Talkin' Bison with Jessica and Elizabeth of Vera Véro (formerly Nokomis)

We here at the Royal Bison always love to hear stories of what it's like to be a maker/artist/designer in Edmonton. For the Spring 2017 Bison, guest writer Lindsay Jones brings us in depth interviews with some of our long-term vendors.

Elizabeth Hudson and Jessica Kennedy became fast friends while working at Nokomis Clothing (now Vera Véro). Elizabeth ran the studio and designed the house line, while Jessica ran the store operations. Fast-forward a few years later and they were young entrepreneurs running the business all on their own. The Nokomis house line became prominent within their store, was stocked in over ten boutiques across Canada, and they were branching into the States as well. After five years of running the business on their own, Elizabeth and Jessica had to make the difficult decision to close their doors. The economy was tanking, and this was leaving them in a tough spot; they were sad to go, but knew it was the best choice nevertheless. Edmonton has not forgotten these two gals nor has our city lost the love it had for Nokomis, so it is an understatement to say that we are excited to see them back at it!

Read on to learn more about what Jessica and Elizabeth have been up to since their Nokomis days, and why they have decided to revisit their roots…

It has been six years since you closed the doors of Nokomis. What sparked the revival of this collaboration?

JK: This collaboration came about in a few ways. I mean it is something that we have talked about a lot over the years. I currently work for the University of Alberta, and my schedule is a manageable 8am – 4pm, which is a first for me. I have a supportive work and family environment, so this has all contributed to good timing for us.

EH: It is something that I have been wanting to try for awhile, and it just seemed like the timing was finally right. I have been living in Montreal and working on Ursa Minor for a number of years, and I was beginning to feel burnt out. Working in the fashion industry can feel very superficial; my colleagues and peers are not superficial people, but I needed a break from the industry itself. I missed working with a partner, so for me the timing was perfect – it allowed me to change gears.

What was it like to be part of the Edmonton creative community in the early days – how do you feel re-entering that space?

JK: I think when you are in it, you don’t realize you are in it. You are just doing what feels right and what you are passionate about. The community that builds around you as a result is a wonderful side benefit, but I don’t think we were being intentional about building that up at the time. It is exciting to come back to it all though, because we can now see the community we did build around us. They are still huge supporters and that in itself is a success. We became a family and it is going to be great to come back to that.

EH: My mother constantly says to me that we were way ahead of our time. I didn’t feel like it at the time, but looking back I think we were. That is why I am excited about it now and how our line could work into the present world. I think we are re-entering at a time where local brands are being fully embraced.

Looking back, what was your proudest moment?

EH: We often talk about the fact that we maintained a friendship through a financially failing business [laughs]. I am really proud that we are not only friends, but that we are working together again. We always worked together really well – we have different complimentary strengths. Beyond that though, I think just the fact that we ran a business really shaped me. Knowing that I could be in charge of my own destiny helped me forge my path in life.

JK: Oh yikes. It took me awhile to think of this, but while Elizabeth was talking I came up with something [laughs]. I actually think one of the proudest moments for me was a spring campaign we worked on. It was a beautiful collection that Elizabeth had designed and we had women who were near and dear to us taking the photos and modeling the clothes. It was a day that we felt we could own, and the stress was low, which was rare for us to feel at that time.

What can we expect from your clothing line this time around?

EH: We knew we wanted to do a Capsule Collection – a small one-time collection. We are re-launching many of our old Nokomis designs – the ones we really loved. There are some designs that we have done major updates to, others have minor tweaks, and some we have left alone. We have aimed to create a timeless line that does not adhere to only one season.

JK: We are all about Canadian designed and Canadian produced high-quality clothing for the everyday woman. We know she has a life; she is a mom, she is a career woman, and she balances many hats and roles. We created a line that fits within that. It is about the everyday versatile wardrobe.

Looking into the future – where do you see Vera Véro?

JK: We don’t know. The way the current fashion industry works is not suitable for Elizabeth and I to function in. The two collections a year doesn’t work for us – it’s constant production, and it isn’t necessary. We make high quality investment pieces, and there is no need to replace these every six months. Our mantra right now is that “it has to work for us.” So, we are taking it one step at a time.

EH: Yeah. That is definitely a question in our minds. It is a discussion we need to have on this trip when I am back in Edmonton. In my heart, I would love to see this continue forward. If I am going to continue to work in clothing though, it has to be in a way that fits really organically into my life.

Complete this sentence: To me The Royal Bison is __________.

JK: Family.

Royal Bison is our friends; it is our place. It is a space that feels good to be part of. I am excited to be back. I am super nervous too. We want to reconnect with our client, and we know that Royal Bison is the perfect spot to do that in. It is just such a great fit – it is nice to be part of such a supportive community and selling alongside them. We are happy that we are being welcomed back into it all again, after having been absent for as long as we have been. It feels comforting to know that there still is a place for us here.

EH: Community.

If I am ever home when a Royal Bison is on, I am always excited to go. I like knowing that I am going to see so many people that I know and love there. I have been part of Royal Bison in some capacity from the start, as my husband was the founder of the market. So, it is great to come back to it all and be welcomed into the space all over again.

