So, apparently, there’s a big wedding coming up next week?! Prince, Princess, royals everywhere and oh, the fashion! Prince William and Kate Middleton will be married April 29th at Westminster Abbey, and while I will admit that I haven’t paid much attention to the details, I have definitely noticed Ms. Middleton’s fabulous style.
The blue dress she wore for their engagement announcement has become a huge seller, and I’ve been seeing more press about her gorgeous choices of headwear. She is, it seems, a big fan of the fascinator.
Fascinators are headpieces that traditionally attach to the hair using a comb or a clip (but some use a headband), and are an alternative to the more traditional hats worn at important social events – like royal weddings! – or as evening wear. These delicate, fanciful headpieces most often include feathers and flowers, and add a definite punch of drama to your fanciest outfit.
In my search, I came across Vancouver’s LuLu Island Studio and Powder Blue Bijoux – both shops operated by jewelery and fashion designer Alana Belton. Her passion for beautiful materials including Swarovski crystals, silver and gold translates into really gorgeous accessories!
In response to customer requests for a little more colour in her traditionally white bridal options at Powder Blue Bijoux, the LuLu Island line was created. Since I’m not currently in the market for bridal wear, I’m thrilled to see the rich peacock blues and vibrant reds that she creates for LuLu Island!
Be sure to drop by Powder Blue Bijoux and LuLu Island Studio for more fabulous headpiece options – really, some drop-dead gorgeous pieces available, and she is willing to do custom adjustments as well!
P.S. Bonus points to the reader who can reference the post title, and in so doing, gets a small glimpse into my early-teen-years obsession with British music ;)
Now that spring has arrived, if you’re anything like me, you might be looking for something… something to add a little boost of colour or a bit of change in your environment.
Well, voilà! mazizmuse|home can help! These handcrafted modern-chic pillows are a fantastic (and affordable!) way to change things up for the season. This silk appliqued tulip pillow is so vibrant and would bring a shot of warmth into any space!
I also really love these outdoor pillows! No April showers could keep me down if these were around…
Mazizmuse is the creation of Laura Mazzerolle in Vancouver. With training in fashion design, textiles and more, she moved into interior design and is treating us to some bold home accents. For example, the graphic screenprinted black design below can be trimmed in any of 9 colours. Bam! Colour.
If you’ve been reading C+H for a while, you likely know by now that I live in Alberta – land of the oft-repeated “Sure, our winter is cold, but it’s a DRY cold!”. Well, it’s April and there’s still a ton of snow in my backyard, but the sun is shining and the kids won’t stay in the house anymore. We’re spending a lot of time in the chilly spring air, and a cozy hoody is required. So… I think one of the fabulous, 100% Canadian-made Clothing Brand Experiment (CBE) hoodies belongs in my spring wardrobe – check ‘em out:
The very cool Clothing Brand Experiment hoodies are fantastic, and made entirely within the Toronto area. The fabric is milled locally, and all of the fabrication and production is completed within 50km of Elly Green’s CBE studio. I met Elly at the Vancouver OOAK show, and she was super passionate about her business – with every right. Her vision of creating a 100% locally made garment, that is high quality and still affordable, can’t have been easy to realize. There’s a reason why all those other manufacturers go overseas, but Elly is bucking that trend and we’re right there with her. The fabric is gorgeous – soft and cozy, and the fit was great when I tried one on!
CBE hoodies come in a couple of styles, but the colour combinations are what make them so fun. There’s also the option to choose your own lace for the hood, so you can spice it up a bit if you need even more colour in your life!
Now, CBE is not just about hoodies. It is a true experiment, and when you visit the site you’ll see a section in the shop for amazing “Limited T’s” with artwork by local independent business-people and artists, and the more recent BY KIDS 4 KIDS project with the kids of Regent Park.
This week, I checked in with Elly to learn a little more about CBE, her collaboration projects and to ask her to share some of her thoughts and processes with us. Read on to learn more, and be sure to visit the CBE Facebook Page and follow Elly’s Twitter feed @CBEClothing, too!
