I've had the opportunity to meet so many local Calgary small business owners and I am always so inspired and in awe of each of them. Apart from the fact that Calgary is seemingly booming with new businesses, I really feel that Calgary small business owners have a mindset of making their dreams come true. Whether they're serial entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, individuals who found their niche years ago, or people just searching for their place, Calgary boasts a strong community for small business owners to do their thing, and to do it well.
Our Calgary culture isn't just one of "yee-haw'ing" Cowboys, nor is it simply that we work towards making our dreams come true, but it is so much about support, kinsmanship, and truly working together.
Through the photoshoots I've organized for Apostle, as well as during Pop Up Boutiques, and attending local events, I've had the pleasure of meeting SO many local business owners, and it really is safe to say that I've loved getting to know them all! While it's easy to love a brand and the product or service they offer, you don't truly know that brand until you meet the people behind it. Once you know who is at the core of a company, you understand their values and vision, and the passion that is driving force behind it all.
While there are about 100 local small businesses that I'd LOVE to write about (and many I have in my blogs about past photo shoots), I want to take the time to mention three specific Calgary small businesses (and I'll do it in order of when I met them).
Heart & Swirl
I first came across Heart & Swirl on Instagram a couple years ago and wanted to be a part of one of their painting workshops & wine tastings, but the stars didn't line up...until this spring.
With a passion & appreciation for wine and wine culture, Heart and Swirl owner, Kelley Abbey, came up with a fantastic idea for an event - combining wine & food pairings with a painting workshop with a local artist. Kelley guides you through three different wine pairings and teaches you about the wine and why it is complimentary to the food item you have with it. In between each tasting, a talented artist then guides you through the steps to create your own beautiful masterpiece (and something that you'd actually love and hang in your home). Kelley (and the artists) put in all the work to organizing a night for you, and all you have to do is arrive. How often does that happen?!
In my world, I am the organizer. So to arrive at the venue and have everything set up and ready & waiting was such a great treat. I took the Abstract Stripes workshop with Jill Paddock, and she rocked!! Her instruction was clear and simple to follow, and she was on hand to help with colour suggestions or technique assistance, or even just an encouraging word when all you see is a mess on a canvas (or maybe that was just me). I was even able to come home and work on my piece some more because Jill was so generous with her instruction and letting us know her tricks. Now don't get me wrong, my painting isn't quite Jill-quality, but it's me-quality, and I love it!
Heart & Swirl has ongoing events scheduled, and if you want to take part in one (or three) of Kelley's amazing workshops, all you need to do is become a member (it's free!!). Heart & Swirl members get updates on scheduled events, recipes from Kelley (which are so delicious!), discounts from local merchants, and the ability to register for a workshop. (Heart & Swirl hosts member-only events, and while it sounds super exclusive, literally anyone can become a member, so don't be dissuaded by that.) While this sounds like a sales pitch, it really isn't (especially since you don't have to pay to be a member!). Kelley doesn't even know I'm writing this. I just had such an amazing time at the Heart & Swirl event that I want everyone else to experience it too!
(I'll let you in on a little secret... Kelley and I are currently working on plans for an Apostle/Heart & Swirl event exclusive to Apostle customers. Sign up for the Apostle newsletter if you want the details!)
Little w Studio
Another Instagram relationship success story here.
I can't recall exactly how I came across Little w Studio on Instagram, but that just goes to show that an amazing talent & business finds its way through. Because of her amazing talent, and she seemed like such a solid, down to earth person, I reached out to Christin to see if she would be interested in being a part of an entrepreneur support group. ...ok that sounds bad. Not the type of support group where we are dealing with deep issues (although we could all claim to be addicted to working at any and every given moment), but the type where we support one another's businesses and are a base-camp for encouragement, ideas and growth. Anyways, I digress. I went from becoming a Little w Studio observer, to a full-out fan, to a support, and then to a full-out customer.
Christin's work is impeccable! She will work one-on-one with you to create something that is 100% unique to you, or you can work within her templates and either order as-is, or customize it with your family name. I not only had a custom sign done as a gift for a cousin's wedding, but now Christin and I are working on a design for Apostle to use at Pop Ups! If you've seen me in the last few weeks, chances are that I've been showing you the Little w Studio Instagram account. But when you come across something good, you want to tell people about it. I'm SO excited to see the Apostle sign, and will definitely be showing that off!
I don't even want to say how I met Bethaney from Brier Breton (yes...it was also Instagram). But what makes this relationship slightly unique is that it was meant to be, or in the stars, or a divine meeting...or whatever you want to call it.
I'd mentioned to a couple people that I wanted to have more photos of just the jewelry - shots that really show the details, but in a pretty way and not just with a white background (these types of photos are often called "flat lay" photos). I have amazing photographs of the jewelry on beautiful models, and I have done some flat lay photos myself with pretty flowers, but it takes me FOREVER to get a great shot, and right now I would rather spend my working hours on other things. Also, I was once told "Stick to what you're good at. Everything else can be hired out."
This is a real scenario of "ask and you shall receive"- I asked, then a couple days later I saw that "Brier Breton" had liked one of my posts on Instagram. For some reason I was curious and looked at the account, and then her website, and I loved her work! I learned that Bethaney does Product Styling, Photography and Content Creation, and I thought "this is exactly what I wanted!" and sent her an email right away.
