By Alli Hayes
“It’s all a giant experiment,” lights up Sylvia Tennant, co-founder of Zaleska jewellery, as we get cozy with cups of tea in her bright, West Side apartment. Shades of white, gold, and turquoise play with my eyes through the afternoon sunlight.
As I take it all in, it’s clear that locally made Zaleska jewellery has authentic inspiration and style, backed up by the sharp eyes of Tennant and Danielle Noel. Zaleska’s mood is very mystical, her Instagram layout is dusted with Starchild Tarot illustrations, bohemian babes, tropical horizons, ancient Egypt, and the beautiful Zaleska one-of-a-kinds.
Zaleksa is a gem and crystal accessory staple that you can find set up at the East Side Flea, West 4th’s Jackson Rowe, or online, with shipping worldwide. After chatting with Tennant, she seems to do it all. With academics in education and fine art, she balances her life teaching as a teacher while regularly contributing accessory and travel content to Vancouver’s NICHE magazine, while of course juggling her business.
“Because I’m a curator of content, I’m constantly looking for things that speak to me,” continues Tennant. “I’m always looking for something that either makes me think of a memory, or some sort of connection to it, that’s where the story begins. Whether it’s in the city or online, it makes me a better artist and a better businesswoman because I can trend forecast, it works out.”
We laughed about trend forecasting the 90’s choker and athletic style, but blending her talents and background into a passion has never looked so on point; it’s allowed Tennant to create her own schedule and business that she manages with Noel, and escape into a world of inspiration and creativity.
What makes Zaleska collections unique to the untrained eye is the intention put into the stones during the creative and selection process. She seeks materials that can metaphysically enhance your vibrations, boost positive energy, and balance the chakras. Tennant has been able to source out some of the best local gem wholesalers in Western Canada, teaming up with Stonehaven Gems, but also combining her travels with work, and purchasing authentic quality material directly from Indonesia, for example. Much of the manifested intention came from Tennant’s time selling Zaleska pieces at the SFU Burnaby campus in the Academic Quadrangle (AQ to the SFU squad), and suggesting different crystal healing benefits to customers over exam periods.
“I have learned so much about crystals, for the most part I just make what I like. I still really enjoy the specialness of something that’s only made 3 or 4 times,” she explains.
Zaleska is now selling in event booths such as Refresh Market in Squamish, and festivals like Vancouver Folk Fest and Basscoast. When it comes to East Side Flea, Sylvia opens up about the Flea’s importance in the city for small business, and how it’s opened up a space for people to quit their nine to five jobs and explore their passion projects full-time.
“The East Side Flea has changed people’s whole lives, it should be a book or a profile, because there are a lot of people who have experienced a new type of freedom, financially and otherwise,” says Tennant.
“My imminent goal is that I would love to sell necklaces from my couch, I would love to have a dope online store where I do a release and it sells out, then do another release and have it sell out. My end of the year goal is to really understand online marketing, and to get more wholesale clients. Jackson Rowe can’t keep my stuff stocked (woo!), so I’m giving them all of the jewels I haven’t sold and I’m going to temporarily shut down my site while I’m at Burning Man.”
Alli is a wildcard. Faux fur is her wingman. She is constantly moved by art, cool parties, and independent film, and continues to create her own projects. She wishes her photographic memory did her Instagram more justice. Check out her blog at http://www.thewildcardwins.com.