Vera Véro is a sustainable clothing line for the modern woman. Interested in shopping their Capsule Collection? Stop by Poppy Barley for the popup shop April 28– 29, 2017 AND swing by Royal Bison May 5 – 7, 2017. Can’t make it to Edmonton for these events? Fear not, the Capsule Collection will also be available at: Victoire Boutique in Ottawa, ad hoc in Penticton, Arturo in Edmonton, and online.

Lindsay Jones is one half of Rosa & Lilium Apothecary, and the writer of their excellent #getREAL blogThe Royal Bison is super jazzed to have Lindsay as our guest writer for the Spring 2017 event.


Talkin' Bison with Josh Smith of Libertine Fragrance

We here at the Royal Bison always love to hear stories of what it's like to be a maker/artist/designer in Edmonton. For the Spring 2017 Bison, guest writer Lindsay Jones brings us in depth interviews with some of our long-term vendors.

Joshua Smith is the scent wizard behind Edmonton’s small batch unisex perfume house: Libertine Fragrance. As a student of design studying at The University of Alberta, Josh dabbled in a variety of creative mediums; perfume was the one that stuck. He was drawn to the creativity perfumery required, and in awe of the unique storytelling capacity that scent has.

Read on to learn more about why this Royal Bison vendor’s favourite part of perfumery is the invisibility it has in a design world which is typically filled with tangibles…

What do you do and why do you love it?

JS: I make perfume. It kind of started by accident; or at least not with the intent of turning it into a business. I didn’t even own any perfume or cologne of my own when I started experimenting with the medium. I got into it mostly as a way of ignoring other design projects that I was supposed to be doing [laughs]. I enjoyed it and continue to enjoy it because it allows me to have an artistic output in a uniquely invisible way. So much of what you do in design is visible, and tangible, but scent is neither.

Your products are all Edmonton-made. What does being an Edmonton-maker mean to you?

JS: I guess to me it is this juxtaposition between a beautiful and wonderful maker’s community that knows each other and works together, and those who don’t know we exist at all. Edmonton’s creative community needs to continue finding interesting ways to capture the attention of the rest of the population, both in Edmonton and the rest of Canada.

Proudest moment?

JS: I would say working on a project with some of my design-heroes. There is a furniture design company in New York called Material Lust that reached out to me to do a custom scent for them. It was super exciting, because they were a huge inspiration to me while I was in school. I was also lucky enough to have my perfume line reviewed by Luca Turin. He is a scientist based in scent who has written a few perfume review books. He was reviewing some niche perfume lines, and Libertine was one of them; he gave us a really positive review and that was extremely flattering – it made me feel like I must be doing something right [laughs].

We’re looking into the future – where do you see Libertine?

JS: Ideally, I would like to see Libertine become this weird and awesome niche thing that allows me to make perfume all day. The dream would be a studio space in New York.

Complete this sentence: To me The Royal Bison is __________.

JS: Edmonton.

Royal Bison has been one of the only reasons I have been able to continue doing what I do. It is a market that genuinely feels like it exists exclusively to support the makers versus existing to make money off of them. The people that come through the market, the vendors that participate in the market, and the people that organize the market represent the most refreshing and beautiful part of our city. It is the Edmonton that I want to be part of.

Joshua Smith is a multi-talented designer and entrepreneur residing in Edmonton, Alberta. Interested in shopping the Libertine Fragrance line? Head over to the online shop, check out one of Libertine’s many stockists, and be sure to look for Libertine at The Royal Bison May 5 – 7, 2017.

Lindsay Jones is one half of Rosa & Lilium Apothecary, and the writer of their excellent #getREAL blog: Q's and A's from phenomenal women who aren't afraid to get real. The Royal Bison is super jazzed to have Lindsay as our guest writer for the Spring 2017 event.

Emily Chu

One of the best parts about organizing the Royal Bison over the years is being excited about a brand new vendor and, over the years, seeing their work get better and better and better.  Exhibit A: Emily Chu.  By now a veteran of the Bison, it's been a real treat to see her work progress over the years.  (Especially if you like cats!)

Prints, comics, t-shirts, risographs, stickers, stationary, cards.  You name it.  We are particularly fond of her mermaid/cat risograph print, btw.

Find Emily Chu May 5-7 (so soon!) at the Royal Bison.  Until then, follow along with the Instagram!

Smithstine Copper

By now a wily veteran of the Royal Bison, Kristine MacDonald of Smithstine Copper continues to knock it out of the park.  We're delighted to have her and her fantastic copper goods back for the Spring 2017 edition of the Royal Bison.  Here's what she has to say about her work:

Smithstine is a little copper working shop located in Edmonton. Kristine MacDonald specializes in making jewelry for those with an adventurous spirit. Her Alberta inspired, hand sawn, copper jewelry is designed to be versatile enough to be worn on a camping trip or out to a swanky evening on the town. We can't always be out exploring in nature, but our accessories can remind us of what we're working for!