C+H: When you have 30 seconds to explain CBE to someone new, what do you tell them?
Elly Green: CBE stands for Clothing Brand Experiment, we specialize in deluxe hoodies! Everything we create is made locally within 50kms of our studio downtown Toronto – from the milling of the fabric to the printing of the hang tags. We have perfected our hoody and now also make t-shirts, sweats and various limited lines.
Why did you initially want to start CBE?
I love quality and I love consistency and I also love specific details. I was shopping for a hoody, over 3 years ago and I wanted it to include a few details and be in yellow. I looked a bunch and didn’t find it so I figured I would put my sewing skills to use and make one. I went to Fashion school for a year before dropping out and moving to Toronto to go to OCAD and I had also sewn a ton while growing up outside of Collingwood so I knew I could make the hoody I wanted. I did just that and then the compliments came in along with some custom orders from friends and then friends of friends and so on.
CBE began as a custom hoody business and I made just over 100 hoodies out of my apartment. Eventually I recognized a pattern as many customers would state the colours they were thinking they wanted and then would follow up with questioning me on what I thought would look best. With this I realized it would make much more sense to make small runs in colour combinations I liked and sell the finished hoodies, this would allow customers to try on the hoody completed instead of trying to envision what the custom order might look like finished. And so CBE began and still operates in a similar fashion making small runs each season in different colour combinations.
When you made the decision to source the entire production locally, were there obstacles to getting that done?
When CBE moved from custom orders to short runs I knew it wouldn’t be worth making anything out of fabric I purchased from a store or wholesaler if I didn’t know every detail of the fabric blend. I had made a few custom orders that ended up shrinking or piling and I was extremely frustrated to have put so much time and work into finishing the garment for the quality of fabric not to match-up to the quality of sewing. And this is when I began searching for fabric suppliers and after a few months I found a Mill just north of the city that made premium cotton blends for high-end companies across North America – I was thrilled to find it! It did take a while to find and the cost is a little higher than other options from wholesalers but the quality is well worth it.
As a very small business I was a little intimidated to approach the mill but I did and a good relationship started out and I purchased ends from them to make my first few runs. Ends for them could be up to 100 meters per colour which was plenty for me to work with. CBE now orders our own fabric blend from the mill for each line and the weight and soft feel of the fabric definitely stands out to all our customers.
Cut & sew, dyeing, pre-washing, embroidery, tags, printing and so on, where each a little easier to find in the city since there are a handful of places to go for each. CBE now works with a good mix of these other businesses to make each line. Contrary to production over seas we are with our line each step of the way and each step is done in smaller businesses that each take care of one step in the production process. We are able to deal with problems quickly and efficiently since all our production is done within 50 km of our studio, the furthest location is a 40 minute drive away.
I love the way you integrate local talents into your projects – especially with your limited t-shirt line last year and this spring with the BY KIDS 4 KIDS line. Why is this so important to you?
CBE COMMUNITY is a new wing of CBE that we have launched this past month which is geared towards partnering with local communities in the city to create limited lines or inspirational projects. This is a natural branch of CBE’s care in production – since we care about the people that make our clothing it only makes sense to care as well about the community that wears it.
CBE BY KIDS 4 KIDS is a partnership with an Art Club at Regent Park/Duke of York public school. CBE worked with the grade 5 & 6 students to teach them how to turn their drawings into screen printable two colour images and then took them on a field trip to a printing studio to see the line printed. With the sales of this line we are actually going to outfit the kids in the club with hoodies for them to have as “team gear”. So the Regent Park students may not already be CBE wearers prior to the project but they will at the end.
Right, so why is this so important? Well I could go on a social justice rant but let me boil it down – CBE is extremely concerned with what we make as well as how we make it. There are many ways to create clothing – quickly, efficiently, profitably, ethically, organically and so on but we would like to keep our focus on making things locally and experimentally which allows us to continue learning and growing in our city.
[Ed. Note: Click here to see some AMAZING videos of the creation process for the Limited T-shirt line - My favourite is the first one, called "Chia"]
What started the creative fire burning for you? Do you remember a particular moment, a favourite childhood activity, something you saw and wanted to recreate or improve upon?