Bethaney and I just wrapped up a collaborative shoot on the weekend, and it was such a pleasure to work with her. Although I feel like she did all of the work because I couldn't be there, and she likes to work on her own so that she can be inspired and work at her own pace without distraction (and let's be honest, I can be pretty distracting with my constant banter and my need to crack jokes all the time). Plus, four days later she had all the of edited photos ready! She is a kind-hearted, hard working, talented woman that knows her way around product styling and photography. We talked before about how we wanted the pictures to look, and the end result was perfect- light, airy, and pretty.
If you are a small (or large) business owner and you need quality product photography, check our Brier Breton!!
Calgary is bursting with amazing small (and big) businesses, and it's so nice to meet the people behind the brand. When you get to know the owner and you know their story, what drives them forward, and what gets them through, you get a sense of what they, and therefor their company is all about. You see the vision, you hear the heartbeat, and you can't help but fall in line and support them.
There's a secret to finding the perfect wedding jewelry, whether it's for the bride or the bridal party, there's something you should know.
The Best Wedding Jewelry
Oftentimes brides feel like they have to sparkle-up or don pearls for their special day, spending a lot of money on jewelry that they'll never wear again. I admit, I'm one of them. Of course I am a sucker for sparkle, the wedding jewelry that I bought has been tucked away in their special boxes in a drawer. I've maybe worn them one other time, leaving me to wonder what the point was in getting jewelry for my wedding that I've never worn again. Sure it was pretty, and wedding'y, but if I haven't worn it again, was it really "me" and a reflection of my style? Or, was it just "wedding style"?
The style of a wedding is a reflection of the couple's style (and typically more of the bride since she's the one leading the planning committee). But more so, your Bride Style is all you and nobody else. From the dress, to the shoes, to the jewelry and accessories- it's all you, baby! Don't feel restricted by the unspoken (or spoken) wedding style rules. You don't need to cover yourself in sparkly jewelry, or pearls, or heavy jewelry just because it's the standard Wedding Jewelry Style. Let me say this, you do need to be comfortable, and you do need to feel absolutely amazing. And this can only be achieved when you, are you.
Your wedding jewelry doesn't have to be something that you'll never wear again. In fact, you should wear it again. Not only because that would make the investment in your wedding style absolutely worth it, but because every time you slip on that necklace or earrings or bracelet, you can remember the day you married your True Love. Let your own personal style shine, every day, including your wedding day!
Now, this doesn't mean that your wedding jewelry shouldn't be special or unique. It absolutely should be! It just means selecting wedding jewelry that is versatile and classic, and not a one hit wonder.
If you always, and I mean ALWAYS (and only), wear stud earrings, your wedding earrings shouldn't be large chandelier style earrings. Likewise, if your style tends to be delicate, feminine and understated, go that route for your Big Day too. On the flip side, say you love bold, colourful and fun jewelry, bring that in to your wedding style. If you are always trying out the new trends and love to try new things, perhaps seeking out a trendy earring style would be the best option for you! Remember: do you! There's nothing wrong with your everyday style and you can, and should, bring that into your wedding day style.
Just One Simple "Rule"
No matter what your personal style is though, there is one rule of thumb that will help you look polished and chic : Pick one piece of jewelry to be your standout item, and the other items you select should be much simpler and understated. For example, if you want to have fun with your earrings, a dainty necklace and simple bracelet would look amazing.
This is a great suggestion that works no matter what day it is! Mind you, there are always exceptions to every rule, so if that's the look you're going for, do it!
How to make your everyday style special
Saying it doesn't have to be tough to do. Here's some great ideas for you to try based on some common everyday go-to's. All images are linked to the product so that you can see additional details. Also, if I haven't touched on your personal style, definitely send me an email and I would be more than happy to help!
Be a Stud
Studs don't have to be boring. You can wear a classy, pretty and unique stud earring and have that "special" element to your day and wedding jewelry. Some great options are to add a slight sparkle, a different shape, perhaps a stone, or even go for a different metal (ie. Rose Gold!!). Another great option is a really simple ear climber or ear jacket style. Nothing too heavy or bold, because that's out of your element. Here's some fantastic options for you to consider.
Bold and Beautiful
If you love fun, cool, and trendy jewelry, you can definitely add some pizazz with some fun earrings. Some great ear climbers or ear jackets in a fresh & versatile colour could be great, or opt for a drop earring with cool stones that will bring attention to your beautiful features.
Somewhere In Between
Now if you aren't really a strict stud wearer, nor do you want to go all out, then perhaps a classy, yet interesting dangle earring is for you! Nothing big or bold, but still pretty and feminine.
Think garden party'esque, lace, and beautiful vintage details. I have a couple Designers that fits this perfectly! With the use of vintage, repurposed chains and custom, hand-cut stones, the aesthetic is unique, pretty and oh-so-perfect for you!
Adorn Thy Neck
Necklaces can be a tougher decision, but if you stay true to you, there's no wrong way! Or, go sans necklace for a timeless and classic look. If you're just not sure, my suggestion is to keep it light and simple. Too much "stuff" can be distracting from not only your lovely dress, but from you and your beautiful smile. All of this can be achieved with stunning necklaces that you can incorporate into your everyday too! Some great options are below (and you can click on any image for more details), and if you still don't see something that you love, send me an email and we'll find that perfect fit!
But wait! Don't forget your wrists!!
At the risk of be repetitive, stick with your style and go with something that works with the rest of your wedding jewelry and style. It doesn't have to match, but be complimentary to the other pieces. Bracelets with subtle hints of colour are a fun way to make your look truly you-nique, or going with one (or two) delicate pieces can really pull together your wedding look!
