A lot of people say that they remember their first kiss, like the moment is a defining monument in the maze of growing up. Unless you count my vague recollection of being in a fun house at the Lindsay Fair in grade six with a boy named Mike after too much cotton candy, I can’t say that I am one of them. I can, however, recall perfectly the first time I see a collection that inspires me; take for example Edilou Canedo’s jewelry line, CUCHARA. Canedo has a simple, contrast-heavy style, reflected in unique, handmade pieces that take everyday looks and elevate them to something truly special. I recently had the opportunity to pick Edi’s brain, and I found out that CUCHARA is much more than a first kiss… it’s more like her soul mate.
FOND: How did it all start?
Edilou Canedo: I guess it all started in 2008, two years before I moved to Toronto. I was living in Victoria B.C. at the time while finishing my BSc at UVic. I hadn’t given any serious thought to going back to school for fashion design yet. I started spending time in antique shops and thrift stores collecting antique jewelry, trinkets, and glass beads. One of my friends and I started altering and re-working the vintage jewelry we had acquired and turning them into modern, completely unique creations. We would reuse old chains or clasps and add glass beads to tarnished pendants. Sometimes, we would get lucky and find a completely wild stone and we would be psyched. Around Christmastime we took everything we had made to a craft fair and people seemed really interested in it. After that, my friend got busy with other things, but I decided to keep working at it. Eventually, a skate shop called Sitka picked up some of my creations and started selling them. It sold really well there – they actually sold everything and wanted more.
FOND: What made Toronto your next step?
EC: I took a bit of a break from jewelry and did some traveling, and when I [was in] South East Asia, I met this girl from England who was a textile designer. She really influenced my decision to go back to school for design because she was so passionate about what she was doing and she was really successful. When I got home, I knew I wanted to continue with CUCHARA, but I also knew that if I was going to keep doing it I couldn’t continue living in Victoria. I mean, it’s a great city, but it can be kind of uninspiring. So, I moved here to take the Fashion Techniques and Design program at George Brown College, and kept working on my collections throughout school.
FOND: What was it like transitioning from Victoria, where you had already begun the difficult process of breaking into the market, to Toronto, where you were basically starting from scratch again?
EC: Well, I just recently finished school so I have a lot more time on my hands – time I am spending on my line. As a result, I am seeing a lot of changes happening. I really feel like I am discovering what my real style is. In a way I am starting over… but not entirely. I would say I am in the process of re-branding and re-focusing. I’m pushing the boundaries a little more now.
FOND: What are doing differently now?
EC: When I moved to Toronto it was really difficult. I didn’t really know where to start. My friends would tell me to take my creations around to different stores to spark interest and get my name out there, which I did, but I was really nervous while doing it. Of course it fizzled a bit when my school work load was heavy, but I always went back to it. Now, I feel so much more focused. I have more of a direction. Plus, with school being completely done I have a lot more time to dedicate to it. I also think I’m more confident in the pieces I produce.
FOND: What kept you going in the beginning? How did you know you were doing the right thing?
EC: Not long after I moved here, The Future of Frances Watson started selling some of my stuff. It was pretty unreal. Just knowing that the product of my creativity, the outcome of me doing what I naturally wanted to do – ultimately that my passion was appealing to other people – that was all I needed to continue creating. It is always scary to put yourself out there, but I was reassured again when The Drake General Store in Toronto bought a bunch of my earlier pieces and Love Of Mine [also in Toronto] is now carrying a pretty wide selection of my newest collection.
FOND: There are so many people designing and creating, how do you set yourself apart?
EC: I am still figuring a lot of things out. I get a lot of critical feedback about what I am doing right and what I need to work on. I think feedback helps you define your niche market, which is really important for a brand when first starting out. I try to focus on getting my brand in places that get the style I’m trying to achieve. I think in doing that it will help build CUCHARA as a brand. I know the type of person I want to appeal to, and I have to keep that in mind when designing, I want it to have a distinct voice. I’m getting there.
FOND: What’s the voice like so far?
EC: The voice is playful with some edge. Kinda like, girly 90s punk.
FOND: In your last collection I noticed you used a lot of bullet grommets and studs. What are some other materials you like to work with? Is there a signature CUCHARA material?
EC: I like mixing materials when I make things. Usually, I end up mixing hard things with softer things and I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I’m drawn to cold metals which contrast nicely with soft coloured gemstones. I’m also drawn to metal studs, spikes, and chains. I like to cluster together bunches of materials – I do that a lot.
FOND: How do you create? Describe how you work.
EC: In terms of actually making jewelry, I am entirely self taught and of course each piece is handmade by me. I’m not a trained jeweler or metal worker. When I’m creating pieces, I select the materials I like, put them in a pile in front of me, and I sit crossed legged on the floor until something happens. I am usually sitting like that for a really long time just making jewellery – hanging out! I just put everything together how I think it should look in my mind and I’m really honoured when other people like it.
FOND: Tell me about your newest collection.
EC: This collection is unlike anything I have done yet. I think I felt more comfortable stepping outside my comfort zone. I wanted to go a little more crazy. I used a lot of neons and loud colours. I experimented with golds and gun metal. The finished pieces came out larger than most things I have done in the past. Summer and the beach kind of inspired this collection, that’s why it is so bright. It really screams for attention… it makes me happy!
FOND: What are some difficulties or challenges you have faced being a young designer?
EC: It’s nerve wracking putting myself out there! Designing and creating is what I love to do. It comes naturally, and it is what I would be doing anyway. But, for me, the most difficult part is trying to get people to see that what I have is different, unique, special, cool… self promotion is not my strong suit. I’m just always really appreciative whenever someone likes my work. It’s hard getting people to believe in you.
FOND: Where does the name ‘Cuchara’ come from?
EC: When I first started making things with my friend we took her boyfriend’s vintage spoon collection. I am pretty sure it was his great grandparents’ collection he inherited, but they were just sitting in his cutlery drawer. I started examining all the spoons and they were so beautiful and intricate. Each one of them had different details, and to top it off they were from all over the world. Naturally, we sawed off the spoon part and attached the intricate pieces to necklaces. I named it Cuchara because my parents are Filipino and that is how they say spoon. It’s the same word in Spanish, so I used the Spanish spelling.
FOND: Describe your personal style.
EC: My style, just like my jewelry line is constantly evolving and changing. I like to mix it up from one day to the next. Right now I am into minimal looks. A solid shoe and an interesting accessory take a simple outfit and make it a really good one.
FOND: What rule do you live by everyday?
EC: Don’t be afraid of colour, but don’t go over the top. And, high heels all the time.
FOND: Are you reading anything right now?
EC: I’m always reading the newest RUSSH. And now I’m going to be checking FOND regularly!
FOND: What are you listening to right now?
FOND: Designers on your radar right now?
EC: CÉLINE is probably my favourite. It’s all just so good. I like Wang. As much as I don’t want to like his stuff, I always end up liking mostly everything he does. Especially his shoes. Givenchy is always on my mind. Oh – and I really like a bunch of brands from Australia and New Zealand like Ellery, Lover, and Stolen Girlfirends Club. I also like Carven.
FOND: What is your goal for CUCHARA?
EC: Right now it’s really just to have interest from people and stores that are into what I’m doing. I see CUCHARA being sold in smaller boutique stores. I would love to see it carried somewhere like Jonathan and Olivia [in Toronto] ultimately… that would be amazing!
Currently spending my days in a daze. My interests include; raw food, ponies, interior design, photography, and messy fashion. Not really a lover or a fighter, just a writer.