Thieves make off with Winnipeg artisan’s wares on eve of folk festival


A Winnipeg jewelry-maker who had hoped to sell her wares at this year’s Winnipeg Folk Festival woke up to a nasty surprise on the opening day of the event.

A large portion of her merchandise had been stolen.

“It took six months of full-time work preparing all the product that was just stolen in a moment,” said Nathalia Polischuk, who owns Zococo Leatherworks and makes a living selling her handmade pieces.

“This is my biggest sale of the year, it’s kind of how I set myself up financially for the upcoming year.”

In an effort to save a little time, Polischuk packed her jewelry into the trunk of her car Wednesday night so she’d be ready to head to the festival to set up her booth Thursday.

But thieves broke into her vehicle overnight, making off with roughly half of her merchandise and the specialized tools she uses to make her jewelry.

In all, she says she lost 450 sets of hand-painted, leather earrings she’d created for the festival.

“I’m a single mom and this is kind of my income for the year in a little box that disappeared overnight,” she said. “It’s like you want to throw up.”

Polischuk also makes guitar straps and belt buckles and says the thieves didn’t make off with everything she’d made.

She was set up at the festival Thursday selling everything the thieves left behind.

‘So grateful to be out here’

“You kind of just adjust because people lose things that are much more precious than merchandise so I’ve had to just take it in stride,” she said.

“There’s still stuff here and I’m so grateful to be out here. Ultimately this is going to pass and life will move on.”

Polischuk says she’s been overwhelmed with support from friends and others in the city’s art community who have stepped up to help.

While she’s at the festival she says friends are helping to look for her stolen merchandise and others have put up posters in her neighbourhood offering a reward for the return of the jewelry.

Despite the setback Polischuk says she remains hopeful her jewelry will come back to her. 

“I’m a realist so I don’t have any expectation of recovering my items, but I certainly hope that there’s a chance that it could happen,” she said.

“I just hope that it’s not in a dumpster somewhere.”


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