spring 2019

Ruta Nichol

Holy smokes, the brand new to the Bison vendor profiles keep on coming - soooo many talented new vendors this spring! Next up: Ruta Nichol. We loooooove her curious ceramics, and can’t wait to see them at the fair. Here’s how she describes her work:

“Inspired by simple day to day life, I create warm, whimsy and minimalistic ceramic sculptures and home decor items. Each of my pieces are individually hand built with ardent care given to the quality of the finish and a generous dose of fun and adventure.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?


Hmmm... a bow and arrow when I was a kid? Also, I remember a shed in a woods. As for ceramics: IT - WAS - A - BOWL , a first pinch pot exersize at school.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?


There are many, but the biggest is the thought that maybe I am not doing it right.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

Just keep making and hold head high.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Always identify essential + eliminate the rest. With both aesthetics and a process of making.

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they? 

Supportive dog and two cats at home.
Name? Yoshi, Vincent, Nochka
Age? 5, 1, 14
Any distinct personality trait of theirs?
Yoshi – best friend ever
Vincent – loving trouble maker
Nochka – small black creature with big character

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Angie Sotiropoulos

If it seems like every second vendor profile we’ve written is about a new vendor, it’s because every second vendor profile we’ve written is about a new vendor! Seriously - we are soooooooo excited to be introducing so many new makers/artists/designers/weirdos this spring at the Bison. Next up on the new vendor parade: Angie Sotiropoulos! We think her work is mysterious, beautiful, and endlessly imaginative. Here’s what she has to say about it:

“I create whimsical, story based mixed media sculptures and illustrations. All of it is part of something I call The Society of Curious Creatures.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)? 

The first thing I ever made was an acrylic painting that was a really simple version of one of my ocean creatures called the Heliconia.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker? 

The hardest part is balancing  between creation time, marketing, life commitments and the job that pays most of my bills.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges? 

Motivation is never a problem. I have ideas always coming to me. I try and keep track of them all in a daily sketchbook practice. What does become a problem is time management and one thing demanding more time than another. Often I will have to put something on hold to deal with another. It’s a struggle I am constantly trying to get better at.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words. 

Whimsy. Story. Quality over quantity production.

Infant Industrial Complex

Brand new to the Bison this spring is Jocelyn Badley of Infant Industrial Complex. As you might expect from her brand name, she approaches kids wear (something we’re always pumped to see at the Bison) with a good dose of humour. Here’s what she has to say about her work:

“I make nerdy, handmade baby and kids’ toys, plus whatever other odds and ends I can think up with my sewing machine. My philosophy of baby stuff is: Cute/practical/not soaked in pee: You can pick any two.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

The first baby toy I made for my son (before he was born) was literally just an exact rip-off of a yeti toy I saw on Etsy. I was about to put it in my cart, but then I thought “Wait… I know how to SEW!” It’s like being a wizard.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

For me it’s finding the time and energy to get stuff done in my spare time when my brain is sort of suggesting to me I should be watching TV instead. I also have trouble finishing what I start before moving on to the next exciting project -- which is why I sell such an eclectic collection of oddities.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?


I find the creativity and problem-solving of inventing something and then making it from scratch so rewarding. I’m always chasing that feeling! It gets me off the couch.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.


From exhaustion, glory. (Someone please translate that into Latin for me.)

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?


Name? Emma
Age? Approximately 12
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? Is farting a personality trait?

Scout Paper Goods

Welcome back to the Bison, Scout Paper Goods! Calgary-based maker Jenny Liski’s work was a big hit at the Winter 2018 Bison, and we’re oh-so-pleased to have her back for the spring event! Here’s what she has to say about her work:

Scout Paper is the result of my personal experiences and interest in nature and my wish to share that appreciation of our local flora and fauna with others.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

The first thing I made for Scout Paper was the Lodgepole Pine Cone enamel pin.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

Not losing momentum as a creative and as a business owner.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

I think it’s important to acknowledge that you can’t be working all the time, finding a balance of personal/creative/business time is important to avoid burning out.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Scouting, compiling, creating.

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?

A cat!
Name? Maddie
Age? she was a stray so maybe 5 years?
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? Maddie is an affectionate brat cat who loves muffins,
blanket forts, drools when she purrs and must be involved in everything you do.

This Might Work

Makers are a fascinating bunch, and many of us are never satisfied with a single project. Case in point: brand new (sort of) to the Bison - This Might Work. An all-star team featuring Mariah Barnaby-Norris and Erin Nagy, we’re excited to see what they’re bringing to the Bison. You might recognize Erin from her past Bison work on STUFF, her ultra-rad animal pillows. This Might Work is a new outlet for them to collaborate on topics that they care about through illustration. Yeah!

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

Mariah: First thing EVER? oh man, probably a drawing of my dog?

Erin: Hmmm, definitely a good ol’ papier-mâché tiger…  

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

Mariah: I’d say self doubt? Not thinking you’re good enough, as dark as that sounds.

Erin: I would have to agree with Mariah… and the stress of kinda always juggling so much stuff at once.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

Mariah: I think working with a friend, like we’re doing, helps a lot! We get so bloody excited about weird and fun things and kind of push through together and encourage each other, awww friends.

Erin: Yes, working with a bud is so lovely for that fact, even when things get stressful you can figure it out together and end up laughing about nothing and then the stress is gone… its pretty magical. 

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Mariah: Collaboration, FUN, coffee (lots and lots of coffee)

Erin: Laughing (most of the time), Weirdness, and collaboration.

Urban Drawer

It’s oh-so-good to have Bison veterans Urban Drawer back for another round of the fair this spring. We absolutely love their socks. We’re actually wearing their socks as we type this. Here’s what sisters Natalie and Vanessa Frederick have to say about their work:

“Run by two sisters with a passion for fine details. We design unique, fun, and modern patterns for men, women, and kids’ socks to fit your everyday lifestyle.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

Paper Flowers

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?


Developing something new and unique or getting stuck creatively.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?


Take a break and try again.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.


Look. Think. Color.

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Mynthia

Holy smokes everyone, we’ve got soooo many new vendors at the Bison this spring. It’s incredible, and we’re so excited and endlessly impressed by the level of talent in this province. Exhibit A: Mynthia. Making the trip up north from Calgary, here’s what maker Mynthia McDaniel has to say about her work:

“I make modern and whimsical pottery in my home studio in Calgary. I hope to make pieces that the user loves using, I want to be the maker of the mug that you hate when it is in the dishwasher!”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

If we are talking ceramic, I remember some very terrible 2 lb mugs!!

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

Working for free. Now I don’t mind working extra because I love the process, but when you do your taxes at the end of the year sometimes, and have a real hard look at time spent vs, money gained, it can definitely be eye-opening.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

Learn to take a break! I struggled with this for years, but I am now learning to embrace time off and how reinvigorating it can be!

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Hurry-up and Wait.

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?

Siberian Cat

Name? Sweatpants, Sweaty, Sweatybutt.

Age? 9

Any distinct personality trait of theirs? She’s insane, totally clumsy, and hilarious, she also thinks her good looks and soft fur can help her coast through life. Which so far is true, so I guess she’s not wrong.

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Simpatico Makers

Welcome to the Royal Bison Simpatico Makers! Given the overwhelming (and unnecessary) use of plastic these days, it’s so refreshing (and important) to see vendors bringing the ethos of reusability to the Bison! Anita Simpatico is new to the Bison, and has only been a maker for 6 months! Here’s what she has to say about her work:

“I'm trying to reduce plastic wrap use by offering beeswax wraps as an alternative, i use them myself.  I wanted to make them affordable and versatile.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

The first thing that I made (that I can remember) was paper fortune tellers. My best friend and I tried to sell various sizes of them at school.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

The most challenging thing about being a maker is the work and where to fit it into my busy schedule. 

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

My motivation is some internal drive inside me, just wants to keep going, 

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Effective, appealing, functional

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?

Do kids count? They sometimes act like animals.

Names? L.O.G ( first initials of each)

Age? 11, 8, 5

Personality trait? Vanilla Spicy and Salty

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Copper Cherry

Jessica Nepton-Chayer of Copper Cherry makes the most incredible canvas and leather goods. Her bags are both beautiful and seemingly indestructible. We’re super-pumped to have her back for another round of the Bison. Here’s what she has to say about her work:

“I’m an industrial designer that has started a line of canvas and leather outdoor goods. My goods are designed with a sense of nostalgia; a bit of old school and some modern utilities for the city dwellers who wish to bring adventure with them.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

In my Grand-pa’s wood shop I would carve stuff (dogs and flowers) with this old electric heat chisel on his
wood scraps. My grand-ma still has them displayed in her house, plus my first wood turned lamps.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

Being original in a sea of repetion.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

Deep breaths and a social Media Break.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Solve Problems Better

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?
Name? Bichou, shitzu/bichon
Age? 13 YRS
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? Always looks cute/angry, senile.
Name? Fisher, the golden
Age? 1 YR
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? Always happy, annoying.

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BuhaoLife

Veteran Bison vendor Emily Chu is back for another round of the Bison, but this time it’s with her brand new side-project, BuhaoLife! Here’s what she has to say about this new venture:

“Buhao means “no good” or “not good” in Mandarin, Chinese. It plays off of the ridiculously happy Life is Good brand. BuhaoLife is a new side venture for Emily Chu, creating illustrative products that are sarcastic, grumpy, sad/funny - Pretty much just poking fun at pessimism.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)? 

