Posted: Mar 6, 2013 2:17 PM by Russ Thomas - MTN News
Updated: Mar 6, 2013 2:18 PM
BIGFORK - It began as a way to help break through the Montana winter blues, but now it's become a thriving business.
Britt McGillivray's workspace is tucked away in a small room in a remote location along Montana Highway 35 in Bigfork, but the small workspace is producing work that can be found all around Western Montana and beyond.
The Poisonberry Jewelry founder is a Tennessee native who started up her business out of the need to navigate through long winters.
"I initially started making jewelry as a hobby to deter from cabin fever, definitely. You know, I was up here...Montana winters," Britt explained.
A few necklaces made for friends, extended to friends of friends, and through word of mouth, began keeping Britt busy. So, she decided to take her show on the road.
"A couple of festivals in town, the first being the on Whitefish Mountain, and then another one I did was the Bigfork Arts Festival, which is one of my favorites, so just being exposed through art festivals and word of mouth," Britt stated.
Her workspace is very modest, a room on the second floor of her garage located on the east side of Flathead Lake. The setting gives her the inspiration she needs to draw influences from what she calls the natural things native to Montana.
"I really try to create pieces that are unique, that when people look at them, they say, ‘Oh, that's a Poisonberry piece. I can definitely tell that came from Poisonberry.' I just try to make items you're not going to see on shelves across the country."
Britt says social media has been a driving force in her expanding business, pointing out that Facebook allows her customers to connect and share their thoughts on her jewelry and helps shape her work.
It's also been a great way to connect with those out of state that are interested in her work.
"Especially the Big Sky Love series of Montana necklaces. People really like to show their Montana pride and I think the necklaces are a great way to do that for people that have moved out of state," Britt explained.
You can also find McGillivray's jewelry at businesses around Western Montana, including the University of Montana Bookstore. Britt says the best place to start is her website.
Britt told us that the turnaround for an order right now is one to two days for an individual order and about a week to 10 days for store orders.