I love to be busy and I am pretty hands on when it comes to my creativity. Since I was really young I have always come up with wild project ideas with entrepreneurial twists. From selling handmade bracelets to sewing wacky pants from vintage fabrics to making guitar shaped birthday cakes, I am always up to something – ideas never stop flowing through my mind. I went through school at OCAD as a sculpture major because I wanted to learn more skills to implement my ideas, there I learnt – how to build, design, paint, weld, print and most importantly risk creatively…
I am less poetic and more of a productive risk-taker. To date I often rush through my preliminary sketches and on to the next steps because I am both impatient and curious about the process and I can always envision the finished product I am making. CBE is a big leap for me because it is much more fine tuned. The Classic and Slim fit hoody patterns I worked on for months, making samples and re-drafting the patterns to perfection. Learning how to run a business involves many details beyond the actually hoodies – a lot of thought, perseverance and patient but most of all risk is need to push through the day to day and keep a business alive. I think my creativity is an outcome of the risks I take and the risks I take lead me to more creativity.
What is the best (and worst, if you’d like to share!) part about owning your own business?
CBE is going into year number four of business so it is still small and things are tough. Balancing funds and debt is tricky while maintaining creativity and time off. Yet it is amazing to have the small flexibilities of working for yourself – bringing my dogs to work with me everyday is great – determining my own business focus and values is exciting. The most important thing CBE has caused me to realize is how much more CBE is than just me. Friends, family, neighbours, customers all play a big part in what CBE was, is and will become – this collaborative reality keeps me grateful and inspired when it comes to CBE work.
What part of creating your clothing gives you the most joy and satisfaction?
I actually like to problem solve so as the surprises and challenges apart of each production come about and I think I am about to loose it, I learn something new, find a new technique, meet a new person and some how it always works out – it is a great process. I also love once a new line is finished, picked-up and in the studio and I get to pull out a brand new garment and try it on – this is satisfying every time.
Do you feel that living in Canada has influenced your work?
For sure. if I hadn’t grown up in small-town Ontario I would never had the chance to explore and become creative in the same ways. I also aim one to love the winter and snow and have made CBE hoodies beyond cozy to enjoy such Canadian weather. I also feel very fortunate to live in a country that values the arts and believes that “Canadian Made” means well made.
Who has provided you with inspiration or mentorship in terms of business or your creative journey?
I do have a business mentor who has worked many years in the clothing business and has been an amazing sounding board and motivator to conquer daunting challenges. I also am fortunate to be surrounded with many creative, intelligent and honest friends who are glad to lend a hand or begin a discussion with me on day to day CBE projects.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out as an independent creative selling their work?
You are going to need help – you can’t do it all – so be sure to surround yourself with friends, family and others that you can ask for a helping hand. And very practically – find a banker you like and get yourself a good rate line-of-credit because you can’t pay your rent with a credit card.
Do you listen to music or have another way of getting “in the zone” when you design? Do you have a favourite book or other inspiration that you turn to?
Most of my ideas come to me while doing something else, walking, driving, hanging out. I don’t actually sit down to design or create. Once I have an idea I am often wrapped up in it quite intently that I don’t always listen to music or even remember to drink water or even go to the washroom – it becomes like a marathon I am determined to finish.
I know it’s a bit like choosing a favourite child, but do you have a favourite hoody or piece that you’ve sold through CBE?
A few hoodies stand out amongst the pack to me. The Slim fit Grey and Black hoody with the Neon Yellow hood panel from Winter 08/09 was the first hoody made into a small run that I personally was very excited to wear. It was amazing to pick up that order and put on the finished hoody that had been made by others but was so much my own.
Also, the Speckled Trout Hoody was a pretty risky project, where I wondered for a moment if we had just destroyed 60+ hoodies or whether we had just created the most amazing vintage washed one-of-a-kind design – it was a very hands-on, DIY production which I believe created an amazing line.
When you’re not working on CBE, what is your favourite way to spend your time?
