Local jewelry company handed the key to success



It’s a golden opportunity that came straight out of nowhere.

Nominees for upcoming Emmy and Golden Globe awards will walk the red carpet with hand-crafted necklaces from Winnipeg-based company Jillian Leigh Jewelry, but exactly how award organizers found out about the local gold jewelry brand remains a mystery.

“We still don’t know how they found us, but we’re really happy they did,” says co-founder and jeweler Velia Amador. “It means a lot to us to be able to participate in an event of this magnitude because it will help us gain some international visibility.”

Velia Amador is a self-taught jewelry designer and co-founder of Jillian Leigh.

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FREE PRESS JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG

Velia Amador is a self-taught jewelry designer and co-founder of Jillian Leigh.

“And if one of the celebrities liked our pieces and ordered something from us, I think I would die,” said Jillian Sheedy, the other half of the company and a self-proclaimed celebrity enthusiast. Before becoming business partners, women worked in a corporate office. They created Jillian Leigh together in 2018 after Amador – who had been forging jewelry as a hobby for more than a decade – offered to make personalized bracelets for Sheedy’s wedding.

“We decided it could be a good partnership because we really enjoyed working together,” says Amador, who makes the jewelry while Sheedy takes care of the designs, photography and marketing. “I don’t have any formal training, he’s just self-taught … I really improved my skill level and challenged myself to learn more so that we could run some of our collections.”

Together they specialize in delicate and minimalist earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and anklets.

“It has the same properties as solid gold; it’s just a little more affordable, ”says Sheedy, who decided last year to focus on the business and her career as a full-time photographer.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Leigh specializes in delicate and minimalist earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and anklets.</p>
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<p>FREE PRESS JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG</p>
<p>Leigh specializes in delicate and minimalist earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and anklets.</p>
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<p>The couple have made names for Jillian Leigh on the local craft market circuit and have worked to increase <a class=online sales

amid the pandemic.

“In fact, we had an amazing year last year, considering the fact,” Amador says. “We’ve been able to build momentum through our website… and that momentum has continued throughout this year, with the added benefit that we can actually rebuild markets. ”

The award opportunities should take things to the next level.

Amador, who still works 9 to 5, has been busy making 250 of the personalized necklaces in her home studio.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Leigh’s key necklace will be worn by nominees at the upcoming Emmy Awards and Golden Globes.</p>
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<p>FREE PRESS JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG</p>
<p>Leigh’s key necklace will be worn by nominees at the upcoming Emmy Awards and Golden Globes.</p>
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<p>Being able to source enough materials and components for their biggest order from other small independent companies was a challenge.  The unisex design features a simple gold key on a long chain.			</p>
<p>“They came up with the idea for the key, and then we put our own Jillian Leigh in it,” says Sheedy.  “The pendant is an old fashioned skeleton key that is very branded to us and quite modern.”			</p>
<p>Nominees for the Emmys, which air on September 19, and the Golden Globes, which will take place next February, will be adorned with chains before entering the awards room.			</p>
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“I’m so excited to see who’s going to wear pieces handmade by us – it’s pretty crazy,” Sheedy says. “I never thought this opportunity would arise, especially for a few local artisans in a small town in Winnipeg.”

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Velia Amador worked hard to create 250 of Jillian Leigh’s personalized key necklaces for Emmy and Golden Globe nominees.</p>
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<p>FREE PRESS JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG</p>
<p>Velia Amador worked hard to create 250 of Jillian Leigh’s personalized key necklaces for Emmy and Golden Globe nominees.</p>
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<p>“It’s really exciting to know that a small part of us is over there in (Los Angeles),” adds Amador.  “To be invited to make them is quite a privilege.  ”			</p>
<p>The two entrepreneurs say they will be tuning into film and television awards to see their jewelry in action.			</p>
<p>Jillian Leigh will also be making a small series of necklaces for local shoppers to purchase online at jillianleigh.ca.  The brand is also available at local retailers Mad About Style, Made Here For You, and Style Bar.			</p>
<p>eva.wasney@freepress.mb.ca			</p>
<p>Twitter: @evawasney			</p>
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Eva wasney

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