STOWAWAY COSMETICS | 7 questions with co-founder Chelsa Crowley

I’ve been doing more and more travel lately (Paris, London, New York City) and have found that it’s really quite annoying to try and stuff all your full sized cosmetics into a small enough bag to throw into your carry-on. I mean, what if I want to touch up on the plane because there’s someone really handsome sitting beside me? I can’t very well whip out a full blown makeup bag. 

Recently I discovered Stowaway Cosmetics – a makeup brand bringing you smaller, travel sized, superb quality products. Stowaway products are designed for the woman on-the-go because they know “you are busy and are doing big things”. Not only are they amazing for travel, but the small package size allows you to actually finish a product before it expires.

This is probably terrible to even admit but I’ve been one in the past to keep makeup around for way too long just because I feel bad throwing it out when it’s still half full (I’m a glass half full, makeup half full kind of girl). Gross, right? I can feel all the makeup artists reading this cringing right now. Sorry.

After stumbling across this incredible brand, I had to know more. Check out my interview with Stowaway Cosmetics co-founder, Chelsa (Julie is the other half to the duo) – and get ready to love this product.

7 questions with Chelsa Crowley of Stowaway Cosmetics

Chelsa and Julie of Stowaway Cosmetics. The Lady-like Leopard by Melina Morry.

The Lady-like Leopard: You were a makeup artist before creating Stowaway. What was the biggest inspiration behind starting your own makeup brand?

I began my career many years ago as a makeup artist, later I moved in-house with Clinique to work on product education. Before starting Stowaway with Julie, I freelanced on the editorial side of beauty, most recently, in-house at Bobbi Brown on blog/social & editorial content for the brand.

I don’t think these experiences made me want to create my own brand, no. It was more about solving what Julie and I found frustrating about the beauty industry. She wanted products that fit into her bag since she likes to start the day at the gym and I knew that products expired and how its damn near impossible for women to get through any products before [they do].

We had different frustrations but the end solution was the same: smaller products that fit into our lives. Simple, luxurious products that contain only ingredients that actually do something for your skin (none of those fluffy marketing ingredients) and only safe ingredients. None of those preservatives you often see in beauty products.

The Lady-like Leopard: What are some tips for taking a day-time makeup look to night-time cocktails?

I would say the easiest way to do this is a bold lip! I’m a big fan of a red lip, it’s the easiest and quickest way to change it up after a long day at work. Also, it can help make you look a little more alive after a long, tiring day.

Stowaway Cosmetics. The Lady-like Leopard by Melina Morry.

The Lady-like Leopard: I love what you’ve said about Stowaway products aiming to be the LBD of makeup. Is that what inspired the sleek & chic packaging? (And obviously the fact that Stowaway is an essential in every girls makeup case!)

Aw, thanks! But not really what inspired the packaging or product. We were inspired to make ours and other women’s lives easier starting with her makeup bag. That said, decision fatigue is REAL! Who wants to shuffle through 10 different red lipsticks? Not us!

We wanted to create a beautiful shade that was perfectly balanced between blue and orange undertones so it looked amazing on the majority of skin tones. Not to toot our own horn, but we nailed it. Our Scarlet’ lip colour is on point.

As for the packaging, we wanted to make something simple and beautiful. Julie and I are minimalists in a lot of ways and when you walk into any beauty store or counter, everything is in clunky jars with gold or silver filigree, shiny black packaging that over-shadow the product inside, and silly sexy-kitten type names. We wanted to give women the option to carry something simple – simple, yet gorgeous. Something you can pull out at the gym, on a date, at the office, or even a black tie event and feel beautiful anywhere.

Julie and Chelsa of Stowaway Cosmetics.

The Lady-like Leopard: What are your favourite beauty trends for spring/summer 2016?

Hmm, honestly, I kinda hate trends. I feel like they come and go and we’re always left [to] go back to the same things: products that make us feel like ourselves but maybe a little prettier. That perfect concealer, mascara, or lipstick that is always there for us. I feel like makeup is a simple pleasure and we all love doing it but sometimes the trends can feel convoluted and distract us from the pleasure and simplicity it should be.

That’s not to say I haven’t been that girl who’s been suckered into buying that pantone of the year eyeliner or lipstick shade but hey, no one is perfect!

The Lady-like Leopard: What is the one Stowaway product you absolutely couldn’t live without?

Ha! That’s probably the hardest question I get asked. I can’t choose just one, it’s like trying to choose your favourite child or something. They really are all my favourites, though I will say that our BB cream and concealer are really something special.

Stowaway Cosmetics. The Lady-like Leopard by Melina Morry.

