A jewel of a job

Published in 2009, Sympatico.ca

Ingrid Banovsky is a one-person operation. She is responsible for all aspects of her jewellery and accessories company. She says it’s a “huge balancing act.”

At 23, Banovsky operates out of the basement of her parents’ house in Sarnia, Ont. in what she says is the furnace room. She does all of her designing, shipping, billing and manufacturing. She works with a wide range of materials including pearls, precious stones, Swarovski crystal elements, bronze, sterling silver and precious metal clay. 

She stumbled upon what she hopes is her future career when making 3 Mother’s Day presents. She wanted to do something unique for her mother and grandmother so she bought some beads and made them necklaces and earrings. The presents were a success and she started making more items including pendants, purses and reworking vintage pieces. She posted some of her jewellery on Facebook and found she had a market for her work.

In April 2009, she launched IKB Boutique specializing in unique jewellery and accessories. Her typical day begins with checking her emails before breakfast and then making a list of priorities. Those priorities could be to fill customers‘ orders, do deliveries or call one of the four dealers who carry her products to check in on sales.

While a lot of her sales, especially at the beginning, were to friends, now about 20% of her business is online. Through her own website and ETSY, a craft website, she has sold pieces to customers as far away as New York, Los Angeles and the United Kingdom. She has also made inroads into the bridal market – making custom pieces and doing bridal or house parties.

She says she finds her inspiration in many places including photography, travel and music which she says can often create a feeling that then flows into her designs. Sometimes that inspiration comes from people she meets at her part-time job working at a bar.

Although jewellery design is not her background, she says she was always into crafty things. She credits her mother, who was a part-time seamstress with encouraging her creativity.

Her business skills come from studying fashion management at college. “Sometimes one [side] overpowers the other and l just have to ride with it,” she says. For Banovsky the hardest part of her job is knowing that it’s all up to her and the frustration of not having enough energy to complete her priority list everyday.

Her hope is to be able to give up her other job and devote her energy fulltime to IKB Boutique.

Published in January 2011 – Trends Magazine Feature


Following your intuition can sometimes lead to bigger and better things.

Take Ingrid Banovsky’s experience. In 2008, she decided to create a special Mother’s Day gift for her mother and grandmother, by designing each of them a piece of jewellery.

“It was just on a whim” the smiling Banovsky explains. “I was just collecting beads and I thought it would be fun.”

She graduated to making jewellery for friends, and now the enterprising 23-year-old has started IKB Boutique. Banovsky designs and sells an eclectic selection of jewelry, covering all the bases, from simple elegance to bold and whimsey.

“There’s a little bit of everything,” Banovsky said in an interview.

She’s correct. Pieces include various types of metals and chains, recycled vintage jewellery, Swarovski crystal elements, and even buttons are included in the mix.

How does she pull it all together?

“I go with the creative flow,” Banovsky says. “I’m always thinking of designs in my head. Designing comes in waves. Intuitively, I will pick something up and someone will want it months later.”

The St. Christopher’s graduate headed off to George Brown College in Toronto following high school. There she studied fashion management. After completing the two-year program, Banovsky worked in the Toronto fashion industry. She comes to the jewellery biz with no art background, adding she “sucks at drawing.”

But judging from the quality of her work, her lack of official training in that department doesn’t seem to matter.

Banovsky returned to Sarnia to be near family and after working at various jobs, enrolled at the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation OSEB program.

IKB Boutique came out of that venture nine months ago.

Banovsky still has a day job but is hoping to make the jewellery design her full-time career. She recently purchased her first home and is looking forward to creating a studio there. Ideally,  she would like to open a shop to retail jewellery out front, and create it in a studio in the back.

Another of Banovsky’s dreams is to travel to Italy to take a metal-smithing course.

Thanks to the Internet, IKB Boutique has customers world-wide. Her what she calls “reasonably priced” jewellery has appeal for the masses. The website, which has had over 45,000 hits in eight months, has been accessed by people from across North America – and even by potential customers in India.

What advice does Banovsky have for budding entrepreneurs?

“Stay focused. Be selective about whose advice you listen to. People want to tell you what to do. You can’t stress yourself out and try to please all those people. It’s not fair to yourself.”

