A self-made Edmonton entrepreneur is designing his way to the top of the fashion world with pieces featured internationally and by a Canadian musician.
Andrea Espinoza is the owner and founder of Epico Designs, a local jeweler that offers sustainable fine and fashion pieces for men and women using recycled stainless steel and responsible gold-plating.
Growing up in Ecuador, Espinoza lost her parents at the age of five. Her grandparents, entrepreneurs themselves, inspired her to start her first jewelry business when she was seven.
Nine years ago, she moved to Edmonton alone and worked as an understudy jewelry designer. After learning all she could, she founded Epico.
“For me, my jewelry is my way of feeling,” she told CTV News Edmonton. “So depending on what I’m doing or where I’m traveling, or what’s going on, so I can incorporate all those things into my designs.”
Last summer, Espinoza was helping customers at the 104 Street Al Fresco Market when she had a chance encounter with Canadian singer and songwriter Jessie Reyez. At that point, Espinoza said he didn’t know who Reyez was.
“It was just like interacting with another client,” Espinoza recalled. “I encountered this lady who really made an impact on me.”
During the holiday season, Espinoza was fulfilling orders when she noticed a woman left a tip with her online purchase. It was then that she made the connection.
“I didn’t realize who she was,” she added. “I’ve heard her voice. I’ve heard her music, but I’ve never seen her.”
Espinoza wrote a letter to Reyez which ignited a blooming partnership and friendship. Reyez often wears Epico and talks about it on her social media channels. She even accepted her Juno in Edmonton while wearing a piece handcrafted by Espinoza.
“It was very organic,” Espinoza said. “I’m just really grateful that I am able to be part of her journey, and I am able to be part of what she represents, which is being a woman, being a person with the color in her skin, being Latin.”
Epico Designs jewelry displayed at its Edmonton storefront (CTV News Edmonton/Alison MacKinnon).
For every piece of Epico jewelry that is purchased, $2 is donated to the Compassion House Foundation. For Espinoza, using her platform and voice to give back is foundational.
“I feel that I was lucky enough to end up in the house of my grandparents,” she said. “I understand, coming from a third-world country, that there’s so many little girls who didn’t have that luck.”
This summer, Espinoza’s jewelry will be highlighted in British Vogue. Espinoza says her pieces will still be sold at local farmers’ markets, no matter how big the ripples she makes internationally.
“My jewelry was created to inspire self-love and self-confidence. That’s always the goal.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Alison MacKinnon