My story starts in customer service. For most of my life, I worked in hotels and restaurant management. I’d worked in these environments for such a long time, that it was easy for me; it was a routine I was familiar with… but I was feeling antsy. My heart wasn’t in it, and if I was honest with myself what I really desired in my work, was creativity. I needed a creative outlet.
I hadn’t exactly zeroed in on jewelry yet, although the impulse was there, lingering casually. I was living in Whistler at the time, and started searching for courses in the area that interested me.
The course that ended up capturing my interest was a gemology program that was being offered through Vancouver Community College. Classes would be held just once a week, and they were accepting new students. I got myself enrolled, and the long once a week commute from Whistler to Vancouver became a part of my life.
It was an incredibly interesting program, but I found that I wanted more. The idea of making jewelry had slowly started to surface in my mind and one day, about half way through the program, I casually asked my teacher if VCC offered a program for making jewelry. They did! It was a 2-year, full time program. I’d only completed the first year of the gemology program, but I learned that if I got accepted I could easily switch over. Gemology was integrated into the design curriculum. I felt a whole mix of emotions after receiving my acceptance letter, which ended up being warranted. This wasn’t going to be an easy ride, but I was more than prepared to take on the challenge.
Year one of the program I struggled to find my style and aesthetic.
The techniques we were learning were also difficult, and I had trouble mastering them and therefore completing projects on time or sometimes at all. I knew that gemstones were something I really wanted to incorporate into my design, but it wasn’t until the second semester of my second year that I really started honing in on my style and making pieces that I felt proud of.
But that first year was a really challenging. Knowing what I know now, if I could go back and do it again, I would. Although… allow me to second guess myself here, because maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe the difficulties I faced in that first year helped teach me to develop a good relationship with the creative process.
In my second year, I started spending a lot more time sketching and painting, and thinking (although not overthinking) about my designs. I realized that I wanted to design pieces that were both abstract and literal -- a tricky balance to achieve, but I knew what I wanted and eventually I started making what I'd been envisioning
I remember the fashion jewelry collection that my mom had when I was growing up. Even though she had such an amazing collection of it and I could play dress-up for days, it hadn’t interested me. I was drawn only to her fine jewels. I couldn’t articulate that thought then, but what I was gravitating towards, was a lifestyle of quality over quantity.
During my second year at VCC, I found myself returning to that mindset.
Clothing gives you a certain style, but the jewelry that you wear is your signature; how you truly stand out from the crowd. This is what I believe, and I wanted to develop my creativity so that I could share high quality pieces that could become a memorable signature for myself and the beautifully wild, authentic, and unique members of my community.
Carli Sita Jewelry was founded in 2014. The business started in my East Van apartment (I’d moved back to Vancouver to attend VCC full time), and eventually transitioned into a studio space in East Van that I share with three other creatives. The business has grown to suit both local and global fashions, and I feel tremendously proud of what I’ve created.
I couldn’t have done it without the support of all the people who love and purchase my designs. Thank you for being apart of my creative work and life.