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Welcome to CYL Community. Where rad creative boss ladies are doing their thing, and doing it well. 

Meet Gillian Johnson

Meet Gillian Johnson

Say hi! Would you like to introduce yourself?


Hii! My name is Gillian Johnson. I am the jewelry designer behind the brand Hawkly and the founder of a creative space called Assembly. I am based in Toronto and split my time between the hustle and bustle of downtown and a yurt nestled in the hills north of the city.


What does being a creative mean to you?


For me creativity is taking one thing, then applying imagination, inspiration and innovation to modify it to a new and different state. Whether it be in the kitchen experimenting with a new recipe or assembling my jewelry, I love the satisfaction that comes with the process of creating something.


Do you recall when you first realized you HAD to be creative?


The call to be creative came later in life for me. In my younger years, I played sports constantly and studied science.  While on a university exchange program I travelled to one of Thailand’s beautiful islands for some adventuring. I met a girl that was making and showcasing jewelry at one of the amazing beach hut hotels. I was inexplicably drawn to her and her work and at first found myself overcome with jealously. I took that as an indicator that this was something I needed to explore so picked her brain about the craft and where I could find materials. Next thing I knew I was scouring the markets in Bangkok for jewelry supplies and quickly became pretty obsessed with creating jewelry.


What is your favorite work ritual?


I just love creating new pieces and working late into the night. Endless hours of carving wax models, while listening to podcasts and the sounds of nature at the jewelers bench in my yurt is basically my idea of heaven.


How do you cope when you feel overwhelmed?


I organize or go for a hike, depending where I am! If in the city, I will sort through all the materials in my studio, then move to my house and then likely cap it off with revising my to-do list. I am undecided if this technique is just one of ultimate procrastination or actually productive but I do feel so much more calm and in control after a good organizational session.  If I am in the country I will take a nice long hike, nature is endlessly calming and solo hiking is deeply meditative for me.


What three traits would you say are a must for someone going into business for themselves?


1- Resilience - in my experience the entrepreneurial journey is a bit of an emotional roller coaster, emotions like doubt and fear like to present themselves at the most untimely moments and things always take a bit longer to come to fruition.

2 -Gratitude - it is so easy to get ahead of ourselves and jump to the next thing we want to accomplish. I think it is really important to be able to celebrate all the successes and achievements (both big and small) that you have and also to take time to appreciate the customers and friends that support us along the journey.

3- Focus - having full autonomy over a work schedule can be a blessing or curse depending on your state of mind. When you only really have to answer to yourself, being focussed on short and long term goals is really important.


What is your definition of success? Do you feel that you are successful? 


This is a tough one… words and ideas that come to mind when I think of success are balance, an understanding of self, positive energy exchanges with others, and intention and consciousness in the design of daily life . 


My feelings on my own personal success vary like the wind! Objectively yes but if I am being honest, I have many moments of feeling quite the opposite… that emotional roller coaster of doubt and fear I mentioned before and the imposter complex is a very familiar one to me!


What has been the best advice you have received?


Trust your instinct. It is so easy to get caught up in outside influences, trends, people pleasing and all sorts of things that will cloud your ability to make the best decisions for yourself so it is so important to listen to your gut and trust your instincts.


Who is a female (past, present or fictional) you find inspirational? 


Right now I am super inspired by the work of Robin Wall Kimmerer. She is a botanist that wrote the novel “Braiding Sweatgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants”. She is a mesmerizing storyteller, and as a indigenous scientist provides a glimpse into the teachings of nature that I find to be deeply profound and comforting.



Thanks for reading along! Don’t forget to comment below. To learn more about Gillian visit the Squad Directory to find her social channels, as well as other CYL Squad Member’s social channels.

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