The Bride Tribe
Now what about bridesmaids style? Whether you want them all to match from head to toe, or like them to be somewhat different, you want your bridal party to shine. I love when bridesmaids style is different, yet correlates with each other and maybe even ties in a bit with the bride. But how do you do that?
Obviously the bridesmaids won't be in wedding dresses, so that option is out. But selecting jewelry that is by the same Designer as your wedding style is a fantastic way to tie it all together! By doing this, it ensures that the metals are the same colours (there's a lot of different gold tones out there), you know that all of your stones will be cut in the same way, settings are the same...it will look like you are all together. United.
Whether you have one bridesmaid, or seven, it can be easy to find the perfect jewelry for everyone when you utilize Apostle's Personal Shopping (which is free!). We work with you to find jewelry that suits the wedding style, colours, and budget. For the sake of all bridesmaids out there, please don't hit up the cheap accessory stores with fake metals that turn skin green or infect ear piercings. Give yourself, and the bridal party, quality-made jewelry that will last forever, and that you can all actually (like really) wear again!
When you find a woman that is strong, inspiring, and authentic, you can't help but want to know more about her.
You want to know how she got to where she is, what her goals are, who she is aside from her list of accomplishments, and you want to learn her secrets.
When you find out that she's a self-made woman,
you admire her even more.
The Woman Behind The Agency :
I first met Nadine Parsons two years ago when I was in the start-up stages of building Apostle Boutique. Nadine owns and operates an accessory-based sales agency, the Nadine Parsons Agency, that houses six brands and sells to over 150 retailers nationwide (!!). With a client list like HBC, Indigo and Nordstrom, plus 147+ independent boutiques, the Nadine Parsons Agency is not only well-known in the industry, but it is a well-oiled machine (with Nadine at the helm of it all).
Not only is Nadine extremely diligent with her business, she is also kind, supportive, and has a humble confidence about her. You can imagine how busy she is with her business, but she ALWAYS takes the time to answer my questions, and offer advice...and I am a small fish in the Nadine Pasons Agency pond (or maybe "ocean" is a better term). The more I learn about Nadine, the more I admire her and want to learn from her. She isn't afraid of the hustle, you can tell the she not only pours her soul into her work, but she fully & completely loves what she does. And who doesn't want that for their own life?! You can't help but be drawn in and want to know more about Nadine Parsons.AB: How did you decide to start your own agency? It sounds so glamorous and the kind of career that takes a ton of hustle to build.NP: I was working freelance with a Canadian handbag designer and came across a jewellery line that was looking for a sale’s rep. We met & hit it off instantly (And guess what? I still work with that line…Biko!). I immediately fell in love with contemporary jewellery and decided to reach out to other designers to see if there was a need for my services and within four months I had five more designers come on board. That was how it began back in early 2013. It was a leap of faith that paid off. I still represent my four original designers and we have continued to grow our businesses in mutual admiration for each other’s workflow and philosophy.Glamourous. There are a few moments here and there, but in all honestly? This business of fashion is no different than any other. I hustle every day on the phone, email, etc. My life is spent constructing perfect emails and sale’s forecasting. I wouldn’t have it any other way though! When I sit in my office and look at the jewellery, I feel motivated to push these artists and drive their wholesale business to the best of my ability. It is a constant cat & mouse to build sales and maintain relationships especially as the business changes daily and the competition is more fierce than it has ever been in this category.(The glamour though you ask…well wearing the jewellery of course! Merchandising the showroom & travelling to show the jewels to some pretty awesome corporate offices south of the border!)
AB: What do you look for when sourcing new Designers/brands to represent?
NP: When I am looking for new brands the first consideration is how saleable is the line. (Not exactly the most exciting first step but the most valuable to running a sale’s agency!) The second is to consider the look. Do I already have the aesthetic covered from my existing line-up? I have to be VERY careful not to double up on look or I risk cannibalizing sales for the current brands. I then have to look at price point and margin. Does it fit in to my matrix? And lastly I look at how long the line has been around and where they are sold. I need to be certain that as I sell a line they can deliver to my retailers on time and not risk my ‘hard earned’ relationships.
AB: How would you describe your personal style?
NP: If I had to describe my personal style I’d have to say ‘Classic with a heavy dose of accessories’. But seriously though, it is always changing & evolving. I have a weakness for full skirts & cropped skinny jeans. I love unique flats and rarely wear heels (Hi! I bike to work almost every day!)
AB: What's the best, and the toughest, part of your career?
NP: The best part of my career is by far the talent that I represent & the ability to have created a job for myself! I love the independence I have in decision making and the ability to work from just about anywhere. The toughest part of my career is staying motivated when getting hit with ‘no’s’ as it would be for anyone in a sales role. (That’s where coffee & sheer determination come in handy…and did I mention…I’m as stubborn & persistent as an ox)
AB: As a little girl, what did you dream of doing?
NP: I wanted to be Barbie when I grew up. She could be anything & everything (In hindsight…maybe not so realistic... BUT I always had a belief in myself that I was capable of making any of my crazy dreams come true!) So thanks Barbie? :) On a serious note, I actually was a performer growing up in music. I went to university for Opera and graduated with a music degree before starting in fashion. I think this set me on the path of sales because I love being in front of people.
AB: You are so immersed in fashion, has it always been a passion?
