When I first started this business, I wanted to make immaculately handcrafted items that would help you express your unique style. I want to give you goods made with thoughtfully selected materials in natural shades that will enhance your natural beauty. It is important that I use furs that are sourced from Indigenous traplines in the Yukon so that you can be assured that every fur is traceable and ethically harvested. I want to ensure that the products you’re buying feel good and look amazing.
When I first opened my shop’s doors in October 2018, I was deep in a divorce that I often describe as ‘gruesome’. I was hoping that my new business would give me an opportunity to start over; a chance to reinvent myself. Having owned a few small businesses since my teens paired with a lifelong love of textiles, it seemed almost too good to be true that I was going to be merging my love of business and marketing with the various textile practices I’d been exploring and mastering for decades.
The products found in the physical store and the online store include the signature fur jewelry line, hand-forged copper jewelry with natural semi-precious gemstones, textile jewelry, housewares, and textile wall art. I work with materials that are naturally coloured and create designs that are simple and understated which allows the texture and tone of the materials to be prominent. The strong Scandinavian tone in my work exists thanks to both the time I spent in Iceland and to my Danish ancestry.
The Indigenous-sourced furs are primarily harvested by my husband George, co-owner of our company, Wild Yukon Furs. He and I trap together and this is how we obtain many of the furs used in the collection. He is of Tlingit ancestry (First Nations) and the trapline we operate has been in his family for generations. In the trapping season (November-March) we spend every weekend running 180kms of trapline on our two snow machines where we check the dozens upon dozens of traps. Throughout the week between weekends, our evenings are spent in the skinning shed processing hides which makes for very late nights but out of respect for the animals, we do this promptly so that we can return carcasses to the land on our next trip out to run traps. Respect is at the core of how we harvest furs and that extends to how I use the furs.
I love that the life I’ve created for myself has me doing the things I love most; spinning yarn, weaving, sewing, and making jewelry as my job. I never dread going to work, rather I am excited for the weekend to end so I can hurry back to the store. It is a small but beautiful space that is a glimpse into my heart. I’m so proud of it and so grateful that I earn my living from it.
About the Business
In the beginning, I sold fur and fish-leather jewelry at a few small pop-ups in a friend’s cafe. These were wildly successful so when a tiny retail space came available (65 square feet!) for little more than $200 a month, I tentatively signed the lease and opened my doors. In the time since the first fish-leather earrings were made in 2018 until the time of this writing, I’ve had numerous media outlets interview me and my husband about our fur harvest, the use of fur in jewelry, and about working together as an Indigenous and non-Indigenous couple. I’ve also received multiple awards for design. The store has since moved into a bigger space and now occupies closer to 150 square feet – still tiny but awesome as ever. I also maintain an online store.
Early on, I identified that this business had the ability to not just create a collection of fur jewelry, but to educate the world on ethically and sustainably sourced, Indigenous-harvested Wild Yukon Fur. The fur harvest in Canada and in the Yukon is highly regulated and by pairing that standard with those of First Nations ways of knowing, doing, and being, I knew I was going to be working together with the fur harvesters to create a product that was entirely unlike anything currently on the market. Not only because of its origins but also for the power it had to repair a tiny bit of the systemic inequality that exists for First Nations trappers. The auction houses sell furs on a consignment basis which by the time a sale is closed, the trapper has signed over the ability to decline an unfavourable price for their furs. While this dynamic negatively affects all trappers, Indigenous or otherwise, the Indigenous trappers are impacted differently by the staggeringly low price furs have been known to sell for at auction. I’ve learned from my husband that the healing and connection to place and to personal history happens on the land in a way that doesn’t occur elsewhere. Trapping is a winter activity and often a costly one so the low return on the sale of furs at auction makes it unsustainable or downright impossible for many trappers to engage in this activity, an industry which existed in Canada long before contact by European settlers.
With that knowledge, I research “top lot” prices for previous seasons fur sales and gauge my purchase pricing accordingly. Whenever possible, I’m purchasing furs at or near the top lot price rather than at the price most furs had sold for. That’s often a difference between $300 for a dried/frozen lynx pelt rather than $25 which is what is common for auction prices for the same skin. Respecting the animals as we do as well as with the knowledge of the amount of work and cost incurred to harvest the furs is the reason I purchase furs this way. I set the prices at the outset of the season so that trappers can make informed decisions and target furs with that information. It puts power back into the hands of the trapper, without whom I wouldn’t have a jewelry line.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has tasked Canadians with reconciling with Indigenous Canadians for the grievous acts of racially-based violence and innumerable misdeeds that occurred when European settlers arrived and which continue today. My hope with buying furs for as close to “top lot” pricing as possible and only from Indigenous trappers can serve to restore some of the systemic inequality that they and others experience. This business is a small one but even the smallest of stones can make ripples in a pond that reach a long, long way.