Business Name: Oliva + Olga Website: https://olivaetolga.ca/ Established: 2018 Questions answered by: Joëlle Preston (Designer, Maker, Curator)
Can you please fully explain your business or product line?
Oliva + Olga revives vintage, broken, and unloved jewellery.
Renaissance Collection: This permanent collection of handmade, recycled statement pieces breathes new life into broken, forgotten, and unloved jewellery by repurposing and redesigning them into new again adornments. Heavily inspired by the Renaissance period, the collection creates timeless pieces that exude decadence and excess. Renaissance means “rebirth” in French, a term that both honours my Francophone heritage and perfectly captures what the collection aims to do: giving new life to discarded pieces.
Venus Collection: Pendants made from sea waste, sourced on the shores of Kauai and Corsica. Like the goddess Venus herself, these wave-washed pieces emerged from the sea foam in their full and final form. To honour simple, naked, and natural beauty, each Venus piece is designed to maintain the exact shape and state in which the piece was found.
In addition to these artisanal collections, Oliva + Olga also offers collections of vintage charms & charm bracelets, brooches, jewellery, and objets d’arts – all exclusively secondhand.
With the Winnipeg local maker community continuing to grow, what is the most important thing you’d like potential customers of your company to know?
Circularity and self-love are the core of the business; challenging trends, inspiring you to be your own muse, and repurposing & reusing. This is why I named the business Oliva + Olga. They are my grandmothers and they incarnate the values of my business.
Oliva is my maternal grandmother. She was a repurposer extraordinaire and an incredibly skilled & talented woman. Through her, I learned the meaning of wasting less & reusing; she is where my craftiness stems. I know if she were alive today, she would be making jewellery with me.
My paternal grandmother is Olga. Through her, I understood the importance of mental health as she was very ill most of her life. Trends and the fashion industry perpetuate the need for external validation with new fashions. This not only promotes consumerism but also affects self-esteem and one’s self-love & acceptance.
What inspired you to start your business?
I guess it really started with my love of brooches and charms as well as a desire to share that passion. The brooch is the most undervalued piece of jewellery as it’s practical & beautiful with endless ways to style them. As for charms, when I was 16, I asked for a charm bracelet just like my grandma Oliva had. I’ve been collecting charms for over a decade now and it’s one of my most prized possessions. I love collecting dainty charms for milestones and souvenirs!
As for repurposing, it started in 2018 when I was working at the bridal consignment store, Pearl & Birch. We were planning for a Royal Wedding-themed shoot to submit to the Wonderful Wedding Show magazine and wanted a contemporary alternative to a tiara. I took it upon myself to create a hairpiece that a modern bride could wear. I ended up turning a thrifted necklace into a hairpiece (the shoot is here if you want to see the result!) and thought perhaps I was on to something. There are so many sustainable alternatives for clothing available including resellers, eco designers, and upcyclers, but not so many for jewellery. So I started recycling jewellery to bring the fashion community a circular and sustainable way to accessorize.
What was the biggest struggle you’ve had to overcome?
Accepting that I am one person and that there is only so much time in a day. Growth is slow and that’s okay!
What has been your biggest success as a maker?
If I had to pick one, I transformed a broken vintage necklace into hairpieces for a bride. The piece was passed down to her from her late grandmother and she wanted to incorporate the rhinestone necklace into her wedding day as something more wearable. I turned it into two hairpieces. While they were originally both to be worn by her, her bride ended up wearing one of them.
Do you have any advice that you would pass on to someone hoping to start up their own business or product line?
Niche down, stay authentic to yourself, and don’t be afraid to say no. Your brand is your biggest asset, so staying on brand & ensuring every business decision aligns with your values & aesthetic is the best thing you can do. It will pay off!
I would also encourage you to be mindful of the impact you have on the world. While having a side hustle can be fun and it can be tempting to want to create, hobbies & product lines are resource-intensive. I think this is something that isn’t really discussed or considered in today’s day and age, but it’s important to think about how much more stuff the world really needs. If you can, work sustainability or circularity into whatever business you are creating!
Please share any upcoming events as well as the best place(s) for people to purchase your product!
All Oliva + Olga collections including Renaissance, Venus, Vintage Charms + Bracelets, and objects d’arts are available on my website.
I also have two markets confirmed, but am working on getting a few more lined up!
Follow along on Instagram or check our Events page on our website for other pop-up dates. You can also shop an exclusive collection of bridal brooch sets and other jewellery available in-store only at Pearl & Birch.