Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ashley


Ashley: "I bought this poncho from Turkey a few weeks ago. I love wearing black with a little colour. I always get inspiration from looking at the New York street style blogs and Kate Moss' rock 'n' roll style."

TorontoVerve: "What's your biggest regret in life?"

Ashley: "Wearing my heart on my sleeve."


Monday, December 15, 2014

Jessica


"My style varies. I wear t-shirts and jeans a lot, but I also have over a hundred dresses. I'm influenced by the 20's and 60's era. Coco Chanel and Joni Mitchell are big inspirations."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Domenic


"I like a lot of layers with patterns. I often get fashion inspiration from women's styles -- particularly Kylie Jenner. Her fashion is edgy and effortless. I like to incorporate her look into men's fashion."

Follow Domenic on Instagram.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Satan's Doll: Andrea Werhun

One of my favourite films from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was The Editor, a fun feature that lovingly pays homage to Giallo (a bloody sub-genre of 70‘s Italian crime-thrillers). Interestingly, at the recent Toronto After Dark Film Festival, there was another Canadian film that paid tribute to the risqué genre: Satan’s Dolls, directed by Carlo Schefter. The film was well-received and soon will be making the rounds at other festivals.

In Satan’s Dolls, Toronto-native, Andrea Werhun (25) plays a femme-fatale who’s not afraid to stab or shoot her way out of a sticky situation. I visited Werhun at the Fertile Ground Farm in St. Agatha (just outside of Kitchener-Waterloo) to talk about the film and more.


TorontoVerve: What was your first experience like at Toronto After Dark? 

Andrea Werhun: It was awesome. The crowd was so supportive and laughed at all the silliness of the film. It was a fantastic experience. I didn’t feel nervous at all. 

TV: Tell us about Satan’s Dolls and your character. 

AW: It’s a Giallo-inspired short film about a lesbian nunnery. It’s a crazy sensory experience. The director, Carlo Schefter, casted me as Suzy, a mobster queen who secretly worships the devil. I get to kill people and make out with a nun and priest (laughs). 

TV: So what were your feelings about the film after you saw it? 

AW: I was in love. I laughed the entire time. It turned out so beautifully. The music was right on point. The editing was amazing. I’m very proud of this 20 minute film.

TV: What’s it like watching yourself on the big screen? 

AW: It’s surreal. I’ve seen myself on a big-screen before (Advocate) and the first time was a shock. Seeing myself the second time was an enjoyable experience. I felt like I was part of the audience, watching it for the very first time. My ass looked so big on screen. It was awesome.

TV: Have your folks seen the movie? 

AW: Yeah, they really enjoyed it. I warned them about seeing my naked butt and told them to cover their eyes during that scene (laughs).

 

TV: You’ve worked with Second City. What was that like? 

AW: I’ve taken improv classes there and have been involved with a few troupes. I haven’t done any improv since I’ve been living on the farm, but I’m definitely considering doing more when I get back to Toronto.

TV: What’s it like doing improv in front of an audience? 

AW: It can be completely nerve-racking or the most magical experience. It’s incredible to be totally devoted to a character that has spontaneously come out of you. When it works, it’s not only magical to be a part of, it’s also magical to see it as an audience member. Of course bad improv is the opposite of magical and terrible to watch.

TV: So you were telling me that you’re trying to have as little presence as possible on the internet. Why is that? 

AW: Yes, it’s just that when I came to the farm I realized that I was on Facebook way too much. I was senselessly developing jealousies. I was upset that everything was happening away from here. I eventually learned that I needed to be focussed on where I was. I was also getting frustrated with people who were lurking -- people who value looking at your online profile instead of personally interacting with you. I didn’t want my life to be lurked. I guess it was also a test to see who my real friends were.

TV: How do you plan to build your acting career while remaining faithful to that commitment? 

AW: I plan to build my acting career on my ability to act. I don’t think interacting with people through social media would make me a better actor. I also don’t think it’s good for my mental health to be constantly promoting myself online. I would rather focus on being a good artist.


TV: Why have you chosen to live on a farm since the beginning of summer? 

