Meet the Maker: Whitney Haynes Jewelry

By Sara Smith

Move over, Toronto and Vancouver: there’s a new creative hub on the national scene. More than just a charming city, Kingston’s culture and sophistication coupled with a warm creative community has enabled makers to thrive while following their dreams. Just ask local jewelry-maker Whitney Haynes, who came here 14 years ago to pursue a career change and a fulfilling vocation.

“I was working in a corporate job in Toronto, and I knew that I wanted a more entrepreneurial, creative job for myself,” says Haynes.

After taking the plunge and relocating to K-town, she found her calling while attending silversmithing classes at St. Lawrence College.

Haynes now makes her living creating intricate and original jewelry and accessories. Her pieces evoke a raw, unrefined style that’s the result of her intuitive approach to jewelry-making, and love of the outdoors.

“When I’m outside I’m always picking up inspiration from the elements, and always thinking of ways to integrate that sort of thing into my design,” she says. “The more organic, the better. The more raw, the better.”

Her love for nature extends beyond aesthetics, and has influenced her eco-friendly approach to business. Haynes aims to work as much as possible with local and Canadian suppliers, and to keep her operation as “green” as possible by sourcing local packaging.

Get to Know a Local Creative - Whitney Haynes Jewelry
Haynes’ latest collections, inspired by the great outdoors and natural, organic forms. Photo via Whitney Haynes

An environmentally-conscious, natural vibe is evident in most of Haynes’ creations. Her most recent collections include a line of pendants made from fallen birch bark, foraged locally by Whitney herself. Another collection finds beauty in the chaotic forms of molten silver. “It’s all my scrap and “mistake” silver, melted into this organic line,” says Haynes. “It’s upcycling, and I feel really good about it.” Upcycling and repurposing materials also helped to inspire Haynes’ latest creation: the decidedly unique Stable Ring. “That’s a ring made from a little piece of leather with a freshwater pearl,” she says. “It was created out of all the snippets of leather leftover from making my bracelets — and it’s über comfortable!”

Haynes feels right at home within the thriving community of local Kingston makers. “I’m totally inspired by all the makers around here,” she says.

“Everywhere you look, especially in the last year, it’s really blown up.” She used to bring her wares to local craft fairs and markets, but for the past two years has spearheaded her own seasonal pop-up sale. “I host a four-day show at the Tett Centre rehearsal hall for the holiday season — coming up in November and the beginning of December,” she says, noting that the pop-up format diverges slightly from the average craft sale setup. “There’s about 8 of us, and we like to curate it more like a really cool store, instead of booths and tables lined up.”

Get to Know a Local Creative - Whitney Haynes Jewelry
Haynes at work in her studio. Photo via Whitney Haynes

Finding success and carving out a niche in Kingston’s creative community has afforded Haynes the ability to give back to causes that matter. The “Courage” bracelet project is an initiative that raises funds for Worlds Collide Africa, a charity that Haynes is personally involved with. “I’ve gone to Africa myself to work with the Worlds Collide Boys & Girls Club in Tanzania, and I helped them start a jewelry-making social enterprise,” she says. The bracelets, which are handcrafted by the children at the Boys & Girls Club, are sold via wholesale order and also in Canada, to raise money for Worlds Collide programs.

Those interested in shopping Haynes’ collections can visit her newly-launched company website, or look for her at any number of shows or pop-ups across the province. After years of making unique and beautiful handcrafted jewelry, she will no doubt continue to contribute to Kingston’s vibrant creative community for years to come.