For Buhaolife (before it was officially its own product line), it was a sticker illustration of Mercat. The very first thing I’ve ever made as a maker would be a graphic novel and some “weird” prints and short experimental comics for comic expo.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker? 

The maker side of my business is more of a personal venture, so the most challenging part would be making time to constantly create new products. My products have a bit of attitude and humour, so coming up with new ideas is both fun and challenging.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges? 

I like to bounce ideas off of close friends. Sometimes ideas come to me during conversations, or when I see something funny and not good in real life that I can bring into my work. I find that I make my most impactful products when I start questioning “Is this TOO weird?” or “have I crossed the line?”. That’s usually a good place to be for me.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words. 

Chaotic, intuitive, giggles.

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they? 

I have a patient, gentle, and very handsome yellow Lab who is based in Calgary but comes to live with me a few months every year.


Name? Monty
Age? 10 in November (Big birthday party coming up!)
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? He pokes his head in to check on me every hour to make sure I’m ok.

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Buno Design

A giant welcome back to the Royal Bison to Esmahan Abdallah of Buno Design! We absolutely looooove her jewelry, and can’t wait to see what’s new this time around!

Here’s what she has to say about her work: “Buno Design is a sustainable fashion and accessories brand that believes in simplicity and refined timeless style, started by three sisters; Esmahan, Amnna and Sara. Our
timeless elegant Jewelry are all hand made in Canada by our designer Esmahan.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?


I remember learning to hand embroidery at the age of 7, from that moment I been making anything crafty that came my way. I remember the first ever craft project i have ever completed was making a crochet plastic canvas bag for my jewelry at the age of 13 years old.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?


Having to do everything yourself, from making the products, packaging them, photography, finance, shipping....etc. It takes years to prefect each one of those skills and to balance with family life is never easy!

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?


For me designing and making is actually therapeutic and I can’t imagine not doing this . I just have to remind myself why I do what I do. When you are led by your passion , you will put up with any challenges that comes your way.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.


Sustainable.Creative.Unique

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Amit & Kol

Weeee, another brand new and exciting vendor for the Royal Bison to preview! Hooray! Today, let’s all welcome Amanda Grigor of Amit & Kol. She tells us that the Spring 2019 Bison will be her first fair ever - double hooray!

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

As far back as I can remember...I used to draw Super Dog a lot! It was a wiener dog with a cape! I would always write SUPER DOG! above it, as if it wasn’t obvious enough! lol.  The first monster I ever made was Grimwall(grumpy yellow guy)who you will often see on my sites.  He has become the amit & kol mascot and is not afraid to show how he feels.


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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

Being my own toughest critic.  It can be a little daunting...sharing a piece of yourself and your work.  This is all new to me and i think it will definitely be a year of learning and growth, not only as a maker but a person as well.  

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

I try to remind myself that anything worth doing isn’t easy(risky!unpredictable!yet fulfilling!)And I just need to own who I am, trust myself, be proud of what I am doing, know that I love them(not everyone has to)and remember that what I am doing and creating brings great happiness to my life and at the end of the day that’s what really matters. My hope is that people will find something special in them and enjoy them as much as I do!

I also try my best not to overthink things but attack them with confidence(just go for it!) and then everything just kind of flows better and I get a lot accomplished. I always stick to my first initial instinct when it comes to putting colours..etc. together.  If I am unsure of how I feel about what I’m working on..I usually put it aside, do something else and come back to it later. Clarity usually comes along that way and my heart has to be totally in it. Biggest Motivation! is the sheer excitement radiating through me every time I finish a monster!

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Inspiration, Imagination, Celebration!

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/ / / BONUS QUESTION \ \ \

If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?

Kolby my 3 year old Sharpei! She is the kol of amit & kol.  She has so much personality and is a total character.  Something she does that makes me smile everyday is whenever we get ready to go for a walk..I always have a bunch of knots in my boot laces that take me forever to undo(and I keep doing it!ugh) but while she’s waiting..she rests her jowls on the window sill and all I hear is snoring! Lol I’m like do I really take that long?

Oil & Birch

Enormous, Bison-sized welcome to brand new vendor Brin Steeves of Oil & Birch! We’re always so excited to introduce all y’all to all of this amazing new talent in Edmonton, so we won’t waste any of yer time rambling on about other stuff, yeah?

“My ceramics reflect my personality, tender and tough. Bold, brilliant glazes complement flora, fauna & tarot inspired imagery!”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

The first piece I threw on a wheel was a bulky, wonky ... pencil holder? Sure, let’s call it a pencil holder. It still sits on my shelf, as a friendly reminder of how far I’ve come and to be gentle with myself.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

My biggest challenge is trying to fit my art practice around a full time day job. I can usually squeeze in 2-3 hours before and after work, daily. When big bursts of inspiration/motivation hit it’s challenging to pack up and go to work. Luckily I make art all day at iHuman Youth Society, so that inspiration never goes to waste!

