It's true that food brings communities together. Last year, I joined a fun community where all we do is eat. Seriously. However, I don't go for the food (mostly). I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. People who are inherently creative and artistic, incredibly business savvy and intrinsically kind and loving. I met Leonie, the creative and business babe behind Maple and Oak Designs at one of these foodie gatherings. We bonded over mushroom sushi and spicy steamed buns. And I promise you will swoon over her vintage-inspired, handmade fashion accessories.
P.S. Stay tuned to my Instagram for a fun collaboration with Maple and Oak!
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?
Hi! My name Leonie and I am the owner, designer and maker behind Maple And Oak Designs. I make fashion accessories from vintage, reclaimed and retro fabrics. I grew up close to the Baltic Sea in northern Germany. There, I studied English and History before I went travelling in Australia and met my Canadian husband. After a couple of years back and forth and travelling in other countries, we moved to Calgary in 2012. I used that move to start over and turned my hobby into a business.
What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?
I first learned how to sew in primary school and I always loved it. Turning a simple piece of fabric into something stylish for yourself to wear is just so satisfying! When I was teaching in Germany, I picked it up again as I really needed a creative outlet. When my friends started asking me to make something for them, I opened my Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/MapleAndOakDesigns) and people were really buying my designs.
I absolutely love anything vintage and pre-loved, that’s why I work mainly with vintage fabrics. Especially bold, colourful prints spark my imagination. Colours in general are a big source of inspiration for me. Right now, I’m still focusing on fun accessories like Rockabilly headbands or Triangle Scarves but my dream is to design a sundress collection one day!
What inspires you most about your community?
The most inspiring thing about Calgary is the super supportive handmade community. There are so many people with so many great ideas that it never gets boring. My group of close friends is pretty diverse, yes there are quite a few creative people but one of them does illustrations, someone else silk screens t-shirts and another one is a teacher. I’ve always felt like none of the labels people like to put on you quite fit for me and I think that’s because I get my inspiration from so many different sources.
Of course, the closeness to the mountains is amazing. Skiing in winter, hiking in summer, it’s wonderful!
If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?
Make sure you really love what you’re doing and you’re prepared to love it a whole lot less every once in a while. That’s what I found most difficult about turning my hobby into a business. Sometimes the passion I had at the beginning is fading but talking to people in your community or just taking a break to do something completely different usually sparks the flame for me again!
Tell me three fun facts about yourself or your organization.
- Sometimes people think I work with wood because of Maple And Oak but it’s actually a combination of the Canadian and German national trees.
- I own a goldfish called Goldie…so much for being creative.
- Since I started making headbands, I feel naked without wearing one. I forgot to wear one the other day on my way to a market and it just felt so wrong!
How can people get in touch?
Facebook: Maple and Oak Designs
Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!