Jewellery design is something that has been a part of Suzie Chemel’s life since attending Thornhill Secondary School. The co-founder of locally produced jewellery line Foxy Originals (with her friend and business partner Jen Ger) started designing beaded baubles as a teen, a hobby that morphed into a successful business with a loyal fan base for nearly two decades.
“I was always playing around with jewellery throughout high school. I had a little collection of jewellery for teens. I didn’t go too far with it, but it was definitely a bit of a start,” she says.
In terms of moving from crafty hobby to entrepreneurship, Chemel says being part of DECA in high school, an organization that helps students build business skills, is what really gave her an early entrepreneurial push.
“It [DECA] gave me the motivation and confidence to move forward in business and was something I did that helped me.”
After high school, Chemel attended the University of Western Ontario, which is where she met Ger and where Foxy Originals really started to take shape. By their third year, the pair won a CIBC student entrepreneur award, which Chemel cites as having a significant impact on their career trajectory.
“That was major for us and something that pushed us in the right direction business-wise,” she says. “We won the award, and we were in Canadian press across the country, and that gave us full confidence to move forward.”
Following graduation, Foxy Originals became a full-time affair, growing with each passing year.
“We were really motivated and found that there was no designer branded, affordable jewellery. We saw the need and wanted to fill the niche,” says Chemel.
Filling the niche for stylish but accessible jewellery has come down to a few things. Chemel explains that, although they keep on top of trends, sustained success comes from balancing fashion with function.
“I think our designs are really unique, and we started out wanting to be multi-functional,” she adds, explaining that their pieces work well for young professionals who may not be able to afford more expensive jewellery, but they can get a necklace they can wear multiple times and ways, getting more style mileage out of it.
Something else that has always been top of mind for Foxy Originals is the fact the brand’s production is local.
“It has always been important for us, and from the very beginning we have wanted to make sure manufacturing was domestic, that we work where things are produced. We’re very proud of that,” Chemel says.
Success in business, for Chemel, also comes down to having a successful partnership.
“A lot of people say its challenging to have a business partner, but Jen and I have been really lucky having each other and getting feedback and bouncing ideas off each other,” she says. “It’s a lot tougher when you’re on your own. Any issue that comes up, we talk it over and figure it out together.”
Moving forward, Chemel wants to continue creating unique designs that customers love.
“We always want to stay relevant in terms of design, but we keep surprising ourselves, so we just want to make sure that our designs and collections continue to please our customers,” she says. “The most exciting part is seeing the new designs: something that still excites us after all these years.”