Another amazing conversation.

Another amazing roti recommendation.

This time it’s for Rehanah’s Roti out in Port Moody!

Inspired by her Mom’s crafty nature and ‘80’s jewelry collection, Love, Irene was created by Vancouverite Frances Hanson-Monnie, designing contemporary handmade earrings.

This was back in 2016, “I never had the guts to do anything about it.” Until February 2019 that is.  After seeing a Got Craft posting looking for makers. “I made myself an Instagram page, posted some of my handmade earrings, applied, was accepted and… OMG it’s happening!”

During 2019, Frances established her brand at over 20 markets in the Vancouver area and between the first week of November up until Christmas, Frances had a two-day market every weekend except one.

“I didn’t start markets this year (2020) and then Covid hit, so I’m probably not doing any markets this year!”

But don’t fret.  Earrings are still available to order via her Instagram account.

“Like many, 2020 was going to be my year.  A few select markets, and I was also going to get married.  But all of that is postponed right now.”

Covid has also impacted Frances’ drive to be creative, but not the creativity.

“At the beginning of quarantine, I was working from home and I planned to be making during my lunch break and after work.

I made five pairs.

I just don’t have the desire to make.  I just can’t be bothered.  I just kinda stopped.”

By the end of May as motivation and drive started to kick in, it was also around this time that a lot of support was being shown for Black businesses.

“I have this guilt right now as I feel like people are thinking, Oh, she’s taking advantage of this support.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy our White friends are finally waking up to this (Anti-Racism) but if prior to this current movement, if we or another Black creative in this city had bought up Black Lives Matter on our business page, we would have taken a hit;  been told that this is not the place for it.  And now that this is happening and everyone wants to be our allies, I feel as though I am not doing enough.  We’re tagged in all these posts and I feel lazy because my IG isn’t filled with images and I’m having guilt about never acknowledging Black issues on my business page before.

“It’s exhausting.  So is this life of being a Black person, especially a Black woman.”

Creativity:

It’s a feeling I get in my chest.   I’ll see a piece, such as an acetate design I like and pick just three colors.  Then I’ll pull up the joining components and combine them in my head.

“I want to be selective about my products.  Sometimes I just find a piece that I love and I’ll just buy it, and when it arrives, I’m like, What am I going to do with you?!  And it just stays in a box.

Something that I think a lot of creatives can relate to!

“I’m inspired by the space we now have to create, but I’m also a little scared.  There’s this pressure on us to be putting out perfect product.  When I set up my display, if I see a jump ring where the ends don’t quite touch, I’ll get my tools out and adjust it until it’s perfect.”

As she was establishing her brand at markets, a customer returned a pair of earrings as the hoop broke and “It broke my heart.  I thought, I’m gonna stop selling earrings!  I looked at my stock and figured out that the hoop was too thin for this acetate piece so I fixed them.

I don’t want people to think that they won’t buy from a Black maker because their products aren’t so well made.  I want to ensure this is the best possible product in THIS market, regardless of what else people are selling.”

Ensuring our product or our services are equal, or of a higher quality than other makers is something that a lot of Black creatives struggle with, especially where the market is small. 

“We also need to be featured.  We need the market organizers to show a diverse range of makers and product in their through their advertising.  It shows customers that they’re not going to see the same makers and products at every event.

Inspiration:

There’s inspiration in everyday things.  Last year my fiancé and I were having brunch in a NYC diner and this girl walks in and she’s wearing these gigantic hoop earrings with a chain dangling and although I didn’t particularly like the earrings, I thought I could make something like that.  That’s where the Estelle stemmed from, and the Issa is an off shoot of that.

“I have this notebook and I’ll start drawing things and they’ll have names beside them.  I’m a terrible artist, but you know what you drew.  You know what you saw.  It’s just drawing and noting the essence of the object to remind you of a specific piece of inspiration.

The Beginning:

I feel this is the beginning of a shift.  And as happy as I am about it, it’s frustrating as I feel I’ve been shouting for so many years and people were like, Oh, it’s not so bad Frances, and all of a sudden it’s like Whoa.

The protests that are happening, they might start to ease down, but I don’t think the work is going to stop.  I think the support for Black business will keep going.  I think people are starting to realize the need to be buying local and buying local independent business and from POC makers.

For details on her products, you can contact Frances via Instagram @loveirenejewelry  or email Frances at shop.loveirenejewelry@gmail.com

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