Jewel of Roncesvalles: Gillian Batcher's artistic jewellery business creates community
"I have created a space where nurturing creative careers is part of the business model and I am successful when others are successful."
We continue our series featuring independent businesses from the Moms at Work community. In this edition, we caught up with Gillian Batcher, founder of Jewel Envy and artist behind the label PASH Jewellery Design. Gillian joined Moms at Work back in 2020 in the early days of the pandemic and is one of the founding members of The Collective.
Please tell us about your business?
Jewel Envy is located in the heart of the Roncesvalles Village in a converted century home at Roncesvalles and Marion. I painted it bright blue and it has become a landmark for directions in the neighbourhood. We sell handmade art jewellery that is made by our resident goldsmiths. Right now we have 16 residents or members of the space. Additionally, we do custom work, repairs, redesigns of older jewellery, and teach classes evenings and weekends.
What do you love most about your work?
What I love most about my work is that each day is different and each custom piece of jewellery I make is unique. I have created a space where nurturing creative careers is part of the business model and I am successful when others are successful. When I focus on helping others learn and grow, the same happens for me and thus we have a circular business model where we can all achieve our artistic and financial goals by giving and receiving support.
Tell us about your decision to become an entrepreneur?
I have always been motivated to do things my own way because I strongly believe we need to create the world we want to live in. My business model is based on creating an environment where we all succeed together and that is the concept I would like to see more of in the world. I know in my business I can play a small part in this and grow a community of like-minded people.
What’s it like being a mother and a business owner?
Following a traumatic pregnancy and birth experience which included me breaking a rib while five months pregnant and an emergency delivery, I consider myself and my daughter, now 6, both survivors.
I tackle both parenthood and work with that survival energy. Everything needs to be scheduled and to do lists are wonderful. I’ve never had a good work life balance, especially during the pandemic. I am always exhausted but that’s the life I chose when I decided to be a self-employed artist.
What impact do you hope your work will have?
I make a lot of very sentimental jewellery – from bridal to memorial pieces and everything in between. I hope that through our creative collaboration, I can help customers embrace the positive. I want them to feel cared for and heard throughout the process of having something special made for them.
My goal with my studio space is to help people advance their careers as goldsmiths: to support them in learning new skills and achieving their goals.
Any advice you’d like to share with other entrepreneurs?
A lot of people think they want to be entrepreneurs because they can “do it better”, but that’s not enough to be successful. You need to have a clear understanding of what success will mean to you and not get caught up in comparing yourself to others. You also need to be passionate about your field and figure out how your new offering will fit into the larger industry.
Advocacy has become a significant area of focus in the Moms at Work Collective since it launched, and I think a big part of that was due to founding members like yourself. What can you tell us about your advocacy work and is there a cause that you are especially passionate about?
I find the world very challenging right now and the only way I can cope is to find ways to give back in meaningful ways where I can directly see the impact. I did many things during the first couple years of the pandemic to help those around me.
Shafiq, a goldsmith that I work with, came to me to discuss his family and ask for help. He is from Afghanistan and his family has been trying to leave for quite some time. When the United States pulled out abruptly, his family should have been among those brought to the US because they had worked with the American embassy. Unfortunately, they were not and had to go into hiding from the Taliban.
Shafiq asked me if we could sponsor his family to come to Toronto. So, my husband and I, along with others from our community created an official “Group of 5” to sponsor his family as refugees. So far, his family have been able to escape to Pakistan but can’t stay there forever.
Shafiq is part of my family of goldsmiths and everyone in my studio felt the deep need to come together as a community and help however they could. This has allowed us to launch our first fundraising event as a jewellery auction with work donated by the goldsmiths of Jewel Envy.
The Fundraiser to Sponsor Shafiq's Family begins on April 1st, 2023 and will run until June 15th, 2023.
To view more of Gillian's work, visit JewelEnvy.ca and pash.ca or follow Jewel Envy on Instagram, YouTube or Facebook.