Style Profile: Nicki Iskander

Redhill Pullover – Chilly by Neon Buddha; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

Name: Nicki Iskander
Occupation: Massage Therapist
Age: Older than I look
Lifestyle: Gym. Work. Concerts. Repeat.

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

I like to start each day with movement. Whether it’s yoga, biking around the city, or a hardcore strength-training session, being physically active prepares me for whatever comes my way.

 

After a long day of massaging clients, my night typically ends one of three ways: at a concert (I’m addicted to live music), in the bathtub with a podcast, or passed out on the couch halfway through an episode of Archer.

 

Redhill Pullover – Chilly by Neon Buddha; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

Is it wrong that my cats came to mind before my family?

 

Aside from the typical stuff – family, friends, music, laughter – what matters most is that I live my life in a way that would make my dad proud. He passed away last year and was also an entrepreneur.

 

This year, my home massage studio has been my top priority… but also my cats.

 

Celeste Dress – Black Roses by Toronto’s Desserts and Skirts; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

This is going to sound contrived, but I swear it’s true. I want to be remembered for making people feel good. That and my righteous puns.

 

How would you describe your general style?

 

Bright colours. Bold patterns. Band tees. ALL of the animal print. You know that person who’s always wearing the loudest outfit in the room? That’s me.

 

Celeste Dress – Black Roses by Toronto’s Desserts and Skirts; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

You haven’t always been a massage therapist. How did you transition from your previous job?

 

It’s true! Massage therapy was a dramatic shift in careers. After a decade in the music industry, I grew tired of working for The Man (and working for men!). I decided to go back to school and massage therapy checked off all the right boxes.

 

I researched the best schools, applied for a government grant, made the commitment to excel at the program, and graduated as valedictorian. Now I’m a proud entrepreneur, contributing to a female-dominated industry, focusing on empowering women to put themselves first. Girl power!

 

Fleur Dress – Teal Flowers by Toronto label Mandala; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

Fashion to me is the best way to make a statement without saying a word. My friend and I used to play a game where we would guess a person’s favourite band based on their shoes alone. You’d be surprised how often we were right!

 

But seriously, wearing a quality piece that fits juuuuust right can elevate my mood all day. When I feel comfortable and confident, there’s very little that can get in my way.

 

Fleur Dress – Teal Flowers by Toronto label Mandala; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

For other professionals out there who really want to start their own business but feel stuck in a rut, what advice would you offer?

 

Be realistic. Is there a market for what you’re selling? If yes, go for it! But first, get a handle on your finances. Most new businesses don’t turn a profit in their first year and, let’s face it, Toronto is expensive!

 

You need to have some serious savings or some way of earning money while you build your empire. There’s no shame in working part-time or having a side hustle to make ends meet. Running my own business has been more time-consuming and costly than I ever could have imagined, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Also, get a mentor! Find someone who has succeeded at what you want to achieve and mimic them. I found a fabulous business coach one month after opening my home massage studio and it’s the best decision I could have made.

 

Lastly, stand behind your business. When you believe in what you do, your product or service will well itself.

 

Fleur Top – Purple Flowers by Mandala; Straight Leg Jeans – Black by Toronto’s Brenda Beddome; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

You mean aside from the plethora of high-quality, unique pieces made by independent Toronto designers? Or the fact that it’s woman-owned and operated? I love that we’re both in the business of making women feel good.

 

Fleur Top – Purple Flowers by Mandala; Straight Leg Jeans – Black by Toronto’s Brenda Beddome; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

I’m a Registered Massage Therapist with a women-only home studio in the charming southwestern Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale. I provide a body-positive, trans-friendly space that caters to busy women in the west end. Whether you need to relax, tame some pain, or just get a break from the stresses in life, I’ve got your back (literally!).

 

Una Jacket – Oil Painting – Purple by our in-house label, Palette by Laura-Jean; Teri Reversible Top – Crimson by Arianne; Straight Leg Jeans – Black by Toronto’s Brenda Beddome; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What do you love most about the work you do?

 

I love that massage therapy is both physically demanding and intellectually stimulating. My job motivates me to stay healthy and to never stop learning or improving.

 

But most of all, I love making people feel better. I’m often the best part of someone’s day! How many people get to say that about their job? Selfishly, I also love that I get paid to listen to Otis Redding all day.

 

Una Jacket – Oil Painting – Purple by our in-house label, Palette by Laura-Jean; Teri Reversible Top – Crimson by Arianne; Straight Leg Jeans – Black by Toronto’s Brenda Beddome; Earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

I’m the Captain of a Simpsons Trivia team! We just celebrated eight years as a team and you can find us at the Cadillac Lounge every month, boning up on our nerd lessons.

 

I also have two friendly cats named Dave Grohl and Marla Singer who greet my clients at the door. Technically, I’m their tenant.

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

Facebook: @nicki.rmt
Instagram: @nicki.rmt
Website: www.nickirmt.com

 

Style Profile: Lisa McLatchie

Name: Lisa McLatchie

Occupation: Personal Stylist

Age: 41

Elle Top – Teal (NOW 50% OFF!) by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Necklace by Canadian jewellery label Curious Oddities

You used to work as a TV reporter! Why did you decide to change course and go into the business of personal styling?

 

I have always loved shopping and using clothing/outfits to express who I am. My colleagues were always asking me where I’d purchased a certain piece or would compliment my outfit, and then ask me to go shopping with them to help them purchase new pieces and put outfits together.

 

I quickly realized I loved doing that way more than reporting on the local news, so I quit and started my Personal Styling business. That was back in 2008 and I’ve never regretted that decision for a second.

 

And Sleeveless Dress – Gold Fish (NOW 50% OFF!) by Toronto’s Studio Fresh

Do you advise women on their seasonal palettes and body types?

 

I used to do that early on, but not as much anymore.

 

I obviously choose clothing for women that will make them look and feel their best, but try to avoid these types of “rules” as I think they are kind of outdated and just make women obsess even more about what they can and cannot wear.

 

What is one universal “fashion sin” we all commit that you’d like banned forever?

 

Crocs.

 

What sort of services do you offer? Are your services open to men, children or teens?

 

I offer a variety of services that I like to customize to the client. And yes, I work with men and have worked with some teenagers as well. No children, though.

 

Where can we find you on social media?

 

Business Page: lisamclatchiepersonalstylist

Facebook Group: thestylesociety

Instagram: lisamclatchie

 

Sunny Dress – Digital Linen (NOW 50% OFF) by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Jewellery by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

 

How would you define your own style? Which considerations dictate your clothing purchases?

 

I’d say my style is something akin to ‘Suburban Chic’ with some sort of twist/quirk. I don’t want to look like everyone else. I love texture, details, colour, prints and patterns, and it’s important to me that my clothes make me feel happy and excited to wear them.

 

When it comes to making a clothing purchase, I want the item to be functional for my lifestyle as a Personal Stylist and busy Mom, but I also want it to say something about my personality. And it should also be able to work with pieces I already own in my wardrobe.

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

I love that the pieces are unique, ethically produced, and that when I am shopping there, I am supporting local business.

 

There are plenty of women who feel stuck in a rut and would like to transition towards a different career path. As someone who’s taken the journey, any advice? 🙂

 

Oooh, that’s a tricky one. I am a “leap before you look” kind of girl who believes everything will work out, so I would just say go for it! As cliche as it sounds, life is too short and you will regret the things you didn’t do.

 

Sweetheart Dress by Blue Platypus Clothing (SOLD OUT!); Jewellery by ZSISKA

I feel like I’ve already figured out which colours and cuts look good on me in general. Can I still benefit from your styling services?

 

Of course! I think most women already instinctively know which colours make them look good and which cuts flatter them most. The majority of my clients do. What they struggle with, though, is putting complete outfits together.

 

For example, they may know they love that skirt, but when it comes to what top to wear, whether it needs a layering piece, what sorts of footwear to match it with, or accessories – that is where they get stuck. And that is what I love to do!

 

I love showing women new ways to wear what they have as well as new pieces they can get to make the most of their wardrobe. And how to wear everything in a variety of ways. That’s my area of expertise.

 

Dress (SOLD OUT!) by Toronto’s Studio Fresh

You’ve actually received career coaching from our very own CEO, Laura-Jean! How did she help you with your styling business?

 

She has helped me in SO many ways! From structuring my service offerings, to making tweaks to my systems and operations, to keeping me focused when I get “shiny object syndrome”. She has been a great mentor and cheerleader who has now become a dear friend.

Style Profile: Daniella Theresia

Name: Daniella Theresia
Occupation: Freelance singer
Age: 31
Lifestyle: Reformed night owl with a penchant for chocolate, rock ‘n’ roll, and yin yoga

 

And Dress – Gold Fish by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Necklace by ZSISKA (many more designs available in-store!)

What’s a typical day like for you?

Being a freelancer, every day is a bit different, but I usually get a yoga session and vocal warm-up/practice in before noon. Then depending on what I’m performing next, I’ll spend an hour or so in the afternoon going over new repertoire. I like to have a basic understanding of the piano accompaniments as well, so that takes time.

 

Most of the rest of my day is spent in the kitchen – I love cooking and baking and I’m always eager to try out a new recipe. If I have spare moments, I’ll spend it reading or creating artwork (colored pencils are my medium of choice at the moment).

 

Evenings are wind-down/cuddle time with my partner unless we have gigs. Sometimes, we’ll have a music jam session, but more often we’ll tackle a puzzle or crosswords with sports or a tv show in the background. We’re currently finishing a 4000-piece puzzle and we’re in the middle of a Star Trek/Roseanne/Vicar of Dibley marathon…so much for a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle!

 

Charmerion Tunic Solid – Turquoise by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima

Having studied both music and geology, your life could have gone in a completely different kind of direction. Would you tell us about the moment you realized singing was what you wanted to focus on, professionally?

 

During my last year of university, I spent a term studying abroad at the conservatory in Amsterdam: it was supposed to be my final farewell to music.

 

But while I was there, I took a lot of classes that I hadn’t explored at home like acting, storytelling, musical improvisation, and so on, and I loved it. My last week there, I had a performance where everything just clicked and I knew that I had to sing.

 

Tribal Sweetheart Dress (also available in other prints!); Necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

Besides music, what in your life is really important to you?

 

I’ve come to realize the power of simply being a loving and compassionate person, and I value that above any kind of career “success.” If I can’t sleep at night without a clear conscience, then what’s the point?

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

I want to touch people’s lives with my singing – the world seems so confusing these days, if I can bring a bit of truth and beauty with my voice, then my job is done.

 

What mental state do you typically find yourself in during an on-stage performance? Does it require as much preparation and concentration as some of us would imagine? Does it ever feel effortless?

 

It does take an incredible amount of preparation – even for “simple” gigs, I want to be 100% committed to what I’m singing, otherwise it’s not fulfilling! And the more prepared I am, the less I’m affected by stage jitters or that little inner critic.

 

I’ve done a lot of soul searching, meditation, and body awareness training in order to silence that inner critic, but of course, we’re still human, and it creeps back once in a while.

 

These days, a heartfelt prayer is the best preparation I have for connecting with the music and the audience.

 

When everything is flowing, then I’m not even aware that I’m singing. It’s as if I open my mouth, but I’m not in control of what I’m singing. Those moments are truly magical, but they happen organically and it takes a lot of faith to trust that they will.

 

Sisi Dress – Lines Print by Montreal label Schwiing (also available in Jungle Print); Necklace by ZSISKA (many more designs available in-store!)

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

Beautiful and comfortable clothes are the easiest way to ground myself and feel ready to sing. If I don’t get dressed in the morning as if I might perform, then I simply don’t feel ready to face the day and that ultimately affects my singing. If it’s a dreary day outside, then I need bright colors or fun patterns to pick me up.

 

If I don’t totally love what I’m wearing, that also affects the rest of my day. It’s really hard to sing when all I’m thinking about is how much these shoes pinch my toes or how this bra doesn’t let me breathe properly.

 

As a singer, I’m hyper-aware of how something affects my body because it is my instrument! I guess it also comes with the trade that I’m a bit obsessed with clothes and shoes – it’s part of how I care for my instrument 🙂

 

Anemone Tunic – Turquoise by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima; Necklace by ZSISKA (many more designs available in-store!)

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

First of all, I love that you feature Canadian designs – I can really feel the difference when things are made with integrity and love. Secondly, I love that I can have an item in mind and know that I will be able to find something suitable at Fresh (I rarely “browse shop,” I need a clear mission or I get overwhelmed).

 

Most importantly, I love how committed everyone at Fresh is to finding the perfect fit for customers. I usually go to the Fresh in Kensington Market, and Stef really makes sure that I’m totally in love with an item before I take it home. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve gotten home and never worn them because I was coerced into buying them! That doesn’t happen at Fresh and I appreciate that it’s a rarity.

 

You’re available for all sorts of performance bookings and even private house concerts! Tell us more about your services and how to book!

 

Yes! I’m available for all the traditional kinds of gigs – church/synagogue services, choirs that need an extra singer or soloist, weddings, memorial services, etc.

 

I’m also available to book concerts, either in community spaces or private homes.

 

I have an existing program – The Eternal Feminine – that I want to bring to more venues this year. For this concert, I’m looking for welcoming spaces around the GTA. A tuned piano is always a bonus, but I can bring my own piano if needed.

 

And my other big project this year is booking house concerts. House concerts are a wonderful way to share a unique evening with friends in the comfort of your own living room. You can even attend the concert in your pyjamas if you like! My dream is to have at least 4 house concerts throughout the year.

 

For house concerts, I can either create the program myself from my own repertoire or can tailor it to the host’s tastes or requests. I provide the pianist and can bring my own piano, but if they have their own, then it must be in good condition and tuned before the concert. The host provides the fee, space, and audience.

 

Basically it’s up to the host to decide how to fund the concert. I require a set fee for myself, my pianist, and travel expenses (slightly more if I have to bring my own piano) and it’s up to the host to cover that cost. They can either cover the cost themselves and treat a select audience to a free concert, or they can arrange set ticket prices or take donations – anything is possible! A small reception is always a lovely way to connect with my audience after an intimate concert like this, but that’s entirely up to the host.

 

I also offer private vocal coachings. If you love to sing but are shy about people hearing you, I can help you to find your true voice and let it shine! Contact me for more information.

 

To book my services or a concert, contact me by email or through my website: daniella.theresia.mezzo@gmail.com or www.DaniellaTheresia.com

 

Carrie Cardigan – Rust/Black by our own in-house line, Palette by Laura-Jean (also available in other styles and colours!); Anemone Tunic – Turquoise by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima; Necklace by ZSISKA (many more designs available in-store!)

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

My website is my main channel: www.DaniellaTheresia.com. You can find upcoming events, contact me to book a concert or coaching, and purchase recordings in CD, DVD, or mp3 format from previous concerts. I also have a monthly newsletter you can subscribe to.

 

I’m on Instagram (@daniellatheresia.mezzo), Soundcloud, YouTube, and Facebook (Daniella Theresia, mezzo-soprano).

 

Where can we see you perform live in the upcoming weeks/months?

 

My next big concert this year is The Eternal Feminine with pianist Suzanne Yeo at the Heliconian Hall (Yorkville) on Saturday, May 12th at 7:30pm.

 

The Eternal Feminine is a beautiful program devoted entirely to women – each piece either features a woman character or was written by a woman composer or poet. This year, as the concert falls on Mother’s Day weekend, we’re exploring timeless themes like love, motherhood, and fantasy.

 

Tickets are available through my website and we’re currently running a Mother’s Day Special: bring a guest for $20 ($30 regular)!

 

I’ll also be singing in Kensington Market on on Wednesday, May 30th (St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Anglican Church). This event is affiliated with St. Stephen’s “Safe Space” initiative and they raise funds and awareness for the homeless in Toronto.

 

I had the honor of connecting with this grassroots initiative last year and was truly inspired by the sense of duty felt by the community. I’m touched to be joining them again this year and I hope we’ll reach an even wider audience.

 

For even more future events, head to my website and subscribe to my monthly newsletter: www.DaniellaTheresia.com

Return to Peace with Minerva Maharajh

written by Laura-Jean Bernhardson

 

Minerva Maharajh is a Spritual Life Coach who joined us as a Fresh Collective Role Model in 2017. Here’s a little inspiration from her as we go into the holidays!

 

Stef Wrap Dress in Charcoal (also available in Burgundy, Sapphire Blue, Forest Green and Black!) from Palette by Laura-Jean; Necklace by ZSISKA

 

Minerva helps clients understand how to find their own unique brand of spirituality and use it as a practical tool in everyday life.

 

Carmen Scarf Sweater in Wine (also available in Charcoal and Navy) by Toronto label Mandala; Earrings by ZSISKA

 

She also leads retreats several times a year, giving people a wonderful chance to unplug and tune into nature and into themselves.

 

Porto Lexi Collar Dress by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Necklace by ZSISKA

 

Her techniques help clients overcome stress, a lack of motivation or whatever is standing between them and the life of their dreams.

 

Angela Dress in Navy (also available in Purple, Pine and Burgundy) from Palette by Laura-Jean; Necklace by ZSISKA

 

Teri Reversible Tank Top in Crimson (also available in Black, White and Sapphire) by Arianne; Dark Grey Side Line Pants by Toronto label Studio Fresh

 

Many people find the holidays stressful. The busyness and family expectations may easily cause upset, so the video below is about choosing to return to peace when things set you off. This is a good chance to remind ourselves that how we react to things can be a choice.

 

Cashmeer Twisted Cold Shoulder Tunic in Blush (also available in Black) by Brenda Beddome; Necklace by ZSISKA

 

Dogs Print Tera Top W/ Long Patchwork Sleeves by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Earrings by ZSISKA

 

Here Minerva lays out a simple and practical 3 step process to return to peace. Enjoy, and have a wonderful and peaceful holiday!

 

 

Want more videos from Minerva? Visit her website. You can even sign up for a free Clarity Call!

 

Palustris Tunic in Teal by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima; Necklace by ZSISKA

 

Meet the Talent: Candice Levine and The Candi Factory

Customers are always asking us for more information about the brands and designers behind our collection of clothing, so today we’d like to highlight one local label that’s been part of our Fresh Collective family from the very beginning: The Candi Factory!

 

Candice Levine, founder and creator at The Candi Factory

 

If you’ve shopped at any of our Toronto boutiques or browsed our pieces online, you’ve likely come across The Candi Factory’s whimsical, brightly-coloured designs. Locally-themed and uniquely Canadian motifs make The Candi Factory’s pieces extremely popular gifts, souvenirs and happy grabs for out-of-towners and proud locals alike. And if you’ve ever owned a creation by this awesome label, we die-hard fans are willing to bet it won’t be your last!

 

Enjoy Ontario Tank from our Spring/Summer 2017 Collection

Toronto Neighbourhood Tee from our Spring/Summer 2017 Collection

 

The Candi Factory is a family-run business and Toronto-based fashion designer Candice Levine is the talented mastermind behind the name. Happy (and funny) imagery and loud colour combos are her signatures, and dresses, leggings and light linen jackets alike give a nod to symbols of our Canadian heritage. Moreover, all of The Candi Factory’s pieces are made in Toronto, from start to finish.

 

Candice Levine, founder and creator at The Candi Factory

 

Yet perhaps what Candice and her Candi Factory owe most of their pride and success to is their amazing line of men and women’s artisan underwear!

Toronto Map and Skyline Undies – Pink

Smarty Pants Men’s Undies – Grey

 

Within their collection, you’ll find just about everything from animal prints and crossword puzzles to Toronto skylines, hot dogs, math equations and even Justin Trudeau—all in bold, sunny prints and colours to make you grin!

Seamless Trudeau Women’s Undies

Hot-dog Men’s Undies

 

But her cheerful – and often cheeky – designs are most definitely not the only reason our customers adore The Candi Factory’s underthings so much! Made of breathable fabric that neither shrinks, fades nor pills, these undies offer all comfort and functionality you could hope for, and they’re built to last. Their men’s boxer briefs have been such a long-standing hit at our boutiques that they’re one of the only “guy things” we carry! Women just love buying them for their boyfriends and hubbies!

Seamless Whale Print Women’s Undies

Crossword Puzzle Men’s Undies

Owl Women’s Undies

 

But what’s so special about the ladies’ line of seamless and trimmed undies (besides the fact that they’re absolutely freakin’ adorable!)? The magic lies in their incredible “anti-wedgie” technology! We aren’t even kidding.

 

Moose Women’s Undies

Women’s Hockey Undies

 

Wear them on your bike ride, to yoga class or even just for a simple grocery run and you’ll be amazed to find that these undies don’t ride up your butt, thanks to their special memory design! And really, at the end of the day, what more could a sensible underwear shopper want?

 

Style Profile: Sarah Dawn Adams

Name: Sarah Dawn Adams

Occupation: Fiber Artist and Knitwear Designer

Age: 33 (but 12 in heart and mind!)

Lifestyle: Dreamer and activist

 

Angela Dress in Pine (also available in Purple, Burgundy and Blue) by Fresh Collective’s very own Palette by Laura-Jean; Necklace by Birch Street Studio

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

I start work at about 9 am. I’ll spend a good part of my day just knitting, swatching, making things–and ripping my work back out and starting over!

 

The other parts of my day are the pattern-making; translating my notes from my prototypes and testing various knitting patterns. Also, there is an online component to my job: social media, answering e-mails, troubleshooting any problems I encounter, and all the other things that have to be done.

 

In the evening, I’ll usually make dinner with my roommate (we both enjoy cooking) before taking some ‘me time’ (usually a good book or a video game) in the evening. That’s if I don’t have to run off to a meeting or event!

 

Vera Tee in Forest by Toronto label Mandala; Jude Skirt in Plum Floral Print (also available in Slate) by Toronto label Mandala; Necklace by Birch Street Studio

 

What in your life is really important to you?

Trying to be true to myself. In this world, it seems like there’s all this pressure to ‘be someone else’ and try and fit in, and I don’t really want to be someone else, or to be ‘normal’ (what is normal, anyway?).

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

Creativity, Kindness, and passion.

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

Upcycled, one-of-a-kind cardigan by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima (available in-store only!); Necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

I’m a knitwear designer, so in some ways, it’s part of my job! But I actually don’t pay that much attention, directly speaking, to fashion trends. I design what I think looks awesome and what I (and others, I hope) want to wear and use!

 

insta banner

 

Fashion, to me, is actually kind of complicated. There are so many ethical issues in the fiber and fashion community, so ethically-made clothing is important. But it’s also important to me that clothing be functional, yet still fashionable!

 

 

I guess I’m a bit of a ‘Goldilocks’ when it comes to fashion, but when I find clothing I love, I’ll wear it until it’s right and truly worn out (and often buy multiple of the same thing!).

 

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

So much of the clothing and items you sell are made here in Canada! That’s a huge plus for me because of the ethics issues in the textile and fashion community. Plus, your staff are incredibly knowledgeable! And you’re showcasing Canadian talent, which is always exciting to me.

 

 

You feel quite strongly about conscious consumerism and shopping locally. Could you tell us a little bit about your fashion philosophy and how you came to adopt your approach to shopping habits?

 

My fashion philosophy is to buy something that will last, care for it well, and use it until it dies! I’d rather pay more now for something that will last than pay more overall for something I have to replace every 6 months. Plus, I strongly believe in paying living wages, so I’m willing to pay a bit more for ethical work!

 

 

I’m also not adverse to second-hand clothes. In fact, some of my best finds have been from hand-me-downs and clothing swaps! So I actually don’t usually buy a lot of clothing because, I figure, I have enough clothing already!

 

banner 3- border

And when I do go clothes shopping, I go to specific stores or brands that I’ve researched and know the quality of, and I know exactly what I’m looking for.
It’s about buying less, buying well, and then wearing what you buy to its limit. I also have an advantage in that I do know how to sew. So I’ve saved many a garment from the rag-bag by sewing on a replacement button, or darning a sock!

 

 

Where does our wool come from?

 

Well, most commercial wool comes from either China or Peru, with a fair bit also coming from New Zealand. But there is production in the US (and in Canada) of wool and other animal fibers as well.

 

In terms of the animals, wool is from sheep, but a lot of other animal fibers can be spun as well, including angora (from rabbits), cashmere, (from cashmere goats), alpaca, and qiviut* (the undercoat of the musk ox). In theory, almost any animal fiber can be spun (including human hair!), but certain animals have fibers that are A) far easier to spin and B) far more useful in making textiles. That’s why you don’t see a lot of horse-hair garments, for example.

 

Angela Dress in Pine (also available in Purple, Burgundy and Blue) by Fresh Collective’s very own Palette by Laura-Jean; Necklace by Birch Street Studio

 

You don’t have to kill the animals for their wool. They can be shorn, or in some cases, brushed, to get the fiber from the animal. Sheep actually need to be shorn, since their wool otherwise just keeps growing and can actually cause them a lot of problems if they’re not shorn.

 

 

But, of course, the treatment of the animals varies wildly depending on the farm in question. If you’re looking for wool or any other animal fiber, you’ll have to do your research. Look for the smaller farms that are open about the shearing processes and how they treat their animals, and look for organic wool (see if the farm is certified organic).

 

Upcycled, one-of-a-kind cardigan by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima (available in-store only!); Necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

In Canada we do have some domestic fiber production; we have one of the oldest operating woolen mills in North America in New Brunswick, with Briggs and Little. Here in Ontario, there’s also the Upper Canada Fiber Shed, which is a number of Ontario and Quebec fiber producers, makers, etc.

 

 

. . . I could write more, but then I’d be giving you folks an essay!

 

*those who play scrabble will understand my love of this word!

 

Vera Tee in Forest by Toronto label Mandala; Jude Skirt in Plum Floral Print (also available in Slate) by Toronto label Mandala; Necklace by Birch Street Studio

 

When and why did you first learn to knit? What inspired you to take this activity to the next level and turn it into a business?

 

Well, I first learned to knit from my mom when I was 4 or 5, as part of physical therapy. . . and I hated it at the time! But I made a scarf for my doll, so I guess it wasn’t all bad!

 

I knit on and off again for most of my childhood and teenage years, but it wasn’t until my late 20s that I really got back into it. I found that Toronto actually has a huge fiber arts community. There’s the Toronto Knitter’s Guild, lots of different yarn shops, and even the TTC Knit-Along.

 

Vera Tee in Forest by Toronto label Mandala; Jude Skirt in Plum Floral Print (also available in Slate) by Toronto label Mandala; Necklace by Birch Street Studio

 

As for making it a business, well, that came about through the intersection of a few different things.
First: As someone with a visible disability, it’s hard(er) to get a job. Many of the things said to me by hiring managers aren’t fit to repeat, but basically, there’s a huge bias against people with disabilities in the job market. So I started to wonder why I was putting myself through interviews for jobs that weren’t my true passion, only to get refused (often with rude words) anyway.

 

banner1-border

Second: People were approaching me and asking if I sold my hand-knits. Now, honestly, people couldn’t afford the prices that would pay me a living wage (I usually charge around 60 for a pair of fingering weight socks), but the interest was clearly there.

 

Third: I was already designing patterns. I’d get ideas, and think ‘oh, this would look awesome as a pair of socks,’ or ‘yeah, I could make that hat.’ And designing and selling knitwear patterns is a lot more sustainable for me than trying to sell actual garments. Plus, I do knitting classes, too!

 

 

You are possibly the first visibly disabled lady we’ve featured in a Style Profile, and your story is incredibly unique! As someone with multiple disabilities, what would you like others to know about living with a disability?

 

I’m not surprised that I’m probably the first person with a visible disability you’ve featured. Media representation of people with disabilities is astoundingly low (somewhere on the order of 1%) despite being the largest minority group in the world. And, when it is presented, it’s usually not in a positive manner.

 

 

So the idea that someone with a disability could present themselves as a ‘normal’ and competent person, and that disability can be a positive identity, something to be proud of, is very strange to a lot of people. Disability pride is a relatively new concept! And this is another topic on which I could probably write an entire essay, so I’ll try and condense.

 

For one, my life doesn’t suck! (Shocking, I know!) But, I hear all the time about ‘suffering’ or how ‘my life must be so hard’. And it’s rooted partially in the fact that most media portrayals of disability are, well, less than flattering.

 

 

I don’t suffer, I generally have a pretty awesome life, and most of the ‘hard’ in my life comes from the fact that Toronto’s actually still relatively inaccessible, in ways that people don’t realize until they come smack up against it.

 

For example: If a restaurant put up a sign excluding a racial minority group from its establishment, there would be major complaints (and rightly so!). But if a restaurant isn’t wheelchair accessible, very few people think twice about it. Disability Rights now are where civil rights were in the 60s. Which for me means that something as simple as finding a place to go out for dinner can be a challenge.

 

 

It’s such a process to figure out if I can actually participate in an event or go to a location because even just finding out if a place is accessible can be difficult. Plus, some places that claim to be accessible are often not.

 

I recently had a store tell me they were wheelchair accessible when they, in fact, had a step to their door. Other places are accessible. . . until you need to go to the bathroom! (That one really makes things awkward!) Even the subway is an issue, as only about half of the subway stations have elevators. Getting around the city becomes the challenge of avoiding the subway stations I can’t use.

 

All that said, things are definitely improving from where they were 10 years ago! The TTC just put an elevator in the station near me this year, and there are now new accessible streetcars on the streetcar route near me.

 

 

It’s funny that during my photoshoot, the photographer and I ended up chattering about my lack of 3D perception. It’s usually what comes up the least when I get into disability rights. As someone with no 3D perception, I’ve had some interesting encounters.

 

While my visual acuity is reasonably good (with my glasses), my kinesthetic sense is weak (the sense of where things are in relation to yourself and your body). So I will reach for something, and it’s not quite where I think it is, or I’ll accidentally hit someone because I think they’re further away than they are.

 

Angela Dress in Pine (also available in Purple, Burgundy and Blue) by Fresh Collective’s very own Palette by Laura-Jean; Necklace by Birch Street Studio

 

I’ve actually had one person assume I was drunk (that was embarrassing, to say the least)! Handshakes are also interesting, because I’m never quite sure where the other person’s hand is, and I don’t want to miss! Also, 3D movies don’t work for me. At best, I just don’t see the 3D, but at worst, they actually cause double-vision and splitting headaches.

 

So that I don’t make this any more rambling, I’ll close this section with a TED Talk from the late Stella Young that will probably blow your mind (she’s far more articulate in this video than I could ever hope to be on the same material):

 

 

 

What are your favourite fibres to use and why?

 

Silk. It sounds classic, but I love working with silks! It’s the feel of the silk fiber against my hands. So for something that won’t get a tremendous amount of wear and tear, silk is amazing (and can be quite warm!). Plus, it’s a very light-weight and airy fiber, so silk garments are wonderful for travel because they compact amazingly well!

 

 

For day-to-day wear, I tend to lean towards wool blends. There are machine-washable wools and I usually look for those, or washable wool blended with nylon. They’re easier to care for than some of the other fibers and can be put in the washing machine without worry.

 

And for summer wear, I look for organic cottons and linen. They’re harder on the hands to knit, but make amazing finished objects!

 

Angela Dress in Pine (also available in Purple, Burgundy and Blue) by Fresh Collective’s very own Palette by Laura-Jean; Necklace by Birch Street Studio

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

Well, first, the cowl that’s in some of the photographs is my own work, and the pattern is available here: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/snowdrop-lace-cowl

 

Also, yes, I teach knitting classes, either in small groups or one-on-one. (I get asked that question a lot!) I customize my classes to the students, so you tell me what you want to learn, and I will do my best to help you learn it! And, if you’re interested in classes, you can drop me an e-mail at sarahdawnsdesigns@gmail.com for more information.

 

Finally, please feel free to check out my Etsy store. I’ve added a small line of macrame and braided jewelry, in addition to the digital patterns. Plus, if you’re a Toronto local, message me on Etsy and I’ll work out free shipping with a meet-up! I also do have a limited amount of commissioned and ready-to-sell knitwear through my Etsy shop, as well!

 

Upcycled, one-of-a-kind cardigan by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima (available in-store only!); Necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

Well, here’s some esoteric trivia about me: I’m a classically trained soprano, who loves to sing opera. How’s that for a random fact!

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

There’s a list, so here goes:

Design Portfolio & Web Store: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/sarah-dawn

Etsy Store: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SarahDawnsDesigns

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahDawnsDesigns

Google+: https://plus.google.com/105320837680162395337

Blog: http://sarahdawnsdesigns.blogspot.ca/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/Sarah_Dawns/

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/SarahDawnsDesigns

Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/people/SarahDawns

Style Profile – Teacher Edition: Grace Bodnar

Name: Grace Bodnar

Occupation: French Teacher

Age: Ageless

Lifestyle: Easy-going and slightly adventurous

 

Friday Dress in Plum Cats Prints (also available in Black Floral and Teal Waves) by Halifax label Poison Pear; Sylvia Compartment Purse in Forest Green (also available in Black, Ash Plum, Navy and Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

It can be busy: I usually get up around 5:30, even on the weekends. I enjoy making those morning coffees for myself and my husband, taking care of our pet birds and getting ready for the day.

 

Off to work early where it is a continuous hive of activities, no time to catch a breath till the 3:30 bell signals the end of the school day–for the kids, not necessarily for me.

 

insta banner

Once I get home, I can relax while preparing dinner, doing the usual household chores, relaxing with my husband and absorbing myself in my numerous hobbies.

 

Joel Slouch Tee in Mustard (also available in six other colours!) by Toronto label Mandala; Sylvia Compartment Purse in Navy (also available in Black, Ash Plum, Forest Green and Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Necklace by Nova Scotia label Beck & Boosh

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

Family, friends and my faith are the centre of my life. I guess with them, no pretence is needed, and honesty is just a given fact in my life. I am not saying that I am not whole without them; rather, they are the different facets that make me who I am, bring out the best in me and therefore I am able to give the best of myself to others.

 

Friday Dress in Black (also available in Plum Cats and Teal Waves) Floral by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

I would hope that I was able to inspire others to accept themselves wholeheartedly for who they are and not for what society deems them to be.

 

banner 3- border

 

One little thoughtless act could destroy a person’s self-worth and at the same time, one simple thoughtful gesture could light an unquenchable spark that can fuel a person’s desire to reach for the stars.

 

Angela Dress in Purple (also available in Pine, Burgundy and Navy) by Fresh Collective’s very own label, Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

I enjoy fashion; I love searching for those timeless pieces but I also enjoy hunting for that trendy accessory that would complete my outfit and reflect the styles of the day. Being able to throw a shawl or a wrap (either purchased or one that I have knitted myself) over my outfit makes Fall my favourite season.

 

Meloe Dress in Heart Print (also available in Diamond Print) by Montreal label Schwiing; Sylvia Compartment Purse in Taupe (also available in Black, Ash Plum, Forest Green and Navy) by Markham label Pixie Mood

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

As soon as I entered the store, my eyes took in the eclectic collection. After closer look at the clothes and accessories and a chat with Angela, I discovered that Canadian designers are responsible for those gorgeous collections. The clothes can be enjoyed and worn comfortably by everyone no matter what body-type they may have.

 

Friday Dress in Plum Cats Prints (also available in Black Floral and Teal Waves) by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

Are there any ways parents can engage to help their children maintain a drive to succeed in school (especially in subjects they may be less fond of)?

 

I like to think that teaching is a partnership between myself, the child and the parent(s). Close communication and a shared interest in the child’s success is necessary.

 

banner1-border

Not all parents speak French (my own don’t) but I know that parents are willing to take their children to the library or the bookstore to access French books geared to the child’s level of knowledge.

 

Joel Slouch Tee in Mustard (also available in six other colours!) by Toronto label Mandala; Sylvia Compartment Purse in Navy (also available in Black, Ash Plum, Forest Green and Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Necklace by Nova Scotia label Beck & Boosh

 

The internet also provides countless resources to help shore up the child’s abilities. However, the encouragements that parents provide still remains the most important thing to help motivate their children.

 

Friday Dress in Black (also available in Plum Cats and Teal Waves) Floral by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

What is one proud teaching moment you’ve experienced?

 

Everyone talks about the “A ha” moment and it is exactly that. Seeing the dawning comprehension in their eyes, the ability to orally compose a sentence entirely in French and actually verbalized and/or write it down is a sweet moment of which I never tire. It may happen in front of me or it may happen in high school. As long as it happens, I will savour it.

 

Meloe Dress in Heart Print (also available in Diamond Print) by Montreal label Schwiing; Sylvia Compartment Purse in Taupe (also available in Black, Ash Plum, Forest Green and Navy) by Markham label Pixie Mood

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

Through an incredible amount of work and group effort, my school was awarded the Indigo grant last year that is allowing our school to purchase books for the school library and classrooms. Children need access to books in order to improve their literacy skills and thereby prepare them for their future roles in society.

 

Angela Dress in Purple (also available in Pine, Burgundy and Navy) by Fresh Collective’s very own label, Palette by Laura-Jean; Necklace by Nova Scotia label Beck & Boosh

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

I am an avid knitter, crocheter and a relatively recent jewelry crafter. Having seen me knit and wear my own knitted/crocheted designs, my students have evinced an interest in learning how to knit and crochet and I am in the process of organizing a Knitting/Crochet Club.

Style Profile – Teacher Edition: Jane Pascucci

Name: Jane Pascucci

Occupation: Special Education and ESL Teacher

Age: It’s just a number!!

Lifestyle: Feet on the ground, but head in the clouds

 

Top by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Skirt by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Greta Tote in Black (also available in Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

One word I would use to describe my typical day is hectic… It’s like a moving bus with many stops–or like the Amazing Race. I get up in the morning, get my kids ready for school. We are out the door by 8:00 a.m. After I drop them off at school, I get in to work and it’s like a whirlwind, non-stop till the bell rings at 3:30.

 

 

Then part two begins when I get home. Dinner, my homework, the children’s homework, family time (when we’re not running to some activity like soccer, hockey, piano, photography class or snowboarding lesson).

 

Top by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Skirt by Toronto label Studio Fresh

 

I try to carve some “me time” in between the hustle and bustle by doing yoga, meditation, or going for a long walk.

 

Angela Dress in Pine (also available in Purple, Burgundy and Navy) by Fresh Collective’s very own label, Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

It’s hard to say just one thing that is really important to me. Obviously I would put my family at the top of the list but I would also say living my life to the fullest, being the best version possible of me, and experiencing all the ups and downs life has to offer is important as well.

 

Friday Dress in Black (also available in Plum Cats and Teal Waves) Floral by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

Discovering penicillin…but wait, that’s been taken. My sense of humour, the ability to make people smile and feel good about themselves. Life is too short to be so serious all the time.

 

Friday Dress in Teal Waves (also available in Black Floral and Plum Cats) by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

I love fashion. I like choosing pieces that are in fashion and trendy, yet make them my own so they fit my lifestyle. I also like having a few classic pieces that never go out of style.

 

insta banner

 

My one go-to item is my blue jean jacket. I can’t live without it. I think the clothes we wear tell a story. They are an outer reflection of our feelings or state of mind.

 

Silver World Globe Necklace by Nova Scotia label Beck & Boosh

 

Lizea Skirt in Cat Print (also available in Black) by Montreal label Schwiing; Necklace by Nova Scotia label Beck & Boosh

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

The first time I walked into Fresh Collective I was impressed by the eclectic vibe of the store. So many items to choose from along with fabulous accessories.

 

banner 3- border

 

My most favourite part of the store is all the pieces are made in Canada, by Canadian designers, and they are affordable.

 

Top by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Skirt by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Greta Tote in Black (also available in Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood

 

Describe your ideal fall outfit!

 

Long burgundy or forest green knit sweater, black leggings (or skinny jeans), suede ankle boots, topped off by a funky colourful scarf.

 

Top by Toronto label Studio Fresh; Skirt by Toronto label Studio Fresh

 

As a teacher, what’s the most rewarding aspect of your career?

 

The most rewarding aspect is the moment you can see in a child’s eyes that they understand the concept you are teaching them. That ‘light bulb’ moment when their eyes light up because they got it. It’s also knowing that you are having a positive impact on a child’s life that makes my job so satisfying.

 

Angela Dress in Pine (also available in Purple, Burgundy and Navy) by Fresh Collective’s very own label, Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What made you decide to follow this professional avenue?

 

I like to say that this profession found me. In university, I studied languages but had no idea what I wanted to do. A lot of my friends knew from a young age they wanted to be teachers but I was never sure. Like I always tell my daughter, life puts us where we are meant to be.

 

Angela Dress in Pine (also available in Purple, Burgundy and Navy) by Fresh Collective’s very own label, Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What is your teaching philosophy?

 

It’s not about what you teach but more about how you make your students feel. That’s what they will remember. If they feel valued and respected they are more apt to take risks and not be afraid to make mistakes…. and that’s when real, authentic learning takes place.

 

banner1-border

As teachers, our role is to facilitate our students’ learning. In this digital age that we live in, teaching is not so focused on content as it was thirty years ago.

 

Friday Dress in Teal Waves (also available in Black Floral and Plum Cats) by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

It’s about teaching our kids to be critical and discerning thinkers who are able to evaluate and synthesize all the information available to them.

 

Friday Dress in Black Floral (also available in Plum Cats and Teal Waves) by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be involved with a grant application to Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. The school where I teach, won the grant and was awarded a large amount of money to help buy books for our school library and classrooms, which are in so desperate need as our school board has limited funding to buy books.

 

Friday Dress in Black Floral (also available in Plum Cats and Teal Waves) by Halifax label Poison Pear

 

I believe that every child needs to have access to books and the opportunity to learn how to read in order to spark their imagination and develop their literacy skills.

 

Lizea Skirt in Cat Print (also available in Black) by Montreal label Schwiing; Necklace by Nova Scotia label Beck & Boosh

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

One of my newest endeavors: dragon boating.

Style Profile – Teacher Edition: Danielle Saint-Onge

Name: Danielle Saint-Onge

Occupation: Teacher and Executive Functioning Coach

Age: 35

Lifestyle: Active

 

Teri Reversible Tank Top in Sapphire (also available in White and Crimson!) by Canadian label Arianne; Sylvia Compartment Purse w/Crossbody Strap in Taupe (also available in Black, Navy, Ash Plum and Forest Green) by Markham label Pixie Mood; The Jacket FW17 in Black Crepe by Toronto label It Fitz Me

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

We start early in our house. I generally try and hit the alarm for 5:45 am so that I can squeeze a morning work-out in, before coming home and assembling the troops for school. My husband is also a teacher, so everyone is out the door by 7:45 am.

 

 

I work full-time as a teacher librarian/ kindergarten music teacher (that’s my day job) and spend either my evenings at home with my five-year-old twins, or running my private coaching practice for kids and families with executive functioning difficulties. So a typical day has me out from about 6:00 am-7:00 pm.

 

It’s super busy, but always dynamic!

 

Dania Tunic in Fall Floral (also available in Midnight Blue, Cranberry and Charcoal!) by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; Kim Convertible Backpack in Ash Plum (also available in Forest Green, Navy, Taupe and Black) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

I’m all about connections. My goal is to continuously help support building connections with those around me. Whether I’m connecting with myself through self-care (ie. exercising, walking, reading), or connecting with my students at work, or building relationships with my friends and family.

 

insta banner

 

I believe that happiness is something you cultivate and actively construct for yourself and my pathways are all to build happiness in my own life and in the lives of those I live and work with.

 

Dania Tunic in Fall Floral (also available in Midnight Blue, Cranberry and Charcoal!) by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; Kim Convertible Backpack in Ash Plum (also available in Forest Green, Navy, Taupe and Black) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

Having two young kids doesn’t leave me with a ton of time to get ready in the morning (or a huge budget!). But I love that I can walk into Fresh Collective and the sales associates are always there to help me find pieces that represent me. I have been shopping at Fresh Collective for close to ten years now and I love the beauty of unique pieces.

 

banner 3- border

I still remember the first time I bought a piece at FC. I was with my sister shopping for clothes for my first teaching job. I was slated to teach full-time at a kindergarten and wanted a dress that would inspire me and make me feel like Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. Laura-Jean’s Fresh Baked Goods fashion line at the time had the most amazing dresses and I immediately fell in love.

 

Dania Tunic in Cranberry (also available in Fall Floral, Midnight Blue and Charcoal) by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; Sylvia Compartment Purse w/Crossbody Strap in Forest Green (also available in Black, Navy, Ash Plum and Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Laser cut necklace by Squamish, BC label Birch Street Studio

 

Since then, I’ve made it a back to school tradition of buying some key pieces to kick off the new school season. I don’t actively keep up with fashion blogs, nor do I have time to leaf through fashion magazines, but I do value beautiful things and putting on a fashion piece from FC (whether from this season, or many seasons ago) makes me feel fantastic.

 

Joel Slouch Tee in Navy by Toronto label Mandala; High Rise Skinny Jeans with 30″ Inseam in Shark (also available in Raisin) by Yoga Jeans; Laser cut necklace by Squamish, BC label Birch Street Studio

 

How has Fresh Collective shaped your life?

 

FC was my first introduction to local hand-made goods. It felt so powerful to be able to meet and connect with the artisans who had made something that I found beautiful and grew to cherish. Since discovering FC, I now make a point of going to the One of a Kind shows and seeking out the artists that I love at FC there as well, being able to connect to real people that have designed the clothes that I love to wear is an amazing experience.

 

Stelleri Top in Teal (also available in Black and Burgundy!) by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima; Greta Work Tote in Black by Markham label Pixie Mood; Laser cut necklace by Squamish BC label Birch Street Studio

 

I remember sitting in a restaurant with my daughter last year when I realized I was sitting across from clothing designer Jennifer Fukushima (one of my stand out favourites from FC!). I felt so star-struck, but managed at the end of lunch to amass the courage to go up to her and tell her how much I loved her clothes.

 

To be able to connect to artists through fashion is an amazing experience, and I’m so happy that FC helps me to do that!

 

banner1-border

 

But FC has also helped me on my own personal health journeys too. It was after I read Laura-Jean’s fitness blog about doing Oonagh Duncan’s 28 Day transformation challenge that I decided to make the investment in myself as well.

 

Laura-Jean is a personal hero of mine, and I felt so strongly that if she had the courage to share her fitness journey, I would try it as well. And what a transformation it was! I spent a year working with Oonagh, redeveloping my relationship to food, exercise, but also to my own mind and body. I not only feel healthier and stronger, but I have so many more healthy tools that I can use to get through my day. And it all started with FC!

 

Dania Tunic in Fall Floral (also available in Midnight Blue, Cranberry and Charcoal!) by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; Kim Convertible Backpack in Ash Plum (also available in Forest Green, Navy, Taupe and Black) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Handcrafted necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

What do you love most about your work as a teacher/librarian?

 

I am a huge reader, picture books, young adult books, graphic novels etc, and being able to inspire others to read is a very rewarding experience. I teach at a school of over 700 kids and the library represents one of our main community centres. I feel very privileged being able to work in a place that helps to build community and inspire creativity.

 

This past summer, we ran a reading competition for families at our school. The goal was to see how many books a family could collectively read. It was awesome! Our highest totals saw some families reading over 40 books!

 

I love being able to support accomplishments and being able to inspire learning and creativity, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience.

 

Teri Reversible Tank Top in Sapphire (also available in White and Crimson!) by Canadian label Arianne; Sylvia Compartment Purse w/Crossbody Strap in Taupe (also available in Black, Navy, Ash Plum and Forest Green) by Markham label Pixie Mood

 

What is the most crucial thing in your go-to fall outfit?

 

Colour! I love wearing black, but I love combining colours and patterns. I always try to pair a solid with some type of colourful pattern, whether it’s through the addition of a favourite scarf, earrings, or a new set of glasses!

 

I’m also all over layering. This weather goes from cold to hot in the course of a day, so having some beautiful scarves, or boleros, or light sweaters allows me to stay in summer clothing through most of the fall. Also, investing in amazing tights/ leggings is an absolute necessity!

 

Teri Reversible Tank Top in Sapphire (also available in White and Crimson!) by Canadian label Arianne; Sylvia Compartment Purse w/Crossbody Strap in Taupe (also available in Black, Navy, Ash Plum and Forest Green) by Markham label Pixie Mood

 

You’re a music teacher and librarian, but you also work as an Executive Functioning Coach for kids and families. Tell us about your work and what led you down this path!

 

Having spent the past ten years working as a teacher (with many report cards written) it became increasingly apparent that many kids were struggling with the Learning Skills section on the report card.

 

This is the section that deals with organization, being responsible, impulse control, task initiation, etc. A lot of what we tend to refer to as “soft skills”. But what the research on the brain shows, is that actually these skills are all located in the same part of the brain, and they are foundational skills that set the stage for higher order thinking and learning.

 

Dania Tunic in Cranberry (also available in Fall Floral, Midnight Blue and Charcoal) by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; Sylvia Compartment Purse w/Crossbody Strap in Forest Green (also available in Black, Navy, Ash Plum and Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Laser cut necklace by Squamish, BC label Birch Street Studio

 

My job as a coach is to help families and kids identify and hone in on developing the specific skills and building blocks that are weakest through a wide range of activities and exercises, so that kids can experience the type of academic and social success they deserve.

 

Dania Tunic in Cranberry (also available in Fall Floral, Midnight Blue and Charcoal) by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; Sylvia Compartment Purse w/Crossbody Strap in Forest Green (also available in Black, Navy, Ash Plum and Taupe) by Markham label Pixie Mood; Laser cut necklace by Squamish, BC label Birch Street Studio

 

I feel so passionate about helping to connect kids and families to concrete tools and activities that they can use to help build capacity. So my coaching practice allows me to work one on one to develop personalized plans and programs that enable kids to succeed.

 

So often we look at the tip of the iceberg (the academic achievement), failing to realize that what lies under the water (our Executive Functioning Skills) really are the foundation that our academic success is grounded upon.

 

I like to see myself as an underwater iceberg expert. Helping children and families to explore what lies below the surface so that it can help to ground future success.

 

Joel Slouch Tee in Navy by Toronto label Mandala; High Rise Skinny Jeans with 30″ Inseam in Shark (also available in Raisin) by Yoga Jeans; Laser cut necklace by Squamish, BC label Birch Street Studio

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

I am currently continuing to intake families into my private coaching practice and am happy to set up free 30 minute intake calls. Please feel free to e-mail me to set up a time to chat about ways that I can help to support great foundations for success both at home and at school. Or send me an e-mail and I will send you my online information pamphlet and a short survey to see whether executive functioning coaching is the right pathway for you and your child.

 

Stelleri Top in Teal (also available in Black and Burgundy!) by Toronto designer Jennifer Fukushima; Greta Work Tote in Black by Markham label Pixie Mood; Laser cut necklace by Squamish BC label Birch Street Studio

 

In terms of my role as a librarian, currently my school (Rawlinson Community School) is participating in the Indigo Adopt a School online fundraising campaign. We are a 700-student school with a library in desperate need of new resources. Please consider clicking on the link below to make a donation to the school, or sharing a story on the school’s Indigo Campaign page in order to support our love of reading program. The campaign runs now until October 8 and all donations are tax deductible. Please help us continue to inspire the minds of the future!

 

https://adoptaschool.indigo.ca/eng/schools/1772

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

People can feel free to e-mail me at daniellesaintonge@gmail.com

 

Style Profile – The Beaches Village: Julie Watson & Liz Harmer

Name: Julie Tara Watson
Occupation: Co-Owner Afterglow Studio, Mother of 3, Warrior
Age: 44
Lifestyle: Self-made designer, Yogi, lover of life

 

Name: Elizabeth Doyle Harmer
Occupation: Co-owner, Afterglow Studio, Mother of 4, dream chaser
Age: 41
Lifestyle: Runner. Yogi. Mom.

 

LEFT: Julia Tunic in Black Cockatoo Pattern by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; 3/4 Leggins in Black by Saint-Sévère label Rien Ne Se Perd RIGHT: Dandelion Print Julia Tunic in Pink by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; 3/4 Leggins in Black by Saint-Sévère label Rien Ne Se Perd

 

 

LEFT: Ontario Top by Toronto designer Nadia Lloyd; Blondie Shorts in Black by Montreal label Annie 50 RIGHT: Toronto Skyline Tank Top by Toronto designer Nadia Lloyd; MES 2205 Layered Crop Pant by Montreal label Melow

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

Julie: I wake when my 9 year old sneaks into my bed. I’d like to say I meditate at that point but we are off and running from there. Organizing 3 kids to get to 3 different schools, and then I get myself to work by 8:45am.

 

That’s when I have my cup of green tea that I look forward to everyday. If I am teaching I teach a Vinyasa class, or I take a class. I work with my amazing staff, Kristen our studio Manager, and the most awesome partner, Liz.

 

 

I focus on all of the daily maintenance of the studio, as well as planning for our future events. It’s an invigorating job, and there isn’t a day that has gone by that I have not wanted to be there.

 

insta banner

 

I pick up my kids after school, feed them, and usually take a nap while they do homework. Teaching and running a business can be very draining of energy, so I like to protect myself from burn-out. I’m usually in bed by 9:59 when I journal or read.. Usually before 2 of my 3 kids. I love having them come to me to kiss me good night and tuck me in now…

 

LEFT: Black/White Floral Kensington Dress by Toronto label FunkD RIGHT: More than a Wrap Dress in Black Crepe by Toronto label It Fitz Me!™

Liz: I like to wake up early, drink coffee then meditate, journal and go for a morning run.
After that I make breakfast/lunches for my kiddos (have 4), get them off to school or activities and spend the day living my dream working with my awesome business partner Julie at Afterglow Studio. More kid stuff after work – activities, dinner, hanging out, time with hubby. Crash in bed 9:30pm (I’m a wild child, just kidding).

 

LEFT: Posey Dress in Black Bloom Print by Toronto label Mandala RIGHT: Turquoise Garden Print Peony Dress by Toronto label Mandala

 

How long have you been practicing yoga?

Julie: 23 years, since I was 21 (I’m the older twin).

Liz: 23 years. Since 18 years of age. (gosh that makes me sound old!).

 

LEFT: Lovely Dress in White by Montreal designer Cameleon RIGHT: Lakeview Wrap Dress in Light Denim by Toronto label FunkD

What in your life is really important to you?

Julie: My own personal well being. If I am not in good shape, I am nothing to those in my life. My kids are number one. I want to be present with them when I can. We like to OM together sometimes! It’s calming and silly at the same time.

Liz: Mental and physical health, family, sweet potato chips.

 

LEFT: Julia Tunic in Black Cockatoo Pattern by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; 3/4 Leggins in Black by Saint-Sévère label Rien Ne Se Perd RIGHT: Dandelion Print Julia Tunic in Pink by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; 3/4 Leggins in Black by Saint-Sévère label Rien Ne Se Perd

What would you like to be remembered for?

Julie: My kindness, and support of others.

Liz: Living life to the fullest.

 

LEFT: Ontario Top by Toronto designer Nadia Lloyd; Blondie Shorts in Black by Montreal label Annie 50 RIGHT: Toronto Skyline Tank Top by Toronto designer Nadia Lloyd; MES 2205 Layered Crop Pant by Montreal label Melow

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

Julie & Liz: Fashion needs to be functional for us so we can sit on the floor with our kids, teach a yoga class or run errands with not much time for changing in between.

 

LEFT: More than a Wrap Dress in Black Crepe by Toronto label It Fitz Me!™ RIGHT: Black/White Floral Kensington Dress by Toronto label FunkD

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

Julie & Liz: Lots of selection and variety.

 

LEFT: Posey Dress in Black Bloom Print by Toronto label Mandala RIGHT: Turquoise Garden Print Peony Dress by Toronto label Mandala

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

Julie: Our programs for all ages! We have Parent and Tot Yoga, kids yoga, Teen and Tween Classes, and our Teen and Tween GLOW GIRLS empowerment programs.

 

banner 3- border

 

Liz: Come out and try the studio with our intro special! $28 gets you 2-weeks of unlimited yoga at our Queen and Lee location.

 

LEFT: Lovely Dress in White by Montreal designer Cameleon RIGHT: Lakeview Wrap Dress in Light Denim by Toronto label FunkD

 

What do you feel sets Afterglow apart from other yoga studios in Toronto?

Julie: Our vibe. Come in to see for yourself. (We are like Cheers! Everyone knows your name)

 

banner1-border

 

Liz: We are big on community and pride ourselves on having build a studio where everyone feels welcome. We also focus on mental health as much as physical health in our studio. Mindfulness, meditation, gratitude, self-compassion are all very important to us.

 

LEFT: Julia Tunic in Black Cockatoo Pattern by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; 3/4 Leggins in Black by Saint-Sévère label Rien Ne Se Perd RIGHT: Dandelion Print Julia Tunic in Pink by Toronto label Desserts and Skirts; 3/4 Leggins in Black by Saint-Sévère label Rien Ne Se Perd

 

What inspired you to open up your own studio together? What’s the backstory here?

Julie & Liz: Julie was already fairly far down the path of opening a studio when Liz started to voice thoughts that she too would like to open one. A mutual friend put is in touch and we were surprised to learn we shared a very similar vision! It was fate. That’s the universe.

 

I want to be part of the #glowcrew! Are you still looking for instructors at your studio?

Julie:& Liz: We are always looking for the city’s best instructors. We look for knowledgeable and experienced instructors who care about community and the mental and physical well-being of our clients.

 

LEFT: More than a Wrap Dress in Black Crepe by Toronto label It Fitz Me!™ RIGHT: Black/White Floral Kensington Dress by Toronto label FunkD

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

Julie: We are both from Ottawa, went to the same dance school, and only met 3 years ago in Toronto.

Liz: We eat a lot of rotisserie chicken from Foodland. It’s random, we know, but true. It’s our guilty pleasure!

Where can people find you on social media?

Instagram: @afterglowstudio
Facebook: Afterglow Studio
www.afterglowstudio.ca