NP: YES! My mom was a dressmaker and always made me the most beautiful clothing (often times matching). I was obsessed with dresses, Barbies & playing ‘shop’. I think it was natural for me to end up on this track.
AB: You are also involved with The Shopping Channel- what is it that you do with them?
NP: I am a freelance ‘Fashion Expert’ with The Shopping Channel. This means that I 'guest host' shows for fashion brands about every 4-6 weeks. I.e. I go on-air and sell product. I absolutely LOVE it! It’s my chance to sell on a national platform and it has been instrumental in growing my confidence in my wholesale business. My dad still watches every show and that makes me happy in my heart.
AB: On top of running your own agency that represents 6 accessory brands, plus being a contributor on TSC, what do you do in your "free" time?
NP: My free time is spent with my husband, our cat Coco and of course friends. We also travel every chance we get! As I am a true East Coaster…I spend way too much time at the pub. A cold draft and I am there! (I also run almost every morning to clear my head before the hustle starts).
AB: What are some of your goals & aspirations for your career?
NP: I would love to continue to work with accessories and also introduce a ‘learning’ element. I launched monthly workshops in March and it was so well received! It motivates me to share my experiences with others. I would love to intro a teaching component to my role and continue to grow the wholesale ‘reach’.
AB: What advice do you wish you would have been given 10 years ago?
NP: I wish 10 years ago I learned to chill out more! (And stop sweating all of the small stuff. This advice still applies today!) I actually have a flip side to this question. Many people said fashion / retail / wholesale wouldn’t make me happy or make me any money. I love that I still had the gumption to do it and wouldn’t have it any other way! (And am running a successful business to boot). Trust your instinct! It’s 99% of the time the right thing for you!
AB: If we were to visit Toronto, what is on the Nadine's Must See & Do list?
NP: Well, Toronto has some of the best restaurants around! So, I’d have to say you have to hit up a few of my fave spots: Oretta for the best Italian with a fab Art Deco vibe & the Drake Hotel for a great cocktail. I also love VSP on Dundas West for the best premium designer consignment. Finally, I’d say my fave weekend thing to do is stroll along Queen Street West and grab coffee. A little leg rest in Trinity Bellwoods park in the summer is actually the best!
You can learn more about Nadine and the Nadine Parsons Agency by following her on Instagram (@nadineparsonsagency) or by checking out her website www.nadineparsons.com
Spring & Summer 2017 Jewelry
Look Book Photoshoot Part II
This season I decided to do two separate shoots with two different photographers to give some variety and to showcase the newest looks. But even still, there are so many beautiful new jewelry styles from all of the Apostle Designers, I couldn't quite capture them all. (But I sure did try!!)
As always, for more information on any of the amazing businesses that contributed to this shoot, you can click on their logo or accompanying image.
Once again, I began with my muse- the model. This woman is one that I've admired for awhile, she is one hard-working woman! Co-owner of Calgary-based Fond Boutique, a mobile boutique that houses "curated contemporary consignment". She is also a Motivator at YYC Cyle, known to be a powerhouse, and friends refer to her as "loyal" and their rock. How could I not be in awe of this inspiring woman?!
Ladies and gentlemen (just in case there's any men reading this, I wanted to include you), I'd like to introduce you to Dione. Dione is not only a force to be reckoned with, but she is warm, kind, and so fun to be around! I had no problem chatting with her about everything from work, life goals & challenges, and everything in between. It's easy to fall in love with Dione because she's genuine, relatable and hilarious.
For her wardrobe we did a collaboration with Fond Boutique, selecting items from her inventory that worked with the vision for the shoot. Being a consignment shop, we had a variety of things to choose from and were able to have fun putting together outfits that were cohesive, cool and wearable. Fond Boutique is taking part in East Village's new shopping concept "EV Junction" - a pop-up retail park of 12 shipping containers adapted into wonderful retail shops. It is located on 4th St and 8th Ave SE Calgary, from June 1-Oct 1. If you're in Calgary, or visiting during that time, you will need to check them out! Another project in the works for Fond is the opportunity to shop online. So for those of you that are looking for amazing contemporary clothing, well-known brands, at a stellar price, watch for Fond Boutique's online shopping website, coming soon!
This time around I was given the opportunity to work with not just one, but two amazing models. Carmyn is a long-time family friend and a woman that is full of life and has a great vision for...well, anything. She immediately jumps at the chance to try something new, and isn't afraid to go out of her comfort zone. Carmyn has a mind for business and she recently launched her own company, Perspective One Day Home Makeovers (that's right- a one day makeover! Amazing!!), and an eye for style, and not to mention a huge heart!
Carmyn set us up for the shoot at the Fratello Café and roasterie, here in Calgary. Fratello (Italian for "brothers") was started by Carmyn's husband, Chris, and his two brothers, Jason and Russ. Thanks to the boys' dad's entrepreneurial spirit and guidance, the Prefontaine brothers now have five retail cafes (you may be familiar with Analog- that's Fratello!) with an amazing & cozy atmosphere, and you can also order their delicious coffees and quality supplies to enjoy at home! Fratello is such a fantastic local business, with both a local and global perspective. I love the story behind the company, and they continue to grow and thrive!
The photographer was the uber-talented Megan Steen. When I was first introduced to Megan's work I loved the drama and emotion in each image. She truly knows how to work with light and shadow, whereas some photographers prefer to steer-clear of any shadow. Megan loves trying new locations, and thrives in the challenge of finding great spots wherever she is.