Banovsky’s creations can be found at Modern Philosophy in Sarnia, Bare Roots in Petrolia, Studio 1219 in Port Huron and The Fashion District Store in downtown Toronto.

Her online address is www.ikbboutique.com.

– Pam Wright

Self-taught designer establishes following

Published in July 2010 – The Sarnia Observer

At age 23, Ingrid Banovsky has put her creative juices and business know-how to use and opened a successful custom jewellery boutique.

Banovsky launched two new collections just last week of one-of-a-kind necklaces, earrings, rings and pendants. She’s developing a customer base in Sarnia and also has clients across North America who have found IKB Boutique online.

“It’s not enough to have a great a great product,” said Banovsky who graduated from St. Christopher Secondary School and excelled in a fashion management program at George Brown in Toronto. “The secret to good business is networking” she said. “It’s so important to small business.”

When IKB Boutique was launched in May 2009, her father helped her make useful connections and she joined a number of networking organizations such as Women in Networking, which is a growing group of professional women who meet monthly for lunch, “I also went out and spoke to retailers and people in the downtown core,” Banovsky said, “The wonderful thing about downtown is that it’s a community and people support one another.” Soon she had a Sarnia retailer, Bare Roots Eco-Chic Boutique, carrying her jewellery line and other followed.

Banovsky’s first Christmas season saw her working long hours to fill all her orders. She still needs a second job to make ends meet but the business is rapidly expanding and she’s optimistic she’ll soon be able to depend on it for a main source of income. “Bridal is huge for me,” she said. “Brides come to me and want something unique and custom made.” They frequently order necklaces and earring sets for their bridesmaids and themselves. Creating something new from several old pieces is also a passion for Banovsky. Clients will either bring their family jewellery to her or she’ll find vintage pieces at second-hand stores or garage sales.

Ornate buttons can be made into dramatic rings, Cameos and pearls are reworked into trendy new necklaces for as little as $50 each. Banovsky is self-taught. She left Toronto after working a year for an independent clothing designer and travelled Europe for a while. In 2008, she returned to Sarnia and, on a whim, decided to make jewellery for her mother and grandmother on Mother’s Day. That set the wheels in motion for what was to become IKB Boutique. Banovsky learned to use hand tools, cutters and a torch and took a course to learn how to work with metal clay. She creates her designs using mostly semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystal elements from Austria, sterling silver and gold filled components. Several collections have been launched including summer, vintage and metal clay lines, Most recently she created a “girly-girl” collection called Sweet Treats with beads that look like pink cupcakes and cake slices, as well as one designed around a collection of pendents from India, Pakistan and Indonesia that she found in a barn. “I anticipate it will take two to five years to gain income in sales and I intend to stick with it”, she said. “I’m also interested in going to Italy to study metalsmithing and eventually work with precious stones.”

Local aspiring jewellery designer launches her new business

Published June, 2009 – The Sarnia Observer

Ingrid Banovsky is launching her jewellery and accessories business, IKB Boutique in Sarnia Lambton.

With her previous experiences working in the Toronto fashion scene she has identified a niche market for retailing handmade designs that represent women and what they want.

She is self taught in jewellery making, and in creating Mother’s Day gifts on a whim, has discovered her talent and passion for this creative field. Ms. Banovsky designs and manufactures all of her pieces, and guarantees every piece to be unique by using Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stones, fresh water pearls, sterling silver findings, and old vintage pieces.

“Precious metal clay opens many doors when creating a one-of-a-kind piece” Banovsky states, “PMC was originally developed in the early 1990’s in Japan, and basically involves tiny particles of pure silver or fine gold powder with an organic binder which burns off during the firing process. The result is .999 pure silver that you are able to enhance with old vintage buttons, gemstones, or crystals.

When dealing with her customers, Ingrid allows them to make changes to her original designs by selecting certain stones, crystals or other elements they may want incorporated into the piece. She wants her customers to love what they purchase, and to ultimately satisfied every time.

Additionally, Banovsky will be holding jewellery parties for those interested, takes custom orders, offers bridal and prom packages, and re-works old vintage jewellery you may have sitting around in that dusty old jewellery box.

IKB Boutique will have a website; www.ikbboutique.com, due to launch July of 2009 where you can place orders, and view current and upcoming collections.

Ingrid eventually wants to open a retail location complete with a studio for manufaturing and design.