Turning artistic dreams into reality

Marchewka (left) and Riegler (right) stand in their booth at their grand opening. Photo by SPIN

Joey Riegler and Marlie Marchewka are new to the business scene in Sun Peaks, but not to the community. The two moved to the mountain nearly 13 years ago, leaving once for three years to Kaslo, B.C., but returning after realizing Sun Peaks was home.

“This is our second year home again, and we don’t regret it at all,” Marchewka said.

This summer the pair took an idea they’d had for years and turned it into a reality when they opened M & J Designs at the first Sun Peaks Farmers’ Market of 2017. Selling their handmade stained glass, metalwork, and woodworking projects has been a new and challenging but rewarding experience for both of them.

Both Riegler and Marchewka are used to turning their passion into results as both volunteer their time to the Bluebird Day Fund, a non-profit organization with the goal of helping kids succeed in their chosen sport. Riegler has worked as a snow cat operator for over 10 years, and Marchewka serves at Voyageur Bistro and is also a snowboard coach in the winter.

“We’ve always been into crafts and creating cool things, this is the first time we’ve ever done it for more than just fun though,” said Marchewka. She began making her stained glass art after being inspired by a similar type of work she saw at a market in Kaslo, then took a course in Kamloops to learn more about it.

Riegler created most of the woodworking projects.

“I’ve been making barnwood furniture with my Dad for a long time, and now woodworking is something I really like to do. I’ve been able to take a lot of my experience and training as a carpenter and use it to make this creative art,” Riegler said, who trained as a carpenter in Germany.

Their business has experienced a serious snowball effect since starting earlier
this summer.

“We’re kind of running faster than we can walk right now,” Marchewka said.

“We just started this for fun out of passion and now we’ve actually got a heavy workload with it, which we’re very thankful for,” added Riegler.

They’ve had heavy demand for custom orders as well as plenty of sales at their weekly booth. Despite the additional work, they’re very happy with what they’re doing.

“It’s great to see Marlie doing this because I’ve always known she was very talented. Just that she’s found the glass work and she likes doing it is very cool to see,” Riegler said. “The talent she has, obviously, people like it.”

“Creating art is one thing, but then putting it out on a table with a value for the world to see is something totally different. Everyone’s been super appreciative in their feedback, and I’ve found that I’ve been hardest on myself about my work which is really new to me,” Marchewka added.

She has been ecstatic with the response from Sun Peaks.

“Sun Peaks kinda has it’s own little heartbeat, and we’ve kinda just flowed right in with that. Little markets are so great because they’re personal, and the vendor, whether it’s a farmer or a craftsman or whatever, has taken a bit of themselves and put it into their
creation.”

“We couldn’t ever thank the community, the customers and now even the repeat customers enough for their support,” Riegler added.

Going forward, M & J Designs are content with the Sun Peaks Farmers’ Market stand where they got their start, but they won’t rule out adding additional markets in the future. The two had planned to attend Kamloops farmers’ markets this summer, but due to a late start in the spring and doing so well in their hometown, decided to keep their brand local.

“It’d be nice one day to see our stuff in our own little store here, but that’s quite a ways down the road,” Riegler said. “We’re very happy now, but we’ll see!”

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