Local Love Blog Series – Mountain Handmade

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series! I’m so excited to share with you Melanie Brehon’s story behind her amazing creations at Mountain Handmade

Melanie is as local as it gets in the Bow Valley. 

Born in Banff to musician parents who were working at the Banff Centre, Melanie was raised in Canmore and is now raising her own family here. She brought Mountain Handmade to life when she was on maternity leave with her daughter Olivia, who is now 5 years old and attending kindergarten in the same elementary school Melanie attended! 

Mountain Handmade focuses primarily on unique kid’s clothing, with a few teen and adult pieces thrown in the mix. 

Melanie’s signature piece is a grow-with-me hoodie that features fold-down cuffs and is designed to grow with kids over three years. But it doesn’t stop there, she’s also creating adorable slouchy toques with pom-poms, grow-with-me hooded dresses, baby jogger sets, rompers, and the newest creation, a zip-up playsuit! 

Melanie’s work often catches the eye of parents and relatives looking for unique pieces for the little ones in their lives. 

Because of this, Melanie focuses on making individual items that are completely unique and special to each individual. She not-so-secretly loves lively and colourful prints, especially those by Sharon Guwan of Prairie Love Knits, and Esther Fallon Lau. Pairing this thoughtfulness with the incredible high-quality of the products, each piece Melanie creates is bound to find a perfect home. 

Most of Melanie’s inspiration comes from her late grandmother. 

Melanie admired her grandmother’s ability to approach life with quiet grace, something Melanie tries to channel as best she can in her everyday life. Her grandmother wasn’t only an incredible cook, but also an enthusiastic and ambitious seamstress, always coming up with a big sewing project to give to her seven grandchildren. These projects ranged from jackets to jeans, or mukluks lined with cozy Sorel liners! It’s not hard to see where Melanie’s creativity and inspiration come from in her unique and high-quality creations. 

As a mom-preneur, Melanie also loves supporting fellow moms pursuing their passions! 

She made sure to name a few of her favourites including Chelsea from Canmore Cookie Co., Aleks Zablotni-Schantz of Compass Design Co., and Crystal Kamenka Taylor of Vermelho Hair

Melanie loves seeing customers enjoying her creations! 

Fueled by coffee, wine, and lots of music and podcasts, Melanie loves the time she gets to spend at her sewing machine and cutting table. Despite working a full-time job, she’s always looking forward to the regular workday to be done so she can get to sewing. And of course, seeing photos of kids wearing her pieces is what makes it all worthwhile! 

Starting during maternity leave, Melanie took to the sewing machine as a way to fill time while Olivia was napping. 

Having been gifted a sewing machine by her mother at her baby shower, Melanie started with smaller items like baby blankets and car seat covers. As she started enjoying it more, Melanie spent more time on YouTube learning about different fabrics, stitches, cutting techniques, and so on! Born partly out of necessity since finding clothes that fit her daughter properly was no easy task, Melanie’s first piece of clothing was a pair of joggers that she made using thrifted sweatshirts cut into fabric scraps. 

As Melanie started making more clothes for Olivia, her friends caught on and started requesting items too. 

Eventually, Mountain Handmade was created! At first, Melanie focused on custom orders but soon was ready to create a website for her creations. She also spent time at local markets, starting with the Canmore Folk Festival in 2018 and 2019, and then growing to be a staple vendor at the Canmore Mountain Market in 2020 and 2021, and most recently, made her debut at the 2021 Banff Christmas Market! 

Of course, as a born-and-raised Bow Valley Local, Melanie has plenty of Local Love Shout-outs to make! 

To kick things off, Melanie had to mention Bec from Bec Designs and Kerry from Kerry Langlois Art. She also couldn’t miss mentioning Wildheart Shop & Studio who kept her sane through the pandemic with their online platform, Alberta’s Own Marketplace where she would love to have her clothes, and Tanya at The Loft who Melanie considers an artist in her own right with the amazing eyebrow work she does! 

Melanie has big dreams for Mountain Handmade! 

She would love to keep her business as a one-woman show on a full-time basis, allowing her to attend all regional markets and festivals. Of course, the reality of production time and life may impede on that slightly, but that surely won’t stop her from trying! Ideally, Melanie would love to sell her creations Canada-wide through her online store and would love to see Mountain Handmade be a go-to brand for moms across the country! 

Through her small business, Melanie has applied lots of life lessons learned as well as learned a ton of new ones! 

This includes saying yes as often as possible at the beginning but also knowing that it’s okay to say no and learning what your limits are. She often thinks back to a couple of key pieces of advice from her dance teacher of 18+ years that help her get through endless situations: “You can’t call yourself a dancer until you’ve fallen down and gotten back up 100 times,” and “Know your body, know your limits.” 

So, next time you’re looking for a unique gift for a baby shower, birthday, or a just-because kind of present, make sure to check out Melanie’s beautiful creations at Mountain Handmade! Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest updates, and make sure to catch her this summer at the Canmore Mountain Market

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