Megan Steen is predominantly an engagement and wedding photographer, but she also loves doing lifestyle stories as well. Originally from Winnipeg, but recently moved to Calgary with Ryan, her golf-pro boyfriend, her time is spilt between the two cities 50/50 and her wedding calendar is almost fully booked until the fall 2018.
Working with Megan was fun and easy, and I loved how well she took charge of the shoot. Her confidence and keen eye allowed her to gently direct the models to get the perfect shot and evoke the right emotion. Megan is easygoing, positive, has a kind, gentle (yet confident) demeanor, and she is so easy to get along with! Check out her website, and if you're looking for a photographer for any occasion, be sure to contact Megan!
Now, what more wonderful things can I say about Distilled Beauty Bar & Social House that I haven't said in the last posts...? The atmosphere is to die for, the drinks (including wine), treats and food are amazing, and all their services they offer are relaxing and fun (thanks to the wonderful ladies that work there).
We had the chance to not only have Dione and Carmyn all done-up for the shoot at Distilled, but we also took advantage of their cute patio space, wonderful café area for some photos, AND we had a break for lunch before heading off. And it was all AMAZING!!
As I mentioned, for this shoot, the ladies at Distilled provided both Dione and Carmyn with gel-polish manicures, amazing hair blow-outs, and beautiful makeup application. The hairstyle lasted for days (but they weren't crunchy or stiff with product), and the makeup was glamorous and gave this shoot a completely different look from the others we have done.
Whether you're looking for a mani/pedi, a place to grab a coffee and lunch with a friend, or all of the above, Distilled is conveniently located in Marda Loop and definitely somewhere to check out! You won't be disappointed!!
Right beside Distilled is another amazing Calgary-based company, Village Ice Cream! As if ice cream at 10:30am isn't perfect on it's own, how can you beat flavors like Blueberry Lavender Coconut Milk, Oh Snap Crackle Popin', Melted Chocolate, or Guides Mint (to name a few!). Village Ice Cream gave us a fun, contemporary place to get some great shots, and it was fun to incorporate (and then eat) some amazing ice cream!
Every time I have visited Village Ice Cream, I have been so impressed by the way the staff treat every customer. I believe that this stems from staff loving where they work and being thrilled to be there. With three locations in Calgary, this artisanal ice cream shop is a great place to visit...even at 10:30am!
I am a born-and-raised Calgarian, and there are a number of stores that I can remember going to with my mom when I was a kid. One of these stores is Kismet, located in Kensington. Kismet has so much selection in a reasonable price range, and no matter your style, budget, or occasion, you can definitely find something at Kismet!
I had a lot of fun going through the racks finding the perfect spring-time wardrobe for Carmyn. From a floral bomber, to the most comfortable kimono styled cover-up, to a beautiful tan leather jacket...Kismet hit the nail on the head! Thank you Kismet for being a part of this shoot! It was such a pleasure and I hope to work with you again!
Last fall I met Kayley, the owner of Wrinkle & Crease, a beautiful collection of luxury paper products- from cards, to notebooks, to monthly planners. Kayley designs each item and uses a high-quality letterpress and foil print, creating simply beautiful stationary. Wrinkle & Crease is about writing more, and typing less. There's nothing better than receiving a hand-written card to say Happy Birthday (or Thank You, or Happy Mothers/Fathers Day, I like your face, etc)- so much better than just a text, don't you think?! Wrinkle & Crease is a Must-See, but I warn you, when you see it, you will want it all, and that's ok! It's about thoughtfulness and sending someone a message that they will cherish and keep. Or, if you like to journal, it's a wonderful keepsake and safe-haven for your thoughts, feelings, and life stories.
I incorporated a couple of Wrinkle & Crease cards in this shoot because I, for one, love sending cards, and I also believe in (and love) what Kayley is doing.
As they say, that's a wrap!
This season I have seen a many new styles with fresh colours and designs- it was a lot of fun to get the two look book photoshoots together and I always truly love & appreciate working with all of the fantastic local businesses. Thank you to not only those that I collaborated with for the shoots, but to everyone who is reading this- thank you for the support and encouragement, and for enabling me to do what I love.
Spring 2017 Creative Look Book
Organizing a creative Look Book for Spring 2017 isn't a simple feat, and this shoot definitely came with some hiccups. But when you're determined, flexible and surrounded by an amazing team, you can handle anything that may come your way!
As I take you through this shoot and the stories behind it, you can click on any logo for more information about those that I partnered with for the shoot. And believe me, you will want more information. All of these businesses and individuals are AMAZING!!
The vision for this shoot began with the model. I knew who I wanted, but not knowing her personally, I wasn't sure what she'd think of the idea. Just so you know, I haven't ever hired a professional model, and while I recognize the perks of having a trained model, that isn't the direction I want to go with Apostle. My desire is to represent you and me- real, everyday women that aren't trained to pose, may not be able to gaze off into the distance with a thoughtful, serene and beautiful expression. But we embrace (though may not love) each curve, wrinkle, scar, and awkwardness. When I look for a woman to be the face for an upcoming campaign, I look for someone who is genuine, kind, fun-loving, and inspiring. And all of the traits take on different forms.
