Nicole Camphaug takes sealskin footwear to new heights

Iqaluit designer Nicole Camphaug is taking traditional sealskin footwear into the 21st century, with her Inuit-inspired stilettos, ballet flats and kitten heels.

Iqaluit designer says sealskin stilettos allow her to pass on Inuit traditions in a modern way

Designer Nicole Camphaug showcases samples of her modern sealskin-covered footware in her Iqaluit home. It all started with her own pair of neglected boots. 'I was going to sell them, but then I thought, 'Hmm... I'm going to try something.' (John Van Dusen/CBC)

Nunavut designer Nicole Camphaug is taking sealskin footwear to a whole new level with her new line of fur-covered ballet flats, kitten heels and stilettos. 

The Inuk seamstress says it all started with her own pair of neglected boots.

Camphaug says it takes about five hours to cover each pair of shoes with fur. (submitted by Nicole Camphaug)
"I was going to sell them, but then I thought, 'Hmm... I'm going to try something,'" she said.

"I took some of my sealskin scraps and trimmed the top and they turned out so nice I decided to do a whole shoe."

Pretty soon her friends and family were asking for their own Camphaug originals and she begin ordering pelts from Labrador to fill the need.

Now, she's looking to share her passion with a broader audience. 

"I like it when people find something that they love," she said. "I know what it's like to go to a craft sale and find something that you absolutely love, that you wouldn't find anywhere else."

'Made by Inuit, made in Nunavut'

Camphaug, who is originally from Rankin Inlet, says it's important for her to pass on Inuit traditions. 

'I like it when people find something that they love,' Campaugh says. (submitted by Nicole Camphaug)
"It's something they will cherish. You know it's made by Inuit and made in Nunavut "

The designs are becoming so popular, Camphaug is now enlisting her husband's help to add fur to shoes and make jewelry that incorporate Inuit designs. 

But there is still one more hurdle these sealskin shoes need to jump. 

With each pair taking five hours of work, Camphaug is unsure if she can find a feasible business model that could prompt her to make this labour of love into a fashion career.


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