Alexis Kastner


What is it that you do?

Currently, I am a leathersmith and own a small little store/studio in Fan Tan Alley

How long have you been doing this?

I have been making jewelry since I was about thirteen and moved into leatherwork gradually over the last decade.


What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up crazy early every morning regardless of what time I’ve gone to bed (usually around 5:30 am). I throw on my running gear and head out There is something to be said about being up before the rest of the city and watching it get light out as I run through the empty roads. Sometimes I run down the middle of the road with my arms out which gives me this strange sense of freedom. Its like im surrendering myself to nature and movement. Then I get home, shower, get dressed and head on down to my store where I spend the day making leather goods for the shop and custom orders. After that, I head home or meet friends for dinner or drinks. I also found myself on a dodgeball team so every Tuesday we all get together before the game, have a drink and nachos and then I spend an hour laughing hysterically and trying to win!

When you started this business, what were some of your initial fears?

Oh man. My biggest fear was, what if nobody likes my work? And then followed by what if nobody shows up to the store? What if I can’t do this? What if I completely fail?


Since then how have your fears changed?

To be honest. I still have all those fears. Everything I make is an extension of myself. I put my heart into each piece and its always a little scary putting myself out there. I still think to myself every time someone buys something “they like me!?!”


Can you remember a time you felt like quitting? How did you get through that?
About a week before Christmas this year. Everything was going so well! The shop was selling out, custom orders were being filled and people were so happy with everything that I was doing! Then. I fell. Three times and once down a flight of stairs! I lost my wallet, got sick, my industrial sewing machine died and I got in a huge fight with my mother. I felt so overwhelmed. I thought if I could just disappear for even 24 hours it would be enough time for me to refuel. And then, I was like, WHAT THE FUCK. SHUT UP ALEXIS. PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTS and get shit done. So, I had someone come down on the Sunday to replace the engine on my machine (he was reluctant but I was very persuasive), I took some advil, drank a few hot toddies, forgot about my bruised butt and hip and did my thing. I am still working on patching things up with my mom.


When was the last time you felt vulnerable?

Hahaha! That’s a funny question. Recently. I have a very hard time asking for help. Esspecially when it comes to my feelings and struggles that I have. I’m learning how and I am lucky enough to have an incredibly solid group of friends that I know I can trust and feel safe expressing or exposing my feelings with. Sometimes however, something happens or someone comes along and rocks me a little. Two steps forward, one step back. But at least I’m trying to be more vulderable right?


How does social media work for you and how does it work against you?

Social Media has been fantastic! When I first got instagram I had two accounts, one for Jovee Handcrafted that was strickly what I was making and a personal one. I quickly realized double posting is an annoying pain in the ass and I felt like I was editing that on social media which is so not me. So I kept my personal account and use it to post about my shop and my life. In the end, I am who I am and I think its pretty clear when you come into the shop and chat with me so social media became another avenue to express that.

What is the number one important thing for you to remember when you feel discouraged? 

That it’s going to work out one way or another and you’re not alone… I know, so boring. But it’s true. Shit gets fucked up. Life can feel like its impossible. But, something will happen and things change and if we have all gotten this far, I think that’s pretty fucking remarkable! 

At the end of April 2015 I quit my financejob and went full time at my shop At the same time my ex moved out (we broke up in January but… you know… complicated lol). My family is mostly in Toronto and Vancouver and I was alone. I had a two-bedroom apartment, a store and myself. It was fucking scary and lonely and overwhelming. It wasn’t overnight by any means, but realizing how much I LOVED being on my own and having my own space and that I could do it all happened and lonely quickly changed to happy on my own! When I was feeling like shit during this time I kept telling myself “you’ve got this” and I actually started believing it! 

I always remind myself of that and also, that I have an amazing community around me full of friends! Forge ahead, find your ‘peoples’. The ones that you love deeply and that push you to see yourself the way they see you. The ‘peoples’ that inspire you, kick your ass and allow you to do those things for them when they need it. That know that you need a hug but also know that you’ll probably cry if they do so they still offer knowing you’ll say “no” but the gesture is enough to get you through.


What is something that people would never know about you?

Im an extroverted introvert. It takes so much of me to get out to a party or an event or even just a dinner. I get riddled with anxiety and have to stop myself from canceling. That being said, once I’m where I’m going I’m happy to be there and able to enjoy myself!


Dream for 2016?

It’s the year of US. Victoria is really coming into its own and I couldn’t be more excited about this beautiful community! Im seeing friends just kicking ass and taking names and I am thrilled to see friends and aquancances living their dreams and being successful! My dream for 2016 is for everyone to flourish! All the small businesses, restaurants, artists, everyone! I truly think we are doing something great here and building an amazing community that supports eachother! SO AMPED!

Can you tell me a secret?

I could, but then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore!


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