Real Swanky

I’m not keen on writing, but i sure do love to share our makers stories and the goings on in and around the shop so i think starting a blog makes sense. But how do i get started? i knew i wanted the first post to be a “meet a maker" because it’s the makers that make the studio boutique what it is. Good grief, how was i going to choose the first maker to feature out of the 117 makers currently represented at the shop. I felt our first meet our maker post should be with Caitlin of Real Swanky because her work is some the most talked about in the shop! she’s been so great at sharing self care tips, including introducing me to tea,  and she was such a delight when she helped out at the shop last christmas season. Caitlin is someone i enjoy hanging out with and i looked forward to having a chat with her about her work.

ps. we’re currently texting warm wishes back and forth between her bunnies Frank and Henry and my cat princess snuggle bunny.

This is what Caitlin had to share when we sat down for a chat.

How did you get started making? 

I've had the tendency to create, since I was a child, while sporting my first - but not my last - pair of too-short bangs. Growing up, creating had always helped me stay grounded and well-focused in what felt like a world of nervous jitters. To this day, I try to set aside time daily to make at least one thing that helps me feel even a bit glad. A sketch of my next embroidery idea, a postcard to a friend, a nice meal, or a little photograph that I know I'll look forward to seeing again and again. 


It’s been such a treat to get to watch you grow and flourish as a maker. You started out selling your work at craft sales, followed by consignment and then wholesale. How did you navigate these changes in your business? Do you have any advice for makers that are considering making the move to wholesale their work?

I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to have my work across my absolute favourite brick + mortars and galleries across Canada and America! It was an eye opening experience when you welcomed me with open arms to your lovely boutique; I felt terribly lucky, valued and appreciated as the day is long. I learned how to comfortably price my work accordingly both in and out of boutiques/galleries. I found myself not giving myself enough credit and undervaluing my work -- this is something I see quite often at markets! Makers, please don't forget: your time, your skills, your raw materials, and your efforts are worth oh-so much. Our skillsets feel like a second skin, something you simply do, with great ease. It took me a a hot minute to realize, not everyone can go on auto-pilot and stitch up an intricate piece of wall art. Similarly, I do not know how to create beautiful pottery, I cannot for the life of me sort out watercolours, and I sure as sugar can't make jewelry. To me, it comes with no second thought to seek out makers that can, and give them every dang nickel they deserve for their hard work and dedication. Certainly, y'all should be exercising the same with your makes and wares! xo


I recently tucked three of your hoops away because all we had left was “fuck off”, “eat shit”, and "nasty". I felt that wasn’t quite the way I wanted to welcome people to the shop! You’re work tends to be a little less salty when there’s a larger collection of images and words. Have you had any notable reactions to your salty work at craft sales?

I'm relieved (#blessed?) to be in a sea of double-takes, giggles, goose-honks, and finger-pointing when my work is up for grabs at markets. Often, folks will assume the embroidery has very quaint, traditional sayings. When I catch the gears turning, it takes a split second to receive the habitual response 'Real Swanky' receives, more often than not. Only a few times have I gotten a side-eye at, perhaps someone expecting a more Anne-Geddes style of work. Luckily, my vintage candy dish full of sweets saved the day and I let the  dame know I am always happy to do custom orders.  Phew! 


What inspires you? 

 I’m very much drawn to magazines of the 50’s-70’s, and pull a lot of my colour palettes and lettering styles from advertisements, ice cream, or the full spreads showcasing a “ ream bungalow”, with gold curtains, burnt orange carpet, and a set of avacado/navy/mustard furniture you best not put a candle ANYWHERE near. 


All of these hoops just arrived at the shop! come see for yourself!