To Continue A Legacy…in Print.
I start off with a few images you see below from a very creative, prolific body of work that is now continuing into its 19th year in publishing, from an incredibly talented team. Some of the finest people in Toronto’s creative arts, design and media community, in which I have had the privilege to work with. Each individual, each photographer and stylist, each model has represented a certain period in my career, to a repertoire of over 580 photoshoot productions thus far. Each individual in these photos, and so many more, I hold the dearest to me. We’ve had meaningful journey’s, amazing discussions in the car together on our way to our location, and a camaraderie, laughter on set that’s second to none. These are to me, the most amazing people in our industry, and I am grateful for their creative spirit, and their quality of person, in which has inspired my purpose and drive.
For every shoot production you see on our Instagram, it was our source of pride and joy, and my opportunity to bring my team together again, and to create with them again. Every shoot was a very fulfilling and meaningful time for me, and these are my most cherished memories, because it also gave our interns, a front line role as Creative Director, to curate with our professionals, some of the most highest end, aspirational images that brought a designer, the energy of our passion, to deliver the message of his or her brand or establishment, in a brand strategy, that was made for the small business. This was the most rewarding practice and result of my career.
The hard part, was the business of publishing, which changed dramatically with the advent of social media. Where big traditional book sellers that we all knew and loved as ‘destinations’, such as Barnes and Noble, Chapters/Indigo in Canada, reduced their size and stores, and began a downward spiral to survive a world where print and the distribution of the print book started to decline. Especially with Amazon touting themselves as the ‘biggest bookstore in the world’, which created a lawsuit from Barnes & Noble, whom existed since the 1930’s, and invented the sit down coffee book store experience with a Starbucks at every location, the physical space for books, and magazines became less and less. Noticeably bookstores started to carry more house ware and toys, pillows and candle holders. And for a lover of books myself, this was very depressing to see. And as a publisher, rack space became less, the need to buy a print magazine was in competition with the convenience of swiping one on an iPad. And the book store started its decline as well as major print magazines, iconic titles such as Rolling Stone, going digital instead, cancelling their print magazine just a few years ago.
And in this period, was the next major wave of the decline in print media. It was in this period, 2016 that I had 4 more stents placed in my arteries, in a heart operation at SunnyBrook Hospital in Toronto. My cardiologist actually wanted a full open heart surgery for my heart condition, but I protested adamantly, stating that I can’t leave my magazine to recover for that long, that I needed a quick fixer upper to get me back into work again. Yes, I’m an ENFJ, an A Type personality, a work-aholic. I now have a total of 6 stents in my heart, one is 4 inches long, and I believed I am quietly called ‘Full Metal Jacket’, behind my back at SunnyBrook, haha. I survived about 5 heart attacks from 2015. And if you ask a few publishers, many will attest to the high level of stress and pressure in their own work, that a heart attack is not a flighty statement. The stress is real. For me, I don’t have family left, as I was adopted as a child, and as an adult now, I am family-less, after my very senior adoptive parents passed away. So the stress I carry is something I must deal with alone, and that’s hard to do when the other part of your job involves inspiring your team each day. It’s a huge toll emotionally, where every day I face the stresses, added to the stress at a time like this for print, and the challenges of sustaining a media voice in Canada is a challenge few take on. It’s something that needs to be solved with perseverance, a lot of soul searching, a lot of reincarnation of ones soul and spirit to go back at it day by day.
What gives me strength…is not ‘strength’. I think this word is overused…to be strong. Anyone can be strong. It’s not that…it’s to understand, and to continue to adapt, to change and improve, to find the balance, find the way to sustain, the voice we have created for our artists and designers, and businesses. Because to me, these were our modern day innovators, that moved new ideas forward. They represented progress for me. Social progress, entrepreneurial progress, economic and cultural progress, and progress for peace, positive values such as a care for their craft, a vision for the community.
What I have learned from my heart attack, has given me ‘inner peace’. Well, one faces death, and I have faced death or even a stroke 5 times already. This experience made me look for something else, that if my life was so fragile, and I could have died…what is my life for. In other words, what really mattered? Was it the challenge?, the mission, it’s definitely not the money.
Well, we were taught, at the Rehab clinic, after the surgery (mandatory), to shop for food, in the circumference of the grocery store. Because all your fresh baked goods were there, meats, real fruits. Whereas in the middle was all the junk, the processed foods and everything in a can or a box, with preservatives and artificial flavours.
What dawned on me was…’what was real’…and what wasn’t’, and this mirrored the mission of the magazine itself, to feature only handcrafted products, personally made foods, wines, chef made creations by hand. Now, they didn’t all have to be healthy, as often fun and creative food isn’t, such as desserts and certain fatty foods. I also love fries, taters and spam! But the common denominator is that all of these were products made by tactile hand touched care, regardless if the ingredients weren’t all healthy, or if the pearls were imitation. Because the creation had passion and personal care. This magazine was about this very factor.
