Community is a huge part of the heart behind Brit & Barclay. We don't just love antiques or pretty things because they are beautiful; we appreciate them because they unite us with a common story. Each piece has a story that has the ability to resonate and connect one to another. We also want those stories to live on and evolve into new stories. No story is developed in isolation and so each heroin needs extraordinary characters with which to face the tension, conflict, surprises, and even quotidian activities. What better spot to create community but in our homes, where we have deep conversations, read epic books, talk about how art moves us, and, hopefully, live full lives.
Because community is key, being involved in our local community is an absolute must. Brittany, the driving force behind B&B, personally puts in countless volunteer hours to raise funds for the Regina Symphony Orchestra's education and outreach program, the Mackenzie Art Gallery and the Government House Historical Society which seeks to preserve, promote, and enhance Government House as a public heritage site.
Beyond volunteerism in the local art and historical community, B&B is also dedicated to investing in women's empowerment through young artisans who would otherwise not be afforded the ability to develop a skill. That is why 10% of all sales are set aside for Village Artisan's "I love school" program for young girls in Northern India.
Many years ago I spent two months in India, a country of explosive colour and tantalizing flavours. It may even be part of the reason that I am so set on using colour in my design process today.
While there, I got to experience Village Artisan behind the scenes from the production level. Most of my time was spent working with women in their homes making jewelry. Village Artisan was developed out of a desire to empower women and provide dignified work to men; they were truly promoting free trade before free trade ever became popular.
It is because of India that I hold such tension with my love of "things." When I came back to Canada I experienced extreme culture shock. Everything felt like a waste when there were people around the world in such poverty and I couldn't fix the problem. Over time I have come to understand that we are all born with different realities to face and what we are control of is how we respond to them.
It is the reason that maximalism is not materialism; it is a zest for life and beauty. Beauty comes from creativity, a deep place within us that fulfills a basic need to turn chaos into order. It can be fun and inspiring, but it can also be generous and kind. I was struck by the generosity of these women, although they had so little. In every home I went into, they gave me a hand made gift - a piece of their creativity. That is why I hope that in our individual search for the best version of ourselves we are able to find generosity - whether we have a little or a lot.
So I am excited to be partnering with Village Artisan in their School Sponsorship program and be able to support young girls in their studies, because access to knowledge is power. A brighter future for the youth of Northern India is also empowering for their working mothers who are artisans, trying to use their creativity to impact their family and shape the future.