Alex Weaver Crawford first came to Saint John in 2010 while she was studying architecture at Dalhousie University.
“That’s where I met my best friend, Alice Fudge, who used to be the city heritage officer. We studied together and she was from Saint John,” she says. “Being from Calgary, I didn’t really go home to see my parents on breaks and stuff. But her family kind of took me in as their adopted West Coast daughter almost, so it was really nice.”
Little did she know that years later, she’d be living and working as an award-winning designer in the Port City under her business Weaver Crawford Creative, which does design branding for both big and small businesses and individuals.
But it took her some time to get here. After graduating from Dalhousie, she did a stint down in Guatemala, where she met her husband and business partner Steve Weaver Crawford. They moved around a bit in Australia and Alex did a stint at an architecture firm in Edmonton. After that, they settled back in Guatemala.
“We packed up all our stuff and moved backed down to Guatemala, lived there for about six months, but we were really lonely,” she says.
So couple started looking at their options.
“I knew I didn’t want to move back to Calgary. I never felt any draw to there besides family. We love Melbourne and would move there in a heartbeat, except that it’s really expensive,” says Alex. “Then we were like, ‘You know what? We really like spending time in Saint John.’ It was literally Christmas morning and I called Alice and said, ‘Would it be weird if we just moved there? We really miss you guys'”
They moved to Saint John in February 2016, where the couple started right away to re-establishing their business in the city. At the time, the business was called Menus Made, which specifically helped restaurants with all things design and branding. The reason for that focus was because the restaurant industry was huge in Guatemala.
Their first New Brunswick client was, in fact, a restaurant – the now-closed Dave’s Lobster on Prince William Street. But Alex soon realized that their market was beyond just restaurants, so they decided to combine their services under the name Weaver Crawford Creative.
Today Alex says most of Weaver Crawford Creative’s clients are small local businesses but has recently been landing bigger clients as well. They recently helped Dealermine with a whole rebrand, including designing a giant trade show booth for a major event in Las Vegas.
“Now that people are seeing that and they’re getting really good feedback on that,” she says. “That’s really neat. We’ve expanded into another echelon of companies we work with.”
But Alex’s work with Saint John’s historic architecture has also been getting noticed. Weaver Crawford Creative recently received two Heritage Awards from the City of Saint John. One was for the restoration of a façade of a residential building on Horsfield Street (Alex and Steven’s home and office) and another for storefront façade rehabilitation of 97 Prince William Street, home of Scheherazade Books and Music.
Since these buildings are located within a designated historical area, developers and owners must adhere to strict guidelines as to what they can and can’t do to a property when it comes to renovations. For Alex, playing within those guidelines is a fun challenge.
“As a designer, I think having some constraints are actually really helpful because it sets up boundaries as to what you can and can’t do as opposed to having endless possibilities,” she says. “With my architectural background, I really like the challenge of working within the period of the building’s construction. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I really enjoy.”
Despite the challenges, there’s been a resurgence in purchasing and developing older buildings in Saint John’s uptown core over the past few years, whether it’s a larger development company like Historica or individuals buying a new home in the area. Alex says she hopes to do more of this kind of work in the future.
“Not being from Saint John, I really value the opportunity to be a part of that. Other cities like Montreal or Melbourne have really significant historical areas, but there’s no way that we’d be able to afford to do a project like this,” she says. “The fact that people are doing it and respecting heritage rules and really valuing being part of that history is really great.”
Alex says moving to Saint John has been the “best thing to ever happen” to her professionally, thanks to the various resources and programs available to those looking to start a business.
“Being in Saint John is great to start a business. I try to promote that to everybody that I can,” she says. “Sure, it may be hard to get a job, but starting a business in New Brunswick, there are so many opportunities. There’s so much community support, there’s support from the government, and I think once you click into those avenues, there are endless possibilities.”
The plan is for Weaver Crawford Creative to ramp up business enough so that Steven, who still works remotely for a software company, can join the business full-time. A web developer by trade, he would allow the company to do clients websites.
“Without him, I can’t do the websites and we love doing websites. We love being innovative in the stuff we can offer,” says Alex. “That’s a huge goal, and we’re hoping that this year is the year that he’ll be able to transition over. We’ve been doing this together for five years and we’re so ready.”
She also hopes to take on bigger, wide-spanning projects.
“The goal is to ramp up what we’re doing already. I like to do more holistic projects, where someone has a concept and they really trust and let us flush it out with them and collaborate with them through the whole process.”