The Lady-like Leopard: Stowaway is big on being able to finish products before they expire and having limited waste. Enter: Stowaway Recycling! Have you seen a good reaction to this aspect of the brand?

Oh, yes! We are huge believers in not wasting. We hated the idea of buying expensive products and then tossing half used items and never finishing a lipstick, ever. So when we were creating Stowaway we always had recycling in the back of our minds.

Obviously, if we are finally creating something that women can finish, we wanted to give them the option to recycle those empties–and get rewarded for it to boot! We’ve received amazing feedback from our customers on this which was super exciting for us and we loved that we were able to get our recycling program off the ground on Earth Day!

We are half the size of your premium cosmetics you’re used to buying but at half the cost. Plus, now with recycling, you can feel good about your purchases. Why compromise?

The Lady-like Leopard: Tell us a bit about what we can expect from Stowaway in the future!

Lots of new products! However, remember I said decision fatigue is real… so we are never going to be super SKU intensive. We still want to provide women with great, simple, paired down products without all the fuss. Stay tuned, we have so much up our sleeves – which all starts rolling out this month and continues to the end of the year.

Find out more about Stowaway Cosmetics hereAll photos via stowawaycosmetics.com and @stowaway on instagram

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CUFFWEAR BY CHRIS ZOWNIR | Men’s accessories for the stylish gentleman

Chris Zownir is the epitome of men’s style – classic, stylish and full of old-fashioned nuance. He arrived to D|Bar in Yorkville, the location of our interview, wearing a powder blue fitted suit, a white dress shirt complete with lavender buttons and of course, a pair of star-shaped cufflinks.

The first thought that went through my mind: this man knows how to dress.

If there were someone you trusted to give you menswear tips, Chris Zownir would be the guy. It’s no wonder men all over the globe are taking his styling advice when it comes to accessories – AKA his line of men’s cufflinks, Cuffwear.

But Zownir wasn’t always a men’s fashion connoisseur.

cuffwear by chris zownir - fashion meets technology

Once upon a time he worked on Bay Street in Toronto with aspirations to break away from the financial world. Then, what started as a moonlighting project during his free hours turned into a full time business: Cuffwear.

“Back in the day it wasn’t okay to talk about men’s style but things have evolved,” says Zownir.

Men are taking more pride in the way they dress and putting more effort into styling their looks just right – and us ladies are taking note.

“I noticed especially when on a date that girls loved cufflinks,” Zownir says of his own habit of adding cufflinks to his French cuffs. You can say that again.

cuffwear by chris zownir - fashion meets technology

CUFFWEAR BY CHRIS ZOWNIR

Cuffwear is made for the fashionable man, a man who likes to take risks and be bold with his style. Zownir’s cufflinks come in all sorts of designs ranging from anchors, skulls, golf bags and everything in between.

When you’re being restricted in your fashionable-flair, for say professional reasons, cufflinks are a fabulous way to add a punch of personality in a more subtle way than rocking a velvet, patterned suit to the office. You know what I mean?

In the most recent development of Zownir’s fashion endeavor, he’s had Cuffwear put into vending machines at the airport – so now no matter how rushed you were trying to make your flight, you can still pick up the finishing pieces to your look once you get there!

cuffwear by chris zownir - fashion meets technology

Currently, Cuffwear is available at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and soon will be coming to Atlanta International Airport, which Zownir says will be “right in the centre of the busiest airport in the world”.  The Cuffwear vending machines also offer a variety of other menswear products like socks, wallets, collar stays and ties. (Find out more about Cuffwear at the airport here in my article for Vane Airport Magazine.)

So if you’re looking for a fun and playful way to step up your wardrobe game, Cuffwear has heaps of options for you to choose from.

“Everything I do involves a sense of playfulness,” says Zownir. “[The cufflinks] won’t be the most expensive ones you can buy but they’ll be fun.”

And who can say no to a little bit of fun?

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All photos from http://www.cuffwear.com. 

 

 

DESIGNER INTERVIEW | David Dixon’s Gene Collection

This year at Toronto Fashion Week, David Dixon’s Gene Collection was something like he’s never shown before. There was buzz all around the audience as we waited for the first model to make her debut on the runway. All we knew was that this collection was very different and that Dixon had partnered with a leading women’s health organization (which we later found out was Ovarian Cancer Canada).

What Dixon sent down the runway was a deeply personal collection and a glimpse into what he’s been dealing with since his sister Susan passed away from Ovarian Cancer last year.