Some of you may have heard about the Love for Lewiston Foundation either on local Calgary news or through social media. Lewiston was an adorable little boy, brother to Swayzie and son to Jessica and Ronnie Olstad. Before Lewiston was three months old he was Diagnosed with SMA- type 1 (Spinal Muscular Atrophy causes nerve cells in the brain & spinal cord to break down and die, thus signals from the brain don't go to the muscles). Given less than a year to live, Jess and Ronnie decided to allow others to journey with them through the real, the raw, and the hope. Shortly before Lewiston's 6 month birthday, he passed away peacefully in Jessica's arms. Lewiston was fiercely loved, and he was a true champion and warrior with the most amazing eyes that would instantly draw you in. During treatment, the Olstad family, friends and those that cared for him at the Rotary House would have dance parties, and these parties continue to lift spirits, bring a bit of joy and laughter, and to remember the tiny man with a huge spirit.
The Love for Lewiston Foundation continues to go strong to help raise awareness of SMA and funds for finding a cure, and to help kids who are diagnosed to receive physical and occupational therapy in hopes that they can live as independently as possible. For those of you that are runners, the Lewiston Ultra is a 50k trail run in Shuswap taking place in May of 2018 (start training now!). To learn more about the Foundation, the Olstad family, or how you can help, click on the logo above to visit the website.
While there is SO much to say about the Olstad family, Lewiston, and SMA, I want to bring some focus to Jessica, Lewiston's mom. Jess was first brought to my attention through similar friends, and I later found out that she was a mentor to some teenage girls (now women) that I also mentored years previously (coincidence!!). Anyone that knows Jess had only wonderful things to say about her, including "she is the kind of person the people want to be like". I began to follow her account on Instagram and I saw a woman who has, and is going through shattering loss, but yet through all that crap she continues to shine and have such intense inner joy and peace. A woman who continues to inspire, challenge and encourage those around her. A woman who isn't afraid of letting people see the raw & ugliness of daily life and struggles, and isn't afraid to show exactly who she is (including video of getting her chin waxed). Jess isn't perfect, and like everyone else, I'm sure there are things she keeps to herself, but I couldn't help but be drawn-in and I knew that because of who she is at the core, she is exactly who I wanted to feature as a representative of Apostle.
When I first met Jess I immediately saw how warm and genuine she was. I noticed that she was sincere and loving to everyone and took the time to look people in the eye and say thank you (and mean it). Jessica is outgoing and she knows what she wants, and goes for it. It was such and fun & easy experience to work with her, and I can honestly say that I understand what people meant when they said that she's the kind of person you want to be. My hope is that through this shoot, I could give her a fun day of pampering and relaxing. Photo shoots are exhausting, and I'm so thankful that she gave a day away to me. Thank you SO much Jess!!
This Look Book was photographed by Janice Lee Photography. If you look at her website or Instagram account, you'll instantly see that her photos are bright, clean, fresh...and SO pretty! Janice Lee has a style that is unique to her, and she has an amazing ability to capture beautiful moments.
About 5 hours after we wrapped up the shoot, I received an email that the photos were done!! Umm...Amazing!! As I clicked through each image, I was dumbfounded at how well Janice captured Jessica's "essence" (sounds so cheesy, but I don't think "soul" or "spirit" sounds any better). You can really get a feel for who Jess is, and Janice did such an amazing job at showing not only who Jessica is, but also at showing the jewelry. Janice Lee is not only great at photographing moments and connections, but she has an impeccable eye for detail as well! Thank you Janice Lee Photography!
If you've followed Apostle for awhile now, you're no stranger to Distilled Beauty Bar. Distilled has hosted Apostle for two Pop Ups now, and as I spend my time there for these events, and for my coffee stops, or pedicure appointments, I get to know the owner, Lisa, and the team (I call them Distillers) better and better each time. Lisa is the bomb! I don't think I know of a harder working woman- she is there every day and doing every task from wiping tables, chatting with customers, answering phones...you name it, and she's doing it. You often see business owners sitting back and working on their computers, Lisa does all of that too, but she is hands-on, and I admire that. It doesn't hurt that she's also an amazing person through and through! And an amazing boss hires amazing staff to support her business, and everyone that works at Distilled is happy and enjoyable to spend the day with. For this shoot, Distilled gave Jess a fresh, spring'y manicure, and I'm looking forward to our next shoot in a couple of weeks where Distilled Beauty Bar will be doing hair, makeup and nails! Thank you Distilled!
Conveniently located across the street from Distilled, Crabapple Clothing Company comes through, once again, with an amazing wardrobe that fit my vision perfectly! My thought for this shoot was "a typical Saturday" - going for coffee, out for drinks, and relaxing at home, and so I needed three distinct outfits. With brands like Mackage, Soia & Kyo, Fidelity, Joie, Ted Baker, Velvet, Rails...and SO much more, the owner, Whitney, pulled together some wonderful outfits and knocked it out of the park! Jessica was comfortable, confident, and looked spectacular in everything from Crabapple. Thank you Whitney, and the Crabapple team for outfitting us yet again!
Hair & Make Up :
This was my second time working with SwizzleSticks SalonSpa, and once again, it was such an immense pleasure to collaborate with them for this shoot and have them really create a hair and makeup look that was pure perfection!
But first, let's go back to one of those hiccups I mentioned at the start of this.
I began planning for this shoot about a month in advance, and I really enjoyed working with the SwizzleSticks team for the Winter Shoot and wanted to do so again this time around. I emailed Molly and everything was set and booked.