AW: Because my boyfriend is the field manager here. I also had practical reasons: I wanted to discipline myself by working hard and sticking to a routine. I wake up very early every day to harvest loads of vegetables for 9 hours. I also wanted a better relationship with nature because I lived my whole life in the city. Here, I’ve had the opportunity to experience giant skies, old trees and lovely trails. I have the freedom and space to do whatever I want and it’s incredible to see what darkness really looks like when there are no lights around. I’m pleased that I was able to easily adapt to this different lifestyle. I think that’s an important skill to have when you’re an actor -- to be able to adapt to any given role. Now I can adapt to the role of a hard working farm intern and do it without complaining. As an actress, I make it my main priority to live my life to the fullest so when it comes time to playing roles, I have many life experiences that I can draw upon.

TV: TorontoVerve is a street style blog so I'm obligated to ask: how would you describe your fashion? 

AW: Ninety-five percent of my wardrobe is secondhand. I love the quality and workmanship of vintage fabric. I think that there are too many new pieces of clothing. If you want H&M or Joe Fresh, just go to Goodwill. They have their whole collection there.


TV: So what are you working on next? 

AW: My Satan Dolls’ cast mate, Nicole Bazuin, and I are developing a comic book together called "Modern Whore". It examines sex work in a larger cultural context and how people of all backgrounds relate to whores. Unfortunately, prostitutes are humanity’s dumpster. Nicole and I believe that there are female, male and trans sex workers who deserve love and affection just like everyone else. It’s an issue that I hold very close to my heart. I’m writing the stories and Nicole is illustrating them.

TV: How will you be humanizing sex workers in your comic book? 

AW: With first-person accounts. I’ve done much research and interviews with people in the sex trade. I think the reason people can’t relate to sex workers is because they don’t know their stories. They don’t know how similar their lives and experiences are.

TV: What have you discovered is the most common reason for someone to turn to a life of prostitution?  
AW: It’s flexible work. It obviously pays a lot of money, and believe it or not, it can be quite fulfilling, which is what we want to explore in our comic. It also parallels much work in the service industry. Anyone who has ever been a waitress or barista can probably relate to many of their experiences. There are also some poor people who have no choice but to enter the sex trade to survive, and I don’t think it’s right to chastise them simply because prostitution was their last resort. There’s nothing inherently wrong with prostitution. What’s wrong is poverty and not giving opportunities to people who are at their very bottom.


TV: You’re obviously very passionate about it. 

AW: Yes, I’m also quite interested in the politics of women and sexuality. Sexuality is a commodity. As an actress, I don’t feel that I’m doing anything all that different. I feel like I’m selling my sexuality in my roles all the time and I don’t have a problem with that because I like my sexuality. Often women are oppressed or shamed for expressing their sexuality. That’s why I’m open to nudity in film because I don’t want anyone to hold my body hostage and make me feel ashamed of who I am.

TV: Will you be collaborating with Carlo again anytime soon? 

AW: Yes, he casted me in his new music video, "Blood Royale". I play a stripper and murderer (laughs).

TV: You appear to be Carlo’s go-to-person for those deadly characters. 

AW: I am (laughs) and I’m totally cool with that. I love playing badass characters, but at some point, I’d like to play a nice girl. I think I’m fully capable of doing that too.

* * *

Visit Andrea Werhun's website.

Check out the Satan's Dolls trailer below:


Satan's Dolls Trailer from PM Pictures on Vimeo.




Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's Our 5th Year Anniversary!!!

"I could shoot street style like the Sartorialist!" Those were the words that started it all. Five years ago today, I first walked the streets of Toronto searching for cool and exciting fashions. Since then, I've met, photographed and interviewed many interesting people.


Someone recently asked me, "So why do you do it?" The answer is quite simple: I do it because I love creating extraordinary photos. I love seeing the smile they bring to my street style subjects. I love telling people's inspiring stories, and more importantly, I love sharing my vision of Toronto with everyone.


People always ask, "How often do people turn you down?" And I'm happy to say not often. About 8 out of every 10 people I approach agree to appear on my blog, which is a great indication of our city's confidence and pride.


Not long ago, a friend inquired, "How long will you continue doing it?" I really don't know. I'm actually surprised I made it to five years. I suspect that when my love for it is gone, that's when I'll hang up my camera, but I don't anticipate that happening anytime soon.


I want to give a big thanks to everyone who's ever appeared on my blog and to all my new and loyal followers!