David Dixon Gene Collection at Toronto Fashion Week

PHOTO: George Pimentel

The Gene Collection was a way to launch Ovarian Cancer Canada’s campaign “Know Your Genes” which encourages women to get to know their genes better and hopefully help raise awareness about the disease.

I caught up with Dixon backstage post-show to discuss the inspiration, the creative process and the therapeutic aspect behind his Gene Collection.

David Dixon’s Gene Collection

The Lady-like Leopard: THIS IS A COLLECTION THAT MEANS A LOT TO YOU. HOW DID IT FEEL SEEING IT COME TO LIFE ON THE RUNWAY?

David Dixon: Designing this collection was almost a therapy, because I was [affected] by Ovarian cancer in late October [2015]. We wanted to talk about initiatives, about how to communicate, the messaging – and because fashion creates such a large audience of people and there’s so many impressions that we can give at a fashion show so we thought lets do it about ovarian cancer.

The Lady-like Leopard: THE COLLECTION IS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM YOUR USUAL STUFF – DID YOU HAVE ANY WORRIES ABOUT HOW IT WAS GOING TO BE RECEIVED?

David Dixon: I did actually because I haven’t shown in a year, so I was a bit nervous in terms of revealing it. I’m typically known for a lot of intricate fabrics [so] I thought ‘okay how am I going to put my stamp onto denim and still make it elegant and wearable’?

David Dixon Gene Collection at Toronto Fashion Week

PHOTO: George Pimentel

The Lady-like Leopard: TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR CHOUCE TO INCORPORATE MORE DELICATE FABRICS LIKE THE TULLE, LACE, ETC.

David Dixon: At the end of the day, I had to! Plus, to also add some interest too to the denim. I didn’t want to approach [the show] like a challenge like on Project Runway. I wanted to make the clothes wearable, approachable, and still conversational because they’re made out of denim.

The Lady-like Leopard: WHO WOULD BE THE IDEAL WOMAN TO WEAR YOUR CLOTHES?

David Dixon: The women that I design for are very confident and very powerful women, they’re inspirational. I’ve designed clothes for CEOs, soccer moms, celebrities and everyone in between. It’s all about lifestyle and how it fits into how they live.

The best from David Dixon’s Gene Collection

The best from David Dixon's Gene Collection

PHOTO: George Pimentel

The best from David Dixon's Gene Collection

PHOTO: George Pimentel

The best from David Dixon's Gene Collection

PHOTO: George Pimentel

The best from David Dixon's Gene Collection

PHOTO: George Pimentel

The best from David Dixon's Gene Collection

PHOTO: George Pimentel

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THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS | Arguably the most important garment you’ll ever own

Everyone should own a little black dress! We’ve all heard that before. Time and time again, a little black dress is the outfit that is going to take you from A to B and then to Z and then all the way back to A again. In other words, everywhere.

If I had to take a rough guess right now about how many LBDs I own, I’d have to say it’s about five or maybe more – and they’re all completely different. It’s true. There are many, many ways to differentiate LBDs from each other: strap width, hem length, fabric texture. Don’t believe anyone who says they all look the same. (What a joke!)

As Karl Lagerfeld once said, “One is never over-dressed or under-dressed in a little black dress” – and I dare say that no truer words have been spoken. Well, at least in the case of this dark-hued frock.

To back up my title statement that an LBD is the most important garment you’ll ever own, I asked some of my favourite Canadian designers for their thoughts on the subject.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wearing an little black dress by Australian designer Zimmermann. February 2016.

Hilary MacMillan

What’s your definition of a “little black dress”?
The LBD is an essential piece in any womens wardrobe dating back to the 1920’s when Coco Chanel came out with a straight, calf-length dress that was meant to be accessible to every woman. The silhouette has changed over the years but the LBD remains a staple.

What is your go-to little black dress? Where do you wear it most?
My current LBD is a straight lace dress with sleeves, and jewel neckline. I wear it to daytime functions that require me to be a bit dressier.

What’s your advice to someone buying their first little black dress?
Find the right dress for your shape (hourglass? show off your natural waist, and a fuller skirt), show off one feature (short dress? opt for a higher neckline), and most importantly find a good tailor.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wearing an little black dress by Australian designer Zimmermann. February 2016.

Melissa Nepton

What’s your definition of a “little black dress”?
A practical dress that works morning to evening, is easy to travel with and doesn’t wrinkle.

What is your go-to little black dress? Where do you wear it most?
As a new mom, this is essential to have in my closet. I’ll wear it out to restaurants or [any] other outings.

What’s your advice to someone buying their first little black dress?
Pick a length that works for all occasions and that you can easily pair with a jacket or vest.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wearing an little black dress by Australian designer Zimmermann. February 2016.

