BRIWOK Jewelry | By Elizabeth Yu

Taryn O’Flynn is the designer of Briwok Jewelry and her workspace is definitely a place of creation. Clasps, pliers, wires, and beautiful chains are organized about the room but amongst these more commonplace tools, lies the unexpected. Animal teeth, feathers, arrowheads and a fragment of a snake’s spine (seriously – it was amazing) are all featured in Taryn’s beautiful work.

I sat down with Taryn and her business partner Jadienne Laneus to talk about their jewelry and to see where their story began. Surprisingly, this happened to be in Nevada, where Taryn had met her best friend Brianne Toth while studying marketing. Bri was a free spirit, a lover and a pivotal force that helped shape Taryn into the confident, stylish and generous person that she is today. Tragically, in 2009, Bri was killed in a biking accident in her hometown in Alaska. As I’m sure many of us can attest, often times when faced with losing a loved one, we are encouraged to begin the healing process by “moving onwards” and continuing our everyday lives. But Taryn chose a different path; she wanted to ensure that Brianne Toth’s memory would never fade from their lives nor from the conversation. Thus, “BRIWOK” was born: an independent jewelry line devoted to celebrating Bri’s exceptional spirit.

When I listened to Taryn speak about Bri, the inspiration of her line became increasingly more clear. Bri had often donned feathers, headbands (which – according to Taryn – made her look like an Ewok, thus the nickname “Briwok”) and a signature beartooth necklace, which she had made herself from the tooth of a bear that had intruded upon her family’s porch. By getting to know these stories, you definitely get to know Taryn’s work better, and in turn, her best friend, Brianne.

The idea of jewelry holding a connection to loved ones is fairly universal, we use it around the world to symbolize marriage, promises made and important milestones. We also tend to use jewelry to preserve memories of periods in our lives or of loved ones lost, which is exactly what Taryn does. She often creates personal pieces en memorandum for those who have lost loved ones in their lives. I asked her about the process behind making this very personal type of jewelry and she eloquently replied that by putting the intention of bringing peace to the person whom she is creating the jewelry in honour of, in turn brings her peace. She also sometimes uses a birthstone or another stone that is symbolically important to the person or their family. As well, these necklaces tend to be long, so that they are always in sight and easy to reach up and touch to seek comfort.

More than just an important story, however, BRIWOK Jewelry is mad beautiful. I have loved this line for a while now and summer is the prime time to appreciate them. Effortlessly cool and innovative, these pieces just beg to be layered on and worn at many a festival.

And it is this beauty and sincerity of BRIWOK that has attracted support from many friends and family members; most notably that of Jadienne Laneus who has recently joined Taryn in helping her market and advertise her brand as their company grows. Both of these ladies are tangibly invested in the line and have big dreams for the future. But my advice to you is to get ’em while they’re here and while they’re local because there is no doubt that this company will be gaining momentum and garnering more support like that which they receive from model Chloe Nygaard and Edmonton’s own beautiful fashion blogger, Alyssa Lau.

So guys, treat your selves to their summer collection and check out BRIWOK jewelry online, on instagram @briwokjewelry (you won’t regret the follow) or in-store at Bamboo Ballroom on 104th & Whyte.

Black & white photographs courtesy of BRIWOK Jewelry

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