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Looking for comfy cozy home decor? Look no further than the nearest “Blue Lake & Rocky Shore” 😉 Read on to learn all about Jillian and her company…

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I live in Richmond Hill, Ontario with my husband, two kids and two dogs. Before I had my children, I worked in the IT field in downtown Toronto. After becoming a mother, I decided that I really didn’t want to return to that career, with the commute and the long hours. I started really getting into sewing many years ago, and decided that I’d like to try and make a living doing what I love. I initially started doing alterations for people in my neighbourhood, but soon decided that I needed a better creative outlet. After coming up with many design ideas for decor products, I decided to take the plunge and start making my own designs to sell to others.

I grew up on a lake in Northern Ontario, and as a result, am continually inspired by the landscape of the Great Canadian Shield. I love creating items that remind of me the outdoors and of being at the cottage (or “camp” for us Sudburians!) I’ve lived in Southern Ontario for many years now, but I still like creating items that remind me of home.

How do you balance parenthood with your business?

Working out of my home has been great in allowing me to be available to my kids when they’re not in school. I can set my own hours and work when it’s convenient for me. My kids are older now – 18 and 14, so it’s not the kind of hands-on parenting that younger children require, but I still want to be here for them. Before my daughter got her driver’s license, it was great to be able to chauffeur her and my son to all of their after school activities. If I’d been working a typical 9-5 job, that wouldn’t have been possible. This business has allowed me a lot of flexibility, for which I’m grateful.

My daughter is set to move away for school in September, but my son will still be here and I feel very lucky that I can be around when he gets home from school every day.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

I think my favourite item would have to be the Lumberjack Pillow Cover. It’s red and black buffalo plaid flannel, and it’s made to look like a buttoned-up flannel shirt. The buttons have moose on them, for an even more outdoorsy look. I called it the Lumberjack because the flannel shirt look reminded me of what a lumberjack might wear to chop down trees. Because it’s flannel, it’s soft and cozy, just like a good flannel shirt should be.

What is the story behind your business name?

My business name, Blue Lake & Rocky Shore, comes from a line in an old Canadian classic song, called, “Land of the Silver Birch.”

The song goes as follows:

Land of the silver birch

Home of the beaver

Where still the mighty moose wanders at will

Blue lake and rocky shore

I will return once more…

Can you describe your process and how long it takes to produce a piece?

I keep a sketch book handy and I am constantly drawing pictures of the ideas that pop into my head. Usually when I get a new idea, I’ll spend some time drawing different versions of it, until I find one that I think will work. Then I make a prototype. Sometimes I’ll have fabric already that works for what I want to make. Otherwise I’ll get what I need and start cutting and sewing. Sometimes I think I’ll be making one thing, and then during the process, I change it into something else. Maybe I was going to make a 14″ x 14″ square pillow, but then I decide to make a bolster instead. How long it takes entirely depends of how intricate the design is. Products with appliqués take much longer than those without. Once I’ve finished sewing, I’ll decide if it needs anything else – trim or buttons or some other detail. Once I’m satisfied with how it looks, I make note of the design elements and keep all of these in a pattern file on my computer.

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

My work space used to be a combination of my kitchen and dining room. I used to keep all of my materials upstairs in my master bedroom and my current projects spread out on my dining room table. I would haul my sewing machine into my kitchen each day to work. Needless to say, this was not very convenient!

Last fall, we had our basement finished and I now have a whole big section of it as a dedicated work space. I turned the unused space under the stairs into a closet where I store pillow forms and shelves of fabrics. It’s great to be able to close the door and not have all of that clutter out in the open. I have a sewing table, and big storage hutch and a nice, big cutting table. Most days I’m down in my studio working, listening to music or podcasts (true crime are my faves!) It’s such a pleasure to have this space to work in.

My top tool is of course my sewing machine! I also love my rotary cutter and mat. They make straight cuts a breeze.

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

I receive many custom orders and clients typically have as much input as they’d like. I recently made new couch cushions for someone’s cottage, and she chose the fabric herself. Sometimes people will ask me to make a personalized blanket for a baby or child, and other than telling me the child’s name, they leave the design up to me. Or sometimes they’ll give me an idea as to the room’s theme, or something the child really likes, and then I’ll take it from there.

I’ve also made a few memory quilts. In those cases, the clients handed over their items and didn’t see them again until the quilt was complete. I think they liked the surprise.

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

I try to sneak in a few projects for myself once in awhile. I used to make clothes for myself pretty regularly, but I’m too busy for that now. Being tall, it was great for me to be able to make things that actually fit me properly. Usually if I have a little time for a personal project, it’ll end up being something for one of my children. One tradition we have is that I make them pyjamas every year for Christmas.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m a swimmer and have been swimming with the Richmond Hill Masters for the past 14 years. Not only is it a great workout, but we’re a very social group and I’ve made amazing friendships with my fellow swimmers. I am also an avid reader and have belonged to a book club for the past 13 years. As much as I love reading, it’s really the other women in the book club that make it so much fun. My favourite thing to do on a Friday night is to binge watch whatever series I’m currently into on Netflix. I especially like the Nordic noir shows from countries like Sweden and Denmark. I also love British mysteries – whether in television or book form.

And of course spending time with my family is number one!

Trail hike or lake swim?

Definitely lake swim! I had the wonderful privilege of growing up on a beautiful lake in the city of Sudbury, called Long Lake. Every day in the summer I was in the lake, swimming with friends. We had a peddle boat that my best friend and I would take on adventures down the lake. In winter, my father would shovel a huge rink on it and flood it with the hose to make it smooth for skating. We’d also snowmobile and cross-country ski on Long Lake. My bedroom faced the lake and at night, I’d fall asleep to the sounds of the water. I can’t imagine a better place to live than on a lake. Trail hikes are nice, but lake swims are the best!

Come meet Jillian at our Made in Canada Market on September 23, or check her out online at


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