Jennifer Masabni

On a scale of 1-10, how important do you think it is to have an LBD stashed away somewhere in your closet? Why?
10! Black is the colour that never goes out of style, it’s suitable for all seasons. It doesn’t follow trends so it shows that you’re not interested in looking like everybody else – it evokes being in control and strong, yet feminine. Look at the little black dress as an investment and a statement piece.

If you were to design an LBD right here, right now, what would it look like?
It would be a below the knee fitted dress, with an asymmetrical detail, a cut at the waist and a deep V neckline.

What’s your advice to someone buying their first little black dress?
Make sure it fits your personality with the right silhouette and materials so that you are comfortable in it. A black dress can be dull if the cut or the style have nothing special to it. A well cut black dress with the right details will set you apart.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wearing an little black dress by Australian designer Zimmermann. February 2016.

WHAT I’M WEARING:

little black dress | ZIMMERMANN

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INTERVIEW | 7 Questions with Catherine Ryczkiewicz of KINIGLAM

Hello everyone, I’d like you to meet Catherine Ryczkiewicz, the founder and creative director behind the swimwear e-boutique KINIGLAM – but you can call her the beauty & the brains. After studying business in university and igniting a love for fashion when spending a term abroad in Shanghai, starting up her own business seemed right. Not to mention, the lack of creative swimwear readily available (see questions below).

Soon she was on her way to being her own boss – and rocking the Republic One Piece.

“The first sample suit I ordered I wore to a pool party at Wet Republic in Las Vegas. I got so many compliments on it, all the girls were asking me where I bought it. With this feedback I knew I was on the right track!” she says.

She’s got all her friends wearing KINIGLAM (“Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful!”) and I guarantee after browsing the site, you’ll be wearing it too. And just to add a little more incentive, you can get 25% off with the code LLL25. Happy shopping!

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

The Lady-like Leopard: What inspired you to start KINIGLAM?

In the last 2 years I have lost over 30lbs, I was uncomfortable in leading such an unhealthy lifestyle so I began learning about proper nutrition and exercise. This summer I was ready to wear something that flattered my body and new-found confidence.

The Lady-like Leopard: What are three words you would use to describe your swimsuits?

Unique, desirable, charming.

The Lady-like Leopard: Who is your ideal KINIGLAM girl?

The average woman who is tired of the same old triangle bikini and old fashioned cut, monochromatic one piece. She is ready for swimwear and loungewear that is exciting and truly one-of-a-kind.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

The Lady-like Leopard: Which suit do you think flatters all (or at least most) body types?

Whether it’s in a bikini, one piece or cover up, I think if you feel comfortable and feel good [about yourself] the result is a flattering article of swim or loungewear.

However, if I would have to pick one suit that has all the right features I would choose the Cypress One Piece. One pieces are very popular this summer! This suit has an empire waist and sweet heart top in white fabric lines which draw the eyes towards the decal and face.

These details also define your body’s natural curves. Lastly, the Cypress One Piece has the wired bra support with the option of a halter top for carefree comfort – if you decide to cannon ball into a pool or something.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

The Lady-like Leopard: How does your brand plan on competing with other swimwear brands? What sets you apart?

That’s simple! We differentiate from most stores because we are purely online.

This allows us to:

1) Easily hand select the styles on a daily basis. We do not have to wait for a catalogue, hold suits and inventory for more than one season and then try to sell last seasons styles.

2) Easily upload our unique, desirable and charming styles as soon as they become available from any of our international suppliers.

3) To extend savings to our customers and provide free shipping and sales!

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

The Lady-like Leopard: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?

If you can dream it, you can do it! You do not need to know how to do everything, but, you do need to know where to find these people and resources. Find and become part of communities who are able to provide you with support. I did this by joining start up groups in my neighbourhood. I am also extremely fortunate to have knowledgeable and patient mentors.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

The Lady-like Leopard: Where do you hope your business will be in the next 5 years?

KINIGLAM will realize its full potential. I will work to ensure that we can provide free next day delivery with many more products being uploaded daily. We will continue to provide high quality customer service and cater to the customers changing needs and desires. 

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

Fashion blogger Melina Morry of The Lady-like Leopard wears a KINIGLAM leopard print one piece at Deep Bay, British Columbia. Photo by Morgan Cross Photography.

WHAT I’M WEARING:

leopard digital print one piece | KINIGLAM
leopard print sunglasses | VINTAGE
straw hat | VINTAGE

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All  photos taken by Morgan Cross Photography at Deep Bay, British Columbia.

