What was your favorite thing to do as a child? Many times, as we age, we are forced to put away what seem to be childish things. Meet Jana Gumovsky from ENARMOUR, who rediscovered her beloved childhood pastime and made it her creative business.
Tell us about your background.
I have always been fascinated by fashion and jewelry and it is the beautiful women in my family who have cultivated that quality. As far back as I can remember, going though my mother’s closet or my grandmother’s jewelry box has been one of my favourite pastimes (and it still is) because every single piece I’d pull out would have a fascinating story behind it. I was always amazed looking thorough the relics of their youth – intricate lace dresses that were hand sewn by my mother and aunt, unique amber jewelry scavenged by my grandmother from remote corners of the former Soviet Union, and many other fascinating items, each with their own rich history.
I was born in Moldova, one of the smallest countries of Eastern Europe. Growing up, many of my hobbies were artistically inclined. One of my favorite activities was making jewelry like intricate seed bead bracelets, and it was a hobby shared by many of my friends and cousins. My family relocated to Canada when I was 12 and I quickly realized that kids my age had very different interests on the other side of the world so my jewelry making supplies were soon relegated to the realm of forgotten childhood toys.
Fast forward 10 years – I obtained a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in law and bold aspirations of continuing on to law school. I landed my first job with a legal consulting firm straight out of university and was on the path of my dream career. But it just didn’t fit. Fearing the onset of a quarter-life crisis I decided to start soul searching and this is where it brought me.
What made you take the leap and start your business?
Like most handmade business projects, ENARMOUR started as a hobby of making unique jewelry pieces for myself. It began with a beautiful silver cross pendant inlaid with faceted garnets that I inherited from my aunt. We had very similar tastes and an admiration for unique statement jewelry so when she passed away I inherited the bulk of her jewelry collection. Wanting to find a special chain for the pendant I started playing around with my jewelry scraps and came up with my first body chain. The process of connecting the chains and creating a draping over the body was so organic that I knew something special was afoot.
Why is making and shopping handmade so important?
Self-expression is so essential to me. I have always found myself wanting to stand out, to make a statement, and jewelry is so expressive. It has the ability to evoke an emotion, recall a memory, embellish and empower, all at the same time. It is exactly those qualities that I try to embody in the jewelry I create and I believe the best way to do that is by having every piece handmade and unique.
When something is made by hand it absorbs the energy of the maker and when you create something with a pure heart and beautiful intention, it shows in your work. And that positivity radiates whether you’re crafting or buying handmade.
Creating handmade also fuels my imagination, and while I’m working on one body chain I always have ideas sprouting for at least three more. It keeps my creative wheel going.
Tell us about your creative process.
I draw inspiration from just about anywhere – it could be a beautiful faceted stone, a pattern in a vintage stained glass window, a constellation. I have a little leather bound notebook that hosts my design doodles and it’s usually my first point of reference when I start out on a new design. Most of the time my ideas morph as I’m creating and even if I have a sketch or a pattern in mind, as the shape takes form it evolves into something completely new and exciting. It’s a very organic process and my favourite part about it is that I have the complete freedom to make something different every time.
What is your studio space like?
On my soul searching adventure I decided to move with my boyfriend to Australia. We live in Far North Queensland so my studio space is currently a corner in our little unit in the middle of paradise. Sometimes I still have to stop and pinch myself, it feels so surreal. Surrounded by so much natural beauty is so inspiring.
Who are your favorite makers and artists?
Years ago I was flipping though a magazine and came across an editorial featuring a leather body harness by Zana Bayne. I’ve never seen anything like it and was instantly hooked on the style and the concept of accessories that drape around the body and accentuate the female form. Her work is still very inspirational to me.
There are many other well-known fashion designers whose work I admire but in all honesty, my favourite craftsman is my aunt. She was a master of so many trades – sewing, drawing, painting, and even designing jewelry. I picked up the basics by studying and admiring her work, and even now, I notice so much of her influence coming through in my designs.
Thank you Jana for sharing your story and your photos!