Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada
All that glitters

Trudy Gallagher, founder of Bejewel
As a girl, when Trudy Gallagher first started hunting for unique jewelry at garage sales and flea markets with her grandmother, she had no idea how far her love of all things glittery would later take her as a successful producer of one-of-a-kind jewelry for retailers across North America.

But that’s exactly where this creative entrepreneur has landed, since first founding her jewelry business Bejewel in 1989.

From modest beginnings as a one-woman operation in her basement, Trudy broke new ground by using unorthodox recycled components like vintage sterling silver plate with 14 karat gold.

The heft and sparkle of her unique statement pieces soon became her signature.

Today, Trudy and her team of 10 employees are busy producing collections for retailers across Canada and the US from her studio in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  They also do limited edition and custom pieces for their many clients.

Over the years, Trudy has had several unique opportunities to showcase her wares.

In 2007, Bejewel’s work was honored by an invitation as international guest artisan to the Philadelphia Museum's prestigious 31st Annual Art Craft Show. Then, New Brunswick candy maker Ganong selected their glass bead jewelry to represent the launch of a new candy. 

And more recently, Bejewel was one of four companies selected to represent New Brunswick at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

According to Trudy, even in difficult economic times, consumers want goods that are made at home — hence, her adamant commitment to ensuring production stays local.
 
She also says that through the years, ACOA has supported her business in a myriad of ways, from providing funds to build trade show booths and funding equipment, to backing fact-finding missions.

“They’ve taken a personal interest in my success.”

Looking forward, Trudy says that Bejewel is exploring what it means to be a “green” business.

“Many aspects of jewelry-making are not green—like strip-mining for silver, gold and gemstones,” she explains.

So, they’ve been working at setting beach glass in unusual ways, and are about to launch a new collection, “Sticks and Stones,” utilizing elements like twigs and white pebbles.

Trudy believes that such a creative treatment of simple items will help showcase her company’s unique twist on the Canadian scene.

And as the cost of gold rises, Trudy and her team are also experimenting with creative ways to incorporate less expensive material like bronze into their work.

With such stunning pieces and a creative approach to embracing change, Bejewel is one company that surely sparkles.

Published December 23, 2011