INTERVIEW | Get trendy summer hair courtesy of Revlon hair stylist, Adrian Carew

For Revlon hairstylist Adrian Carew, helping you get the perfect hairstyle is nothing new – he’s been working in the industry for over 26 years. With a top Barbados-based hairstylist for a mother, working with hair was pretty much in his blood from day one. “The berry hasn’t fallen far from the tree,” he says.

I caught up with Adrian for a few tips & tricks for getting gorgeous summer tresses. Enjoy!

The Lady-like Leopard: What are the top three hairstyles this summer?

Beach Waves are holding on but more of an alternative direction with a looser feel to it. The natural curly hair vibe is being embraced worn to the effect of an Afro.

The Lady-like Leopard: How could you achieve these looks in a few simple steps?

Use a large barrel curling iron, wrap the hair around it in one direction and then wrap the other in the other direction (alternate directions). The use of setting hair in alternate size perm rods to attain different curl patterns and sizes to give you and amazing Afro.

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The Lady-like Leopard: What’s the best way (or product) yo get sea salted hair when you’re miles from the ocean? 

There are so many good products out there that cater to sea salt spray but nothing better than the original and authentic thing – straight from the ocean!

The Lady-like Leopard: After a weekend away with lots of sun, how can you replenish your healthy locks?

Condition! Get to know your products and how they can work for you. Use moisture and fatty acid based products to help to replenish and infuse some repair after exposure to the sun.

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WHAT I’M WEARING:

floral print kimono | KINIGLAM
white retro glam swimsuit | A BOUTIQUE IN SYDNEY (it was a bday gift)
statement ring | MIZDRAGONFLY

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All photos shot by Morgan Cross Photography in Deep Bay, British Columbia. 

INTERVIEW | Meet Matthew Smith – former America’s Next Top Model and the new face of KARV street wear

When asked if I would like the opportunity to interview Matthew Smith from America’s Next Top Model, I was a little hesitant. I mean, I was used to seeing him on tv in my Grandmother’s living room with a bowl of caramel popcorn (yes, we go all out and you’d understand if you tasted her caramel popcorn). But I figured I had nothing to lose and penciled in the date in my Kate Spade day planner.

I arrived at the brand new Delta Hotel on Lower Simcoe with enough time to touch up my make-up and get lost on my way up to the 46th floor – just my luck. The previous interview was just wrapping up and I was moved into a separate, but equally as beautiful, room with KARV‘s latest collection lining the walls. KARV is one of the reasons Matthew was in town – he’s their latest face. He also recently signed with Angie’s AMTI agency here in Toronto.

As we sat down to talk, any nerves that I might have had melted away. In person, just like on ANTM, Matthew was outgoing, fun and always ready to make you laugh. About America’s Next Top Model he says “it was a crazy experience” and even though it might not be the best show on tv, it’s where he really got his start.

It also is what you genuinely might think it is: reality. “[You have] no cell phone, no internet, no cable, no newspaper – you’re confined and it’s interesting to see how people deal with their problems when they have no way of venting outside of that bubble,” Matthew said.

Another perhaps shocking fact to come from this interview was that Matthew had never thought about becoming a model. (Until one day when he was approached at a mall.) He even went as far as to say he “hated the idea of modelling”.

Oh really? And why is that?

“I thought it was very pretentious,” he said. “There’s this idea that there’s no work involved – it’s a blessing, right? Your inherited genetics, if you will. I didn’t respect that perspective of the industry.”

All perspectives aside, Matthew has carved (no pun intended) a name for himself in the industry. With his success has come his first Canadian brand: KARV. Based out of Montreal, KARV is a street wear brand specializing in jeans, hoodies and casual tees for men and women. It’s the first “real level” brand work for Matthew (“There’s catalogue, editorials, and then campaigns – the ones you really want!” he said).

When I asked about the originality of the brand (something they’re known for), Matthew responded with a humorous tale about their original “invisible underwear” that go for a steal of a price at $10 a pair – but all joking aside, it was their work ethic and brand personality that drew him to KARV.

“They’re the perfect example of people you want to be around,” Matthew said. “The people at KARV are just really good, wholesome, positive, inspired and dedicated – and it shows in their clothing.”

Matthew himself was decked out in head-to-toe KARV (naturally) for our interview. When I asked him which is his go-to item of the latest collection, he had a hard time picking just one – everything is just that good. When asked about the womenswear, however, I got more of an answer.

