SHOP TALK: Carolynn Lacasse brings Courage to Viens Avec Moi

Shop Talk is written by OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven. 

Photo by Zac Pantelone of Corpo Collective

Photo by Zac Pantelone of Corpo Collective

This time of year, SHOP TALK gets a lot of invites. I shouldn’t complain — actually, I wish we could attend more launches, trunk sales, and Christmas parties. But in addition to all the holiday merry-making, this is also an incredibly busy time at the office as we head to press with our annual Interiors issue.

Still, all work and no play make Dayanti + Sarah dull girls, and so we keep our eyes peeled for special events that combine fundraising with socializing, shopping with scene-covering. And when stylish scenester Carolynn Lacasse reached out to us about her Courage Brand launch on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Viens Avec Moi, we decided to get to know this new project — and attend the party tomorrow!

In talking with Carolyn, we learned that, from the start the Viens Avec Moi ladies have been super-supportive of her bracelet initiative, which raises money for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. For years Carolynn has been working with this great organization, and has had friends and family use their services. Plus, she was keen to keep the money in Ottawa and felt it represented the mental and physical bravery that her line is all about.

We also learned that she sold out in her first year with the brand, and that because the materials and printing costs are donated, 100 percent of the proceeds go the the ORCF.

Photo by Zac Pantelone of Corpo Collective

Photo by Zac Pantelone of Corpo Collective

For her second year, Carolynn has developed a new line of bracelets that stay true to her original version: they’re still unisex, minimalist, and stackable, with one simple washer that allows them to be adjusted for size and acts as a little token for when you need a boost of courage.

And to celebrate the second year with Courage, Carolynn and VAM sylist Renee Morra will be giving away a “closet refresh” consultation for someone who has been affected by cancer. Vote here by December 17 for your chance to win!

 Visit Viens Avec Moi on Tuesday, Dec. 10 to check out the line — and shop, socialize, et cetera.

SHOP TALK: Holiday scenes set the stage for a season of inspired gift giving

This story appears in the Winter edition of OTTAWA Magazine, on newsstands now. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Product sourcing by Sarah Fischer and Erica Wark
Photography by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

Photo by Marc Fowler/ Metropolis Studio.

Photo by Marc Fowler/ Metropolis Studio.

Festive Foliage
A Kate Spade dinner plate, from the Gardner Street collection, adds a touch of nature-inspired whimsy to a meal. ($49.95). Leaf napkin rings continue the floral motif ($9.97 for a set of four). Linen Chest, 2685 Iris St., 613-721-9991.

Service Style
This porcelain dinner plate from Mikasa brings chic elegance to a festive meal ($25). Give your table a bold, timeless look with plates from GlucksteinHome’s Architectural Accent collection ($29.95 for a set of four). The Bay, 1200 St. Laurent Blvd., St. Laurent Centre, 613-748-6105 (and two other locations).

Beautiful Bows
A red plaid silk scarf by Lord & Taylor adds festive flair ($58). This Echo scarf, in a subtle burgundy paisley print, will bring warmth to chilly evenings ($40). The Bay, 73 Rideau St., 613-241-7511 (and two other locations).

SHOP TALK: Slaysh heads online, Virani moves in to Wellie West boutique

Shop Talk is written by OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven. 

Last month, we were surprised to see a farewell note, of sorts, in the window of West Wellington boutique Slaysh.

Slaysh owner updates shoppers about her move online.

Slaysh owner Sarah Hyde updates shoppers about her move online.

Being the nosy, newsy people we are, we poked around for more. So we went directly to the source, Slaysh owner Sarah Hyde, for details on the move.

Her reply, as in the pictured letter, oozed with positivity. “I know the initial thought from most people will be sad but I am truly excited about the new direction,” she wrote, and went on to explain the thinking behind the move from the Glebe to Wellie West. Now, as Slaysh goes online, we’re getting a better sense that Sarah is a smart and creative entrepreneur.