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?


I write a lot of lists to keep myself in check and on schedule. When stress and big deadlines are approaching it’s important for me to debrief with supports, celebrate myself, and do some stretching/yoga.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.


Healing, playing, sharing

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?

2 resident felines!
Name? Salem & Jasper
Age? 4 & 2 years old
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? Jasper reeeally likes dumping my buckets
over. It’s great..

Strathcona Spirits Distillery

You sidle up to a sweet, sweet, padded-leather bar in a room full of weirdos in Old Strathcona. “What’ll it be?” asks the voice behind the bar. “Vodka. Straight.” you reply. You’re handed a taste of award-winning vodka, made right here in Edmonton. It goes down smooth. You feel alive. Good thing you came to the Bison.

Sounds alright, yeah? Well, this little vignette can be your reality at the Spring 2019 edition of the Royal Bison, thanks to Strathcona Spirits Distillery. So now, to be all official and stuff, here’s what they have to say about themselves: “Strathcona Spirits Distillery produces award-winning small batch spirits using traditional methods and local ingredients in a tiny, sunny boomtown building in Old Strathcona. We’re Edmonton’s first distillery.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

Our first product released was our Single Grain Vodka, which 2.5 years later is still going strong. In fact, it just won Best Vodka in Canada in the 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition! We’ve definitely made some gnarly stuff since though!

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker? 

The man. 

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

Cordyceps, micro-dosing. 

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?

We don’t have an official distillery cat (yet) but here’s a picture of our Event and Market Manager’s little kitty, Ziggy. He’s super cool. 

Name? Ziggy
Age? 10
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? Although she’s very cute and cuddly, she’s a loud and unassuming deviant.

Evocatif Natural Perfume

We’re always so excited to have vendors from Calgary make their way north to show their work at the Bison. Silly rivalries aside, we love highlighting the amazing work coming out of Calgary, so we’re ultra pumped to introduce to all y’all - brand new to the Bison - Evocatif Natural Perfume!

According to maker Katherine Thomas, “Evocatif designs and manufactures 100% synthetic-chemical free luxury perfumes and perfumed body products. We endeavor to make these products as sustainable and accessible as possible so everyone can smell great and protect the environment!” So rad!

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

My first blend I made was three essential oils; Frankincense, Lime and Juniper ...and it smelled FANTASTIC!

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

It’s difficult putting a pricetag on products so important and personal to me. I come from an arts and retail focused background though, so that helped me decide how to price my work.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

I remember that I price my perfumes as fairly as possible, that I use the highest-quality ingredients and I offer multiple sizes of product to maintain accessiblity.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

Magical, dynamic, ethical.

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If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they?

Name? Coda
Age? 2 years
Any distinct personality trait of theirs? He’s a sweet, energetic, loving floof.

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Colour Me Weird

Say “hey there!” to brand new Bison vendor Colour Me Weird! About her wonderful/colourful/strange work, maker Rhandi Sanford says, “Colour Me Weird is for the playful kid at heart. Fun prints, and cozy basics for any size/gender or body type.” Catch all this amazingness at the Spring 2019 fair…and now, let’s get to those questions!

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

I started in illustration! An original piece was the first thing I ever sold for money.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

Running a business on my own and staying positive through it all. We can be the hardest on ourselves, cant we?

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges? 

I make something NEW. Most of the time discouragement (for me) comes from being stagnant.

Describe your current creative process in 3 words. 

Weird, silly, free.

Vevila

The Royal Bison has been truckin’ on for a good while now, and we have a few vendors pop in and out who have been there since the beginning. Today we’re featuring the incredible work of Genevieve Savard’s VEVILA line of leather goods and accessories. Genevieve has been a maker for 14 years and she reminds us that “I participated in the very first Royal Bison. I sold purses and feather earrings under the label Myrtle and Pearls.” - we’ve got nothin’ on that kind of history!

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Genevieve is a self-taught accessories designer, trained in costume making. Obsessed with materials and traditional handicrafts, each of her pieces is unique and made with great attention to detail and a sense of humour.

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Genevieve tells us some Deep Edmonton tidbits: “The first purse I ever designed was made from an old, olive leather jacket for a local fashion company called Nokomis. I loved it and I asked the owner (Virginia) if I could keep one as my Christmas present. I still have it. My studio is in my home and I have 2 cats. A ginger, Alberta farm-cat named Pipi and a black, Montreal street-rat named Paul Krugman. They love to hate each other!”

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Catch Vevila’s breathtaking work at the Spring 2019 Bison - can anyone say Mother’s Day gift? Like, if your mom was Moira Rose off of Schitt’s Creek (we’re kidding, but mayyyybe?)