of our studio in November 1993.

Chainmaille is hard, physical work.

As a physical person, I love to get in there and get dirty. So it comes as no surprise that I chose to “build chain the hard way – link by handmade link”. I thrive on it, but many others do not. Someone once told me that as an artist, “you don’t find your materials, they find you.” I can honestly say I’ve lived that truth. I worked in many other materials before I found precious metals. But there was something about the fact that I had to “convince this material” to do what I wanted it to do. Oh hey, I just figured it out: I’m a “wire whisperer”! HA! In all seriousness, I’m just a girl who found my niche building traditional, steeped-in-history, chainmaille jewellery. While travelling down that creative road, I dreamed up a few patterns of my own. I injected an artistic interest and contemporary edge that would quietly shout LISA MADE THIS!

For me, there is NOTHING greater than pursuing a career path of creative passion. Most of the time, it doesn’t really feel like work – my working life as a jewellery artist is still my passion! All those years ago, I wanted to raise the “status” of jewellery to more than just a piece of wearable hardware. I dreamed my jewellery designs would fill a void I saw in the market of real women: women who wanted to wear jewellery because they love the way it feels and looks, not because some magazine or marketing campaign told them “this is what they should wear”.

I have spent these 25 years creating timeless, elegant, heirloom-destined, dress it up or down, wear it every day as part your personal style pieces. This is definitely not a trend. This is your life as YOU choose to live it. That was my goal: spread my love through creating quality handmade jewellery. I think I have done that. And I know that you get it!!

There would be no celebration without YOU.

No one realizes more than me that I wouldn’t be here without you; every client and retail store buyer – past and present – every supplier, colleague, friend and most importantly, MY AMAZING FAMILY. I couldn’t have gotten here without all of you supporting and encouraging me in my journey. And for that I am truly grateful.

Throwback to my 20th Anniversary Studio Party in the Fall of 2012. Here’s me enjoying a glass of wine and a laugh with long time client, Lisa Prenol.

Each piece helps tell the story of YOUR life.

Do you remember how you felt when you bought it, or even why you bought it? Was it for a special birthday or anniversary? Or was it just because you had a “hard week” and you needed a treat?  Or did you just buy it because you loved the way it felt on? Well, here it is 2, 5, 10, 15 even 25 years later, and you still wear it every day. You definitely feel naked without it on. You still get unsolicited compliments – and regularly – to remind you how special it is. Doesn’t matter if you’re at work, on vacation, at the dentist’s office, or raking leaves in your front yard. People notice it because you LOVE it. And when you wear it, you seem more radiant…happier…or something. I know it’s sounds ridiculous when I put these sentiments on paper, but I have heard those stories, and more, over and over again for 25 years. So I must be doing something right!

I feel blessed to be able to continue to create the beautiful jewellery you know me for. And I know I will be doing it for many years to come. That, in and of itself, is the most wonderful 25 Anniversary gift. Yes, it may take a little longer to build some pieces than it did even 5 years ago. I can’t “pump it out” like I used to in my 30’s and 40’s, but I have religiously gone to the chiropractor and massage therapist to keep my body going. Thank goodness for them as well!

Same 20th Anniversary party, obviously a good time was had by all!  Shown is Pat Kline (right), former owner of Finishing Touches Clothing Boutique with long time client Jane Taylor (left). In the background is Kathy Caldwell trying on the Caravan Necklace.

Thank YOU from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you one and all for allowing me to dream, build and forge a creative path. Thank you for embracing it and allowing it to be a part of your life. I appreciate your continued support and I look forward to many more creative years. Maybe I will reach the next milestone of 50 years! As I always say, “never say never!” In the meantime, you know where to find me, and together we’ll write the future of where Lisa Ridout Exclusive Jewellery is headed.

Random 25th Anniversary Thoughts/Images From Members of My Tribe of Clients

I received this email recently from Laurie Hall, who has been a client forever. Can’t actually remember where she discovered me. Probably one of the early One of a Kind Shows I did? She sent me this image of herself with this lovely note. It totally made my day:

“Before Christmas I participated in a photographer’s portrait session “for good”. His name is Dan Bannister and his studio is kitty-corner to yours (above the cool coffee shop). Every year he does an industry thing where he photographs 40 industry folks, in exchange for donations to a men’s shelter. And in the process he builds contacts, about 95% of whom will use him in the future. He chooses the low-res shot you end up with, and you never get to see the others he took. They’re meant for use on social media.

Attached is my shot, which is a tribute to LREJ!”