Seeing something created, by which they can get it from the creator, meet him/her in person, or have a product custom made such as a piece of furniture, from the craftsman, food directly from the sushi chef, wine directly from the vineyard. We want to be passed something directly from someone because it also transferred his/her pride, joy and a gift to you from their human touch.
And the new restaurants or designer’s we interview, they all talk about how they visit their sources, ie a farmer who supplies them carrots, and so they know where it comes from, how its grown and they serve that with this connection, to us the end consumer. Its a direct line of knowing, being connected, whereas food from a box, we will never know.
I believe we are returning to the times before William Morris and his Earthly Paradise and his Arts & Craft Movement, where we used to buy shoes from a shoemaker, a chair from a carpenter, or artisan. Now it will be impossible to serve all our population in this way, but I see this search for this Realness growing, and its replacing the quick gratification that was so prevalent in the Millennial world, because its become not gratifying. More and more people finds this makes us actually lonelier and more to actually go out and seek what is known as Happiness.
And in my theory and understanding, Happiness can only be found by connecting to something real, by someone live, sharing a tactical experience together, because we are social creatures, who need each other, and require connections.
Thus, I will continue my mission for Story of Fashion in print, to make it my life’s continued mission to create a tactile connection for human beings, through continuing a print book. Because I believe a print magazine is even more vital in this day and age of digital media, to continue the tactile connection we need as a society. And what better than a book you can hold, that connects us to people who create by hand and the very people who deliver authentic things in lifestyle.
And I feel, this addresses something much bigger than just a business, or even my own life journey. This addresses a human culture who can become more connected, who can deliver more goodness, more products that are eco sustainable, buying more long lasting quality, than mass consumer throw away products which create more waste. I realize print will also be a product, but our paper can be recycled, whereas all the plastics from our phones etc..is ever growing into an environmental disaster. My heart condition reminds me to start living happier, with more connection, encourage these better practices for my life and for the magazine. It goes without saying that every new business now considers practices that embody freshness and higher quality, values that encourage a memorable lasting experience …so its already changing from the new business owners themselves, because these are their values.
Thus my work, in this magazine is to bring a conduit, to bring the new entrepreneurs to the public, whom share the same values for our what makes us truly happy, and a new way to live, with these values. And this is why I called it, The Story of Fashion. I hope this is a platform we can all belong to, a new social movement, for something that is bigger than us. Its about a bigger narrative nurtured by our creators, innovators, from their hands, their joy, their journey, that makes this magazine and my life meaningful. And I hope this magazine can serve as an invaluable connection to something bigger than us…for a new story for life, a new fire for life.
19 years ago with my amazing interns from U of T Mississauga. Erindale Campus
In The Beginning.
The Story of Fashion Initiative, in my timeline of life, started about 23 years ago, with this photo, from my wonderful and most humbling experience, as chair of OCAD’s first mentoring committee, driven by the OCAD Alumni Council, in which I was treasurer as well at the time, with the incredible support and faith from Assistant Dean of Design, Steve Quinlan, Thomas Fairbairn our Head Student Advisor, the heads of Art, Design, Faculty Administration. There I am in the above photo, with hair at the time in the bottom row, in the white shirt. It was a momentous time for students, faculty, alumni, and our renown graduates such as Barb Woolley of Hambley & Woolley, to come together as one, in support of our students. To give them a program that builds a bridge to the professional world through the connection of our own alumni.
In my career thus far, for the next 20 years, this task of mentoring, community and education has always been in my spirit, and is something I hold very dear to me, in that beyond business, has been the only personal accomplishment that I am proud of through these 19 years. The work I have done with my own team of interns, co-op students, I’m deeply proud of. Giving my students front line roles in becoming the Creative Director, Photographer or Producer, connecting in business with industry leaders, top Canadian Designers face to face to collaborate and produce invaluable content. To have the opportunity to be in this position of learning is important to me, and what I have stood for in peer to peer mentoring since 2000. A few examples are our interview by Eilbra Younen, our intern from U of T, with Canadian Designer David Dixon about 15 years ago. Andre Deluca with David Rocco, Christine Elstub interviewing Chantale Kreviuzik in Montreal. I am very proud of them all, and over the years, they have become my family, with the 1st group of interns from UTM, now nearing 40, still keeping in contact with me, with their now 10 year old kids! We do have a legacy here which is why I believe what we created, is precious in media, because its more than media at its heart, and we need to now grow this further to solidify it’s foundation so it can be sustained and fruitful, as a program for new generations.
I also taught art and design for about 20 years, from giving 4 year old a ball of clay, to Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, to visiting Catholic Schools in Mississauga in the 90’s, teaching pottery, soapstone carving, and clay. I am most proud of my own portfolio development students, whereby I spent weeks, even months with them, mainly 16 to 18 year olds, to help them find their own signatures, who they are inside, to discover their strengths, to create with this realization. Many of my students are now in their late 30’s, and I think my Millenials are going to make it, because I got them off of social media dependency, and instead, I gave them a sense of purpose, critical thinking, and self drive, and I hope this inner willpower can last, to motivate them to this day.