Beyond the Ivy Walls - Karen (St. John) Carmichael ‘77
Karen Carmichael’s Jai Style comes to the Winter Bazaar
In 2011 Karen (St. John) Carmichael ’77 returned to Vancouver after living, and raising two daughters, in cities throughout Asia for more than 16 years. While trying to decide what would come next, she received many inquiries about the stone and silver amulet jewelry she was wearing. Having designed it herself, Karen began to wonder if there was a business idea there.
Since 2014, Karen has successfully established Jai Design, handmaking jewelry with silver and stones that she sources from Asia. Jai is a profound concept in Thai language and culture and represents the connection between heart and mind. Karen tries to embody the spirit of jai in all her designs. “This is such a departure from my previous career in the hospitality industry, where I did market feasibility studies, financial appraisals and operational reviews of hotels. I loved that work but I so appreciate how creative this allows me to be.”
Looking back at her time at CHS, Karen recognizes that many of the lessons learnt have helped her in both life and in business. “Crofton House really taught me the importance of being super organized and being able to balance my time – both of which are so crucial when running your own business.”
When she returned to Vancouver in 2011, Karen enrolled her younger daughter, Sophie, at CHS. While Sophie graduated in 2013, Karen jumped at the opportunity to become involved with this year’s Winter Bazaar.
“When Sophie came here I saw what was happening with the School, and I was encouraged by all the changes, the quality of teaching and the opportunities that were presented to the girls. When Margot Jagger (co-chair, Winter Bazaar) approached me and asked me if I would like to get involved with the Bazaar, I thought this was a great way to be involved again, and an opportunity to give back.”
Karen is bringing her talents as a jewelry-maker to the Bazaar. She created a design, sourced materials and then led a bracelet-making workshop with CHS parents. Parents used the glass beads and silver charms to create beautiful bracelets for children and adults that will be sold at the Winter Bazaar on November 17.
As an alumna who has lived in many cultures, Karen notes the importance of empathy and trying to understand the perspective of others, both of which were valued at CHS. But when asked what has stayed with her most from her time at CHS, Karen instantly replies, “servabo fidem” – the importance of keeping the faith.
Monday November, 5, 2018 at 03:10PM
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