A somewhat circuitous route has brought Laura Brouillette from an undergraduate degree in world literature at Concordia University and the Sorbonne in Paris back to her original passion: creating tangible things with her hands.
“I have always been crafty and a hands-on kind of person,” says Laura.
Although working as an editor fulfilled a part of her, she longed to create something “concrete” and found herself back in Montreal at the Rosemount Technical Centre where she learned fine woodworking skills. After completing the program, exploring the Yukon, and undertaking a year-long furniture making apprenticeship in Vancouver, Laura decided to return back home to the Ottawa area. She teamed up with another woodworker, shared a work-space, and opened up a shop in Nepean. Business boomed and space became an issue, spurring a move back to the Wakefield area in mid-2019 to open Nightwood Studio.
Back home, Laura found the best of both worlds: proximity to urban markets, a vibrant local community, and a beautiful natural environment. The name of her company, “Nightwood Studio”, was inspired by a novel written by one of her favourite authors, Djuna Barnes. Laura paid tribute by creating a gorgeous secretary desk called “The Djuna Desk”. Nightwood Studio designs are imbued with stories, always maintaining a connection to the land and a sense of community.
Nightwood Studio offers custom furniture and often starts with a home visit to take measurements and discuss the piece, whether it’s a bookcase or a dining room table. Smaller pieces from Nightwood Studio, such as plant stands and cutting boards, are sold wholesale to specialty shops locally and throughout North America. Items are also available online: www.nightwoodstudio.com
Laura aims to present a “different face” of woodworking, a more feminine approach in a male-dominated industry. Her customers appreciate the fact that a woman is making these beautiful pieces and the “You go, girl” sentiment is expressed loud and clear.
COVID-19 interrupted the idyllic rhythm of Nightwood Studio’s work. During the first few months of the pandemic, Laura finished up existing orders but soon supplies dwindled and the shutdown presented obvious barriers. It was impossible to visit homes for custom orders and with boutiques closed, it was clear that she needed a plan.
Laura did some research and was connected to the SADC Papineau-Collines. She applied for a business loan to help maintain monthly operating costs.
“The SADC was very helpful in getting me set up with a loan to help buffet the effects of the pandemic’s effect on the industry. The terms of the loan were manageable and even came with a 25% grant providing the terms were met. The SADC was very genuine and personable and even showed extra support by purchasing a large stack of Nightwood cutting boards to give out at their staff Christmas party.”
Check out Nightwood Studio online: www.nightwoodstudio.com