I was recently interviewed by Mary, the incredible woman behind The Pale Blue Dot for her weekly email series “Wednesday’s Wellness.” I figured a great way to introduce myself to new subscribers would be to share my answers from this interview here. Join me below as I chat all things childhood, family and slow fashion. Running a side business out of a 100-year-old garage-turned-studio in your backyard means that the lines between home/family/business often cross.
In today’s Wellness Wednesdays, we get to know Heather, founder, designer, and maker of Knot’s and Pipes Jewelry.
Q: Where did you grow up? Whereabouts are you now?
A: I grew up in Norfolk County which is located in southwestern Ontario. I did my undergrad in Guelph then moved to Ottawa for graduate school. I then lived in Toronto (the Junction) for 5 years and have been in Hamilton since 2016. I live with my partner and two kids in Kirkendall. I am a huge advocate for lower city living.
Q: What inspired you to create Knots and Pipes?
A: While living in the Junction (west Toronto), I found myself in need of a creative outlet. At the time I was having a hard time sourcing jewelry that wasn’t overbearing, bedazzled and made overseas (think 2015 turquoise necklaces with faux crystals). I grew up with an incredibly crafty, resourceful and skilled mother and grandmother- so a lot of the things I owned as a child were hand-made. As a girl I was taught a lot of fibre, leather and sewing skills so the process of creation was not new to me. I started designing fibre and brass based statement jewelry and the rest is history.
Q: What does your creative process look/feel like? What do you look to for inspiration? Describe your ideal creative environment.
A: Since moving to Hamilton in 2016, I have worked out of a 100-year-old garage in my backyard. Last year we properly renovated the space and it is now a fully-functioning studio. My ideal creative environment would be a podcast, a glass of scotch and materials to play with on my workbench. I find a lot of my inspiration at estate sales, thrift stores and consignment businesses. Give me a protein bar and 2 hours at a thrift store and I will come home filled to the brim with ideas for new pieces. Whenever possible I utilize repurposed or recycled materials in my designs. I often refurbish (or even dismantle) older pieces and breathe new life into them. While some of my products are new and not made from recycled materials, I utilize recyclable packaging and hire local, female-run marketing and shipping providers when possible.
It’s 2022 and the time is now to recognize what fast fashion and fast furniture are doing to our environment (and to our creative psyche)! The revolving door of poorly made products promoted on social media has thrown our expectations and organic creativity/ingenuity askew. It’s a cliché, but in previous generations, things were made to last. The most environmentally friendly products are ones that have already been made. You don’t have to wear (or furnish your home) exclusively in second-hand. But by incorporating well-made vintage products, I guarantee you will achieve an aesthetic with more depth and curation than if you were to purchase everything new at a smart centre off the highway.
Q: How would you describe your personal style in your home and wardrobe? What are you drawn to?
A: Is “urban-vintage” a type of personal style? I think that is how I would categorize mine. I am inspired by fashion from Brooklyn, Montreal and Japan. I love shoulder pads and pleated pants, band t-shirts and vintage reebok sneakers. I love bold-gold statement jewelry. I’m not even sure if you could peg my style. But that’s how I would attempt to describe it.
My home is a 109-year-old arts and crafts house in lower city (“down the mountain”) Hamilton. Since 2016 my partner Andrew and I have been renovating one room at a time, saving, sourcing second hand and DIY’ing our way through each space. I am an advocate for warm woods (can the all-white/grey floor trend just stop already?!) My home is an eclectic mix of MCM, Arts and Crafts and Scandinavian style. 90% of our furnishings were purchased second-hand. Should I put together an email with some before and after shots of our old home?? *Immediately adds to to-do list* Shout-out to the Cave at the Pale Blue Dot, Antique Avenue and the Ottawa Antique Market on Ottawa St N. The select few items that were purchased new in our home came from my family-owned, Canadian-made furniture store in Simcoe, ON.
Q: What lights up your world?
A: A 2-year-old boy named Jude and a 4-year-old girl named Beatrice that call me mom. Cheesy but true 🙂
Q: What are your favourite places to explore in Southern Ontario?
A: Norfolk, ON. While I currently live and am raising my children in the city, there is a 6th generation, small-town country girl deep down. I am not exaggerating when I say that Norfolk County is a hidden gem (although not so hidden; The Mule just opened a taco place in Port Dover and Mississippi Queen Foods has opened their new location in Langton).
The communities of Normandale, St Williams, Houghton, Walsingham, Port Rowan, Clear Creek, Long Point, Woodhouse are filled to the brim with incredible farm stands, shops and rural experiences. Thrive Norfolk is a perfect example of a farm-to-table culinary experience started a few years back by Matt Demarest. Matt trained as a chef in Toronto at Opus and Antler before moving back home to his family farm and opening a unique iteration of the farm-to-table experience.
Q: What is your favourite flower(s)?
A: Can we categorize ivy as a flower? One of my favourite summer pastimes is to explore the winding urban alleyways in-between the streets of downtown Hamilton. The laneway houses and garages are all dripping with ivy this time of year and I feel this very strange connection to the past whenever I walk down them.
Q: Tell us about some of your hobbies and passions.
A: I love to read, create, thrift and bake with my 4-year-old daughter Beatrice. I love moving furniture around, shifting art on my walls, diffusing essential oils and listening to records in their entirety- no skipping songs. I love biking in the summer and spending time at the beach. I travelled a lot pre-kids and pre-COVID and would love to do it again one day as a family of four.
Q: What was your favourite subject in school?
A: World Issues and Geography. I went on to do a graduate degree in International Conflict Studies so I feel like my obsession has held strong. Thank you Mrs. Buchanan from SCS!
Q: What is something you’re interested in learning more about?
A: My Master’s thesis was a comparative analysis between the Rwandan Genocide and the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya. I will NEVER not be interested in looking at deep-rooted ethnic tensions, collective violence, mob mentality and the idea of one faction “othering” another. Interestingly enough, (albeit to a lesser extent) I noticed a lot of the tension here in Canada as a result of COVID public health measures held parallels to the peer-reviewed journal articles I pulled from for my thesis. It was fascinating and (and scary) to see it play out in real life.
Q: What is your favourite colour(s)?
A: Green. And Black. Hands down.
Q: Which song always gets you up and feeling good?
A: Four Five Seconds by Paul McCartney and Rhianna and everything by Jeremie Albino.
Q: Hit us with a list of your Pale Blue Dot picks! What catches your eye? What would you like to try?
A: Where do I begin?! Steel straws, reusable cosmetic pads, Lekko Life Goods bread bag, butterfly head safety razor, bees wax wraps, campfire scented candle. Oh- and Knots and Pipes earrings, obviously.