Fast forward to the night before this shoot. After I pulled the final jewelry selections, I randomly thought I should write out a timeline for the day (I've never done this). Wanting to know who we had booked for hair and makeup I looked at my emails with Molly, scrolled down, and I saw it. I said May 26th, not April! Heart racing, all blood flow ceased and my body went cold. I was legitimately freaking out. I sent emails to everyone at SwizzleSticks that I could. I was finding staff on Instagram and sending them messages, trying to get ahold of someone to see if we could make it happen, or to see if I had to cancel the shoot altogether. It felt like an hour, but within seconds Missy, the amazing Makeup artist, responded, made a phone call, and told me she'd see us in the morning. How amazing is that?! The SwizzleSticks team pulled out a miracle at 10:30pm the night before and made it happen!! (now imagine angels singing in the background)
We had the immense pleasure of Brianna working her magic and creating the perfect "Saturday" look that lasted all day long. This woman knows her way with hair, and seems to know how to manipulate it to do exactly what she wants. The end result was a full bodied, easy curl that looked amazing. On top of knowing her way around the salon (which she would, because she's the owner of this amazing place!), Brianna also cares about playing a part in our world. Together with the Swizz team, they have started Bee Kind to help raise funds to save the bees. For $20 you can buy a jar of fresh honey from their (yes, Swizzlesticks' own) hive, and in return, you will receive a $20 Swizzlesticks gift card!
Back to the lady that saved the day- Missy! Missy created the stunning makeup look for our last shoot on Katie, and I was so pleased to know that we'd be working with her again. It also doesn't hurt that she knew Jess from before, so they had a great time chatting as Missy worked away. Again, I asked for an easy "Saturday" look. I didn't want a smoky eye, or solid lipstick, but I did want to try a baby-winged eyeliner, and even though Jess was initially hesitant when I said "wing", it was amazing and subtle, and even Jess loved it! With the stroke of her brushes, some spritzes of setting spray, Missy's artistry lasted throughout the day and worked with every outfit and location. Now I want to try a baby-wing too...although I don't have quite the skill or steady hand that Missy does. Perhaps that's something that's better left to the pros!
Now on to our locations... going with the theme of a typical Saturday, and also being spring time in Calgary, we needed three spectacular locations that were indoors (the forecast for the day was rain. All day. Rain and cold.).
First, our coffee stop. Alforno Bakery located on 2nd Ave and 7th St SW, right downtown. Since Alforno opened, I knew I wanted to shoot there, and this was the perfect opportunity. Bright, contemporary décor, with lots of natural light (thanks to their sky lights), and not to mention the delicious coffee & treats, I knew I wanted to get in there, and Andrew, the General Manager, happily allowed us in. After a quick break to enjoy the fireplace and a snack, we got to work, and the end result was spectacular. This proved to me that Alforno Bakery was the perfect "stage" for photos, and the perfect atmosphere for coffee, lunch, and treats, any day of the week! Thank you Alforno!
Next up was our "drinks out" portion of the shoot.
When I came up with the concept for the shoot, both myself and Janice Lee knew where we wanted to go- Bridgette Bar! The mid-century charm allows you to feel as if you've travelled back in time and are waiting to join Don Draper and Peggy Olson (from Mad Men) for an Old Fashioned...only difference is you don't have to wear a corset or full skirt in Bridgette Bar's casual atmosphere.
Every corner at Bridgette Bar offered us a totally different look, and we had a lot of fun getting inspired by the décor. Once we got all the shots we needed (but we could have continued for another hour!), we decided to stay for lunch...it was delicious! The Margherita Pizza, Cucumber Salad and Spring Salmon Crudo were all spectacular! Thank you Bridgette Bar (and the ladies at Press + Post for arranging it)!
From there we continued on to "relax at home" with the Smith condo development from Grosvenor. From the moment I phoned them to see about coming in for the shoot, to the moment we wrapped up, every single person we talked to was so hospitable, kind and supportive. They were more than willing to open up their doors to us, allowed us to shoot in all three show suites, and offered to help in any way (including Dave offering himself as a model).
Apart from their hospitality, the condo itself is perfectly located on 6th St 7 15th Ave SW- one block in from 17th Avenue, which is one of Calgary's best locations for shopping, restaurants, and coffee shops. The condo itself offers a number of different floorplans to suit any need, and the layouts are all logical (sounds silly, but I have seen some new condo developments that leave you wondering "why would they do that?!") and allow for easy, comfortable and modern living. Great views, amazing location, and a builder that loves what they do. If I ever decide to move inner-city, the Smith is where I'll be looking!! Thank you, to everyone at the Smith and Grosvenor!
As you can see, it really did take a village to make this shoot happen. THANK YOU to all of the impeccable businesses that, literally, opened their doors to us so that we could create beautiful images that draw you in and inspire you.
What Jewelry Should I Wear With My Party Outfit?
The holidays are once again upon us, and with that comes the endless
stream of Christmas parties, office functions, girls' nights, winter weddings,
and of course, New Years Eve parties!
With every great party comes a great party outfit!
I had the great pleasure of being a guest on City TV's Breakfast Television for a segment on What Jewelry To Wear With This Year's Holiday Party Outfits. The best part about being on BT this time was that I got to work with some wonderful women (and friends!) who agreed to be my models for the morning.
This post is based on the segment that I did for Breakfast Television.
Please click on the BT Calgary logo below to watch the
quick 5 minute segment.