I love my dogs, I now have two! Theo was my first dog – I got him once I had started CBE and realized I need a buddy to remember to get outside for a break and some fresh air once and a while. I now have Sofia too and enjoy running around with them in the park. I also love to cook and bike and enjoy a dark americano.
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Note: All images courtesy of CBE.
Sometimes you don’t know that you were looking for something until you find it. Such was the case for me when I stumbled upon Polymer Playin’. These pieces of wearable art made out of polymer clay left me wondering how I have ever gone this long without one!
A love of colour combined with the versatility of clay combine to produce these great works. The somewhat mysterious artist behind Polymer Playin’ resides on the east coast, (Nova Scotia to be exact).
There’s even some that are suitable for those whose tastes run a bit more to the rocker side of the spectrum. Like this fantastic “flaming” guitar:
See what else Polymer Playin’ has to offer by visiting the Etsy shop. You might just find something you never knew you couldn’t live without…
I met the lovely Jolanta of Jola V. Designs on Twitter, and then at the OOAK Vancouver show last December. Not only is she on the “tall girls” team with me, but she also has a bag called the “Sarah”. Match made in heaven!
The Sarah bag, like all of Jolanta’s pieces, is made using leather that is pre-cut, overstock, repurposed or liquidated. I appreciate that the hides she uses are being being turned into beautiful bags rather than shredded or sent to landfill. This means that Jolanta often has limited (but fabulous) colour runs for her bags, making them that much more special.
Having seen Jolanta’s super-soft bags in person, I love the extra special details (the ruffles, the braided strap, the added knot of leather) and the way those are incorporated into very functional and roomy construction.
She has also recently added canvas totes to her line, which are adorable (no surprise there!). These would add a little fun to your travel or beach wardrobe, or fill it up at the local farmers market!
So, do you love them?! Here’s some good news – Jola V Designs is celebrating 2 years in business, and Jolanta is offering a chance to win one of her popular Sarah bags – drop by the Facebook page and comment here for a chance to win!
You can also find Jolanta on Twitter, and all of her bags are available on her website at JolaVDesigns.com. If you’re an Etsy fan, you can visit her shop there, too but it is a limited selection – check her website for full range of colours and styles!
I am always amazed by the way an artist can convey a certain feeling so clearly, just through the use of colour and shape. The way that they can capture movement, emotion, and even bring to mind particular sounds and smells is truly amazing. One such talented artist is Shelagh Duffett, better known as Alice in Paris. The moment that I saw her bold and energetic prints, I was immediately drawn in and transported into the seaside world that she creates.
Many of Shelagh’s prints celebrate her Nova Scotia home, and there is often a friendly feline or two making an appearance as well. They strike a perfect balance, managing to be both youthful and vibrant without being childish.
I love the strong colours, and the composition of her work. Each one can send you into a new set of daydreams, losing yourself into a whole different world full of possibilities and adventure. Even a few flowers in a vase have an element of lighthearted fun:
To get a taste of what Alice in Paris is all about, you won’t want to miss her great Blog. Then grab a cup of tea (yes, this is a requirement!) and cruise through the Etsy shop to check out all the wonderful prints. Once you’ve done all that, come on over and join the conversation on Twitter!
Daydream believer…Oui oui!
I love it when something just catches your eye and captures your imagination. When I saw these gorgeous lampwork beads from Flame on Glass, I immediately started dreaming up ways of incorporating them into my daily life. I was drawn to the colours and shapes, and just couldn’t look away.
I am picturing gorgeous beaded book markers, key chains, wine glass charms, and of course some bold, chunky, and utterly fabulous jewelry. There are so many possibilities for creative projects that would be perfect to showcase these super-fun beads.
Flame on Glass is the brainchild of Linda James from Salt Spring Island, BC. Her love for melting glass has been going strong for more than a decade, and I think it shows in her beautiful beads. Check out her Etsy shop to see all the different colours and styles, you’ll be glad you did!
