I met Alvia Giash shortly after moving into my west-end Toronto condo. We spotted one another a few times on the sweaty eastbound streetcar, slowly transiting to our full-time jobs. Shortly after saying hello, we would soon find ourselves enjoying tea and wine in one another’s homes, exchanging gifts over the holidays while snacking on cheese and crackers and discussing creative energy (and the sometimes lack thereof).
Alvia is the Founder of Trias Bracelets, a made-to-order, one-of-a-kind minimalist jewellery company that incorporates simple stonework, patterns and colours, suitable for any and all outfits. She’s also a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA), working in the non-profit industry.
A few years ago, Alvia gifted me a Trias bracelet, made with simple red, black and copper stones, and finished with a black tassel. As a lover of jewellery, stacked beaded bracelets and handmade gifts, Alvia’s creation quickly became a staple for every outfit. Without it, I feel like I’ve forgotten something.
With news that Alvia and Trias Bracelets will be vending at Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Flea market on June 16, 2019, it’s my honour to share the story of how this financial services expert, stellar cat-sitter and dear friend has pursued a creative, mindful and sustainable business.
1. You’ve been making bracelets for a number of years now. When did you first start crafting?
From a young age, I’ve always loved crafting of various kinds. I get that from my mom, who is infinitely more creative than I am.
Back in 2010, I had a hard time finding the right charm bracelet that would also fit my tiny wrist, so I decided to make my own. I enjoyed it so much that it kind of became a habit!
2. Tell us about when Trias Bracelets launched. What was that like?
I launched Trias Bracelets on Etsy on December 7, 2018.
Unofficially, I created the brand back in 2014 and have been quietly working on it ever since, mostly for myself and as gifts for my friends and family.
In 2017, my bracelets started gaining more attention outside of that circle. I began receiving orders through friends, coworkers, acquaintances and even strangers who had come across my work. I secretly (or maybe, not so secretly) always wanted to have my own Etsy shop, and my friends and family encouraged me.
3. On your Instagram, you’ve stated that you sell handmade minimalist bracelets for your “Trias…” What does this mean!? Tell us more.
The word Trias is Latin for a triad, which I am redefining as the trinity of mind, body and soul. I want to capture that spirit with every piece I create. For me, the process of creating and wearing these bracelets brings a sense of balance and satisfaction to that triad, and I want everyone who wears one of my pieces to feel the same.
4. You’ll soon be taking on the role of, “vendor,” for the very first time, at the Trinity Bellwoods Flea. What are you looking forward to most?
I am equally extremely excited and nervous. I love shopping handmade and local and have attended many, many craft shows over the years, and secretly (but again, not so secretly) dreamt of doing this one day, too. I can’t believe that dream is becoming a reality. I’m looking forward to showcasing my creations and also connecting with both clients and other vendors, in person.
5. What steps have you taken to prepare for the Toronto flea market later this month?
My bracelets are always made-to-order for sizing, so I have been making a lot of ready-to-sell pieces for the event. The most fun part has been designing my booth – putting together all the small elements to best showcase my products.
6. How have you connected with customers and prospective audiences about your products, whether online or face to face?
Most of my interactions with customers and prospective audiences has been online. I share photos of my products with a descriptive glimpse into my life, so followers can see how I style a certain piece or what I really like about them. The hope is that my honesty, and my story, will help them find inspiration in what to buy from my store, and how to wear it.
7. What are two to three things, in relation to production and sales, that you’ve learned since taking on Trias?
I’ve learned a few things that have proven essential in gaining product visibility on Etsy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The hashtags and words used in product listings and social media posts are crucial in driving traffic.
Great photos: As customers scroll through hundreds of images every day, I want my photos to stand out from the crowd. An eye-catching photo will make audiences take a second look and click for more.
Being active on social media: This is the best way to connect with the community, letting people know more about products and helping them envision Trias Bracelets in their lives. Frequently sharing content has also allowed me to connect with new people, make friends and learn from fellow creators, all while building a community.
These, among other things, have been very effective for me, and I am still learning so much in the process.
8. Before the official Trias live date, did you experience any fears about the commitment you were about to make? How have these fears changed or shifted since day zero?
There was definitely a fear of commitment and it became an obstacle when considering whether to launch. I procrastinated a lot, wanting everything to be perfect. I learned that waiting to be perfect is already a failure to launch. The conditions will never be perfect, so I eventually just went for it. In the end, it felt so right, despite the imperfections.
9. What have you learned about yourself throughout this journey?
One of the biggest lessons has been recognizing the different fears and anxieties that were holding me back, and then learning to push myself out of my comfort zone. I learned to not compare myself with others when determining my success. I feel grateful for every accomplishment, no matter how big or small, realizing that every day, I get a step closer to achieving my goals.
10. What does your creative and design process look like?
I am often inspired to design bracelets out of the materials I have on hand, and that usually ends in conquering satisfying challenges. Other times, a design pops up in my mind and I will search for the materials, colours and patterns I’ve dreamed up.
There are definitely days I don’t feel creative at all, and then there are days I am bursting with ideas. I try to do as much as I can when fueled by these bursts of energy, recognizing every aspect of this process is totally okay.
