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My adventures in retailing continue…

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For those hot and sticky July days…

Cream Tall Maxi Skirt

My latest creative venture/distraction from the past couple of very cold months. Feels like sheer heaven over my skin. I simply cannot wait for the summer heat to weigh heavily in the air. Clearly, it does not take too much to leave me feeling all giddy and satisfied…

Sneak peak to all my lovely followers ๐Ÿ˜‰ Will be ready for sale in a very short time.

But don’t worry, you will certainly be the first to know! What do you think?!

Experience trumps youth every time

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As I was perched in a very precarious position on an ancient, rusted and very wobbly ladder this weekend, I couldn’t help BUT eavesdrop on the other designers in my favourite warehouse as they were making their fabric selections, discussing their design plans, and attempting to convince each other that there is a viable market for a $200 cotton crop top “as long as it were really well constructed”…

Their silent rationalization and head-nodding to that statement was absolutely deafening.

How did I get here again?!

Suddenly, and feeling as though I had been somehow caught in the act, my breath of fresh air appeared from below to assess my rather odd position (no doubt in an attempt to get away from this strange group) and communicated his lack of patience with the fashion students through a very obvious eye roll. As he helped me down from the unstable pile of bolts that I somehow managed to find myself on yet again, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as my feet were planted firmly back on the ground – both literally and figuratively – simply because of his presence.

“What have you hidden for me today?” I asked him sweetly (score 1 point here for experience) and his eyes lit up with excitement as he whisked me off to show me the best of the best tucked away only for his favourite clients (N.B. I am not THAT naive to think that I am his only one). And despite his previous display of impatience, he is a man who clearly adores his work. I appreciate his candour. His no-nonsense approach. And most recently, our apparent bonding over blatant ageism…

It got me thinking. Despite our rather obvious difference in age (their grunge attire is reminiscent of my own youth when it was popular the first time around circa 1991), I am really no different from these young students – for they are testing their skills and limits just as I am. Yet for some reason, I still feel like I am out-of-place amongst this uber-trendy, hat-wearing crowd as they make their selections for end of semester projects. No, I do not know how to put together a coherent croquis for my professors or potential buyers. I cannot make a dress in an hour to fill a last-minute space missing in my runway show for finals. Nor do I seem to have a backpack-carrying entourage to accompany me on these strangely comforting sourcing trips…

But we do both seek to express our ideas through the same medium. We follow the same steps and framework. My path for getting here may have been very different and not as direct as theirs but here we are, both in the exact same space, trying to solve the exact same problems, faced with the exact same barriers.

“OMG – where did you find that?!” she squealed with a mix of adolescence, competition and envy as my purchases were being tabulated. And I matched her interest, excitement and obvious hand gestures perfectly and with utter ease, all while secretly thanking him with only my eyes.

Maybe we really aren’t all that different after all…

Letter writing is a dying art form

Dear Jane,

Thank you for the lovely wishes – you are in my thoughts more often than you think ๐Ÿ™‚ I am starting early with my birthday celebrations by enjoying a glass of wine, snuggled on my couch with my boy, watching the Olympics. While I am certainly NOT happy about getting any older…I think I’m pretty lucky to be exactly where I am sitting right now ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s been awhile since you have had an update – seems like time is passing faster than I would like… After the article was published in the Saturday Style section of the Citizen, I’ve had several more sales but more importantly, some amazing words of encouragement from total strangers. They have given me the confidence to continue – and that is exactly what I am going to do ๐Ÿ™‚ In March, I will be starting to develop a long, flowy, silk chiffon maxi skirt for tall women – think light fabric just billowing in the wind as she/I walk by! Very excited! But as usual, I’ve needed to teach myself (yet again) on how to construct it (I can’t seem to let things go undiscovered) and so this became my #1 goal after New Year’s Day.

After (some) trial and error, I have finished my best version yet this past weekend! I’m thrilled because not only is the fabric is a little unusual but the actual construction is straight and strong – and I am so excited to wear it! Now, I have no illusions here – I still need to have them professionally constructed for the business ( I’m not exactly that quick…) but I have a good template to work with now and I know exactly what I want.

