Minnie by Monique: Stratford’s newest jewellery designer Monique Lund

  • Business   Friday, January 14, 2022   Lisa Chester-Hanna

Originally from PEI, Monique Lund has called Stratford home since 2008. She came for work with the Stratford festival and decided to make the move permanent after performing in Cabaret. The talented Lund has sung, danced, and acted through twelve seasons with the festival, as well as workshops, readings and recordings. She first starting dancing at the age of 7 when she started step dancing and tap. At the age of 12 she was cast in a production of Ann of Green Gables and discovered her love of ballet.

“I was working with these older dancers and watching them do this thing called ballet, I didn’t even know what it was. I said to my mother that I don’t know what they’re doing at the rehearsal hall, but I need to do it,” shared Lund.

Before the pandemic hit, her last contract was in Hamilton, cast in a production of Hairspray at the Theatre Aquarius, in December 2019. 

“When the New Year came, there was the rumblings of this far away nuisance we never thought would affect us to this degree. I had a whole year of work lined up for 2020; smaller, shorter contracts, though nothing big like some with the Festival. I was of course very disappointed but I thought well, here you go, there’s nothing to be done, make the best of it,” said Lund.

Lockdown for the family, like all others, had its ups and downs. The Lunds tried to make the best of it and would plan elaborately themed nights, a saving grace for Monique. They would plan a Greek night where they would plan the menu, and dress up and play Greek music, or a French Bistro night. 

The next saving grace was found in jewellery design. With some brainstorming and the help of a friend, Minnie by Monique was born. Working with primarily leather she sources as deadstock, or scraps from leather stores, she crafts bespoke earrings and necklaces. The metals used she finds from upcycling pieces found in thrift stores and the like, or newer materials purchased for those that prefer a more modern take.

All pieces created are unique, hand crafted items. She does not carry a large inventory, and will work with a client to develop their own vision to create a one of a kind item. In her Etsy shop, she has about 60 pieces for sale, but nothing on display in her home studio. She waits for an order to come in and then makes it.

“I like to do it in the moment, I like to make it and ship it off. So my bespoke stuff, anything upcycled is truly a bespoke one of a kind piece though sometimes I may find something to upcycle and can make three pairs of earrings with it so its not necessarily bespoke but it kind of is. Leather is sort of an organic substance, almost like a living breathing entity, as weird as that sounds, so it will never have this factory polish to it,” she said.

Minnie by Monique describes the line of jewellery, of which there is a line called Charlotte, named for Lund’s daughter. It is a fine, more elevated line using 18k gold plate and the ear wire is 22k gold plate.

Marketing of the line is on Etsy, and there are also two Stratford stores that carry Minnie by Monique; the Little Green Grocery and the new store on York St. called Fawn, where shoppers can find two large shelves of product. This year at Christmas Lund was found at the pop up Eco-market on Douro St and the Soul Pepper Theatre Company artisan market in the Distillery district of Toronto.

“It was so much fun, I loved it. This was my first time sitting at the table and interacting with people and answering questions about where things came from. I absolutely loved it and want to do much more of that, it feels more personal.”

Something surprising for Lund was finding out the emotional aspect of what she does that she didn’t expect. Without trying to find meaning, she often finds meaning in her jewellery. 

“I did a Ruth Bader Ginsberg earring last year that took off because of who she was and what she represented to women, and when she died, I was always a huge fan and was gutted; a friend suggested I make this earring. And women started giving it to other women as a sign of female empowerment or strength. I had American friends who were wearing them when they went to vote in the last election. I didn’t expect that story, that narrative behind it,” Lund said.

Having an online Etsy store, minniebymoniquelund, and access to social media, customer reach has been international. She has sent her bespoke pieces to Scotland, Israel, Germany, England, Paris, a lot of the United States. She finds Etsy so cool, where a woman from Wisconsin can find her and something she’s created here in Stratford. 

In 2022, Lund returns to the stage in PEI, cast in Steel Magnolias. Other than that, she is unsure, but has been lucky to work with the Here For Now Theatre Company and hopes to continue with that. For her brand, she would love to grow her business.

“I think I’m gaining confidence in my product; people like it and people are buying it. I am contemplating really pouring some money into it to take it to the next level and get more professional marketing and photography. I do it all myself, but it’s hard for me, especially during COVID, to find models and to keep it evolving and dynamic. I’d like to hire people to do that type of work, so that would free me up to create. It’s something I can do in tandem with theatre work and what I love to do.”