A good bag or purse can be more than just a way of carrying around all those little items that a woman needs to have nearby at all times. It can be portable art or a hand-held billboard to showcase your style and mood. Also: it’s just really fun to have a selection of fabulous bags to pick from at any time! The ones catching my eye lately are these colourful clutches from Kimberly Jones Designs. I am already picturing the outfits that would be perfectly accented by some of these great pieces!
Not only is there an incredible selection of clutches to choose from, there are even sweet little coin purses and eyeglass cases. It is so much fun to browse through all the great pieces, I just wish I could take them all home! I guess I would need a bigger closet though…
Kimberly will gladly do custom orders, so if you have something you have been trying to find, just ask! If you are getting married this summer, how great would these be in your bridal colours as a bridesmaid’s gift? Or maybe someone you know is graduating or embarking on a new career, and the perfect clutch could be just the confidence booster they need to take the working world by storm. Or maybe, like me, you just want something new and great, for no other reason than to admire it’s beauty.
Want to see more? The Etsy shop has everything your little heart could desire. Now, if I could just get that walk-in closet I’ve been dreaming about!
Eye catching. Bold. Fun. Bright. Really, really cool. I could go on, but rather than break out the thesaurus to tease you further, why don’t I just get on with it and show you the awesomeness (thesaurus be darned) that is Pulp & Paisley.
Cara (the talent behind Pulp & Paisley) calls Belleville, Ontario home. A happy wife and mom of two, she loves music, the occasional frosty brew, and creating fabulous jewelry.
If you know someone who would love one of her pieces, but you aren’t sure exactly which one, you can get Pulp & Paisley gift certificates at the Etsy shop. She can even email them to you if you need them quickly to top off a stocking or tuck under the tree!
I’m off to feast my eyes, and conveniently bookmark some favorites (*ahem, dear husband*)
The Redfish Kids Clothing booth is one that I will readily admit was calling to me across the hall at the recent OOAK Vancouver show. As soon as I came within site of the booth with all of it’s brightly coloured and patterned dresses, I knew that I’d be taking home a couple of pieces for my girls.
Redfish Kids Clothing is described on their website as follows:
…inspired by the street fashion of cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. With strong images and expressive colors, Redfish fabrics are handpicked from around the world and purchased in limited quantities – rarely is the same fabric combination repeated. The prints we choose are reflective of many cultures and of our desire to embrace the new and current while simultaneously harnessing the old and historic in pattern, design and construction.
Now, it’s obvious that I love Canada, but I also love to travel and I can’t help but fall victim when Asian themes are present. The cultural influences at play in Redfish Kids clothing are integrated into the stylish clothes so beautifully, that it doesn’t seem odd for an 18 month old from the Alberta prairies to be wearing a kimono style dress. The fabrics are gorgeous, the colours vibrant and they even had several styles with enough colours (done tastefully, of course) to satisfy my rainbow-loving 5 year old!
The philosophy behind Redfish Kids Clothing is outlined in their tagline: “Clothing for the Courageous”. The masterminds behind Redfish, Kristy and Lorraine, want their clothes to help foster self-esteem and to encourage children to walk with confidence and courage. They even have a section of their site dedicated to stories of courage from Redfish-wearing families!
There are a wide variety of styles and ever-changing fabric combinations available on their site, including styles for boys and comfy lounge pajamas… but my favourites are the dresses. I can’t wait for my daughters to put their’s on for Christmas Eve. I only hope that I can get the little one to stand still long enough for a photo ;)
You can find the 100% sweatshop-free and locally made (in Vancouver) Redfish Kids Clothing in their online store and in upscale boutiques worldwide, as well as on Facebook and Twitter! And ladies, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be interested to know that I heard a little rumour that adult sizes might be on the way soon…!!
P.S. I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love with my friends when we were in Vancouver last weekend… little did I know that the dress that Julia Roberts’ character pulls out of her friend’s baby hope chest was a Redfish dress! Lorraine and Kristy share the moment that they first saw the dress on screen in a lovely blog post. Well done, ladies :)
Edited to add:
Here’s a photo of my girls, in their Redfish Kids holiday dresses!