Local Love Blog Series –
Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!
We’re thrilled to get to feature a born-and-raised Canmore local, Jade Ansley, who has been doing amazing things at PROJECT A. What started as a pop-up shop driven by a passion for supporting emerging artists, has now found its home in a permanent atelier in downtown Canmore.
PROJECT A has two primary focuses: handmade housewares and slow-fashion.
Slow-fashion indicates garments have been made in an ethically and environmentally responsible manner and includes clothing, jewelry, and leather products. Jade is proud to support emerging Canadian artists and makers, who are often in the first years of business and rely on the support of galleries and clients to gain their momentum.
Jade got the idea for PROJECT A while she was studying and living in New Brunswick.
After graduating from Canmore Collegiate High School, Jade made her way across the country to start school at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Here she fell in love with jewelry-making and became a skilled metal smith. During this time, she saw the pattern of friends graduating from art school and returning to regular jobs after struggling to make ends meet as a professional artist. From this sense of discouragement and a strong desire to support emerging artists, Jade knew she had a great business opportunity.
In 2015, Jade hosted the first PROJECT A pop-up shop in Fredericton during her last year in school.
After a brief stint in Toronto where Jade couldn’t find the same inspiration for creativity, she felt a pull to come home to Canmore.
By June 2017, Jade had launched the second pop-up shop which quickly turned into the permanent location on Main St. where you can now find PROJECT A. With help from her parents, Jade has created an entirely unique space that instantly calms customers as they walk through the door.
Getting inspiration from travelling across Canada, Jade loves seeing what artists and shops are doing.
While she does this, Jade builds trusting relationships with all the new artists she brings into the shop and her reward is being the first to unpackage the pieces they send. Artists have poured their heart and soul into each piece and Jade loves to marvel in their skill and dedication.
Jade has been lucky to learn the ropes of small business ownership in the Bow Valley from her parents.
Having owned their own renovation business, Impact Renovations Canmore, in Canmore for 20+ years and seeing the ups and downs of it all, Jade has learned first-hand the triumphs and tough times that small business owners experience. She’s also been lucky enough to have great mentorship and support from her best friend, Cassandra Elizabeth, a slow-fashion eco-friendly clothing designer based in Toronto. Jade has been by her side through her own journey of graceful failings and hard-earned successes.
Supporting the local community is a no-brainer for Jade and her work at PROJECT A.
They often work with organizations such as the YWCA, ArtsPlace, and the Eagles Nest Family Shelter. Most recently, in partnership with Tapas, Jade and PROJECT A raised $3000+ for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, as part of an Indigenous Day fundraiser. In addition to their own efforts, many artists featured at PROJECT A donate to different environmental and social organizations on a regular basis.
And while we knew it would be tough for Jade to pick a few locals to shout-out, we knew she would deliver.
Jade wanted to highlight a couple of PROJECT A employees, including the shop manager and photographer Georgi Silckerodt and emerging artist staff member Mandy Genier. She also wanted to give some love to Pascale Ouellet, a talented painter currently focused on recreating the best local views from around town. Lastly, despite being their competitors, Alberta’s Own Marketplace is also considered a friend to Jade and PROJECT A shop as they focus on showcasing artists from Alberta.
While Jade’s focus right now is on maintaining the current shop, she has plenty of ideas for the future.
Until a concrete decision has been made, Jade will continue to dream about transitioning to a larger space, opening other locations, exploring more e-commerce options, even opening artist studio space, and starting her own non-profit! The drive she gets to see from emerging artists wanting to sell their products and helping them succeed keeps Jade going and dreaming for more.
Jade is grateful for the support of the community and customers throughout the years.
In owning PROJECT A, she’s learned not to let people who didn’t share her vision distract her, and as long as she loved her business, it didn’t matter if not everyone else did. Taking on debt to open a business is terrifying, but a lot of hard work has paid off and Jade is very confident that the economy will bounce back from the tumultuous year COVID delivered us.
We often ask our featured locals what they would like to see improved or changed in Bow Valley, and we loved Jade’s answer.
She wishes more locals would venture downtown to visit the shops and restaurants just to see what’s new. Despite it being busy, taking some time to wander around the beautiful town we have all come to love and play tourist is a fun way to reconnect with our community. You never know what or who you might run into, and it’s a great way to support local businesses doing their best to provide for our community.
So next time you’re looking for a gift, instead of heading to the city or looking online, pop down to Main St. for a visit with Jade at PROJECT A. Make sure to follow the shop on Instagram and Facebook for updates about daily pop-ups for local artisans during the summer months, and for the latest in-store products by new Canadian artists.
Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!