Kristine MacDonald is the one woman show whose hands craft everything beautiful coming out of her Edmonton-based Smithstine studio. She creates artisan accessories, jewelry, and as of late has been dabbling in the world of handcrafted dishware.
sipped on Pinot Noir and listened intently as she graciously answered questions about her life, her business, her goals, and what keeps her real.
Read on to learn more about the passion this girl boss has for her life and her biz in our latest #getREAL interview...
What do you do and why do you love it?
I am a Coppersmith - but I don't know if you would really call me that, because I have not apprenticed under anyone [laughs]...that is what I call it though, because that is what I do. I love being able to experiment with real physical material and to be able to bring my ideas and the ideas of others to life. I get excited about working in the garage and getting my hands dirty. I chose copper as my focus because it is a material that is often overlooked in the jewelry world. Some people don't like working with copper, because it tarnishes over time and changes in colour, but that is why I love it. I love that I work with a material that evolves - it is a gorgeous colour when it is all shined up and pristine, and then it has this uncommon ability to beautifully transform as it ages.
Who or what influences you?
I would say my pieces are inspired by nature - being outdoors fuels my design ideas and allows me to see what I should make next. In terms of motivation and support, that definitely comes from my family and my friends. My Dad is very innovative - he is always coming up with cool new tricks that will help me do my job.
Piece of advice you need to take just as frequently as you give?
Disconnect - not from people, but from screens. I am really bad about being on my phone all the time. When I intentionally put it away for a couple of days, it feels so good.
This one is easy. I really want to go to the Arctic. I don't want to do a leisure cruise - I want to explore the islands, see the animals, see the icebergs, and ideally find my own way there. I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember, so when I do, I want it to be a solo journey.
What keeps you moving forward no matter what?
People. I don't have anyone around while I am working and I do miss the camaraderie of co-workers. It is just me in my studio, so it is important for me to stay in touch with my friends, family, and other makers during my work day. When I am able to meet up with someone for coffee and talk about what is going well and what is not working out, it is as though I still have co-workers [laughs].
I am proud that I have made a business out of doing something I love - it was unexpected, but I am happy and it is working. If I look back five years, at the person I was, that person would have never believed that this was going to be my job. When I was little, I loved crafting jewelry, but I didn't set my sights on building a business doing it. I went to school for graphic design. When I graduated, I told myself that I would make jewelry on the side until I was able to find a design firm I wanted to work for. Jewelry was supposed to be my interim back-up plan. In the process of it all, I realized that I was happy and that I had power being my own boss, so I stuck with it.
Words to live by?
Mmmmm. I am definitely not a quote person, not that quotes are bad, I just don't have any that I feel I turn to regularly. I think for me it is just, do what you want all the time [laughs] - do what feels good for you.
Memorable moment you have experienced in your life that has made you feel strong as a woman?
When I am working out in the garage and I am working with my power tools, I am like man, this is cool. It is strong because it isn't stereotypically a woman's realm. I get excited when I have spent my day learning how to use a new tool. I feel like my Dad has played a huge part in it all - he didn't have any sons, but he has always treated me like he would a son. He didn't shy away from teaching me or my sister certain skills, simply because we are girls. He let us work on his vehicles, taught us to change oil, and a lot of my strengths in my craft come from him.
Complete this sentence: To me, beauty is___________________.
Natural. Freckles are beautiful. Nature is beautiful. People who are not afraid to be who they are is beautiful.
Kristine MacDonald is a multi-talented designer and entrepreneur residing in Edmonton, Alberta. A graphic designer by trade, Kristine fell in love with copper somewhere along the way and hasn't looked back. She spends her time crafting jewelry in her studio-garage and is always excited to collaborate with people who are looking for a special custom-piece.