“The womenswear is very ready to wear and casual,” he started off. “If anyone isn’t aware of this already, men love women who are comfortable enough to wear casual clothing. Obviously there are occasions where you throw on a [fancy] dress or whatever, but KARV is really good at providing those hoodies, jeans, and loose fitting skirts. [They] compliment a woman in her own skin.”

I had a chance post-interview to browse through a couple racks and a shelf of clothing and agree with Matthew’s statements – KARV makes great casual clothes for both men and women. I’d love to get my hands on a pair of those jeans or denim rompers!

Matthew’s PR company, Karyzma Agency, is Canadian based and so we should expect to see more from this top model in these neck of the woods. He’s already planning his next Canadian collaboration.

“I would love to work with Roots!” he said. “The brand’s great. I love their leatherwork – they have great satchels, “man purses” and jackets. Also, the owners are American but the brand is Canadian – a very similar situation to me.”

At the end of the day, it’s not so much about him being the face of a brand but making sure he’s doing the brand proud – something he says a lot of models forget about.

“I definitely don’t sit here saying the job can’t be done without me. There are a million other people that the job can be done with,” he said. “The end goal isn’t my face, it’s making sure the product is sellable, creative and inspiring.”

Check out KARV’s latest collection and shop online here.

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SHILANGO JEWELRY | Ethical accessories from Mexico

Ethical accessories (and clothing) are all the rage. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look great and also know that you’re doing good by the environment and the people who made it? That’s exactly what Shilango Jewelry does.

A few weeks ago I attended Latin American Fashion Week here in Toronto. After spotting some gorgeous jewelry on the models, I was on a mission to find out who it was by. It was, of course, Shilango. I was intrigued by the unique pieces that I didn’t see from other designers in the room.

As I browsed the pieces after the show, I got to talking with Shilango‘s husband and wife duo Benjamin and Paola Silk. We exchanged business cards, snapped a quick photo and then talk of an interview was put into the works.

Paola Silk of Shilango Jewelry

A couple of weeks later we met for coffee at Starbucks in Liberty Village. Paola and I immediately got to talking about fashion while Benjamin entertained their son Logan – they’re a family business and like to include him as much as possible.

Why are ethical accessories so important?

One thing I really love about Shilango is their environmentally conscious approach to the fashion industry. With so many stories about unfair labour and toxic fabrics, it’s refreshing to see a small business trying to change that.

“All of [our designers] are based in the central area of Mexico. We are paying them a fair price for their talent. Which means that we pay them upfront, 100% the cost of their jewelry, and then we sell it to whomever we can,” says Paola. “It’s ethically traded and ethically sourced and ethically made. We take all the responsibility financially and so at the end of the day they win, we win. Plus, I get a little profit but [I also] offer an awesome and unique product.”

Paola Silk of Shilango Jewelry

One cool thing about Shilango Jewelry – other than the name which is a Mayan word meaning “people from the central area of Mexico” – is that it has minimal impact on the environment. It’s something that is meant to be handed down through generations, but if it ends up in a landfill it’s not the end of the world because of the natural products used in a lot of their jewelry – orange peel, coffee beans, coconut shell. Another thing they are trying to avoid is mass production and want to make the experience of buying Shilango more exclusive.

“What we offer to the consumer is that you’re not only buying a beautiful, [limited edition] piece but you’re also making a conscious purchase,” Paola says.

Paola and Benjamin only officially launched Shilango in September of this year and have already added Latin American Fashion Week to their list of accomplishments. Paola describes the event as “a dream come true” and says they are more than thankful to have had this opportunity so early on.

“[It was] a really great experience and the connections we made, you know, through the networking opportunities at the show – we got to meet you! We are very grateful to everyone at Latin American Fashion Week who allowed us to be a part of this amazing event.”

But they’re not stopping there. Paola says they are hoping to expand outside of the online world and are looking for “strategic retailers that align with [the] core values of the brand”. They’re also hoping that one day Shilango can help provide jobs for fashionable individuals in this up coming generation.

“I think there is a lot of need for them to put their skills into practice. We just have to do it one step at a time and when we get there, that’s our vision,” she says. “We definitely want to employ people and get some interns to help us and to help them at the same time.”

So besides the gorgeous jewelry they’ve sourced in the central area of Mexico, why there? Why not somewhere more popular like Cancun or Riviera Maya? Well, it’s all about getting that unique product. Because the central area of Mexico is still untouched by tourists and relatively any non-Mexicans at all, you’re getting a product that’s totally unseen before in Canada.

“I wanted to go back to my roots, which I’m very proud of, and put that personal signature into my brand,” says Paola. “I hand pick every single piece in my collection. [But] just my personal culture isn’t enough, I need to make sure that it’s going to be selling and that people are going to purchase it and that people are going to like it.”

