I’ve always dabbled in crafts. I’ve pretty much tried everything at some point. Cross-stitching, scrapbooking, candle-making (oh, that one was a hot mess, literally!), and many others. But the story of the path to Shawnte Designs goes WAY back!
I’d gone to university straight out of high school. I thought I’d excel in Chemistry, but by the end of 2nd year, it was clear I was in over my head. I didn’t want to start over, and quitting never crossed my mind. Turns out, my university offered a B.Sc. in Psychology, and my Chem background gave me most of the prerequisite science courses that were needed. So, I got a Psych degree. Barely. I squeaked by, and as most grads find out, a Bachelor’s degree is pretty much worthless. With no grades, no money, and no real passion to go for a Master’s, I took that degree and entered the work force.
I waited tables, and eventually ended up in a call centre, which was the worst fucking job EVER. Eventually, I went on stress leave. I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. But, I had always been involved in theatre. I took some time and thought long and hard about the things in life that made me truly happy, and theatre was the strongest. I made the decision to apply to Ryerson’s Performance Production program. When I went backstage at the Confederation Centre to get a letter of recommendation, just the smell of the theatre gave me goosebumps, and I knew I was making the right decisions.
Moving to Toronto alone at 26 and not knowing a damn person in the biggest city in Canada was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. My background in theatre was mostly rooted in Stage Management, so I figured that would be my focus in school. However, the program at Ryerson is such that you must do a little bit of everything (lights, sound, stage management, administration, PR, costumes, etc) in your first 2 years, and then really specialize in your last 2 years. Well, I really took to costuming.
That new focus on costuming brought me to take a Jewelry and Accessories class. We did hats, tiaras, jewelry, ruffs, ascots, and all sorts of really cool stuff. It was ADDICTIVE. Basically, after the jewelry segment of the class, I couldn’t stop buying supplies and creating. Eventually G told me that I was going to have to curb the supply-buying or start selling.
Thus my Etsy shop was born. It’s been amazing. I wish I had more time to devote to it, as you really reap what you sow with Etsy. I don’t have a full-time job, but I do freelance tech work-setting up lights, sound, staging, etc for rock shows, concerts, galas, trade shows, and corporate affairs. It’s fun, but a lot of hard work, and you need to be ready to work all hours of the day or night, and sometimes be ready to work at the drop of a hat.
Everyone’s path is different. To those who have always known what they’ve wanted to do, and are truly happy in that decision-good for you. It’s taken me a long time to find out what makes me happy, and I’m sure it will evolve over time. Right now, my dream is to create accessories for theatre productions or film/television. We shall see where all that takes me. I’m excited for the journey.