“The decision to go online, obviously was made partially because I will be expecting a baby girl in the new year but also so that I could get back to the things that drove me to open shop in the first place,” Sarah says. “I am really looking forward to spending more time on the creative side of the business rather than just the everyday necessities of being in the store seven days a week. I want to make sure Slaysh continues to have a physical presences through pop-up shops, events, and partnering with other creative people in our city.”

Indeed the shopping hub of Wellington West is fairly bursting with energy these days and Slaysh has clearly contributed to this buzz. And that doesn’t seem likely to change, despite the lack of a ‘bricks and mortar’ home.

“I find that when I sit down to think about the possibilities my mind goes crazy with excitement. I would like to shift the focus to some brands that aren’t readily available from Canadian online retailers as well as work on some exclusive pieces for Slaysh, whether it be a collaboration piece or a private label product.”

Slaysh private label? Exlcusives? Sounds intriguing. But what about the short term? We like instant gratification, and Sarah did have some exciting news for December:

“One project I can talk about right now that I am super-excited about is that for the month of December Slaysh has teamed up with JV Studios for a One Space, Two Shops experience” that will bring the best of Slaysh and Jasmine Virani together for the Christmas season.

In January, 1282-A Wellington St. W. will be the permanent home of JV Studios, and Slaysh will move online.


SHOP TALK: Locally-made scarves keep you stylish and warm

Shop Talk is written by OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Red pashmina. $130 for 100% cashmere, $85 for cashmere/silk blend.

Red pashmina. $130 for 100% cashmere, $85 for cashmere/silk blend.

A few months ago, we fell in love with Chobi scarves while checking out the awesome locavore site SMAKK. At the time, I remember thinking ‘everyone needs scarves — they’re such a winter staple and the style possibilities are endless. What a brilliant business!’

Well, maybe it’s the fact that so many of us cling to grey or black trenches for a good chunk of the year, but two more local scarf companies (scarfatieres?) have recently made us craving more cashmere, more herringbone, more cozy and locally-made love!

Karma Cashmere is the ‘love child’ of Praj and Dave. (Check out their website if you’re a sucker for inter-continental love stories!) During their travels, which included a dramatic introduction in the Netherlands and a wedding ceremony on Nepal followed by a honeymoon in the Himalayan mountains, they dreamt of ways that Praj could connect with her home country of Nepal after she immigrated to Canada to live with her new husband, Dave. They kept coming back to the majesty of the Himalayas — and the amazing cashmere produced there.


Lucky for us, the idea materialized. Praj and Dave travelled back to Nepal and met personally with artisans who make the pashminas that bring style to our workaday duds. Order from their website — they ship free throughout Canada and even donate a portion of the proceeds to support girls’ education in the Himalayan region.

A classic pattern of houndstooth, this cream and beige infinity brightens up a dark coat while keeping you warm.100% Virgin Wool, $85.00.

A classic pattern of houndstooth, this cream and beige infinity brightens up a dark coat while keeping you warm.100% Virgin Wool, $85.00.

Another take on the classic scarf comces by way of Krista Norris. This season we have heard a lot about ‘menswear inspired fashion’ and these scarves nail that trend. I mean, I love tweed and pinstripes, but styling these fabrics isn’t for the faint of heart (or busy mom). With this collection, which is available at Viens Avec Moi and Schad in Ottawa, Krista offers thick, wool infinity scarves — that, conveniently, are unisex!

Another bonus: Krista is taking part in the Warm and Fuzzy event at Schad. Bundle up, buy gifts, stay stylish. Wednesday, November 20. 6-9 p.m., Schad, 521 Sussex Dr. 

SHOP TALK: Fibre artists Twiss & Weber bring unique separates to Wellie West

Shop Talk is written by OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

It’s taken me over three years to write this post. Now, I’m not generally one to fall into the procrastination trap, but sometimes, I’m learning, it pays to wait.

