St. Albert teen levers shell casings into booming business
'Take something rustic and make it refined, turn something deadly into something beautiful'
Carter Buchanan is hoping his business plan to overcome the recession is bulletproof.
After being laid off from his job in the oil patch, the St. Albert teenager is trying his hand at jewelry-making by transforming spent shell casings into earrings, pendants and tie pins.
"Something I really wanted to do with the creation of my jewellery was take something that was traditionally really rustic and rough and shape it up a little bit," Buchanan said.
"Take something rustic and make it refined, turn something deadly into something beautiful."
The idea for BulletProof Jewelry was born two years ago, when a 17-year-old Buchanan came across a video of a craftsman creating headphones out of bullets.
Inspired, Buchanan set out to the local shooting range to pick up a couple of shells.
When the range couldn't sell Buchanan just the two casings he needed for the project, he walked away with an entire box, 1,500 9-mm bullet casings to be exact.
After a few failed soldering attempts, Buchanan abandoned the headphones and began tinkering with smaller pieces.
He began creating studs for friends and family, but he never thought it would be more than a fun pastime, and pinned his hopes on a stable career in the oil patch.
Enrolled in the Registered Apprenticeship Program at Paul Kane High School, Buchanan was offered a job long before he even graduated.
But when the recession hit, his contract disappeared and his chances of an apprenticeship evaporated.
In January, he was officially laid off as an instrumentation technician, so he returned to the workshop.
"In all honesty, I was in the trades and I love working with my hands, so I kind of went that route.
"But in the end, at the end of the day, it really worked out for me."
After launching his business in earnest — his original box of casings long depleted — Buchanan already has plans to expand.
"The reaction's usually pretty good. A lot of my customers are hunters and a lot of hunters love my stuff for obvious reasons."
But bullets aren't the only venture Buchanan took on as a way to contend with the downturn.
When he's not tinkering in the workshop, he's serving up cocktails and highballs.
He started his own bartending company, servicing weddings and other special events, earlier this year, and business is booming.
Buchanan says his entrepreneurial spirit isn't something new.
"My mom tells me stories about how I used to run a pine cone trading ring in elementary school," Buchanan said with a laugh.
"I'd have some guys go out and collect some pine cones, bring them back to me. I'd have a couple other guys that would flip a bike over and shave the little corns off and we'd trade those for stuff in lunches, rocks and sticks.
"I think that was the really my first business," he said.
"It's something that was always there, I'm just recognizing it more now."
With files from Ariel Fournier