If you’re anything like us then you grew up thinking that beautiful leather bags were reserved for big city women with executive jobs and fat pay checks, and you wanted to be her so badly. You’ve lusted after a designer purse like it was your soulmate, and at least once in your young-adult life you seriously considered spending an entire month’s rent on an accessory.
As it turns out, grown-up us isn’t so into dropping stacks of cash on designer bags, but our lust for leather hasn’t diminished at all. So where’s a girl to go for affordable leather goods? The answer is Jovee Handcrafted, a tiny shop/studio tucked away in historic Fan Tan Alley. Leather dreams come true at Jovee, where bags and accessories are designed and handmade with endless love and dedication and priced to fit a modest budget.
The woman behind this little gem is Alexis Kastner, and to spend five minutes with her is to know what passion and hard work looks like. The Ontario-transplant first started making and selling jewelry as a teenager, and eventually worked pieces of leather into her creations. Over the years, leather became her true love and jewelry turned to bags, accessories, and even custom motorcycle seats. All the while, Alexis was working in – get this – finance. She recently bid adieu to her 9 to 5 to take on leather-making full time, and we’re so glad she did. One look at her bags and you’ll be glad, too.
Find Jovee Handcrafted at 104-3 Fan Tan Alley, Victoria.
One chilly evening in December while we were standing on Government Street waiting for Brasserie to open, the woman behind us asked if we would hold her place in line so she could she duck into The Milkman’s Daughter. When she came back out she explained that she had to pick up some of her favourite soap – then she reached out her hand and thrust the soap under our noses. It smelled good. It smelled damn good. We asked her to hold our place so we could grab a bar (and more) of our own.
The soap that won our hearts (and noses) is handmade by Steele & Co. right here in Victoria. Following family recipes and tradition, Steele & Co. uses simple and natural plant-based ingredients scented with botanicals and essential oils to make high quality utilitarian products. Their west coast scents range from Cedar and Fir to Hunter’s Blind and Pepper and Mint, and soaps come in bar, shave, or liquid form. We’re not ones to pick favourites, but if we had to, our vote goes to Pepper and Mint.
Find Steele & Co. products at Citizen, Four Horsemen, Still Life, The Milkman’s Daughter, Oak Bay Beach Hotel Spa and Victory Barber & Brand.
The moment we saw the Close to Your Heart pendant we knew it would be a favourite piece for years to come. Handmade by local jeweler Emma Glover, the pendant is inspired by the texture of west coast beach pebbles, and just like beach pebbles (and hearts) no two pendants are the same.
Subtle and worn on a long chain, the heart layers well with shorter necklaces, stones, and different metals. The reversible pendants are available in brightly polished sterling silver, sterling silver with a darkened patina, or bronze.
All of Emma’s creations are hand-crafted and original. We love the west coast character in her work and naturally found a few other pieces we’d like to add to our humble collection. We think the Stacking Water Rings in 18k gold, blackened silver, and bronze are a simple but beautiful everyday accessory, and we certainly wouldn’t mind making a statement with the Ocean Flower in Motion with hand-knotted fresh water pearls.
Find Emma Glover at local markets or online at http://www.emmagloverdesigns.com.