Her jewelry is inspired by a variety of sources — the beauty of the Kootenays, First Nations, a trip to Mexico — but for Tessa Park, its creation is about something deeper. When she designs a new piece, she takes something from the past and gives it a new life.
“To women, jewelry is mostly sentimental — it was either given as a gift or inherited from your grandmother,” said the T. Lane Designs Jewelry owner.
Despite a strong emotional attachment, the pieces may not be in fashion — and that’s where Park comes in. She will take the old piece apart and turn it into something modern.
“You can use a little piece and keep the sentimentality without that old outdated piece,” she said.
Park, a custom clothing designer, began making jewelry about three years ago. The Prince Charles Secondary School graduate has lived in Creston on and off since her parents moved to the valley 12 years ago, and was living on Vancouver Island when she decided to downsize and spend a few months camping with her family.
That meant clothing and jewelry had to go, but the decision wasn’t easy — so she ended up taking some of her favourite jewelry apart and making it into three new pieces. A dress client saw the jewelry and loved it, so Park made more, and the client and her friends quickly snapped it up.
Park recently showed off 56 pieces of her jewelry line A Brilliant Hue to a Creston audience when she held a fashion show at Millennium Park, partnering with other businesses, such as Lectric Ave. Electronics, the Snoring Sasquatch, Creative Fix (where her jewelry is sold) and Red Circle Kitchen. Jessica Bilcik of Mane and Nails styled the eight models’ hair.
“I never could have done this on my own, and wouldn’t have wanted to,” Park said. “It was so wonderful to see the excitement and willingness of everyone to give of themselves and their businesses to make this event happen.”
A lot of behind-the-scenes assistance was also provided by the Teen Action Committee.
“The Teen Action Committee’s involvement was important to me because I want to show young people that fashion can be about having fun and being confidant, rather than following trends and buying brand names,” Park said.
Although her focus recently has been on jewelry, Park has spent most of her adult life in clothing design, a career that was always in her sights — she could often be found sketching clothing designs and dressing others.
“The very first time I got asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, ‘A fashion designer,’ ” she recalled.
There were no home ec classes in high school, so as Park neared graduation and her post-secondary design course loomed on the horizon, she started taking private sewing lessons.
“I literally had only ten classes before I went to start the course,” she said.
It was testament to Park’s passion for the art that she kept going once she started the course in Edmonton.
“I was not only learning the profession, I was learning the basics,” she said. “You need to learn to sew to make something.”
It was her first time in a big city, which she found to be an incredibly creative one—in the long Edmonton winters, there is little to do but sit indoors and, well, create.
Just prior to her graduation in 2007, she and her classmates participated in the annual Edmonton Fashion Week, with their fashions displayed on the runway. The event filled her with mixed emotions.
“That was one of my dreams come true,” she said. “I was so scared, but it was also such a relief. We’d been working toward this the whole year.”
Park plans to return to the clothing side of her business, but for now, she’s enjoying the jewelry side, particularly the principles behind the process — every piece is handmade from recycled, sustainable and natural materials.
And the fact that customers love it doesn’t hurt, either.
“You just take this piece that people don’t want anymore and turn it into something people do want,” she said. “That helps me keep it new and fresh and enjoyable. I’m never going to get tired of making things new and wearable for people.”