My favourite part of Pride weekend has always been the Streetfair. I mean, who among us hasn’t returned home with a sparkly LED rainbow trinket at one point or another? But alongside the roasted corn booth (generally my first stop) and the inevitable T-shirt gallery (“My other GF is a dyke too”) are some serious artisans selling handmade and bespoke wares.
This will be the fourth year that jewellery designer Genya Fox has been part of Streetfair, with his beautiful creations that somehow manage to be flashy and classy at the same time. From bejewelled military dog tags to intricately designed rings, the G Fox booth enjoys brisk business and repeat clientele.
“It’s the best time ever,” Fox says. “We get new customers, sure, but then there are people who’ve bought my stuff online and now I get to meet them in person. It’s totally a big thrill when I see someone wearing my stuff.”
Fox comes by his trade honestly. Both his parents are jewellers, and he has a master’s in gemology and is a certified diamond grader. He could easily be pulling in good coin working for a large outfit, but the call to artistic freedom proved too strong.
“I couldn’t see myself doing a nine-to-five job in a diamond lab,” he says. “This way I get to really connect with my customers and do my own thing.”
Of course, the start-up costs for any new business generally involve a significant outlay of cash, but tossing precious gems and high-grade metals into the mix puts you in a whole new ballpark.
“Oh yeah, the first year my parents told me I would take a pretty good loss,” he laughs. “But it’s something you have to do to get the name out. It’s the best thing I ever did.”
One new line that Fox is particularly proud of is a collection of wooden watches, which he designs and puts together by hand. He’s also bringing in a new line of Pride rings, candy skulls and a Shambhala bracelet decorated with Swarovski crystals. Many pieces feature Fox’s own stylized trans equality design — something the trans man finds personally rewarding.
“I want to be out there empowering people and creating original pieces,” he says. “Our motto is ‘There’s a richness to our experience.’”
It occurs to me that having a booth full of costly jewellery surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people might be a little, well, daunting. But Fox has matters well in hand.
“It’s crazy, definitely, but my fiancé and my parents help out, and my personal trainer is doing security. We play good music and it’s a real party. Plus, I’m a nice guy.”