Tonia, left, and Laura. They make a great team!

Tonia, left, and Laura. They make a great team!

Back in 2010, when I first spotted Laura Twiss cycling stylishly through Hintonburg, I was ready to feature her in our style pages. I dug a little deeper, and learned of her design collaboration with Tonia Weber. Checked out their stuff, watched out for them at markets and festivals, and rejoiced when they opened up a wee atelier on a side street in Hintonburg. All the while, I waited for them to really break out on their own, to claim a piece of Ottawa’s retail space.

Laura and Tonia met back in 2009 in classic Hintonburg style — at a yoga studio, at craft shows, and at Wabi Sabi. They gradually learned that they had a lot in common. For example, both started sewing at a young age, both went to school for fashion design, both had their own line of clothing but couldn’t seem to go where we wanted to with it.

Oh, and they both worked at a bank and never had any childhood illness like chickenpox. (The ties that bind!)

Read the rest of this story »

SHOP TALK: Ottawa jewellery stores showcase vintage-inspired jewellery

This story appears in the October edition of Ottawa Magazine, on newsstands now. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions. 

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio.

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio.

Infinite Luxury
Chains and chokers have made a comeback. The 18-karat gold and nine-carat diamond Bulgari Roman necklace and matching earrings hold ancient Roman coins at their centre, offering a one-of-a-kind statement that will be passed down for generations. (Necklace, $52,450; earrings, $18,500).

Keeping with ancient times, the Equine bracelet is hand-carved in 18-karat gold, with diamond and ruby accents; it’s stackable but can easily stand on its own ($12,550). If you’re in the market for a new, distinctive ring, look to the Golden Leaf Ring in rose gold with diamond accents ($3,175) or its counterpart, the Kiss of a Rose ring, which features a delightful pear-shaped diamond ($23,000). Howard’s Jewellers, 220 Sparks St., 613-238-3300.

The silver and glass jewellery box is modelled after museum display cases and is lined with linen to showcase your treasures. $102.69. Available online from Pottery Barn.

Bijoux Beauties
Add stackable cuffs to your jewellery box, mixing dainty with daring for true wrist appeal. (From left: oxidized silver bangle with black crystals, $95; silver and clear crystal bangle, $95; gold metal bangle with clear crystals, $69). If you’d rather layer elsewhere, try a necklace that does it all: delicious pendants in mixed metals for pretty and punk allure are the ultimate game changer ($95). Or perhaps you’re after a Gatsby moment? Opt for vintage pearl clip-ons for a pop of posh ($275). True Bijoux, 206 Sparks St., 613-232-2229.

Nostalgic Opulence
Bring upscale glamour to a vanity with vintage perfume bottles (tall geometric perfume bottle, $25; short floral-motif perfume bottle, $38). The White Monkey, 395 Gladstone Ave., 613-321-4678. Dress your vanity with the inviting glow of crystals and vintage flare. The crystal vanity lamps (set of two, $300) bring warmth to a room while illuminating your most cherished charms. Architectural Antiques, 145 Spruce St., 613-722-1510.

Knotted Elegance
Tranquil and serene, this 18-karat diamond necklace with blossom and leaf detail (far right, on perfume bottle, $10,600) reflects unique style. Dripping with femininity, this piece acts as the finishing touch to a polished look and draws attention to a woman’s décolletage. Jubilee Fine Jewellers, 50 Rideau St., 613-238-1886.

OPENING! Swedish fashion giant H&M comes to Bayshore — and shares pix of its Conscious line of “eco” and ethical clothing

This week, SHOP TALK welcomes guest blogger Malorie Bertrand, of August May Sustainable Styling.

When shopping for clothes, one thinks about style, form, function and, most importantly, price. But do you think about where the garments are made, or in what conditions producers worked in? These days, there’s a growing awareness of the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion amongst consumers, and retailers are joining in on the conversation.