If you’re looking for something unique, environmentally friendly and gorgeous to wear this season, I strongly suggest checking out Shilango Jewelry. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to look good and know that you’re helping to support local business here in Canada and support small town Mexican designers as well. Now there’s that Christmas spirit.

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PHOTO DIARY | A day in the life of an (almost) fashion model

Non-fashion people often shrug off the fashion industry as being stylish yet easy – a breeze of a career. I can tell you a million times that’s far from true, but until you actually step inside someone else’s stilettos you probably won’t fully believe me. One of my friends, Laurissa, had a chance to experience what I’m talking about by modelling in a photo shoot for downtown Vancouver fashion institute, John Casablancas. Was it easy, breezy, beautiful? She was definitely a cover girl but you’ll have to read on to find out more.

A day in the life of an (almost) fashion model

I am not a fashionable girl by any means. For every pair of high heels I own, I have a baggy hoody, hand-me-down tank or pair of old, well-worn denim to counteract. To me, fashion was a bunch of tall, skinny girls that woke up with perfect hair and perfect make-up, prowled up runways and stared down from billboards – only to do it all again the following morning.

That’s why finding all 5’4” of myself in the makeup chair getting prepped for my first shoot (of 3 separate looks) had me in for quite the experience. That is also why I decided to share it here with you, courtesy of the goddess who is The Lady-like Leopard. So here we have it, the diary of an undergrad student gone first-time model.

October 26th, 2014

7:00am-ish

It’s too early to be up given my night spent studying followed by a trek downtown Vancouver for a quick drink. But today was the day. I checked the bags under my eyes during my first mug of coffee, sighed and headed to where my friend studies fashion at the John Casablancas Institute in downtown Vancouver.

9:45am

With a grande Starbucks Americano (add vanilla, skip the sugar, half sweet with skim milk, please and thanks) in hand, I wandered into the building of the school and immediately fell in love. Brick walls ensconced with lines of mirrors and dressing room light bulbs greeted me. Rows of dresses, skirts, unbelievably cute jackets, headpieces, shoes, brushes, curling irons and a multitude of equipment I couldn’t name for you – never mind explain what they are used for – littered the room.

It was a beautiful form of organized chaos in which the untrained eye could not spot the organization.

My friend ushered me into a chair and introduced the girls that continuously flitted past me on their way to run errands. “Remember look one? Yeah? Alright, make-up first. Lemme know if you want me to feed you coffee.”

11:35am

“Open, close, look up, at me. Good.” I listened to the chatter around the room and before I knew it, I was ready for look one – Granny Chic. That wasn’t too bad, I thought to myself as we headed to the location for the shoot.

“Wait, we’re going outside? There are real people out there. They’re going to watch?!” Channel your inner granny. I grew up in a Ukrainian household surrounded by old babas and borscht – far from glamorous – and I felt far out of my league.

However, it was over in what felt like seconds – a clean pull of the Band-Aid from a torn knee. Back inside off the streets, it was time for makeup and hair, round two.

1:30pm

This time I paid more attention. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to the textbook that lay abandoned in my purse on which my midterm two days from now encompassed. I watched the beautiful blonde across the room from me transform from Plain Jane to Vampire Seductress and back again amongst the rows of lights. Hair and makeup were far from a breeze, and did this chair get harder?

I was handed a sippy cup of water and tried to sneak a few carrots into my mouth between brush strokes. Both hair and make up were being done simultaneously and I was feeling like a human voodoo doll. Curling it up, pin it, brush it out, roll it up, pin it again. No wonder victory curls include a victory in the title.

Finally, I was channeling the 50’s era accompanied by a fake beauty mark and all, fully ready to ham it up. Inside, outdoors, as an office gal, a seductress with a fur scarf, beautiful red jacket and glowing cigarette amongst the shops and streetlamps of Gastown. I nailed every look (at least in my opinion…).

2:45pm

Back in the chair for the grand finale. This time make-up was the time consumer and I wasn’t able to sneak any carrots in despite the offered “anything you need honey.” Studio doors closed at four and we were pushing the boundaries.

Biggie Smalls blasted in the background as we danced, chatted and sang along, trying to keep the energy up to finish off the day. My hair was straightened out of the curls and pulled back, contours put on my cheekbones and big, Angelina Jolie lips were on the menu for the last but not least – Maleficient horns were to take the gold ribbon.

