August 21, 2015
Happy Friday, everyone! We’re kicking off our Brooklyn Maker Spotlights with This ILK. This Montreal maker will be heading to our Fair in Greenpoint on September 12+13 at the Brooklyn Expo Center. We can’t wait to meet Tamara Bavdek!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
Ilk means of a same “kind” or “type” an old English word not so commonly used today. So This Ilk refers to people with similar interests or taste as me and others who appreciate my art. Originally, it was one of the favorite words of a good Australian friend of mine Julia. We both liked the sound of it so it became the name of the line. It also happens to evoke silk which describes the touch and finish of the lace.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
At the end of my bachelors degree in Industrial Design around 2008, I felt the need to create with my hands. I focused my studies on functional, environmentally sustainable or user-friendly projects and missed the more artful side of design. I had a lot of creativity to set free. And as it often happens at pivotal points in our life, I needed a change so I chopped my hair off into a boyish bowl cut from the seventies and discovered Edie Sedgwick who became my muse and inspiration to create large earrings to feminize my new look. As I searched for a way to replicate a pair of earrings I saw on her in a photo, I stumbled upon the Art Deco shapes of vintage lace which created the “light bulb” moment that started everything. Lace was such an obvious choice in jewelry partially because it is to textiles what gold is to metals and diamonds to rocks but also because it was so lightweight and comfortable to wear merging functionality with aesthetics in just the right way. I then started playing with the fine line between apparel and jewelry by creating unique body pieces.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
When the idea was new, I did miss opportunities to make my mark internationally due to time and budget constraints as well as fear of the unknown. Imitation followed shortly after I opened my Etsy shop and I really let it get to me. I can’t say I majorly failed at anything but I can say I may not have taken enough risks. I would say I have a few regrets but essentially I did the best I could and continue to. I learned to trust my gut feelings and creative talent.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
I have currently sacrificed a certain financial comfort, going to live abroad, my title or skillset as an Industrial Designer and a certain experience within the workforce, oh and a lot of free time. But I’m not sure I regret my choices. But if you ask me in winter, I will probably say I regret not moving to a warmer country.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
There is nothing like seeing a stranger wearing your jewelry in the streets for the first time and it continues to make my day every time! I have accomplished a lot including winning a spot at Paris Who’s Next trade show, a grant from Incognito and Elle Qc, showcasing at Montreal’s Fashion week and various amazing features in magazines and on local celebrities but feeling the love and support from friends and fans is always the best.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Montreal is a beautiful and eclectic city. I love the diversity and the passion people have here. Montrealers rarely judge and are often successful epicureans who often value quality over quantity. We have the best balance between French European values and passion mixed with the friendliness and openness of the American culture, the best of both worlds if you ask me. The art scene is amazing and people love to support their local talent.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
My degree in Industrial design gave me most of the tools I needed including the attention to detail, the sensitivity to the world around me, graphic, photographic, marketing and other various skills.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I was working as a waitress on the side during and right after my studies and when I got to busy with This Ilk, I left the job and never looked back. I never actually considered becoming my own boss as I didn’t think I had it in me. I am still not fully convinced but time tells a different story… It all happened very organically.
What are some inspirations for your work?
The modern sixties, the hippie seventies, design in all of it’s forms, exotic places and culture, various artisan’s skills, the fashion world and its photography, etc.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Making solid foundations for your business is something that can really help! But don’t be afraid, you can always learn as you go. Stay true to yourself and your values, authenticity does pay off, procrastination doesn’t but it is something you can work on. It is probably my worst fault but I feel grateful that my career is allowing me to work on that. What’s the point in life if you are not working on becoming a better person by your own standards.
Thank you Tamara for your insight and your beautiful work. Be sure to check This Ilk out at our Brooklyn Fair coming up next month!
You can find This Ilk online here: