STYLE PROFILE: DANIELLA THERESIA

Name: Daniella Theresia
Occupation: Singer
Age: 32
Lifestyle: Never too busy to smell the roses or eat the chocolate

 

Joanne Dress – Navy Apples from Toronto-based Palette

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

My days vary based upon rehearsal and gig schedules, but I generally like to do at least 30 minutes of yoga to wake up my body before I warm up vocally.

 

Depending what’s coming up, I’ll practice for about an hour and then the rest of my day is flexible – sometimes I’ll have a rehearsal with my pianist, sometimes I’ll have time for a long walk in a nearby park, some evenings I’ll have rehearsals for ensembles that I sing in and, of course, some days I’ll have performances.

 

A significant part of my day tends to be spent in the kitchen; I love cooking and baking treats!

 

Joanne Dress – Blue Birds from Toronto-based Palette

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

Authentic, heart-full connections, especially with regards to what I’m singing.

 

Sing-Sing Dress – Black and White Flowers from Montreal-based Cherry Bobin

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

I want to be remembered as the person that radiates lightness and joy and uplifts others with her singing.

 

 

 

Edie Dress – Tumbled Tulips -Black from Toronto-based Mandala

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

I got bitten by the fashion bug late in life. I always loved beautiful colors and clothing, but had a hard time finding clothes that were actually flattering. Now that I know where to find those clothes, I have to rein myself in!

 

Obviously looking polished and put together is crucial onstage, but dressing well also helps me to get in a performance mindset when I have to sing. Even when I’m just practicing at home, there’s a difference between when I’m just singing in my exercise clothes or wearing a well-planned outfit. I’m more focused and alert when I’ve actually gotten myself ready.

 

Betty Cowl Top – Bamboo – Turquoise from Toronto-based Palette; Laura Skirt – Forest Foxes from Toronto-based Palette

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

I love that there is a variety of designers and styles to choose from, and I love it even more that they’re all made in Canada! There seems to be something for everybody and I know that I can find what I’m looking for at your boutiques. The featured designers don’t shy away from bold colours and patterns – and I love wearing unique pieces!

 

I also appreciate that everyone at Fresh really loves the merchandise and helps you to find the best pieces for you, not just whatever is the best-seller of the moment.

 

Joanne Dress – Navy Apples from Toronto-based Palette

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

Recordings!

 

My good friend Suzanne Yeo (pianist) and I released our first CD together last May, entitled The Eternal Feminine. This CD was recorded live at our concert, The Eternal Feminine (Part Two), which took place at the Heliconian Hall here in Toronto last May.

 

Suzanne and I have a long list of concert and recording ideas that are steadily being put into place. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but one of our concert theme ideas is called Neurotica.

 

I also released a CD/DVD a few years ago with Adriana Teodoro-Dier (pianist), entitled Alma Mahler in the Mediterranean. This program focused on the cultures and languages of the Mediterranean (think Italy, France, Israel…) and, of course, works by Alma Mahler-Werfel. There’s even a set in Greek on that recording!

 

Both of these CDs are available through my website or at my concerts. They make lovely gift ideas, and I also discovered that the soothing nature of The Eternal Feminine makes it a very good remedy for road rage.

 

If you no longer own a CD player, there are also mp3 album versions of my latest concerts available on my website. However, due to agreements with contemporary composers, there are some pieces that are available ONLY in CD format.

 

Joanne Dress – Blue Birds from Toronto-based Palette

 

Your latest CD release is a continuation of your previous concert, The Eternal Feminine: Part One. What inspired you and your collaborators to create this beautiful collection in celebration and exploration of the feminine experience?

 

When I first arrived in Toronto in 2016, I became disheartened because all of my public singing was for auditions that I wasn’t getting. I was doing all of the preparation with none of the rewards, and I started to question if I even wanted to be a singer.

 

I decided to take matters into my own hands and create a concert. That way, I could sing music that I truly loved and share it with more than just a few people on an audition panel (and finally hear some applause!).

 

I created The Eternal Feminine (Part One) with my friend Perri Lo (pianist) to highlight various aspects of women’s lives through their poetry and music. I wanted each piece to have either a woman poet, composer, or character and for each set to show a different perspective on being a woman. Themes included motherhood, love (lost and otherwise), fantasy, and relationships.

 

When I was creating the first concert, I was in the midst of a spiritual breakthrough – a lot of grieving and healing old relationships mixed with the joy of new relationships and experiences. As a result, that first concert program had a lot of themes of loss and sadness. By the time I met Suzanne and we started performing together, I was able to sing more joyful pieces and truly be able to connect with them.

 

Now, The Eternal Feminine is in its sixth variation and I’ve performed it with three different (women) pianists in the GTA and beyond! I even performed it outdoors at a spiritual retreat up in Rosseau, Ontario, where the frogs and birds were singing along with me.

 

This concert series has become a wonderful way for me to share what I do best and to highlight other women creators and women’s experiences. The possibilities of themes and repertoire seem to be endless, so I think The Eternal Feminine will be with me for a while.

 

Sing-Sing Dress – Black and White Flowers from Montreal-based Cherry Bobin

 

Tell us more about your upcoming performances!

 

You can see me singing with the Etobicoke Centennial Choir this Saturday (June 1 st) at the Humber Valley United Church. This choir was one of the first ensembles that I sang with when I arrived in Toronto, and I love their enthusiasm and diverse programs. This is also the last concert of their season, entitled After the Rain, and features floral-themed pieces. We will have guest musicians from local composer and guitarist Anton Apostolov’s Balkania Ensemble as well as guest visual artists. It will be quite a show!

 

In September, I’ll be giving a solo recital as part of St. James Anglican Cathedral’s Midday Concert Series downtown. These concerts are free to the public (any and all donations go to the performers), and are a wonderful way to reach people outside my usual demographic.

 

Suzanne and I are also creating a program entitled Decadent Delights, which will showcase composers and friends of the Second Viennese School – think Schoenberg, Gustav Mahler, Alma Mahler-Werfel, Webern… Singers tend to shy away from these challenging composers, but Suzanne and I love them and we’re determined to find pieces that our audiences will enjoy and might even walk away humming (hey, we can dream)!

 

Edie Dress – Tumbled Tulips -Black from Toronto-based Mandala

 

I’m very interested in hosting a little private home concert for friends and family. Do you offer such services?

 

Yes! House concerts are some of my favorite events – they are cozier and more intimate than a traditional recital hall. And when you can have a reception afterwards, it gives everyone a chance to connect and digest the music and the experience (and have treats – who doesn’t love those?).

 

All I need is a piano in good, tuned condition (I can also bring my own electronic piano for a small fee). The audience size is up to you. Our last house concert held 40 people with room to spare, but you could also have just a few friends over, or even just you! It’s your choice!

 

If you or a friend would like to host a concert, please contact me.

 

Betty Cowl Top – Bamboo – Turquoise from Toronto-based PaletteLaura Skirt – Forest Foxes from Toronto-based Palette

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

My husband and I are looking for a house! Wish us luck!

 

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

I’m on Instagram, Soundcloud, and YouTube.

 

I update my website regularly with gigs and new media.

 

STYLE PROFILE: FRANCINE DICK

Name: Francine Dick
Occupation: Financial Planner
Age: Not quite Golden Girl territory
Lifestyle: Compulsive Volunteer

 

Andrea Wrap Dress – Mustard Floral by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

I always begin with 15 to 30 minutes of meditation, and then try to do some writing or catching up with e-mails before exercising. There are client appointments, putting together plans or researching investments for clients, and of course, endless administrative duties!

 

I do also take time for my own interests, whether it’s doing volunteer work, going to the theatre or attending a networking event.

 

Marjorie Tunic – Merlot by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean; Ankle Length Work Pants – Khaki by Canada-based Brenda Beddome

 

What in your life is really important to you?

The most important thing is how we behave in this world, and our moral character. Helping others and giving back is paramount, as we have so much. And of course, my children top the list.

 

Rachel Cardigan – White from Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean; Pina Cami – Navy from Montreal-based Cherry BobinGwyneth Cropped Pants – Hex by Montreal-based I Love Tyler Madison

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

That I cared deeply, loved fully and had a great sense of humour.

 

Gabriella Denim Jacket – White from Canada-based Lola JeansPina Cami – Flowers on Denim by Montreal-based Cherry Bobin; Dakota Bermuda Shorts – Navy from Montreal-based I Love Tyler Madison

 

You’re a pretty active lady, by the sounds of it! What’s your secret to balancing work and play?

 

Remembering what is important in life. My business is important, but it has never been first in my life. I’ve always taken time to volunteer and enjoy what life has to offer. Even while raising three kids on my own, I managed to lead a balanced life, and I take great pride in that.

 

Betty Cowl Top – Bamboo – Taupe by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean Laura Skirt – Mushrooms by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What role does fashion play in your life? What sort of outfits do you opt for?

 

I love comfort and colour. When meeting clients, I have to look professional but not intimidating. I definitely like a business-casual look. I prefer the comfort of pants and will often opt for solid pants and a t-shirt with a vibrant jacket.

 

Andrea Wrap Dress – Mustard Floral by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

The clothes are made for real women who work. They are comfortable, flattering, well made and well-priced. There’s always new things coming in to discover. And pockets!

 

Marjorie Tunic – Merlot by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-JeanAnkle Length Work Pants – Khaki by Canada-based Brenda Beddome

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

I raised three kids on my own, so I understand what it’s like to go through difficult financial struggles. With rent or a mortgage, daycare, and being an entrepreneur, it can be challenging to stay on top of finances.

 

I work with people to find solutions through planning, saving and insurance. I offer a complimentary discovery call so people can have a chat with me and see if we’d be a good fit to work together.

 

Gabriella Denim Jacket – White from Canada-based Lola JeansPina Cami – Flowers on Denim by Montreal-based Cherry Bobin; Dakota Bermuda Shorts – Navy from Montreal-based I Love Tyler Madison

Why is hiring a financial advisor such a worthy investment? How can those of us with modest financial goals and incomes benefit?

 

A financial advisor can ensure you’re on the right track to meet your goals. They’ll get you on track with pertinent questions such as whether or not you have a will, whether you understand your group benefits at work, whether you’re preparing for retirement, and so on.

 

Betty Cowl Top – Bamboo – Taupe by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean Laura Skirt – Mushrooms by Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean

 

What are some of the biggest misconceptions we have about financial planning?

That it’s too expensive or that we need to have a lot of money for financial planning.

 

Rachel Cardigan – White from Toronto-based Palette by Laura-JeanPina Cami – Navy from Montreal-based Cherry BobinGwyneth Cropped Pants – Hex by Montreal-based I Love Tyler Madison

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

I was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for my community service. And I have two cats.

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

You can connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and on my website!

 

STYLE PROFILE: NATALIE SIMMS BURNS

Name: Natalie Simms Burns

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Age: 32

Lifestyle: Work-from-home-boss

 

Rachel Cardigan from Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean; Relaxed Fit Scoop Bottom T-Shirt from Toronto-based JericoAndy – Gaucho – Classic Rise from Montreal-based Yoga Jeans.

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

Most days, you’ll find me working from my home office, coffee in hand and stretch pants on! But there’s also often something to pick up or drop off, so I’m always ready for some running around town.

 

Sailor Dress – Black Stripes from Montreal-based Cherry BobinUna Jacket from Toronto-based Palette by Laura-Jean; Frances Ziparound Wallet from Markham-based Pixie Mood

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

My family and friends are my heart and soul. I would not be where I am today without their love and support. Especially not without my spouse and business partner Rob.

 

Other than that, I would say that the most important virtues to me are kindness and authenticity. I try to bring those with me to every area of my life, and try to surround myself with kind, authentic people.

 

Rachel Classic Rise Ankle Length Skinny Jeans from Montreal-based Yoga Jeans; Sub Top from Canada-based FIG.

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

I would like to be remembered for the light that I try to bring to the world. As a vegan, feminist, and environmentalist, justice and non-violence are central to my life’s mission.

 

Shift 18 Dress from Toronto-based Studio Fresh.

 

What role does fashion play in your life?

 

I’ve always enjoyed expressing myself through fashion. I can show off my quirky creativity without saying a word! I also see fashion as another way to live consciously by choosing locally and sustainably-made clothing.

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

I absolutely love your focus on local designers, and on unique, quality products. In today’s world of fast fashion made offshore, it is so important to choose Canadian-made whenever possible. The shopping environment and staff in your stores are also always so pleasant!

 

Julia Tunic from Canada-based Desserts and Skirts.

 

Natalie’s online store sells a whole host of eco-friendly, cruelty free household and personal care products, including re-usable water bottles and containers, bamboo toothbrushes, deodorants, sunscreens and more!

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

My online store, www.ardentearthstore.ca!

 

At Ardent Earth, we’re all about sustainability and eliminating single-use plastics. All of our products are also 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Love the Earth with Ardent Earth.

 

Your readers can get 10% off their first online order with code FCSTYLE.

 

Or use this link to have it automatically applied -> https://ardentearthstore.ca/discount/FCSTYLE

 

Sailor Dress – Black Stripes from Montreal-based Cherry Bobin;  Una Jacket from Toronto-based Palette by Laura-JeanFrances Ziparound Wallet from Markham-based Pixie Mood

 

With a background in fashion design, how did you first get into the business of selling sustainable and eco-friendly merchandise?

 

While I still love to sew, and have a side-hustle making custom wedding dresses and costumes, I decided long ago that working in the fashion industry full-time just wasn’t for me. I’ve always been interested in eco-friendly products, but had a tough time finding Canadian-based companies that catered to this lifestyle. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to take the plunge and open the store that I always wished had existed!

 

Julia Tunic from Canada-based Desserts and Skirts.

 

 

We love that your collection is not only vegan and eco-friendly, but natural and free of harmful cosmetic ingredients! What are some of Ardent Earth’s best-selling items?

 

Thank you! It is very important that all of our products be safe for the body and for the environment. As someone with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, I know all too well how cosmetics and personal care products can negatively affect the body.

 

Our Meow Meow Tweet deodorant is really popular right now, as more people are moving away from typical antiperspirants. Some other best sellers are our Buncha Farmers all-natural stain remover, Colibri reusable snack bags, and Brush with Bamboo biodegradable bamboo toothbrush!

 

Shift 18 Dress from Toronto-based Studio Fresh.

 

For those of us wanting to move ourselves toward a greener lifestyle, what’s the best place to start?

 

Start small. It can be overwhelming when you realize the severity of our environmental situation, and just how many products are problematic. But just because you can’t do EVERYTHING doesn’t mean you can’t do ANYTHING.

 

Look at the things you use every day and ask yourself if there’s a better option. A great start would be making sure you have a reusable water bottle, coffee mug and shopping bags, and getting into the habit of using them!

 

For personal care and household products, it’s always best to use up what you currently have to avoid waste, and then consider making a more eco-friendly purchase next time.

 

Rachel Cardigan from Toronto-based Palette by Laura-JeanRelaxed Fit Scoop Bottom T-Shirt from Toronto-based JericoAndy – Gaucho – Classic Rise from Montreal-based Yoga Jeans.

 

 

Which household products have the biggest environmental impact?

 

A lot of our modern household conveniences are having a big environmental impact due to the amount of plastic waste created. According to One Green Planet, these are some of the most wasteful everyday convenience items:

 

– Coffee pods
– Cotton swabs
– Plastic produce bags
– Plastic straws
– To-go containers

 

Luckily, Ardent Earth carries easy, reusable swaps for all of these!

 

Rachel Classic Rise Ankle Length Skinny Jeans from Montreal-based Yoga JeansSub Top from Canada-based FIG.

 

I’m a vendor with an awesome, eco-friendly product I’d love to start selling through Ardent Earth! Can we get in touch?

 

Please do! I can be reached at ardentearthstore@gmail.com

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

Follow Ardent Earth on Instagram or Facebook @ardentearthstore

 

STYLE PROFILE: Beryl Tsang

Name: Beryl Tsang

Occupation: Scheduling Sherpa at the University Health Network, Master Knitting Instructor, Grant Writer and Children’s Book Author

Age: 52

Lifestyle: Urban Community Builder

 

Josee Dress – Black Aviary by Halifax label Poison Pear; Hoop earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What’s a typical day like for you?

 

I’m a bit of a night owl, so my day usually begins with my alarm going off and going through the five stages of mourning as I attempt to extricate myself from my pillow: Denial (“No, it can’t be 6:30am.”); Bargaining (“Hmm, maybe I sleep in and take a taxi/uber to work. No, prolly not.”); Anger (“Dang, I have to get out of bed.”); Depression (“Mornings are so sad!”), and Acceptance (“I am now vertical–yay me!”).

 

My weekdays are busy; I work with physicians, residents and scientists to manage their time. I always try to fit in a workout mid-day. Usually it’s yoga or Pilates, but lately I’ve been experimenting with lifting and interval training.

 

The Horizon Dress – Black – Mirage by Montreal’s Noujica; Necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

What in your life is really important to you?

 

Family and community really matter to me. I believe that the world is actually a hard place and that it can be tough if we are alone. It’s important for us to reach out to one another and form bonds to see us through tough times, but also to lift us up and find meaning and purpose.

 

I am really lucky to have the best family and the best community!

 

Joy Dress – Grey/Blue by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Hoop earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

 

Being a good mom, a good friend and a good person.

 

Shift 18 Dress – Green by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Acetate Large 45mm Hoop Earrings – Tortoiseshell by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What role does fashion play in your life? What sort of outfits do you opt for?

 

I love fashion, but not fast fashion.

 

I love Fresh Collective because they feature local designers who create clothes and accessories with meaning. I adore the clean lines and whimsical patterns of their in-house line, Palette. I’m huge into dresses and I think I probably own at least one dress from every designer!

 

O-Tie Dress – Black by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Scalene Triangle Acetate Earrings – Ivory Mix by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

You’ve been with us since Laura-Jean’s Knitting Queen days! What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?

 

I have to say, the BEST thing about shopping at Fresh Collective is the  Style Coaches. Every shopping trip at FC is like visiting a best friend.

 

I love bringing out-of-town friends to FC; they always manage to find a statement piece there, whether it be a necklace, T-shirt or funky skirt!

 

Josee Dress – Black Aviary by Halifax label Poison Pear; Hoop earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What do you have that you want to promote?

 

I want to promote myself and my professional services!

 

If you’re looking for a Master Knitting Instructor to teach you to knit or consult on your projects, my big claim to fame is that I was the knitting consultant to Season 1 of the Handmaid’s Tale! I’m also a kick-ass grant writer.

 

Lastly, I really want to promote The Adventures of Ludwig and Imogen, a children’s book about what imaginary hippogriffs and their humans get up to on a daily basis! I wrote the story, and the fabulous Meredith Wolting illustrated it.

 

Check out more about Ludwig and Imogen on the Ludwig and Imogen Facebook page!

 

The Horizon Dress – Black – Mirage by Montreal’s Noujica; Necklace by Toronto label Torched Studio

 

Your career has taken you down some interesting bends, including the creation of an original knitted breast prosthetic for breast cancer survivors. Most recently, you published The Adventures of Ludwig and Imogen. What first attracted you to children’s literature?

 

I was a huge reader as a child and  loved reading unique and fanciful books to my children as they were growing up. We were big Maurice Sendak fans.

 

The hippogriff statue that guards the Lillian B. Smith Library in Toronto, which has a large and fabulous collection of manuscripts of children’s books, inspired the character of Ludwig. Parent friends of young children inspired the character of Imogen.

 

Joy Dress – Grey/Blue by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Hoop earrings by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

What age group does your new book target and where can we get our hands on a copy?

 

The book is for parents of children any age between toddlerhood and young adulthood. It is unique in that the story is told through both Ludwig and Imogen’s eyes, with Ludwig’s perspective on one page and Imogen’s perspective on the next.

 

You can order it from me at beryltsang1@gmail.com, or on Amazon USA (DIRECT LINK) if you’re living in the States.

 

Shift 18 Dress – Green by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Acetate Large 45mm Hoop Earrings – Tortoiseshell by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

Is there anything else we should know about you?

 

I’m a little odd. Lovable, but still odd.

 

O-Tie Dress – Black by Toronto’s Studio Fresh; Scalene Triangle Acetate Earrings – Ivory Mix by Toronto’s Torched Studio label

 

Where can people find you on social media?

 

Follow me on Instagram! @beryltsang

 

 

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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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