Vendor Spotlight: Joanna Bisley Designs

Joanna Bisley Designs is a handcrafted jewelry and headpiece designer based in Calgary, Alberta. Joanna takes pride in creating intricate pieces using only the finest materials including Swarovski crystals, pearls, sterling silver, 14kt goldfill and Italian silk cord. Joanna and her small team operate out of her home studio and use age old techniques like wire wrapping and silk knotting for quality accessories that last a lifetime. If you’re looking for some heirloom quality bridal accessories, Joanna Bisley Designs should be your first stop!

JR: Tell us about your business. How did you get started in the handcrafted jewelry world?

JB: I worked in the film and television industry in Vancouver for 13 years in various positions including supervising at a visual effects studio. The hours were very long and it wasn’t unusual to be expected to stay for 24 hours. It was quite stressful. So, for a creative outlet, I started stranding beads and making necklaces and bracelets. They didn’t start out perfect, but I had found my passion and spent all my spare time creating.

Before my second maternity leave, I had secured several retailers to sell my gemstone jewelry. At that point, I quit my full-time job after the maternity leave was up, and everything just took off from there! By year five, I started focusing on bridal jewelry and several years after that, I made my first hairpiece.

JR: What is your favourite thing about working in the wedding industry?

JB: I love meeting all the lovely brides and finding out about their weddings, working with them to find the perfect accessories for their big day. Secondly, the Calgarians in the industry are truly the most supportive group of professionals I have ever met.

JR: How do you stay up to date with accessory trends? Is there anything new and interesting coming up in 2019?

JB: I chat with my retailers about the gowns they are bringing in and follow industry leaders as well as my own instincts. I am drawn to a more classic look but I approach it with a modern lens.

I am so excited about 2019 because there have been more requests from the boutiques for statement earrings and those are my favourite! Pearls are big this year again, but I’m seeing them done in an interesting and trendy way.

JR: What are your favourite/best-selling pieces for brides?

JB: That is like asking who my favorite child is! (It is neither of them by the way, my dog is my favourite since they both became teenagers!) I adore the soft color combination of gold and ivory cream Swarovski crystal in the Francesca Earrings. I also love the look of a wild English garden in the Jacqueline comb – named after the one and only Jacqueline Rae!

I think there is something more luxurious and interesting about bridal jewelry when color is used. White opal, blush or champagne are gorgeous replacements for the traditional pearl and clear crystal. My best- selling pieces in each category are the “Alyssa” earring, the “Daniela” bracelet, the “Courtney” necklace, “Liane” hairvine, “Maddie” comb and “Josie” pins.

JR: What is the most challenging and rewarding part of your business?

JB: The most rewarding part is receiving “thank you” messages and pictures of the lovely brides on their big day! When running your own business, I find most challenging part is separating work from family life, especially since my studio is in our home.

JR: Tell us something interesting about yourself!

JB: My family and I have been training in Taekwondo for the past five years. In fact, my two kids and husband have their black belts and I just received my red. It is the absolute best thing we have ever done as a family. My goal is to have my black belt in the next year-and-a-half.

JR: Where can we best find you?

JB: My business has grown in the last couple of years. I have retailers across the country now, including Ottawa, Montreal, Guelph, Lethbridge, Edmonton, Kelowna, Victoria and soon, Vancouver. In Calgary I am fortunate to be carried by the lovely ladies at Pearl and Dot and Blush and Raven.


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Thank you Joanna for sharing your story and allowing us to get to know you more,