Nikita Talula’s jewelry is easily recognizable, as she incorporates a specific style that is unique to her. Using big colourful gems and unique wire work, Talula crafts jewelry inspired by the people who taught her – artisans in the small Mexican town of Sayulita.
“I learned how to make jewelry when I moved to Mexico. I went down there by myself, no plan and when I kind of sat down with these artisans, they somehow showed me how to play with wire and to do it. So instead of being a tourist, I went down there and became a jewelry artist,” said Talula, who first went to Mexico in 2009.
Since her first visit, she has returned to Sayulita at least once a year, often for six months at a time. Due to life changes, she can’t stay for long time spans.
“Now that I have a life and house here, I can’t go do that anymore,” she said.
“I went down there with the intention just to buy stones, catch up with people – have my life condensed into two weeks that I used to do in six months.”
With every trip, Talula brings back stones and gems to be able to craft an inventory of necklaces and earrings with.
“The stones that I get, they come from all different parts of Mexico. Because Sayulita is such an artisan hub, a lot of people come from different parts of Mexico with a backpack full of stones and then when they recognize an artisan, they say ‘hey are you interested?’ and pretty much dump the bag out,” she said. “It’s so different than the way that we buy anything around here.”
Talula said there is a noticeable difference in how people sell jewelry in Mexico than in Canada.
“It was strange to begin working with jewelry here, just selling it at markets because everything, not just in Fernie but in Canada, is more polished, more organized, [and] it needs to be appealing to the eye from a distance,” she said. “Whereas in Mexico, every morning we brought cardboard tables that folded up and threw a dirty tablecloth over it and just set it out. Not that we didn’t do it with pride, but we did it quickly and just kind of sat there all day. It was so much more of a casual way than here. Whereas here, I find you need to have prices on the back of everything and explain – just have more information and be more polished.”
Talula sells her work at craft fairs and markets around the Elk Valley. In the summer, she regularly sets up booths at the Baynes Lake Farmers’ Market on Saturdays and the Fernie Mountain Markets in Lions Park on Sundays. Her next booth will be set up at the Griz Days craft fair, which will be in March.
“In the summer, because I’m going to markets all the time, I have this thing there if I sell five necklaces and five pairs of earrings, I make a point of making a goal to make five pairs of earrings and five necklaces,” she said. “Sometimes, I have to take one day per week, get up in the morning, get my coffee, turn my favourite station on, and I’m there in my little jewelry room all day. You know when you’re hungry or thirsty or whatever, but once I get going, I feel that I’m on such a roll that I don’t even want to get up to go and get another coffee.
“I think when anybody loves anything that much, there is no sense of time. You’re kind of the only thing happening in the world,” she added.
Talula grew up on Vancouver Island and discovered Fernie in 2005, but moved here for good in the summer of 2013. Most of her pieces hover around the $40 to $50 price point, and while she has tossed around the idea of selling her work or tutorials for how to create similar pieces on Etsy, the online forum for DIY activities, she wants to be more secretive about it.
“I really like being the one that sells it. I know with the way of the future, Etsy would be a smart thing to do, but I love being the one to explain where a stone comes from,” she said. “People don’t really like to blow $50 all the time, so I know when they buy this to give away or to keep for themselves, they’re keeping this forever. They’re either going to wear it everyday or they’re going to wear it when there is a special occasion, and it’s going to be in their jewelry box for a long time.”
Tulula’s work can be seen on her Facebook page by searching for EVOLve jewelry designs. She also has some work on display at Spa 901 and at Infinitea T-Bar and Boutique.