Once again, Crabapple Clothing knocked it out of the park with their amazing selection of clothing to suit any style, event, and every-day wear!With the help of Crabapple owner, Whitney, and the fabulous Crabapple-women, we styled our models in 4 different Holiday Party outfits that were fashion-forward without pushing boundaries, chic, classy and sexy- the perfect combination for any type of party! I am such a huge fan of Crabapple Clothing because of their service and selection. Apostle stands behind jewelry that is versatile, functional and unique, and in my opinion, Crabapple offers that same promise with their accessible fashions. Click on the Crabapple logo to visit their website!
How To Accessorize The Season's
Trends & Party Looks
Holiday Parties, and all parties in general, are the perfect time to have fun with your jewelry and try something new. Mix and match, layer on a number of necklaces and/or bracelets...have fun with it! Don't feel like you need to rush out and get a big, sparkly piece that really is just a one-hit-wonder. Instead, invest in jewelry that will go great with not only your party attire, but with your office wear, jeans & a tee, and everything in between. Choosing such versatile jewelry ensures that you will get the best bang for your buck, and find something you truly love.
With the help of Crabapple, we pulled together four different party looks that can be worn to a Christmas party, home-base NYE bash, drinks out with girls, or to a winter wedding. From the corporate, to cocktail, to cool, these looks cover it all!
First we had Denise in a bright red cami with beautiful lace details was paired with an amazingly comfortable velvet jogger-style pant that we cuffed at the bottom. This outfit was cool, trendy and feminine and I wanted to work with that in the jewelry selection that completed the look.The focus for this outfit was on layering three delicate necklaces of varying lengths. I combined the Five Disc Choker by Gorjana with Leah Alexandra's Honeycomb Necklace and Prism Necklace. This trio maintained the feminine aesthetic, and the choker amped it up and worked with the trendy, cool vibe as well.When layering necklaces be aware that adding a dangley earring could be a bit too much...dangle. If there's a lot of different things hanging around, it can be a bit too much. Instead, opt for a great ear climber like the Sunny Climber. The Labradorite stones in this earring can go with anything and will quickly become your new go-to.
Next I wanted to showcase a popular Holiday (and party) look- the cocktail dress. But this dress that Janet wore was not at all traditional! It had the foundation of a classic dress, but with the great leather trim, deep v-neckline and beautiful green colour, this dress was classy, fun and sexy.To follow the lines of the V-neck, I selected the Desert Necklace by Hailey Gerrits. This necklace is bold and beautiful, and everything about it just worked with the dress. From the colours of the stones, to the shape that beautifully mimicked (but didn't mirror) the neckline, it's as if it were meant to be! The Desert Earrings were also a great choice because they pulled together the necklace and the dress, without being overbearing. I loved that these earring were a drop-style which elongated Janet's neck, but they weren't distracting from the rest of the look.We also decided to pile on the bracelets and go for different colours and textures. Jant wore the Beaded Wrap Bracelet by WYSH Collective, the Stone Bar Cuff by Liel & Lentz, the Trillium Cuff by Leah Alexandra, and the Liberty Bracelet in Iolite and Tanzanite by Leah Alexandra. Combining these different bracelets added touches of different colours but were all very complimentary and cohesive. By wearing a great bracelet stack, like this one, you add a unique and creative edge to your outfit that nobody else will have.
From here we moved to a very contemporary, slightly urban and chic look. MacKenzie wore a fantastic leather legging with a full-volume ivory top and neutral plaid shawl. The shawl added a very classy touch, but when she took it off, the look was completely cool and fun.Because the top was so full, it was important to give a streamlined look with a long, delicate necklace. The Capra Necklace by Taylor Kenney has an oxidized chain and shining gold pronghorn-shaped pendant that continued the cool, urban style. With the Capra Necklace, I paired the Demeter Earrings (also by Taylor Kenney) because of their long and narrow drop. The feminine chains and tiny Labradorite gems added the perfect amount of glamour and sparkle, without being too in-your-face.With this top being so voluminous, it is important to not add too much jewelry and add bulk. For this reason, we added just two very lightweight bracelets. Both the Chaplin Bracelet by Gorjana and the Liberty Bracelet in Labradorite, Chalcedony and Zirconia gems contributed to the feminine look of the earrings, but were barely-there - which was perfect!
Who doesn't love a great black dress? Our next model, Carmyn, mentioned that she always gravitates to a LBD when shopping for an event. I also love that staple black dress, but it also seemed...boring. Instead, we found the perfect take on the Little Black Dress, but this version was much more fashion-forward, contemporary and cool. Although an LBD can be amazing, there isn't much interest, but the look that we selected is packed full of interesting details, yet is completely polished! Although Carmyn was covered-up in the long-sleeved, high-neck, lace top, there was still a sense of mystery and sex-appeal. Paired with this great window-pane print, A-line skirt, Carmyn looked (and felt) amazing.
Due to all the details & pattern in the top and skirt, adding a necklace would have been too much and would be distracting. Instead, I went for a killer pair of earrings- the Lucerne Vintage Clip Earrings are amazing!! And how cool is it that the designer created them using a Vintage Shoe Clip?!
Adding the large Guia Cuff on one wrist, and a Gold Cluse Minuit watch with the Cross Over Cuff, not only allowed this great outfit to shine, but without the jewelry, it would have been nearly as polished or cool.
If there's a Holiday Party outfit (or any outfit!) that you are looking to accessorize, contact Apostle to work with you to find the perfect jewelry to suit not only your outfit, but your personal style as well!