interview by Laura Hensley
Manitoba born designer Angie Johnson is the founder of design label Norwegian Wood. Her handmade line consists of revamped vintage pieces and original designs all created her in Montreal apartment. When she is not sewing copious amounts of goods and running her own boutique Headquarters with her partner, Tyson (and of course reading Worn), you can find her on her blog hqgalerieboutique.blogspot.com, and her Etsy store I Heart Norwegian Wood.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Since I was about 9 years old. I remember only colouring in the clothing in colouring books, and learning to embroider when I was about 6, and being really into the clothes in my mom’s old Betty & Veronica comics (I used to trace and then draw my own clothes on – I still have them!). I also did the classic “sew some clothes for your Barbies” before moving on altering the clothes I found in my grandparents basement in my early teens. Soon after that I started sewing from patterns, and when I was about 16 I started selling my designs in local boutiques. It’s kind of just always been there, so it was really never a question of NOT doing it, more of “in what WAY am I going to do this..”
Why did you decide to make the move from Manitoba to Montreal? How did that move affect your creative outlook?
I had always told myself that if my BF (at the time) and I broke up, I would move to Montreal, and lo and behold, we did indeed break up. My job in Winnipeg with Silver Jeans was going well and I wasn’t sure what to do. And then I met Tyson. We dated for a few months in Winnipeg, then he suggested that I move to Montreal at the same time as him, and the rest is history. Oh and now we’re engaged, whoa! Who knew that whole thing would work out so well!
It undoubtedly had a huge impact on my creative outlook. Winnipeg is a small city, with limited resources in terms of inspiration. When I moved to Montreal I got a job as an assistant designer right away. I learned a lot, worked with a great team, got to travel to Hong Kong and the States and work on designing from a different perspective than I’d been able to before. From that job I moved into a position at a new company as the head designer where I did a lot of traveling all over the world, as well as learning about the local manufacturing industry and business in general from my boss at the time. In the end, the move helped me reach opportunities that just wouldn’t have been possible in Manitoba.