11. How do you source your materials? Is there a favourite neighbourhood in Toronto that always leads you to a good, unprecedented, find?
I source my materials from the bead stores at Queen St. W., in Toronto’s Fashion District, and from an online store located in northern Ontario. I’ve been looking to acquire more through suppliers on Etsy, as well, and, I’m always on the lookout for bead stores when I’m travelling, for unique finds!
12. How much time, on average, might it take you to create a bracelet, from sourcing to sell-date?
It varies. I would say a week on average, much of it spent on designing and sourcing supplies. A couple of hours more to create the bracelet, take photos and package it. Other than the first bracelet of a design series, all of my pieces are customized to the length requested by a customer, so the items are not created and packaged until there’s an order.
13. When you share images of your bracelets online, you also include descriptions that highlight the significance of the stones and patterns chosen. Why is it so important for you to craft designs that connect with customers’ style choices and wellness?
All of my creations have crystal stones incorporated into the designs and these gemstones have beneficial healing properties. They are made up of energy, just as we are. It was also important for me to incorporate astrology into my designs. My friend, Anita Chauhan, an astrology expert at Ad Astra Astrology, inspired and collaborated with me to bring that design series into life.
Whether they believe in crystal healing or not, customers find it beneficial to pick a bracelet with certain properties that may help enhance their mood or perspective. Even just wearing the bracelet serves as a reminder of a person’s intentions.
I also design my bracelets as minimalistic and versatile, so many customers simply love how they look and the numerous ways they can wear them!
14. Do you have a favourite stone to work with, right now? If yes, which one?
There are actually two stones that I love working with. I’ve always loved the Lava Rock stone because it goes with everything and you can add essential oils for aromatherapy.
Currently, I’m obsessed with Labradorite stones, originally from Labrador. These stones are grey in colour, and when the light hits, it reflects the most beautiful blue-green shimmer. Labradorite stones are believed to be connected to Aurora Borealis, representing open-mindedness and playfulness.
15. What kind of feedback have you received from customers about your bracelets? Is there a comment or shared experience that has really stuck with you?
I feel so elated every time I hear from a customer about how much they love the designs and the fit. My favourite and most rewarding piece of feedback is one that has been shared by many: not only do customers wear the bracelets every day, but that they feel incomplete or naked without them.
The jewellery you wear is a choice – it’s a personal statement and part of one’s identity. I feel honoured that my creations contribute to this, daily.
16. How do you manage your CPA responsibilities, in addition to your Trias to-dos?
Finding a balance between my full-time job and Trias has been an ongoing challenge, but time management and prioritization have played a key role in helping me keep things in check. That being said, I squeeze in Trias to-dos during all hours outside my full-time profession, like fitting in quick photoshoots in the morning before work and updating social media posts during commutes.
17. Have you experienced any benefits (wellness, focus, mental health, etc.) in connection with working on Trias, while also committing to a career in accounting?
Before Trias became my side hustle, creating these bracelets was my way of destressing. I found, and still find, joy in exploring new bead stores to find the perfect pieces to create new designs for my personal collection.
Even wearing my homemade designs boosted my mood, not just because they were my creations, but because I could see the benefits of the crystals and stones, as well.
Trias has helped me immensely during stressful times and it remains my form of self-care.
18. Why is it important for you to have this balance of aspirations, across multiple industries?
Working as an accountant at a not-for-profit organization, I enjoy the challenge of immersing myself in data analysis and financial planning for a purpose that I believe in. That’s for the left side of my brain. At the same time, crafting and creating gives me the satisfaction of following my creative pursuits, stimulating the right side of my brain!
19. When a new month or season begins, do you set concrete goals for your professional and creative investments? What about self-evaluation and post-project reflection? Why, or why not?
I definitely set goals, small ones and big ones. If I don’t achieve one, I evaluate what improvements can be made. If I do accomplish a goal, I celebrate it as a milestone and keep going. It’s important to self-evaluate and reflect, as there is always more to learn and there is always a chance to do better.
Goal-setting provides structure and inspiration for the path forward, even when you haven’t quite figured out where you want to go just yet.
20. Who in your life has been your biggest source of motivation and inspiration throughout this creative venture?
My sweet, sweet friends and family have always been encouraging me, especially my mom and my husband, Shihab.
Shihab loves wearing the wooden bracelets as an everyday accessory, inspiring me to create unique designs for him.
My community has always been and continues to be a great source of support and motivation, as I pursue this venture.
21. Do you have any advice for our readers that you’d like to share, regarding your experiences as a CPA and creator, and how you’ve continued to explore stretch goals and unique areas of interest?
Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests, even if your mind tries to convince you that you may not be good enough or that you will fail. You will be glad you tried, and that is an accomplishment in its own right.
For the things I love to do, no matter how busy I am or how new I feel I am at it, I remain glad to just give it a shot. As long as I keep trying, I am achieving my goals at my own pace.
Thank you so much, Alvia, for sharing your experiences with us! Your insights on your creative process, including your commitment to understanding high and low energy moments, while incorporating self-awareness and reflective goal-setting into your work, is humbling and aspirational.
The feature photo is byShihab Shahriar.