The New Mother F****** Boss of Jewellery
Cat Janiga feels like a mother (pardon the F bomb) f****** boss when she wears her edgy, clean, avant-garde line of jewellery, and you will too! As a child she dreamed of growing up to be a vet or plastic surgeon. Thankfully the Star Trek loving girl discovered design and the rest is history. In this uncensored #stmINTERVIEWED, Cat Janiga is open and honest about what it’s actually like starting a business in today’s Canadian fashion world. Read on to learn her opinion of interning, what she considers her best move as an entrepreneur was and why she loves the industry and is excited for the next few years.
(Top Photo: Peter Chatterton)
I have this “Oh yah, this is some dope shit right here!” feeling so I think that’s a good sign.
STM – What were you doing before you launched your own line?
Cat – I worked for Dean Davidson for 6 years. Started as an intern and moved through the company in various roles from bench worker, Production Manager, Designer, Sales and Accounts Manager.
When it comes to the business I’m always going to be…
STM – You launched your line in late 2014. It’s been over a year now. How do you feel right now about your work, your business and your future?
Cat – I’m very proud of the collection. It took me a really long time to find my aesthetic, but I feel like this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and designing. Every piece I make I have this “Oh yah, this is some dope shit right here!” feeling so I think that’s a good sign. Hahaha!
When it comes to the business I’m always going to be bi-polar. I have super high-highs and really low-lows. I’m sure a lot of start-ups/business owners can relate. On one hand I can’t believe that I get to do the job I love every damn day! How cool is that?!?!? But, I’m also constantly working. I have all these plans and goals, sometime it feels like I’m moving through quicksand and it’s taking forever to reach them. But, it’s total bullshit because I take a step back and realize I’ve done SO MUCH and actually accomplished 90% of what I set out to do in the first year.
The future has never scared me, I’ve never had that “Oh, I don’t think this is going to work” feeling. I’m actually super excited for the next few years and what’s to come. If anything it’s more “ Ugh, I just want this to happen already!!”
…because apparently I can’t follow rules…
STM – Who do you design for and who inspires you?
Cat – The kinds of people that inspire me are confident, fashion savvy, and have a strong sense of self. They’re the kind of person that marches to the beat of their own drum and is unapologetic about who they are and what they like. I think it’s hard not to be inspired by people like that, they’re just so free.
I design for them and also those people that need a reminder of that. Like, maybe you need a lil extra bounce to your step today or you have a big meeting and want to get your bad bitch game face on to close that deal. That’s what it’s about.
I just feel like a mother fucking BOSS when I wear it.
STM – Of your current collection on your website, which is your favourite piece and why?
Cat – Oh, tough one…..I’m going to pick two…because apparently I can’t follow rules…
The Large Coquette Studs (above), my girlfriend wore them to a wedding and they look so elegant without being overwhelming and taking away from your whole outfit. But you can also totally throw them on with a t-shirt and jeans. I wear mine almost every day.
And the Viper Bite Ring (above). It kind of just floats on your hand and I just feel like a mother fucking BOSS when I wear it. Plus it’s a bit adjustable so I can switch up the finger I wear it on.
…there is basically zero funding for anything fashion related.
STM – What was the hardest part of starting a jewelry line in Canada?
Cat – I think one of the hardest parts of starting a jewellery line in Canada is that there is basically zero funding for anything fashion related. At least in Ontario. There used to be a program run through YES called a passion for fashion where you had the potential to receive some start up money. But even that was ended. So, if you’re looking for grant money to help start you have to go through other small start-up business programs.
Manufacturing can be tough as well especially if you want it to be Canadian made, finding the right people, trying to keep it under a certain price point….Lots of hurdles. But nothing is impossible you just have to be a good negotiator and problem solver!
And I’m sorry I know I’m going to hear a lot of groans on that one. But, suck it up.
STM – Over the last year what was the scariest/most exciting thing that happened with your business?
Cat – I think the most exciting and scary thing for me is still when I first launched the line and had a grand opening party at my store front studio. So many nerves, so much preparation, finally doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was 16. Are people going to like it or think it’s complete shit??! And such a relief when it was clear that it was resonating with people and they were just as excited about it as I was.
No one is going to baby you and make sure you’re happy. They got better shit to do.
STM – What is your one tip for anyone starting a business in a creative field such as fashion or any other form of art and design?
Cat – Work for someone related to what you want to do. If you can’t get a paid job, intern. Yah, INTERN. And I’m sorry I know I’m going to hear a lot of groans on that one. But, suck it up. I did it, and it was the BEST move I ever made. The things I learned where invaluable! There is no way I would have been able to start my own business. I would have fucked it up royally already.
No one said it was going to be easy. Sure, some places you’re going to be doing some things that you don’t want to do. But just ask to be part of certain projects or things you want to learn so you can make the most out of your time there. No one is going to baby you and make sure you’re happy. They got better shit to do.
Other than that, really immerse yourself in events and organizations in the fashion industry and make connections with other creatives. You learn so much from your peers/colleagues. Everyone goes through the same thing so you can learn a lot from each other and help each other out in a jam.
…honestly, if I see another fishhook bracelet just put me out to pasture. Ugh.
STM – At a recent preview you shared some men’s pieces. What got you designing for men as well as women? What do you aim to accomplish with your men’s additions?
Cat – Funny you mention that, because I actually wanted to first start off with a men’s line and designing for men. My guy friends complain that they can’t find anything they like because a lot of what’s out there is either sooo gaudy, incredibly underwhelming, or literally the same variation on a bracelet that 20 other brands have done, just put their own twist on (honestly, if I see another fishhook bracelet just put me out to pasture. Ugh). So, it’s no wonder guys don’t really get decked out, or take that extra step to personalize their style because there is hardly anything to get excited over or to make you think “ Oh man, I could rock the shit out of that!” I just want to see guys getting just as excited about treating themselves as us ladies do. TREAT YO SELF!
You have so much fun and get really awesome ideas when you collaborate with others.
STM – What is one other Canadian fashion brand you admire and why?
Cat – Canada has so much great talent, but, I think I have to say my main man Dean Davidson. He has such a clear vision of his brand, a strong identity where you know a DD piece when you see it, really beautiful designs, and I know from firsthand experience the struggles he’s gone through and passion he has put into his business to grow the brand into what it is today. Big inspiration, big love.
I’m fortunate enough to have met a lot of really amazing people in my life, and I get to design and create jewellery inspired by them every day!
STM – What is your favourite part of your job and why?
Cat –I love getting together with friends for a design session, pound out ideas for the next campaign and so on. You have so much fun and get really awesome ideas when you collaborate with others. I’m fortunate enough to have met a lot of really amazing people in my life, and I get to design and create jewellery inspired by them every day!
In Toronto and craving a cookie? Head to Odin where Cat enjoys, as she describes them “life changing gluten free chocolate cookies.” You might even run into Cat there, that is, unless she is out running or doing yoga.