It's been a great five years!


- Nigel

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Derek


Derek: Most of the time I dress very monochromatic. My style is just really my own. It's from years and years of experimenting and what not. I would describe it as 'Street Parisian.'

TorontoVerve: What are you most proud of in life?

Derek: What I'm most proud of? That's huge. I think it changes daily. I'm proud of who I am and who I continue to develop being. I guess I'm proud of my journey to becoming me.

We previously captured Derek's street style four years ago.

Follow Derek on Instagram & Twitter.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blogger Spotlight: Hourglass Cath

Recently, we profiled Angela Samuels, the owner of Voluptuous Clothing, Toronto’s trendy plus-size boutique. Today, our blogger spotlight is on her feature model, Catherine Norman aka Hourglass Cath

By day, Norman (25) works as an account executive for a downtown advertising agency. Her blog or “fashion diary” showcases many of her elegant styles from Voluptuous, and includes a heartfelt story about her past struggles with weight and bullying. Earlier this fall, the Quebec-native revealed even more in our interview at the Brickworks.


Catherine Norman: I don’t consider myself a plus-size model. I’m a model. I refuse to be categorized because of who I am. A year and a half ago, B&M modeling agency approached me to model for them, but they told me that I had to go up two dress sizes. I was like, “no way! You want me to get larger for you?! I’m fine just the way I am.” I remember telling her that they were actually making me do what most modeling agencies want models to do, but in the reverse. I said, “hell no! I want to be healthy and happy. I fought hard to be where I am now.” I just remember thinking, ‘wow, now I know how models feel when they’re told to lose 20 pounds.’ It’s the same thing.

TorontoVerve: What dress size did they want you to be?

CN: I’m a size 16 and they wanted me to be a size 18. I remember she told me to eat extra BBQ that weekend. I was insulted.


TV: When did you start accepting your body?

CN: Well, I think like most young women in their early 20’s, I was suffering from an eating disorder. I was in a rough patch -- especially in university. Once, I lost 30 pounds in two or three months. It was really unhealthy.

TV: How did you lose so much in so little time?

CN: I didn’t eat and I had anorexia athletica. That’s when you exercise for about three hours or more and you don’t eat. So I suffered from that and other things. I got really sick and I didn’t really like myself anymore. I was thin and I remember looking in the mirror and not liking how I looked or felt. I got a job at Algonquin Park that summer and I ate whatever I wanted and regained what l lost and more. When I got home, I remember looking at myself in the mirror and crying. Then I thought, ‘you know what? I have to start loving myself no matter what size I am or else I’m never going to be happy.’ That was the best summer, I worked with kids at a camp and it was a great experience. Kids are the best people to be around because they don’t judge. They just want to be around you because you’re a fun person so it was really healing.


TV: Kids can also be insensitive to each other when they tease. Did you get much of that when you were younger?

CN: Oh, all the time. Kids were so cruel to me when I was younger. They used to call me “big butt.” 

TV: Was this when you were growing up in Quebec?

CN: No, I was never teased in Quebec. I remember when I was in ballet school in Montreal, they would always put me at the top of the pyramid in our photos and I was stockier and thicker than the other little girls. Me at the top of the pyramid (laughs). It was hilarious. I recall that all the other girls got gold stars and I never got one. I made all the parents laugh when I was on stage, but I didn’t experience any teasing until my family moved to Ontario.

TV: You’ve been modeling for Voluptuous for nearly three years now. How does your fiancé feel about all the attention you’re getting?

CN: He’s excited and happy for me. It’s not necessarily the kind of attention that I crave. And he’s not the slightest bit jealous. I remember when we were doing a photo-shoot outside the Voluptuous store, a gentlemen walked into the store and said, “I need to take this woman out.” That’s pretty ballsy for a guy to walk into a store full of women and say. I told Christopher about it and he said, “That’s funny.” I replied, “What? You don’t care?” He responded, “Well, do you want to go on a date with him?” I said, “No, but I want you to care.”

TV: That’s a cool attitude to have. He trusts you.

CN: Exactly. He’s such a positive, rational and nice person to be around. He’s a great part of my life.


TV: Has there been a time when you were unhappy with yourself again?