Yes!  Find Smithstine Copper May 5-7 at the Royal Bison.  Until then, we highly recommend following along with her Instagram!

Karma Victoria Jewelry & Ceramics

Veteran Royal Bison vendor Tory Culen of Karma Victoria Jewelry & Ceramics is back for another round of the Royal Bison, and we couldn't be happier.  We all know Tory for her excellent jewelry, but the with the recent addition of ceramics to her line, well, seriously, could it get any better?  Here's what she has to say about her work:

My jewelry plays on the common everyday and the striking statement, moving fluidly along the spectrum. I prefer using brass for it's hearty industrial feel and soft colour, incorporating my favourite stones and ceramic pieces to give it a balanced contrast. My ceramic jewelry dishes compliment my jewelry line, but I also pull everything from espresso cups and mugs, to plates and vases!

Fantastic!  Be sure to check out Karma Victoria Jewelry & Ceramics May 5-7 at the Royal Bison.  Until then, follow along with the Instagram!

The Wilfred Kozub Art + Ponder

It's difficult for us to pull together a single description of The Wilfred Kozub Art + Ponder.  Long time Royal Bison vendor (and our favourite grown man) Wilf Kozub's work knows no bounds.  From music to painting to cards to scarves, you really need to check out Wilf's table at the Bison to understand what we mean.

Mr. Kozub informs us that he will be bringing all sorts of new cards and prints to the fair, as well as new shirts, a brand new silk scarf design, and music all-sorts.  His new album from Wilfred N & The Grown Men, 'Passing Through Time' (which hit the charts at CJSR, CKUA, and National Campus Radio Earshot) will be available, as well as other music from his label Zönik Records.

Can you tell we're having trouble here?  Like, what can't Wilfred do?  Be sure to say hello May 5-7 at the Royal Bison.  Until then, be sure to follow along with his Instagram!  And while you're at it, check out his short film 'The Weather'!

Little Taproot Apothecary

Little Taproot Apothecary was a big hit at the Winter 2016 Royal Bison, and we are ultra-pleased to have her back for the Spring 2017 edition of the fair!  Here's what maker Emily Bourne has to say about her work:

Artisan bath and beauty - 100% natural, simplistic formulations, earthly ingredients, nontoxic, environmentally friendly, natural healing, plant medicine. Little Taproot Apothecary concoctions are best described as the mystical treasures you might find tucked away in a 1970's Winnebago along side the likes of healing teas, knitted sweaters and magic mushrooms. Lotions and potions meant to uplift and inspire, enhance the whole being – body, mind and soul.

Any description that refers to a 1970's Winnebago gets 100 bonus points in our books, btw.  Find Little Taproot Apothecary May 5-7 at the Royal Bison.  Until then, be sure to follow along with her Instagram!

Copper Cherry

New vendor alert!  We are pleased as punch to introduce Copper Cherry, the work of Edmontonian Jessica Nepton-Chayer.  We are very excited to see her expanding line of work, currently focusing on backpacks, at the Bison.  Here's what she has to say about her work:

Copper Cherry bags are the start of a lifestyle brand focused on Canadian and Albertan living. Copper Cherry balances city living with a blend of rustic outdoor aesthetic. We are dedicated in creating long lasting unique products that will outlive you. All hand crafted with the best materials and loads of love.  

Fantastic.  Be sure to check out Copper Cherry May 5-7 at the Royal Bison.  Until then, follow along on the Instagram!






Snow Alligator

Veteran Bison vendor (and illustrator extraordinaire) Jason Blower is back for the Spring 2017 fair with his new project, Snow Alligator.  Always a treat at the Bison, you can see Jason's work across the city in various formats.  Here's what he has to say about this project:

Snow Alligator has happy things for you to decorate your home with, including prints of familiar landmarks, road trips, camping, and some whimsical adventures. Created to play homage to the memories of home and adventures outdoors, using a happy colourful palette and a clean Mid-Century modern style infused with folkart.   Snow Alligator also is focused on educational and crafty items for you little ones, where they are able to express their creative side while learning about familiar places and the history that those place have.  Created by illustrator @jasonblower, as a place to showcase all the whimsical and fun things he creates for your home and explore new and fun ideas.

Super duper!  Find Snow Alligator May 5-7 at the Royal Bison.  Until then, follow along on the Instagram.

Uppercase Press

It was a sad day in Edmonton when Lu from Uppercase Press packed up her Chandler & Price and moved east to Toronto, but the good news is that she'll be heading back west for the Spring 2017 Royal Bison.  Hooray!  We love her sweet and quirky cards.  Here's what Lu has to say about her work:

Lu, from Uppercase Press, started printing as a creative outlet to take her from the corporate zone, and oh wasn’t she right?

She moved to Toronto a few months ago, but can’t stay way from the show that she states as the first milestone to her creative career. The show that gave her that boost of confidence and showed her that she could do it.

The. Best.  Find Uppercase Press May 5-7 at the Royal Bison.  Until then, be sure to follow along with her Instagram.