When Rebecca Granat’s summer internship was cancelled due to COVID-19, she found herself wondering what she could do with her newfound free time. Rebecca and her family enjoy beachcombing, and many of their finds – including rocks, shells and driftwood – are on display at home.

The fifth-year Applied Human Nutrition student at Mount Saint Vincent University admits she’s not one to sit around being idle. Inspired by the finds on display in her home and with a natural crafty ability, she began exploring various craft ideas before she landed on using Nova Scotia driftwood to create jewelry. After a bit of research, trial runs, and experimentation, Rebecca had a pair of earrings that she was proud to wear, and Drifter’s Paradise Jewelry was born.

“Part of the beauty of driftwood is the story – told and untold – of where it comes from,” says Rebecca. She takes inspiration from the Nova Scotian coastline, and some of her favourite spots to go are along the Eastern Shore. “The driftwood is just a bonus in these gorgeous areas,” she notes.

An interest in entrepreneurship runs in Rebecca’s family – her parents previously owned a Canadian focused artisan gift shop (and have been giving her business advice). Rebecca is also getting mentorship and resources from the Centre for Women in Business at MSVU and their Alliance of Young Women Entrepreneurs student program, as well as student innovation and entrepreneurship hub Spark Zone. Since opening her business, she’s been able to connect with the local community of makers and with artists all over the world. She also gives back to the community each month by donating a portion of her sales to a local non-profit.

Rebecca moved to Nova Scotia in 2010 from Richmond Hill, Ontario. From an early age, she had a passion for art and making, and in 2014 she earned a B.Des in Interdisciplinary Design from NSCAD. She took a course in jewelry design while there. She’s worked off and on as a freelance graphic designer, a skillset she has incorporated into her new business. Throughout her time at NSCAD and after, Rebecca also worked in the foodservice industry which sparked her interest in MSVU’s Applied Human Nutrition Program. She began that degree in 2016, and is currently two internship placements away from graduation.

“Switching from an Arts background to a Science degree took some adjusting. I think having a design background has been an advantage for me,” Rebecca says. “Design thinking in the field of healthcare has been slowly emerging for several years now.”

Rebecca’s looking forward to the fall when internship placements are scheduled to resume. She’ll be doing two back-to-back placements to complete the requirements of her program. After completing her first internship placement last summer, Rebecca began working at Adsum for Women and Children as a Client Support Worker and, before COVID-19, she also worked as a career assistant with Career Services on campus. She was part of the executive team for the MSVU chapter of Meal Exchange in 2019. During her time with Meal Exchange, her team organized and implemented Master Chef Halifax and the MSVU Produce Packs in partnership with the Mobile Food Market.

And though her fall and winter are shaping up to be busy, she is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and graduating in May 2021. So far, her plan post-graduation is to write the exam to become a registered dietitian and continue to grow Drifters Paradise Jewelry. Rebecca and her husband also have a dream to make wood furniture in the future.

“I’m keeping an open mind of what field I’d like to practice nutrition in until my internships are completed,” she says. “I fully intend to keep making jewelry as my side hustle, and to stay in touch my creative side.”