Shop All Weekend – ‘Feeling Natural’

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

Is there anything more elegant than natural beauty? I’ve always been a fan of the simple and natural look because, in my opinion, it’s the best way to highlight your true essence and project an authentic vibe.

The nice weather that we have during spring and summer gives us the opportunity to show the most natural version of ourselves by incorporating naked textures to our looks. For this ‘Shop All Weekend’ I wanted to make a tribute to the natural beauty with five versatile yet unique pieces that I found in some of my favourite stores in Toronto.

 Vegetable-tanned leather glasses case from Sashion

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Functional and stylish key chain is made out of the finest vegetable-tanned leather from Sashion

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Arabesque hat from Aritzia, a femininized interpretation of the baseball cap in pure straw.

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‘Hat Attack’ chic slouchy backpack from Club Monaco

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Perforated slingback ‘Wtyatt’ sandals by Rag & Bone from The Narwhal boutique at 8 Price Street.

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Blitz Facial Bar – The city’s newest, coolest beauty concept has landed in Toronto

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Founded in 2015 by sister-entrepreneurs, Laura and Rena Polley, Blitz Facial Bar is an extension of Body Blitz Spa. Continuing the practice of beauty through health, Blitz Facial Bar is committed to servicing convenient and affordable facials, with a mission for everyday people to incorporate skin treatments into their regular beauty routine. To ensure the highest-quality skincare, registered estheticians use Body Blitz’s in-house product line featuring natural elements from the earth, sea and various botanicals to help cleanse, nourish and hydrate the skin.

Enjoying a facial on the fly has never been easier now that one of two Blitz Facial Bars is open. The founders of Body Blitz are thrilled to announce that the east end location (1133 Queen St. E) of their new beauty concept has opened its doors and on June 12, the west end location (803 Queen St. W.) will also be open for business. Torontonians looking for a facial treatment while under a time crunch will enjoy the new express facial concept that includes four distinct facials starting at $48 with the option to customize the experience with add-on boosters for $10.

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With the arrival of the brand new beauty concept to Toronto, Blitz Facial Bar will also introduce an extension of its line of products that will be used in all treatments as well as available for purchase at the two locations. Blitz Facial Bar skincare products combine natural elements from the earth, sea and various botanicals to help cleanse, nourish and hydrate the skin. Some of the new products (ranging in price from $38 to $50) will include a plumping serum and an Argan renewal serum.

We’re so excited to introduce our new beauty concept to Toronto. We have set out to offer high quality facials for those who may not be able to take a whole spa day,” said Laura Polley, CEO of Blitz Facial Bar. “We will offer a range of services that can be amped up with boosters so that everyone can customize their facial to suit their personal needs.”

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A sleek and modern space, Blitz Facial Bars have no private rooms and none of your typical spa-like luxuries such as robes, slippers and soft music. Estheticians will get right down to business in an open-air concept, providing efficient, quality services with no undressing required. The facial bar concept will appeal to both men and women who want to maintain the highest standards of skincare but wish to do so in a short amount of time.

On Our Radar: Photographers Without Borders

Out of sight, out of mind” – a phrase Photographers Without Borders strives to eliminate through the use of powerful and thought-provoking photographs.

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Amazon Colombia-Green Hope Colombia by Danielle Da Silva

Photographers Without Borders (PWB) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2009 by CEO Danielle Da Silva. The organization provides photography and, more recently, video services for various organizations free of charge. With the use of breathtaking photography and videography taken by dedicated and passionate volunteers, the organization helps raise awareness with issues going on in third world countries, wildlife and more. In order for an organization to qualify, “they must be under a certain income level or demonstrate a need for photography. The organization also needs to have some sort of infrastructure and display an impact in whatever area/organization they are pursing”. On top of providing photographs to partner charities, PWB publish a magazine twice a year, soon to be 4 times a year, and host exhibits where works can be purchased and donated to the charities the photograph was taken. To date, PWB has already worked with 40-50 projects.

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La Paz-Bolivia by Danielle Da Silva

The organization started with Da Silva’s passion for photography when she was 14 years old, “It was a medium that gets quick results and you could manipulate light…I loved knowing how to use the camera.” She started working in Sustainable Development and always had her camera by her side. After taking pictures of interesting stories, it became clear that visually showing her works/projects to people sent out a clear message home and got people more involved. Her first project in 2007, had Da Silva, travel to India where she did a project working with Dalit children and Dalit people who are considered untouchable in the class system and social hierarchy in India. She took photographs of the work they were doing and worked with organizations that gave free health care and education to Dalit children. “It was beautiful work and we got some beautiful portraits of the kids with the teachers and I was by no means a professional photographer but I came back and did a mini exhibit and a fundraiser.” After the positive photographic response, which raised enough money to build nine small schools in some of the villages, Da Silva decided to follow this career path and earn her Masters degree in Sustainable Development.

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Boy in Flores-Indonesia by Danielle Da Silva

After that project, another organization called The Olive Branch for Children located in Tanzania approached PWB to create a photo book demonstrating the work they were doing and help raise funds. The organization has made homes for children that have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS and children that have escaped child marriages and other brutalities. These homes provided children with a family, food and an education that was even better than the schools in that neighbourhood. In addition to their great work, they also have an outreach program – The Home-based Care Program – for people with HIV/AIDS. Individuals diagnosed with HIV, who are professionally trained in counselling and care, encourage others to get tested and help throughout the process with those who have been affected by the terrible disease.

