Former geo-tech starts her own local jewelry company

“It’s those late nights. Feeding a baby at two in the morning.”

Sophie Gabias-Moffat, is a jewelry designer and owner of Tribes + Society. Gabias-Moffat studied exploration and information technology at SAIT Polytechnic, and began working as a geo-tech in 2008.

It wasn’t until the designer was married, with a full time job, and two babies that she decided to go back and take out her tools, turning her fun hobby into her own business.

Hair messed, heavy lidded, baby nestled in her arms, somewhere in the space between tired and exhausted, this is where Gabias-Moffat found her mind wandering back to the times she used to make jewelry as a teenager.

“I had long sleepless nights where I could think about what my future could be. Knowing how hard reality would be for me with no sleep, kids, and full time work. It made me think a lot more about these things.”

At 23, the Québec native took a jewelry making night course at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), with the intention of enrolling fully into the program, which never happened.

“Before becoming a mom, or before becoming a full time career person I think everyone had a hobby that made [him or her] happy. You either decide to leave it behind or pick it up.”Sophie Gabias-Moffat, 34, can be found smiling at her Tribes+Society booth at Market Collective, and other artisan events around the city

Photo by Mary Yohannes

“It was always dabble, dabble, leave, and then I kind of realized that that was what I wanted to do after being away from it for so long. I dusted everything off and just thought I needed to jump into it again.”

Determined to build a name for herself doing what she loved, she created her company Tribes + Society, the now 34 year old, tried to fit jewelry making into her already busy schedule.

Gabias-Moffat started selling her pieces at Market Collective, an independent art market hosted in Calgary.

Angel Guerra, co founder of the art market says that Gabias-Moffat has constantly strived to “push the boundaries of her creativity.”

“Sophie began selling her work at the Market Collective in July 2013, and she has been a wonderful part of [it] ever since,” says Guerra. “[Gabias-Moffat] has been a welcome addition to our community.”

A glass of red wine sitting atop the clutter on her desk, she meticulously brings the yellow hammer down to the bronze metal on the iron stand. Her chipped finger nails swiping over the smooth metal in the dim light emitted from her grey lamp.

In the corner a baby monitor sits playing the sounds of her children deep in sleep. There’s a laptop open with some French TV playing. This is all background noise, her attention is focused on two things only: her children and her work.

For Gabias-Moffat, this time in her studio is her vacation from reality.

“I’ll go downstairs and I’m working before bed its like 10, and then I’ll look at the clock again and its 2 a.m. I’m like what happened?”

Although she enjoyed the time in the studio, Gabias-Moffat admits she was burnt out bouncing from her job, to her children, to her company.

Not enough time was being spent on her children and her jewelry.

After discussing with her husband, Josh, Gabias-Moffat quit her daytime job as a geo-tech, leaving behind a steady routine for a less predictable lifestyle.The cluttered table of craftsman. Gabias-Moffat’s studio is located in the basement of her house

Photo by Mary Yohannes

“I knew I had to do it, but there was this kind of panic part to it because I knew I was leaving behind a steady paycheck,” says Gabias-Moffat.

“I’m taking a huge leap and we’ll see if it works, and if it doesn’t work, so what? We’ll move on.” With the way things are looking for her company, it looks like it is working. She’s busier than ever and recently she started teaching her own jewelry workshops.

Gabias-Moffat says quitting her job, has given her a newfound confidence. She can now tell people, with pride, that she’s a jewelry designer.

She works around her children now, sneaking away when she can to work on a few more pieces, until she hears the expected thumping of little feet against the stairs and a call, “Mama, what are you doing?” She’ll have to put her tools away, knowing that work will not get done.

Often times she does invite her children into the studio, and while one sits on her lap, the other goes through her shelves.

Curious little fingers touch the different metals around the table, and Gabias-Moffat asks her daughters in French, “Shall we hammer?” Holding her daughters hand they hammer metals. There’s laughing and murmured, “Good jobs.”

Although she doesn’t get much work done around them, she sees herself as fortunate to share what she loves with them.Sophie Gabias-Moffat and her youngest helper, Margo , on a work break from their studio

Photo by Mary Yohannes

“Hopefully [they] grow up with a mom who is passionate about her work, so even if they become something completely different, they’ll be able to say my mom loved her job and she was passionate about what she was doing,” says Gabias-Moffat. “I hope that this can give them the tools in life to seek what they really want to become.”

That love for jewelry making has turned into success for her, and has her coming back to each Market Collective show.

Amidst the sea of shoppers and creative, nestled between various vendors Gabias-Moffat can be found laughing with customers. Music is thumping and there’s energy as the crowd mill in and out of the market space, carrying bags of clothing, art, and jewelry.

She’s very animated as she answers questions, hands moving around to elaborate. A table and rack displays work that she’s proud of. She’s in her element.

It’s taken her years to find her way back to the place she feels most passionate, her need to create jewelry keeps her days full of excitement.

“It keeps me from just going from morning to night and thinking I haven’t achieved much. Even if it’s just thinking of a piece and knowing that tomorrow I will be working on it,” says Gabias-Moffat, of crafting jewelry. “It makes me happy.”

myohannes@cjournal.ca