Designs by Nature Gems is a crystal jewelry company in the heart of Toronto, Ontario. We are a handmade business creating intricate, high-quality jewelry with genuine gemstones for every type of person. Our mission is to employ local artisans in every step of the process, providing a quality product made ethically and sustainably.
Grounded in the belief that we are people first, Designs by Nature Gems takes a holistic approach to everything we do. We take the wellness of our employees as an important factor in the overall success of the business. We create our pieces in a safe and supportive environment for all employees, ensuring their personal needs are met. We do this through the use of benefits, flexible hours, paid sick days, personal time off, and a living wage for Toronto.
Our wish is to continue to grow our brands, design lines and the inclusive culture of the company. We are within the corporate world, but we are successful and continue to strive to be handmade by local artisans and provide high-quality items that fulfill our clients’ needs. We care about people’s souls and love, offering our unique mixture of crystal healing with our original, handmade, artistic designs.
Tell us about yourself?
My journey with wire wrapping began by accident. Before I moved to Canada, I was living in New Zealand (and South Korea, India and the USA), working as a teacher for at-risk youth. It was a difficult job, and I turned to the creative world of jewelry making as a form of expression and stress relief. It became something I was truly passionate about, and I continued to teach myself daily. This evolved into the intricate and detailed wire wrapping you see today.
After I immigrated to Canada in 2014, I was looking for a purpose, and that’s why my small business journey began. I have always been drawn to the small business ethos and was inspired to create a company with artists like myself. I’ve found a lot of success in this, and I’m genuinely proud to keep growing this business and its sub-brands while expanding my role as a mentor and business consultant. It’s been a journey, but I’m always grateful for the path I am on today.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
The future is full of curve balls, and it’s going to knock you down a few pegs. Make your plans, prepare for the future, but stay smart about every decision. But never give up because things are going to be better than you could’ve ever imagined.
What problem does your business solve?
As a crystal jewelry maker, we noticed a gap in the market for pieces that were made with raw stones that both looked good and were unique while making you feel good for supporting the company. Designs by Nature Gems offers an affordable approach to a mid-luxury line of jewelry for special occasions and daily wear. And, as a true small business, you can feel good supporting this woman-owned shop that actively employs artists and gives back to the local community. The value our pieces provide to our customers is the artistic and unique designs that provide healing crystal properties.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
As an artist, I was passionate about creating and living a life around art and my passion for crystal healing. As an immigrant, I wanted to create something sustainable for myself and the community, and with my experiences, I wanted the small business ethos of a good workplace that had a strong work-life balance.
When I began, I was looking to create something unique that no one had done before. Through the art of wire wrapping, I was able to create something original that aligned with people’s interest in jewelry and art. Today, I am trying to show the world that it is possible to be ethical in business. I am committed to providing secure jobs for artists with a living wage and work-life balance. Our value and vision is grounded in creating art in Canada made by Canadian artists.
And, I do not believe in (and always hated) the statement: a starving artist. Art is important to our world, and everyone deserves to be paid fairly for it.
What is your magic sauce?
Our team is full of truly talented individuals, and trusting in them and their abilities has created a collaborative and passionate environment. We are handmade and creatively driven, which fosters this unique environment of intelligent, artistic and passionate people. All of our team members believe deeply in Designs by Nature Gems’ mission and are always willing to learn skills and help each other whenever possible. Their passion for what the company stands for and a willingness to work together helps build the company up.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
In the next five years, I would like to grow the company with multiple brands serving an international market that fits the needs of a variety of different clients while maintaining the small business ethos.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Entrepreneurship is a constantly evolving series of challenges. I began my journey as a new immigrant with limited financial resources, pivoting the entire business online shortly after, followed by the pregnancy of two children and then a global pandemic. Every step has been met with difficulty and the need to restructure the business while maintaining a healthy family life.
This year has been a different set of challenges. During 2020 to 2022, the challenges were through the growth of the business and staff. In 2023, we experienced a 70 pre cent drop in sales because of the change in online algorithms and the impending recession. It’s been hard to keep growing, and I’ve had to make some tough decisions that led to letting go of employees I care about. The impact of this challenge has deeply affected me as I care deeply about what I’m doing, and I want to stick to my mission as much as possible.
Again, I’ve restructured the company, and I’m learning to be more patient and implement a more complex, multi-year regrowth plan. This regrowth plan steered us to our current mission: a multi-brand handmade company. This was created with the intention of having designs that expand on our current clients and fit all lifestyles and personalities over the next five years. In the last four months, we have successfully launched two new brands and a wholesale program.
As you can imagine, this has forced us into a huge course correction to save the company. We will continue down this path until we successfully rebuild back to our norm. Employees have had to retrain and change departments to make this happen. All I can say is I am grateful to everyone who has stepped up within our business. We wouldn’t be where we are without them.
How can people get involved?
Check out our incredible selection of handmade, raw crystal jewelry at www.designsbynaturegems.com.
We offer a wide selection of crystals and can truly create something one-of-a-kind just for you. If you’re ever looking for something custom or more information, our amazing team is always happy to help.
You’ll find us everywhere online @DesignsbyNatureGems – We appreciate any and all support, even if it’s just a like/follow/comment on our posts. It means the world to us.
For all the folks in Toronto (and surrounding areas), you can visit our showroom right here in Toronto! We’re located at 835 Bloor St. W. (Lower Level), and we’d love to have you.
We offer custom jewelry making, personalized consultations, and permanent bracelets in our studio! (Just mention this article on your next visit!)
For Shop Owners, we offer wholesale options and terms. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org