Time to swing by wonderful Toronto and visit Crystal of Bluebird Handmade. Crystal and her business partner Marjorie have not been afraid to shift focus as the business has grown and evolved. This flexibility has been one of the keys to their success. They feature fantastic artisans, and are known in the community for their interesting installations.
Crystal: Bluebird started out as just a studio/shop where fellow artist Marjorie Campbell (a.k.a. Little M Inventions) and I could create and sell our own work, the work of other artists, and conduct craft workshops.
Our window gallery gave us an exhibition site for our pieces. Our ever changing installations became a delightful experience for our community. We also taught a lot of felting classes, held summer camps for children, and traveled for craft birthday parties. With so much of our energy wrapped up in teaching, we discovered other parts of the business were not getting adequate attention. We had very little time to create. Plus we had less time to run the retail shop and to keep up with the window displays, which had become a statement for Bluebird.
My friend Joy Gough was already hunting and gathering incredible artists that offered unique modern handcrafted, ceramics, jewelry, and textiles. We started bringing in really cool artists’ work, from all over the world. The shop was evolving and we found we needed more retail space.
In the fall of 2010 we stopped all teaching to focus on the shop. We moved the large art table aside and put up more shelves. Marjorie was able to create a lot more of her incredible felt sculptures to sell and focus on the window installations that we have become so known for. While I was able to focus more on marketing and buying, Joy continues to source excellent handcrafted design and keeps up with design blogs.
The cohesiveness of all of us having individual roles at Bluebird really makes the business work. I couldn’t do it with out everyone’s eye on the same goal, to offer an array of handpicked items that are of quality craftsmanship, style and originality. I want my customers to be treated to a shopping experience that meets all senses. We use essential oils for scent and we merchandise as if every item is on display. We create an atmosphere to behold and allows to dream. We keep things simple but we always keep an eye out for for quality, beauty, edge and style.
For 2011, we will open our gallery windows to new artists as a platform to exhibit their work. Brick and Mortar is a challenge in this economy, but the key is to offer something that no one else is doing and to be honest to that statement throughout the ever-changing growth of the business. People appreciate a “hands on” experience.
986 Bathurst St.,