With less than ten minutes to get the shot, I had to be both fierce and efficient. It was definitely my favorite look – it felt as though modeling had become a little like acting. Perhaps though, I should have watched the movie first…

3:45pm

Racing to get the makeup off and out of the clothes, the fake eyelashes were peeled off my lids none too gently. At long last, I was in my own tight Mavi jeans, baggy cutoff Stüssy tank top and back to my makeup-free, albeit straight-haired self. We flipped the mirror lights off and I watched each mirror darken one by one over my shoulder.

4:15pm

Finally, sitting at Warehouse enjoying post-shoot steak dinners and pints of GIB Winter Ale, I mulled over the day. I found a brand new appreciation for what truly goes into fashion.

This was only a school-based project as a mini “real-life job scenario” but we all put everything we had into it. I never would have expected it, but everything in the fashion world truly is a lot. I don’t know how girls do what I experienced every day for a living. That poor makeup chair has a permanent indent from my butt.

Personally, I will stick to the post-shoot pints but all-in-all, I truly did love and learn from the experience.

Melina Morry, fashion blogger at The Lady-like Leopard.

This post was written by Laurissa Cebryk for The Lady-like Leopard. All photos by Gabriela Jin.

WITH LOVE LINGERIE | 7 questions with designer Carrie Russell-Bakker

Lingerie does wonders for making women feel their absolute sexiest. It can really be that missing piece of the I’m-Not-Feeling-Myself puzzle. Guaranteed you won’t be the only one feeling yourself in With Love Lingerie – a Toronto-based company designed by Carrie Russell-Bakker. This is sexy at its finest.

I interviewed Carrie about her brand, what she loves about fashion in Toronto and how she prepares for a fashion show.

Enjoy being the sexiest you ever!

WITH LOVE LINGERIE | 7 Qs w/ Carrie Russell-Bakker

WITH LOVE LINGERIE | 10 Qs w/ Carrie Russell-Bakker of With Love Lingerie

Tell me a little about yourself. 

I’ve always liked to draw and create whether it be writing, painting or sewing and after I completed my bachelor of arts at UWO I knew I needed to do something that involved hands on creating. That is when I went to college for fashion. I really enjoyed the hands on a creating as well as the technical side.

I was hired by a lingerie brand as a designer after graduation and learned valuable lessons about trade shows, production and sourcing. A few seasons later I decided to transition to ready to wear to change things up and ran a designer’s studio as well as worked as a production consultant for other Canadian designers.

The work was really exciting and demanding. I decided that if I was going to be pouring blood, sweat and tears into a collection it should be truly my own. That is when I decided to strike out and launch my indie lingerie line With Love Lingerie.

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is a way to express creativity, emotion and project a persona. For me it is a way to show exactly how you feel at that moment in time.

How would you define fashion in Toronto?

I think Toronto is an interesting mix when it comes to fashion. There are many trend setters here in the city and I’m seeing more and more people taking fashion risks which is very exciting. I am particularly impressed with how dapper Toronto men have become over the last few years! They are stepping up their fashion game and we ladies better keep up!

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What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?

I started like many kids, sewing doll clothes and doll home furnishings by hand and then graduated to a sewing machine and making/altering garments when I was about 14.

But there are many cringe worthy memories of garments gone wrong but being worn with a ton of pride! I made the most ridiculous gigantic leg pants ever and thought I was the best thing since sliced bread walking down the hall in high school. I made a ton of mistakes design wise and sewing wise but they’ve all brought me to where I am today and I’m sure I’ll make a fumble here or there in the future but C’est La Vie.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a designer? 

When I started on a company’s design team I felt so excited when my first design was hanging in a store for sale. I was also flattered when my design skills, pattern drafting, draping and sewing knowledge have caught the attention of the Canadian fashion community and in the Fall 2012 issue of Flare magazine and I was named one of 25 up-and-coming designers.

 

 

 

What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?

Hustle, hustle, hustle and don’t listen to the saying “gotta spend money to make money”. People are always trying to put their hands in your pockets so be careful and research anything before partnering with any event, company or agency. Strike a balance of confidence and humility and always play nice with others.

What are some of your fashion goals?

First and foremost I’d like to keep designing for the rest of my life. Even as my company grows I always want to be in the center of the design studio drawing and sample making. I’d like to own my own atelier with a small show room in the front with a few sewers and a pattern maker. I’d like to prove the Canadian’s are sexy too.

Like many folks in the fashion industry I’ve worked in several different creative positions from retail to photo shoot styling, graphic design, marketing, and showroom sales, fashion writing… you name it. Today being in the fashion industry means being a fashion hustler big time!

melina morry signature - the lady-like leopard

For more about With Love Lingerie or to shop some sexy pieces, visit the website here.