CN: It’s funny. When I turned 25 this year, I went to the Dominican Republic with two of my girlfriends and they’re cute, petite, athletic and wonderful girls. I remember my first thought about the trip was, 'oh man, I’m going to be the fat girl in the group.' I think most plus-size women think that way when they’re surrounded by thin girls. When we were on the resort together, one of the gentlemen who worked there approached us. He recognized me from our previous trip and said, “You were way bigger last time, weren’t you?” I was taken aback and it actually upset me just because it’s been so long since someone referred to me by my weight, but I know that he didn’t mean anything by it.


TV: What do you dislike about the modeling industry?

CN: I find that the biggest thing that I deal with now is other plus-size women attacking me for not being big enough. They say that I don’t fit what they believe to be plus-size. I may not look like a large woman, but people can understand that I’m plus-size. I’m very symmetrical so when I shoot sometimes, I may appear to be smaller. Many women have posted on Voluptuous’ website that I don’t represent what a full-figured woman is. I even had people post on my Instagram, “You’re beautiful, but I wouldn’t say that you’re plus-size.”

TV: That’s probably their misguided way of complimenting you.

CN: Yes, it’s a backhanded compliment. You’re beautiful, but you don’t belong where you’re trying to say you belong, sort of. I’ve always avoided responding to the negative comments because they don’t know me and I don’t really care, but recently a woman posted in a plus-size magazine, “This woman isn’t plus-size. You shouldn’t be shooting her. I really wish that you would shoot fuller-figured women and really represent what women look like.” That really angered me because who is she to define what a plus-size woman is and what a woman looks like. She’s making assumptions and placing just as many labels as what the plus-size community is trying to fight against, which is the fashion industry saying that you don’t look like an ideal woman when you’re big. That’s my biggest problem. Not the modeling industry, but how the plus-size community has responded to me. There should be more acceptance in the plus-size community because, after all, all we’ve worked for is to be looked at as average. As a child, I was ridiculed because I was fat, but now that I’m trying to belong somewhere, they’re saying that I’m not big enough? Then where should I belong?

TV: The modeling world is a shallow industry.

CN: That’s the big reason why I haven’t quit my career to make modeling my main focus because [beauty fades]. To me, it seems so wrong to [wager] my livelihood and the livelihood of my partner and my possible future family on my appearance. I recently had something in my life that affected my health and I remember being concerned with how I look. I also became worried about getting cuts and bruises and I don’t want to deal with that full-time.



TV: Similar to a thin model worrying about gaining weight, do you worry about losing weight because it may cost you jobs?

CN: No, I think that I could still model even if I lost weight just because I feel that size 12 to 16 is kind of the preferred body-type for most retailers. I love weightlifting. It’s fun and empowering. Recently, at a fitting, one of the girls commented on my butt looking bigger and I think it was from all the squats I’ve been doing (laughs). I worry about getting too muscular maybe, but I find that even when I restrict my diet to 2000 calories a day and exercise a lot, my body still stays the same shape and size, and that was a huge realization for me: recognizing and accepting that this is the way that I’m always going to be. 

TV: What advice do you have for young people who are struggling with their weight and self-image? 

CN: In the moments when you feel like the fattest, ugliest person in the world, when you can't bear to look at yourself in the mirror, when all you can do is cry, when it feels like the world is ending because you can't look exactly how you want to at that moment - just remember that this is but a tiny window in your entire life. These feelings of despair will pass. The one thing you must learn to do in these moments is to love yourself: mind, body and soul. You have control of yourself and you have the power to change yourself -- whether it's internal or external, but the only way you can do those things and truly accomplish them, is if you learn to accept and love yourself, regardless of your size. You will never be happy what size you are, unless you learn to love yourself.

* * *

Catherine previously appeared on TorontoVerve this past summer.

Follow Catherine on Twitter and Instagram.

&

Voluptuous on Twitter and Instagram.

Voluptuous Clothing is located at 636 Queen Street West in Toronto and at 100 Kingston Road East in Ajax.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Jay


Jay: "My style is trendy. I used to play hockey so it's also a little bit sporty. I try to have an outdoorsy feel. I'm inspired by English model Ricki Hall. I like his whole look and the vibe he gives off."

TorontoVerve: "What's your favourite memory of 2014?"

