Jen & Kena
We have a lot of things in common with Kena and Jen. You’ll see the resemblance. As entrepreneurs, mothers and daughters, the co-founders of Brika are changing hats almost every hour. Sound familiar?
How did you both cross paths?
J: Five years ago, I was working in finance and reading a lot of lifestyle blogs on the side. In many ways, this was a creative outlet for me while I worked at my desk job. I stumbled across a small blog that I loved reading called "In Life and In Fashion." It resonated with me. When I looked to see who wrote it, I realized that she lived here in Toronto. I immediately emailed her and asked her out for a coffee. When we met, we knew that we had to explore ways of working together. I think we both had a latent entrepreneurial desire to do something, and we were each other's catalysts.
When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
J: For most of my life, I was very dedicated to playing my cello. I spent my childhood going to the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, and playing allowed me to travel the world. But I was always drawn to the business world as well, and when I was in college, I started an orchestra, interned at a music management company in London and eventually tried my stint in investment banking. I realized that I wanted to combine the creative and artistic worlds in some capacity. BRIKA has been the most fulfilling "job" I’ve ever had (though it certainly doesn't feel like a job).
K: I've spent my career in retail, working for big brands like Gap, Joe Fresh and Indigo in merchandising and marketing. But I've always had a dream to create something for myself - something that had meaning and inspired others. With BRIKA I leverage all the great corporate experiences I've had to build a business that stands for conscious consumerism and partners with the maker community. We create a beautiful, inspiring experience in store and online for our customers. And as Jen mentioned, meeting her was definitely a trigger! I couldn’t have done this without her.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
J: Working with our team, our incredibly talented makers and supportive partners who all believe in the vision and mission of our brand. If we've done anything right over the past four years, we've built something that people resonate with deeply.
K: I agree with Jen: Working with our team and artisan community is so inspiring and fulfilling. There are so many authentic, creative, community-minded people out there who want to make the world a better place and I feel honored to work with them on a daily basis.
Do you wear jewelry everyday?
J: Yes; I wear my wedding ring and stackable bands that represent my husband and my three kids (two blue ones for my boys, and one pink one for my girl). I also wear a tiny diamond band on my pinkie finger that was a gift from my mother.
K: I took a lot of pleasure in choosing jewelry to wear every morning, but since I had a baby six months ago I stick to my wedding ring, a raw amethyst ring I bought for myself after my daughter was born and a pair of emerald studs.
How do you like to style them?
K: I love the summer because that's when my jewelry is in full rotation and I pile it on: bracelets, cuffs, long necklaces, dangly earrings. In the winter we’re so covered up with big sweaters and coats that I prefer to keep it simple.
J: If I'm wearing anything else than my everyday jewelry, I typically wear more statement pieces.
Are you a minimalist or do you prefer to stack?
J: Minimalist stacking. Is that a thing? :)
K:I would say I'm a minimalist in winter, but like to be more creative in the summer.
Silver or gold?
K:Gold! I have a lot of silver pieces I love as well, but my family is from India and we are all about gold.
What’s your favourite gemstone?
K:I don't discriminate! :) I love emeralds, sapphires, amethyst, turquoise, labradorite....
J: Turquoise. It's my birthstone, and although it's not a sparkly gem, I am drawn by how much of a statement it can make.
What’s the most important thing to you when you invest in jewelry?
J:I always think about whether I could wear it every day, or again and again without getting sick of it. I would rather put it on and forget about it. Otherwise, there is a high likelihood that I will lose it.
K: I think about quality. I got my love for jewelry from my mother and she taught me that jewelry is an investment. Make sure the piece you are buying is good quality and something that you will either keep for a long time or pass on to someone.
Let’s say you have a day off in March: what would we catch you doing?
J:I’d be running around chasing after my three kids who are six, four and two. I am also expecting my fourth in mid-June! Whether I am shuttling the kids to a piano lesson, hockey practice or soccer game, I am typically on the move. I take an hour out of my day to get a little "me time" and exercise, too.
K:I love this question! Morning cuddles and songs with my daughter. Some time to myself in a cute coffeeshop with a notebook and my thoughts. A movie with my husband, and way too much popcorn. And finally, dinner with my girlfriends at a local restaurant with some good wine.
What’s the coolest discovery you made as of late?
K: Vintage shopping! I used to turn my nose up at vintage shopping mostly because of the musty smell of most vintage shops. A few weeks ago I checked out a vintage show in Toronto and came away with a beautiful sequined top from the 70's, a set of lovely glasses made in Canada, vinyl records and a new appreciation for giving old beautiful things a new life instead of contributing to our growing landfills.
What’s your favorite Mejuri piece?
J: The Evil Eye. I was first introduced to the evil eye symbol when traveling for my musical studies in Greece and then later in Italy and Turkey. I love how something so simple can be so powerful. The letter ring; I love the simplicity of this ring. I have three small children whose names all start with A . I think this is a perfect way to be reminded of them every day. Also the Pop bracelet; I love how it’s called "pop" because it adds an element of fun to any outfit. And last but not least the Happiness necklace; I love how all these words can be layered together.
K: My favourite piece is also the Evil Eye necklace. I love wearing jewelry with meaning (again something I learned from my mother). I also love the Olive ring; I am easily attracted to organic pieces that are inspired by - and make me feel closer to - nature.