Originally, I had planned on only selling the jewelry on my website and at monthly pop-up shops hosted at my friend’s café. The pop-ups were such an immediate success that when a very tiny retail location in downtown Whitehorse came available, I didn’t hesitate to sign a lease and set up a permanent shop.
As for the furs, they continue to be mainly provided by George and I also buy some additional furs from his cousin and the family who tans our small fur. As I describe in the Ethics of our Fur Trade page on my site, I have negotiated a price for the furs that is much higher than trappers would commonly obtain from the auction houses. This makes trapping more profitable and sustainable while also showing greater respect for the value of the life of the animal taken in the harvesting of the fur.
I have committed to not only paying a much higher price for furs for the benefit of the trappers but also to give priority to buying First Nations trappers. The fur trade is one of the original goods being traded in the territory and so for me, this is an act of reconciliation whereby First Nations trappers can be out on the land and reconnecting with traditional practices while earning a real income from trapping. Additionally, unlike when furs are sold to auction houses in the East, local trappers can see how their furs are being used which can be very rewarding.
Another important point is that many of the pieces are made with copper. The reason that I use copper is to honour my partner’s First Nations heritage. In the Tlingit culture, copper is a symbol of wealth. In my work as a jewelry and accessories designer and manufacturer, George’s contribution to the work via the furs is of tremendous value to me and this is how I acknowledge his contribution to what I do.
The Æ label is a design proprietorship owned by me, Vanessa Ægirsdóttir in Whitehorse, Yukon. It operates under the Wild Yukon Furs brand which is co owned by me and my partner, George Bahm
The boutique address is Suite 107 – 100 Main Street, Whitehorse Yukon Y1A1A2A8.
I make all of the jewelry and other accessories by hand using only wild Yukon furs; lynx, wolf, wolverine, marten, muskrat, fox, and beaver. Whenever possible, I am involved in the harvesting of the furs whether that’s out on the trapline with George or in the skinning shed (also with George). When visiting the shop, you can often see jewelry being made onsite.
Some of the tapestries in the boutique are made with handspun weft yarns as well as Icelandic fish leather and wild Yukon fur. Commercially spun yarns are also frequently used.
Logo and other images
Available upon request.