Karen McClintock is the owner and founder of Karen McClintock jewelry design. With a Masters in Sports Psychology, and no prior training or experience in jewelry design, Karen proves that when you put your mind to something you can do it all.
In 2005 Karen was at a cross roads in her life. Although married to a wonderful man, she and her hubby lived in different cities due to work commitments. They were also facing severe financial and health issues. Karen, with no current occupation, was spending her time driving between Ottawa and Cambridge in order to spend time with her hubby, was raising her two kids and trying to maintain two homes, while dealing with the health issues her husband was experiencing and the financial crisis they both faced.
For 7 years they said no; and then one day they said yes
Karen was determined to be more selective about her next career step. It had to be something she was both passionate about and that allowed her freedom in her life. But most importantly she had to love it.
With a love of jewelry and creativity Karen began frequenting Michael’s Craft Store buying bobbles and supplies and began making her own jewelry. When wearing her creations she often received compliments and began making them for friends and special occasions upon request. As she gained more experience and knowledge about making jewelry she eventually developed a complete collection.
I couldn't open or close my hands... I was (eventually) diagnosed with arthritis
Getting into retails stores, although not always easy, proved seamless at the start due in large part to the mentorship, and eventual friendship, offered by Marlene Shepherd of “Shepherd’s” in the Rideau Centre. Marlene welcomed Karen into her store and offered her invaluable advice and guidance for turning Karen’s jewelry making into a career. Karen took this information, made the necessary changes, and when she returned Marlene agreed to buy a selection of Karen’s jewelry to sell in her store. Soon Holt Renfrew was on board and agreed to sell Karen’s jewelry in their stores, not only in Ottawa, but in their locations across Canada. They became the best- selling jewelry items in the store.
And Karen was on her way
But it wasn’t always easy. In the midst of her success Karen began to feel poorly physically. Soon her hands were so sore she couldn’t open or close them. Worse, she couldn’t hold the tools in her hands needed to make her jewelry. The pain throughout her body was so severe it affected every aspect of her life. Eventually she was diagnosed with arthritis and after finding the right combination of relief she is now in good health.
All of my jewelry is made here in Ottawa
The road hasn’t always been bright for Karen; there are many “no’s” in this industry and a tonne of jewelry designers competing for very limited retail space. But Karen has persevered and after years of going of making the jewelry herself she now has a full time staff doing everything from Marketing and PR to jewelry production. Karen feels blessed to have Carrie Irvine on her team, a circumstance that happened entirely by chance. Carrie brings the marketing focus and retail savvy Karen needs for continued success and exposure, allowing Karen to focus on the creative process. In fact, Carrie was instrumental in getting Karen’s collection into a store that for 7 years kept saying “no” as well as getting Karen and her collection exposure at this year’s Oscar awards.
All of Karen’s pieces are handmade right here in Ottawa. As with the fashion industry, Karen is always preparing for the season ahead. She draws inspiration for her new collections from everything around her whether it is colour, texture, landscape or otherwise.
And she develops a brilliant collection every time.