Catarina Midby

H&M’s Catarina Midby is the spokesperson for the company’s first “Conscious Collection” of clothing and accessories made from sustainable materials.

One retail giant leading the dialogue is the Swedish-based H&M (Hennes & Mauritz). Founded in 1947, the fast-fashion Goliath has touched every corner of the globe, with more than 2,600 stores in 43 countries employing more than 95,000 people.

On October 15, the company’s 57th Canadian store location opens at Bayshore Shopping Centre. When shoppers eagerly step into H&M’s new capital city digs this week, they’ll not only see racks upon racks of fabulous finds, but also a conscious corporate culture sewn, quite literally, into the fabric of each item.

H&M’s Conscious Spokesperson, Catarina Midby, says that H&M understands that design and manufacturing processes have become more important. “We are the second biggest buyer of organic cotton in the world,” says Midby. “And last year, we used the equivalent of 7.9 million PET bottles in recycled polyester fabrics.”

Read the rest of this story »

SHOP TALK: Get fitted for fall at these awesome events


Shop Talk is written by OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

La Braderie in Montreal brought designers and shoppers together in an exciting atmosphere. Photo by Seydou Coulibaly.

La Braderie in Montreal brought designers and shoppers together in an exciting atmosphere. Photo by Seydou Coulibaly.

With another week of warm weather ahead of us it’s hard to believe that October is upon us. You might be ready to pull on your boots and tights, but if your day includes an afternoon jaunt those extra layers can feel suffocating.

But the chilly weather will come soon. Is your fall wardrobe ready?

This season, we’re trying to be very strategic about our purchases. A visit to the new Target helped fill in some important gaps. But now we’re ready for the investments. Here, we look at three upcoming events — and plot our plan of attack.

Read the rest of this story »

SHOP TALK: Malenka Originals pop-up shop highlights colourful restored furniture

Shop Talk is written by OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.  

This Saturday (Sept. 21), Katrina Barclay of Malenka Originals will host a pop-up shop in celebration of her first fantastic year in business. The shop sells Chalk Paint, hosts workshops on applying the paint, and sells furniture that Katrina has “refreshed” using Chalk Paint. Katrina says her success is proof that following an instinct pays off. In this case, Katrina had the feeling people were looking for unique, solid wood furniture with a contemporary look. She was right — she can’t refresh those second-hand finds fast enough and every workshop sells out.

Photo courtesy Malenka Originals

Refreshed furniture like this is bright, solid, and unique. Photo courtesy Malenka Originals

For the event, Katrina has invited 15 former workshop participants/refreshed furniture aficionados to sell their own creations. Each person is bringing about three items, so if you get there by noon you might score a sweet piece!

“The passion of refinishing furniture is spreading,” says Katrina, who sees lots of young moms and other people looking for solid, bright pieces.

“My customers get very excited about their creations — as they should,” she explains. “We’ve had so many impromptu discussions in the shop where customers excitedly start talking to each other about what they’ve just painted. It creates a great atmosphere and breeds inspiration. The refreshed furniture pop-up shop is a way to bring all those people together and celebrate their incredible work.”

Read the rest of this story »

SHOP TALK: Turning the spotlight on exclusive furniture finds

The Carmichael Chair by Gus Modern is carried exclusively in Ottawa by Blueprint Home

Shop Talk is written by OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Last year we started the “exclusive” series with a look at local jewellers carrying unique lines. Now we turn our attention to one-of-a-kind finds at local furniture stores.

Jane Berry has curated a wide assortment of modern and affordable pieces at her store, Blueprint HomeGUS MODERN is one of the lines that you can only find at Blueprint. The Canadian design team behind the Gus brand creates modern products in Toronto inspired by the simplicity of everyday objects.

The Carmichael chair is a piece that caught our eye. It can be found in Facebook’s corporate offices across North America as well in the Air Canada Centre luxury box suites.

Read the rest of this story »