As for my writing, it seems to have hit a block lately – perhaps because I have been focusing all of my creative energy into a more tactile format…but I’m sure that it will come back to me – I enjoy it far too much to simply let it go…

Enjoy the day with your family on Friday – our guardian angel is watching us. I continue to pass by regularly to say hello and leave a little something of thanks behind ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope all is well ๐Ÿ™‚ Big hugs all around!
Love Alissa xo

Don’t (please) look at me

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Not only am I an enigma to some, floating away as fast as I arrived, I am also a complete contradiction. To put it rather bluntly, I am simply an introvert who is trying to be an extrovert…or wait? Am I an extrovert who is dying to be an introvert?

No wonder people are generally left confused by my presence. I am obviously giving off some mixed signals here…

Trust me, even I can’t figure it out and I happen to be an overly self-aware individual. I find myself screaming at the top of my lungs to be heard, yet covering my ears like a small child, shaking their head, begging for silence. I crave the chaos and excitement of intense crowds yet I find utter peace and comfort in the solitary cocoon that represents my home.

Yet, even when I achieve that sweet yet savoury moment, I despise the silence.

This week has allowed me the opportunity to explore these contradictions in my personality through the eyes of the media. I have been faced with such extreme examples that it has been simply impossible for me to ignore their magnitude. And through all my shrewd yet dull observations, I am left pondering:

Why do I keep trying to be something that I am not?

Resolutions for 2014

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A very special friend in my life has given me some (somewhat) unsolicited advice with intent to have me start 2014 off on the right foot. You know the type – the friend who will force you to face your inner-most demons completely out of the blue, usually over a bottle of wine, without any attempt to sugar-coat the truth, all in the name of friendship. A true gift. So, with utter nonchalance in tone, I have been advised ‘to simply suspend my disbelief’ for all the amazing things that are happening to me. ‘For they are all warranted and earned – you deserve it…’ And with that deadpan look only a true friend can give, the statement hit my core, whether I wanted to face my demons on that particular evening or not.

When I reflect back on 2013, it would seem that each time I have experienced a new event in this venture or overcome some strange challenge (that I never even imagined that I would have to face in the first place…), my reaction has always been one of awe and shock at my good fortune and dumb luck. Sheer happiness. Utter joy. Things that were once thought impossible, have become possible and I often struggle to figure out the ‘how’ while in the moment. As a result, my reflexes and instincts are becoming compromised. It’s as if everything in my mind is bright and acute with my peripheral moving in slow motion. I can’t seem to react in the same way. I’m able to both hear and see what is going on around me but not at the same time. It’s mildly surreal.

And this dissonance/happy state may be putting me at a business disadvantage.

For it is only when I have a quiet moment to sit back and process the events of the day (with a well-earned glass of wine) can I become objective. After some reflection, I begin to recall the feeling as though I am missing something but because I am on such an adrenaline high in the moment, my senses seem dull, weak and just white noise in the background. I’m simply overcome with gratitude to notice anything else. So, while I am trapped in this stunned and blind state, am I really asking all the right questions? Am I really being thorough in my analysis of the situation? Am I really protecting my interests and not allowing myself to be taken advantage of? Am I unnecessarily creating serious potholes in my path that may be making my road more bumpier than it really needs to be?

2014 will be an interesting year. I have no doubt I will continue to be amazed at the challenges, experiences and achievements which lay ahead.

But I think I need to work hard on not trying to understand the ‘how’ or ‘why’ of a situation and focus more on the ‘who’ and ‘what’ in a much more jaded fashion. The real way that I deal with everything else going on in my life…

How to give a bottle of ketchup for Christmas and not look cheap

Raw Sugar

Christmas Tourtiere Recipe

For a yummy and indulgent meal this holiday season โ€“ without any thought of calories, fat (save that for March when bikini season is fast approaching), or any other modern sense of health-related reasoning โ€“ try this meat pie. I can guarantee you that it will bring the tallest and strongest man quite literally to his knees in utter gratitude and awe for your homemade creation! Seriously ladies โ€“ if you need a proposal, this is the smoking gunโ€ฆI should know โ€“ I have gotten 2 as a resultโ€ฆ.

