Foxy Originals co-founder Jen Ger on keeping things local
Jen Ger's high school hobby led to two decades of success
Ger began designing jewellery while she was a student at Earl Haig Secondary
Hobbies don’t always lead to lucrative careers, but in the case of Jen Ger, making jewellery for friends at Earl Haig Secondary School did. She started selling her creations to local boutiques, which then led to a booming business that has been going strong for nearly two decades.
Ger says the vibe at Earl Haig encouraged her to be creative.
“Attending an arts high school was a ton of fun. I enjoyed being in a creative environment surrounded by so many unique and talented people,” she says.
Ger, along with friend and co-founder Suzie Chemel, started Foxy Originals jewellery in 1998 with the goal of making high-style fashion jewellery accessible to everyone.
The two met at 19 on a car ride going from Toronto to London, where they both attended school at the University of Western Ontario. After complimenting each other’s jewellery, they discovered they shared a background in design.
Ger had been designing and selling her own line of jewellery since high school, and Chemel’s family was involved in metal manufacturing, and she had created some of her own jewellery.
In a moment of serendipity, Chemel, who had just come back from Paris, pulled out a style of necklace that Ger had just made.
“This was pre-internet, so trends really came from Europe,” Ger says. “It was then that we decided to pool our resources,” says Ger.
Ger and Chemel started out selling a line of jewellery on campus as well as at outdoor festivals and concerts, and the business grew steadily from there.
“We found there was a void for affordable, branded jewellery that came in nice packaging,” says Ger.
A void they managed to successfully fill and continue to do so, becoming a favourite of celebrities and magazine editors and even being featured in Oprah’s Favourite Things issue.
Ger is also proud of the fact that Foxy Originals has always been produced locally.
“It’s very important to us that the line is produced locally because we see the impact directly since we are the manufacturing location. We’ve known the people that produce our jewellery for 20 years.” She adds that local production is also important because it means they know their jewellery is made in an environment that is safe, clean and healthy.
“Consumers in Canada are really coming around to how important it is to support the local community,” says Ger. In addition to the pieces all being produced locally, Ger also cites the company’s relationship with its customers as something that sets Foxy Originals apart.
“We are a brand that is a friend to our customers, and we take a personalized approach,” she explains. “We get a lot of calls and personal stories about the jewellery we sell and how it affects those who wear and buy it. We feel like we’ve gotten to know our customers in a special way, and we watch how our customers buy. We don’t design for ourselves as much as we do for our customers.”
She adds that she and Chemel have always been interested in social psychology of shopping and buying. “We are inspired by the customers’ need for value, and we want to give them items that are reversible or multi-functional in some way.”
There have been many highs throughout Foxy Original’s almost two decades, but some that stand out for Ger include the opportunities they’ve had to collaborate with other brands like Umbra and Benefit Cosmetics and launching a limited edition line of Hello Kitty jewellery for Japan-based Sanrio Inc.