May 28, 2022

“Handful” of Conestoga students support Montclaire and its mission

Madison Montague photographed by Jessi McConnell.

During COVID-19, many people have started their own businesses to fill up their spare time, and their pockets. In the midst of the pandemic, a Kitchener woman attending University of Guelph, started a jewelry business for customers to look good and feel good – 10 per cent of every purchase gets donated to a local charity.

Montclaire – a name derived from her father’s surname, Montague, and her mother’s surname, St.Claire – is Madison Montague’s pandemic born business. With her serving job on pause, and her environmental governance undergrad program moved online, she had more spare time than usual. With that time, she decided to take her new hobby of jewelry making and turn it into a business that gives back to her Waterloo Region community.

I do have a passion for making a difference. I felt like it [making jewelry] was something fun that I like to do, and I wanted it to have a positive impact – whether that’s locally or globally,” Montague said. It all adds up. I think too, that people like products that are give back.”

Montague decided that each month, 10 per cent of profits will go to different charities. Some months the charity is picked based on being local, such as the Cambridge Humane Society or Cambridge Food Bank. Other months it’s chosen based off the urgency or relevance of the charity.

Mother’s Day set (left) and phone charms (right). Images courtesy of Madison Montague.

Even though Montclaire’s donations from making sales on necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, and phone charms may be what Montague considers just a “small way” of giving back, they still help create change in her community.

“Because of my program, I’m definitely passionate about environmental organizations and social justice. I think those two go hand in hand,” the 26 year-old said.

Jaden Carr, an Early Childhood Education student from Conestoga College, is one of the “handful” of Conestoga students Montague said has bought from Montclaire. While Carr loves how trendy the pieces are, she thinks what makes Montclaire stand out from other small jewelry businesses is the donations.

“It feels wonderful to help support local businesses, especially knowing the proceeds are being donated to local charities,” Carr said. “What Montclaire is doing is amazing, and I cannot wait to see what else she will come out with.”

Indeed, she cannot wait – Carr said she’s likely to buy from Montclaire for the fourth time at the next restock. In fact, she’s even gotten her younger sister, Avery, hooked on Montclaire.

A repost of Jaden Carr’s Instagram story reposted on the Montclaire Instagram (left). A repost of Avery Carr’s Instagram story reposed on the Montclaire Instagram (right). Courtesy of Madison Montague.

Besides getting to bring attention to charities in need, Montague also enjoys the opportunity to network through her business.

“It’s my favourite part,” she said. “It’s really nice to see the support of people that don’t even know me, but yet want to support me and make a difference with their purchase too.”

Many in the start up business industry, like Leanne Armstrong, have seen increases in hobbies turned “side hustles” since COVID-19. Montague had noticed this surge, too – Instagram pages of other young, female students began to pop up all over her feed since the pandemic started.

“I thought I could just try selling my jewelry like the others too, and see what would happen,” she said.

“Seeing what would happen” turned into getting more than twenty orders within a month and a half.

Amongst the posts of pearl bracelets and funky fruit inspired necklaces strewn across the Montclaire Instagram, Montague announces in a new post, her preparation for the next jewelry collection dropping later this fall.

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