BTW โ€“ it takes a couple of days if you want to do it right. I got this recipe from a proper, elderly, French Canadian woman -quantities and instructions can be sketchy at times so go with your gut โ€“ as all cooking really ought to be done anywaysโ€ฆ

It will make 3 pies โ€“ but donโ€™t worryโ€ฆ

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Not all mullets are created equal

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I didn’t think it was possible for any man in this day in age to actually posses a mullet outside of Walmart. Perhaps this was why I was so shocked at its presence in the opulent and private dining room of a very expensive restaurant – it was completely out of context. You must understand here that this was not just ANY mullet, but this was the very definition of a mullet – in all of its mystical glory. I struggle now to accurately put it into words – for it can only be described as hockey hair – business in the front, party in the back – complete with soft curls falling softly down the nape of his neck. I’ve seen variations of the mullet over the years but nothing as authentic as this particular version EVER in my adult life.

And – since I happen to be the “luckiest” single woman ever – this short, stocky and poorly coiffed man was to be my dinner companion for the evening.

What can I say – the universe likes a good laugh at my expense…

Yet, to my utter surprise, he turned out to be the most interesting and intriguing person I have met in a very, very long time. A bold statement I know – but I am speaking the absolute truth. We spoke for several hours, vaguely aware of the hum from the other dinner guests, about everything from business, to politics, with everything in between. We had exceptional similarities in our life experiences, could match each other with our knowledge and analysis on most subjects yet offered the other a completely different perspective that allowed for the discussion to flow without any sense of time or quite frankly, any engagement from the other guests sitting at our table. I was so focused that I actually forgot about the existence of his mullet entirely – and it became some strange mirage in the distance…

On my way home, I found myself looking forward to our next meeting. Yet despite my warm and reflective state, I also chastised myself sternly for my earlier reaction, and needed to remind myself that appearances are just that – appearances – and MY snap judgement of an individual based simply on how they are styled is very dangerous and utterly superficial on my part. I ought to be ashamed of myself. I began to feel very guilty for my small-minded thoughts at the start of the evening, for they turned out not only to be misleading but completely inaccurate.

I’m fairly certain he knows that people quietly giggle about his appearance – how could he not. But maybe that’s why he keeps it – because despite the giggle – it also means that he becomes unforgettable.

Which makes him the most unassuming marketing genius for his business and brand. Mullet and all.

Except today…

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I have just committed my first major error in this venture.

I spoke the truth. You know the one that everybody THINKS of but never actually verbalizes because they posses a little something called tact?

Damn me and my lack of a filter between my brain and mouth. Cue the dramatic sigh and eye-roll…

I would like to point out that I accept full responsibility for putting myself in this compromising situation in the first place. HAD I done a thorough research and expressed a wild interest and a sense of enthusiasm for all the fascinating details pertaining to NAFTA and its rigorous fabric importing regulations from Canada into the United States, (all in a handy 60 page PDF document provided neatly to me via the internet by the US government), I could have avoided this rather annoying little predicament quite nicely.

But alas, this was a mere oversight on my part.

Up until my rather scary phone call from a very terse and possibly armed customs agent – (but of course he was armed. The mere fact that we were miles apart and I was nowhere near his visual range, did not make things any less stressful for me I can assure you.) – everything was moving rather smoothly. This whole venture was becoming pretty easy actually. Then I heard his mildly condescending and authoritative voice…and I immediately felt like I was at the principle’s office all over again.

He demanded to know where I had sourced my fabrics. In an effort to inject a little humour into the already tense situation, I simply replied ” I buy all my fabrics in Montreal, but I guess they probably originally came from China because doesn’t everything really come from there anyway?!” Cue the giggle.

I realize it’s not my best work. But, given the scary voice, the fact my coffee hadn’t fully kicked in, and our obvious lack of proximity to properly convey all of the necessary non-verbal accoutrements to complete the scene in my obvious attempt for wit before 9 a.m. – I think I could have done a whole lot worse…

And there it is. I told the truth. And it has cost me $80 for saying the word China.

Damn me and my sassy mouth.