Jaymin Stewart: the genius behind ShadesofJay

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Jaymin Stewart stands with a tray of her custom-made bracelets. Rockbamboo Photo & Film

Local artist celebrates family influences in her jewelry

Jaymin Stewart – the dazzling artist behind Shadesofjay – has been styling Saskatchewan and the world at large for nearly eight years. Near the start of her jewelry-making career, Jay and her mother, Becky Jesse, attended their first major art event and brought a few trays of Jay’s custom bracelets. They had no idea their booth would be busy for the duration of the event. People were peering over each other’s shoulders just to catch a glimpse of the bracelets Jay was offering.

And she was just as popular at every event that followed.

Pairing a variety of colourful and texturally unique leathers, Swarovski crystals, and other design elements, Jaymin’s bracelets are a sensation. 

“All designs are one of a kind,” she said. “I am a custom artist, so I love creating the perfect piece for my clients.”

Inspiration is never out of reach for Jay: “My mom inspires me the most for my designs… and [she] has inspired me my whole life.”

“I get inspired by the seasons, mythology, colours, and the ocean,” she elaborated. “I’ve used different names of goddesses and mummies, butterflies and trees, and [my daughter] Willow one time suggested one be named, ‘obsidian.’” 

When I asked about the people who inspire Jaymin, she nearly responded with an entire essay on various customers and friends, naming each and expressing what she loved about them. Some honourable mentions are: Sheryl, Becky, Dina, Karen, Loraine, Leslie, Shelley, Penny, Bev, and Mina along with a whole host of family and many many others.

“I’ve been supported by so many amazing women in my journey,” Jay says, “and I hope I can inspire some young women starting their own businesses!”

Client preferences are another key consideration for Jaymin, as she enjoys creating what others desire – plus, custom designs are always welcome. Inspiration even lends itself from what is popular in Europe. Jaymin also enjoys creating wide cuffs in “more bohemian looking styles.”

Her bracelets have even been shipped as far as Europe. Kelly Prescott, as well as Tegan and Sara each have a Shadesofjay – and so do a few other influencers and celebrities.

You can find your own Shadesofjay at Folk Fest, Bazaart, Our Best To You, and other shows across Saskatchewan. Additionally, Jillian’s Design Elements in Moose Jaw has featured Shadesofjay for the past 7 years, so this can be a great place to see an in-store collection. Jaymin also has her YQR collection at the Mackenzie Art Gallery.

But where did the company name come from?

A fear years ago in the peaceful morning mountain air along Kootenay Lake, Jaymin was reading 50 Shades of Grey. That night, while they were talking around the campfire, Jaymin’s grandmother asked what she would name her new business.

“I knew my family wouldn’t recognize the book so… I threw out Shadesofjay to be funny!” she said. “They all loved it and it stuck! … [But] the best part [is that] my aunty had also been secretly reading the book so we had a good laugh when she had outed me [to the group] and admitted she had been reading it [too].”

The secret was out, and the name was a hit.

So was the business – Jaymin says the women who buy her art have been enthusiastic fans. So far, “one client has over 100 unique and one of a kind Shadesofjay pieces” and another lady has actually created a custom piece of furniture to “house her growing collection.” 

“God who has given me this opportunity, as well as my customers, [who] have made my business the amazing thing it is today,” she said. “I have so much support and always have a custom order to be worked on!”

And Jaymin has been grateful for the support from the people who wear her jewelry.

“I don’t even like calling them customers,” she said, when talking about the woman who support her by buying her latest pieces. 

Jaymin’s clients have become something of an alternate family. People consistently seek out her shows just to visit or browse Jaymin’s current collection. These are the same kinds of clients that Jaymin sometimes builds specific bracelets for, as she asks herself, “What would make Loraine love this piece?” 

People like Loraine are part of the reason Jaymin loves creating, as she says, “[Loraine] inspires me to be colourful.”

Local is everything to Jaymin. She shops local, encourages others to do so, and loves the idea of supporting and connecting with humans on a more authentic level. Jaymin has made sure to give back by supporting local entrepreneurs, friends, and “local hospitals and fundraisers as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”

In the most positive sense of the word, Jaymin is everything bubbly. Charismatic in character and endlessly caring, her good nature is vivacious. Her unique flair and style sets her apart as an inspirational figure and some people have even been known to say that Jaymin’s bracelets are only half of the art – the artist herself matters that much.

While COVID-19 has not hindered Jaymin’s business in any large way financially, it has prevented her from showing at some major trade shows.

“[It] has definitely sucked… and has absolutely crushed me as I love seeing all of my people in person,” she said.

On a positive side, sales have been as busy as ever.

This Friday, Jaymin will be featured at the Yvette Moore Gallery “for a night of champagne and shopping.”

What is the best way to find your own ShadesofJay piece? You can check out her work at Shadesofjay on Facebook.

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