By Deena Douara

Marigrace Galura

“Vibrant, creative, versatile,” are a few words Marigrace Galura uses to describe her eclectic jewelry line. Marigrace’s accessories were never intended to become Marigrace Accessories – they were necklaces and earrings strewn together for personal wear. But then friends began asking about them and requesting their own. And then strangers started asking where she’d purchased them.

“I was still making jewelry for myself but when people were asking me where my jewelry was from I’d say I made it and they’d be surprised.”

One chance encounter in an Addition Elle store, in fact, helped launch what’s become her business after the manager overheard a compliment and invited Marigrace to promote her designs as contest prizes at the store.

“It felt great,” Marigrace says about being approached. “I like to share my talent and I like to make people feel happy.”

The hobby originated with a DIY jewelry guide in a fashion magazine. After workdays in the fashion industry, she began to get advice from bead stores and took workshops to learn to work with silver and semiprecious stones, just for the joy and relaxation it provided.

After over a year of casually selling to her network, Marigrace decided it was time to grow, plan and take action – so she sought out advice from Enterprise Toronto.

“When I first started it was overwhelming… As a creative person trying to turn my passion into a profit, you’ve got to have a plan to achieve those goals.”

At the Enterprise office she accessed books and articles on the industry and found information on relevant events, trade shows and workshops. She also received guidance on her business plan from a seasoned consultant.

“I was encouraged to keep doing what I’m doing,” says Marigrace. “It gave me the confidence to move forward.”

Marigrace uses a variety of materials in her work, including semi-precious stones, glass beads, silver and Swarovski crystals.

“I’m just trying to find my style as an artist and as a designer,” she admits, saying her style is evolving. And she takes inspiration from everything from nature to dance to crystals.

Looking back, Marigrace says that she had to overcome a creative block, personal tragedy and health issues that nearly discouraged her from continuing. What kept her going was friends’ inquiries and requests.

“Then when I started doing it again I realized how much joy it brought me… After putting my needs aside and taking care of other things I had forgotten what it was like.”

It was a death in the family that spurred Marigrace forward. “It made me realize life is too short. Live your dream, take action for your passion, create opportunities for yourself,” she says.