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Shaman-Amazon-Colombia-Green Hope Colombia by Danielle Da Silva

PWB is currently taking part in CONTACT where they are doing a unique project for the festival, “Instead of exhibiting at a typical gallery space, we’re exhibiting works on subway cars and TTC. On the Yonge and University subway lines for the month of May, you’ll be seeing our photos instead of ads.” Many Canadian photographers are involved in this incredible exhibit with works from various organizations including the Sumatran Orangutan Society by Toronto-based photographer Gita Defoe as well as many others.

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Bali, Macaque by Danielle Da Silva

How to get involved:

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Labuan Bajo harbour-Flores, Indonesia by Danielle Da Silva

1) Photographers and videographers can apply for a program (PWB provides fundraising platform for all their photographers helping with program fees).

2) If you want a piece of art, PWB sells prints and their magazine – all proceeds go towards the organization and/or the volunteers who have dedicated their time/hard work towards this great cause.

3) You can host a fundraiser and/or exhibit for the works.

4) Ambassador Program – people are trained to talk about the organization and host fundraisers.

5) Workshops for people interested in pursuing photography – first one is in September in Costa Rica for 2 weeks.

6) Internship opportunities – 6-12 months

Inside Out Festival: Naz and Maalik, The Chambermaid, and Drag Becomes Him

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Naz and Maalik follows the story of two Muslim boys in Brooklyn, who spend their afternoons hustling perfumes, cards, lottery tickets and other goods on the streets for college money. When a joke with an undercover cop lands them in hot water with an FBI agent, the pair are stuck between allegations from the agent, their family’s opinion of homosexuality and their own opinions of their relationships. This SXSW 2015 selection examines religion, race, and sexuality, giving the audience a brief glance into the coming out story of a two Muslim youth.

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The 2014 Montreal World Film Festival winner The Chambermaid (Das Zimmermädchen Lynn) chronicles the life of Lynn, a German chambermaid whose life revolves around her job and her obsession for cleanliness. A passive woman, whose relationship with her mother is strained and distanced through lack of emotion, Lynn tries to find intimacy in all the wrong places. She begins laying under the bed of guests and through her eyes, we see her world change through the vulnerability and the newness as Lynn discovers how people are when they think they are alone. When she witnesses a dominatrix and a man’s relationship, her sexual shells explodes and she is able to slowly crawl out of the asylum of herself.

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Drag Becomes Him is an intimate look at the life of drag queen and season-five winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Jerick Hoffer, aka Jinkx Monsoon. In what Monsoon referred to as a collection of home videos fused together, this documentary retells how Jinkx came from a small town stage performer in Portland, Oregon, to being crowned the queen and all the moments in between. The stock footage from drag shows, as well as interviews with those closest to Jinkx, truly allows for the makeup to be removed, and to understand the complexity of the person under the two foot tall wig. Beginning drag from an early age, Monsoon discusses his own personal challenges, as well as his biggest influencers on his way to the top, and though Jinkx is no longer the Queen of Drag Race, it will always be Monsoon season, as Ru Paul so lovingly said.

All photographs courtesy of Inside Out 2015.

On Our Radar: Ela By Ela Handbags

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Photo Credit: ‘Ela By Ela’ Website

After coming across Ela By Ela‘s website, I automatically knew that they would become a reference to look at in the Canadian fashion landscape. I haven’t yet had the pleasure to meet its co-founders Ela and Martin Aldorsson in person, but given how much I admire their vision and brand philosophy, I wanted to include them in our list of influential people that we’ve been featuring throughout the month of May for ‘On Our Radar’ series.

Both coming from very entrepreneurial families, husband-and-wife duo Ela and Martin embarked on a fashion adventure and founded ela. This is a Canadian, Toronto-based handbag and accessories brand, which is positioned and defined as humble luxury by its own co-founders and creative directors.

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M.I.L.C.K. CLUTCH – BLACK STUD: 11”x7” – 100% Lambskin Leather

The asymmetrical flap and custom closure are their main design signatures. Plus, all of the products are exclusively handcrafted in Spain with premium leathers.

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EDITOR’S POUCH WHIPSTITCH – BLUSH & GREY MICRO PERFORATED: 11.25”x8.75” – 100% Lambskin Leather

Once again, the ‘less is more’ becomes a crucial fashion rule to follow.  They have captured a simple yet sophisticated silhouettes that make their timeless designs a staple statement piece for those who look for labels that care about small details on every product, yet don’t project a pretentious vibe.

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MINI M.I.L.C.K. CLUTCH WITH CHAIN – BLUE MICRO PERFORATED: 8″ X 5.75″ X 1″ – 100% Lambskin

As expected, the strong and coherent brand identity of ela has already got deserved recognition in the fashion industry. Now, we can find these handbags and accessories in specialty stores and retailers across North America and Asia including Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, and Holt Renfrew. Even some celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Taylor Swift and Keira Knightly are added to ela‘s fan base.

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D/N BAG CLASSIC – GREY MICRO PERFORATED: 11.25”x7” – 100% Lambskin Leather