Carly Braden

Get to know this pug loving jewelry designer

By the Get Leashed Doggy Style Team

Carly Braden - Get Leashed Magazine

Carly works in Bluboho, a gorgeous jewelry shop filled with beautiful, handmade and totally unique pieces; not the kind of place you would usually expect to be dog-friendly. But once you step inside its brightly lit interior, with its warm neighborhood vibe and Carly chatting up stoppers-by in her gregarious way, all of a sudden dogs make total sense.

If you’re going to have a shop full of one-of-a-kind jewelry, what better accompaniment than a couple of pugs — that special breed made up entirely of one-of-a-kind dogs? No matter how many pugs we come across, no two are ever the same. Carly can attest to this fact in the form of her two buddies: Taco and Gordie. These two little furbabies couldn’t be further apart in personality, but like all pugs they made us laugh effortlessly and are the most endearing dogs. Clearly they take after their owner; Carly has written some of the funniest answers to our questions we’ve maybe ever received. Read on to get to know this talented artist and her two great pugs.

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Please tell us about yourself:

The best part about the work that I do is that I get to be involved in so many parts of the business — so every day is a little different. As a jewelry designer and goldsmith (St. Eloi, available at Bluboho), I get the pleasure of a creative outlet and the satisfaction of working with my hands; working in the store I get to build relationships with the very people who will be wearing those pieces and get immediate feedback on what it is that someone loves about them. Design days involve research, sketches, plenty of calculations and some prototypes; work days at the bench often consist of a lot of repetitive tasks, some fumes, and chipped nail polish; meanwhile, days in the store can be busy, meeting new people and catching up with regulars, or focused on creating new looks and stories in the ways that we showcase the jewelry. I love the variety, the connection that comes from talking to people about what draws them to different pieces of jewelry, and the knowledge that someone is forming such an immediate bond with something that you’ve made.

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A bit about your pets:

Taco and Gordie are both pugs from a breed-specific rescue in Ottawa called Under My Wing. Taco is 9, and came to us four years ago, and Gordie has been with us nearly a year and will be 2 this summer. Taco was my first pet who didn’t live in a cage or tank, and I’d badly wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. I spent a very long time researching breeds and trying to find the right match for my personality and lifestyle, knowing I wanted a rescue. I completely hit the jackpot with Taco – he was an owner surrender, but someone clearly invested time and care in him because he came to us a complete gentleman and very well trained. I never imagined I could find a dog who was my exact double – let alone finding him on the internet and never having met him until the day I picked him up!

We naturally assumed that if having one pug was that amazing, the only thing that could be better was two – we probably should have double-checked our math on that one. Gordie took a little longer to get used to! Also an owner surrender, when we met her it was easy to see how someone could have decided that she required much more time, effort, and energy than they could offer. When her foster described her as high-energy, we laughed to ourselves about pug activity levels – but she is EXHAUSTING. She’s so different from Taco in every way – he’s very much like a potato covered in Velcro, but Gordie is an independent woman. Looking in her face, she always looks like she’s scheming about what she’ll get into next – and it’s usually trash.

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What does your ideal weekend look like?

It’s great to see how many new people discover the store on the weekends, especially when the weather is nice and people are exploring parts of the city they don’t always get to during the week. It’s so much fun to take the time with a guest to talk about what makes each piece of jewelry unique, and to style dream looks with all of the gorgeous pieces. On days off, my partner and I love to have brunch at The Combine Eatery and afternoons off-leash at Withrow Park – Gordie takes off like a tiny pinball, sniffing every corner, playing with every dog, and jumping up on picnic tables and rooting through every available purse. Taco sticks so close to us that we often think we’ve lost him, only to trip over him. The best days end with the four of us piled on the couch, watching The X-Files and The Simpsons.

Describe your personal style:

I used to love crisp monochrome and basic neutrals, but my two pups have made both black and white an impossibility, so I tend to stick to heather grey and hope the casual passerby can’t tell just how much dog hair is on me at all times. I’m typically in Madewell jeans and a Stay Home Club t-shirt, and spend a great deal more time every morning deciding what jewelry to wear (the solution is usually as many gold rings as I can fit at once).

What inspires you?

All the amazing women I know – I’m fortunate to have an incredible network of family and friends who do great work and live with integrity. I’m also inspired by how powerful it is to work for and with women in a company that carries female designers, which has shown me the strength of bringing my feelings to work every single day.

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How would you describe the look and feel of your home/shop?

When I’m working at home, Taco is always curled up in his bed just far enough away to not get covered in polishing compound, but always with his eyes on me. At the store, we’re all dog owners and lovers, so nothing gives us greater pleasure than when a guest brings their dog in while they browse – as soon as we hear the jingling of dog tags, everyone who’s working comes running out for pats and baby talk and taking photos to make the crew at the Oakville store jealous!

A story about your pugs:

We initially thought that Gordie would be a breeze to train and that she’d see how well Taco behaved and how much everyone appreciated it, and just pick up on all his great habits. Instead, Taco has learned from Gordie how to get his way by being stubborn and pushing our limits even when he knows what it is that we’d like him to do. However, Gordie has made him a much more confident dog – when we first got him, he was so timid with other dogs that if we approached one while walking he would try to cross the street instead. Now, he’ll occasionally join Gordie in a game of chase at the park, and put himself between her and other dogs if he hears even a hint of a growl. So much about them reminds me of growing up with an older brother – they’re so obnoxious to one another at home, but a total tag team when they think they might need to be versus the world.