Jay: "I would have to say signing a contract with a talent agency as an actor and model. It's an interesting career change."

Follow Jay on Instagram and Twitter.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Emily


"My style is always changing. I try to stay true to myself and not follow trends. I want to be comfortable in my own skin."


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dawn


"My style is easy, eccentric, and different every day. I don't follow any particular niche, but I'm kinda into dorky men's fashion these days."


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jayde


"My style is easy layers."

Follow Jayde on Instagram. She says there's "a lot of talk on it about tacos. I love tacos."


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kellie


"My style is all over the place. Somedays I dress comfortable and somedays I dress up like a pin-up girl. Whatever the weather allows."

We previously captured Kellie's street style last year.

Follow Kellie on Instagram.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Thadea


"I like cyber-goth clothing and fluffy things like this sweater. I'm inspired by Brooke Candy and Grimes, and a whole lot of people in platform shoes."

Thadea is a musician and describes her sound as "alternative rock inspired by old-school blues, but then I started making drum and bass a few months ago. I really took a weird jump (laughs)."

You can check out her music at ThadeoMusic.com.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Voluptuous: Angela Samuels' Inspiring Journey

Angela Samuels’ company slogan is “curves never looked better,” and that’s not just because it’s catchy. It holds more significance than that. 

The former youth counselor and model is the owner of Voluptuous Clothing, a trendy plus-size boutique that has been catering to modern women for over 13 years. But the road to success didn’t come easy for Samuels. Before she could start her incredible journey, she had to first conquer her biggest obstacle: her low self-image.

TorontoVerve met with Samuels at her 636 Queen Street West location (she has another in Ajax) to talk about her inspirational story.


TorontoVerve: Tell us about your childhood. What kind of kid were you?

Angela Samuels: I was a bad kid. I was really a bad kid (laughs). I gave my mom a very hard time, and I think one of the reasons for that was because I wasn’t accepted by my peers. I was living in Calgary. I remember Roots: the mini-series was on TV when I was going to school and it was the worst thing. I got labelled “Aunt Jemima.” I was quite heavy at 240 pounds. I beat up everybody because I was in a bad place in my life.

TV: You weren’t accepted for your size or race?

AS: I think it was both. The population of Blacks in Calgary wasn’t huge and being a plus-size didn’t help.

TV: Did you have many black friends?

AS: I had a few. There were a lot of bi-racial kids in Calgary at the time. I didn’t see any other big people except for myself. I don’t know why (laughs).

TV: Really? There aren’t any big people in Calgary?

AS: I’m sure there are, but I was always the biggest person among my peers.

TV: Did you get much support from your family for your teen struggles?

AS: Coming from a Jamaican background, size is not a big thing. I mean, they love size down there. So I was encouraged to eat as much as I could. In the mornings, there was ackee and salt fish with dumplings and yams. Being bigger was great in my house. If you were skinny, you weren’t healthy.


TV: How was your social life?

AS: It was horrible. No boys wanted to date me. I fought a lot. It’s true what they say about bullies: they don’t feel good about themselves so they feel the need to fight or pick on somebody to divert the negative attention from themselves.

TV: What was it like growing up with 5 siblings?

AS: It was rough. My mom was a single parent. Mothers in Caribbean households are quite strict. No boys allowed. On top of that, I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist so on Friday nights you had to be in the house. No partying. There was no TV-watching. No cartoons on Saturday mornings. I couldn’t see then what my mother was trying to teach me, but I definitely see it now. I was also a nurturing and loving person to my mom, and she gravitated more towards me. My brothers and sisters didn’t get along with me because they felt that I was the favourite child.

TV: How would you describe your parents?

AS: My mom and dad are the world to me. I can’t function without my mother. My mom makes me whole. I’m eternally grateful for all the sacrifices that she made for me. I am the person that I am today because of her. Now that she’s older, I feel an obligation to make sure that she’s taken care of for the rest of her life.

TV: What kind of sacrifices did she make for you?

AS: She first came to Canada because she was hired as a nanny, but when she got to the border, she found out that the family had cancelled her work permit. So there she was, alone, in Pearson International Airport with nowhere to go. While she was there, she met a gentleman who sympathized for her situation and took her in. From that moment on, my mother scrubbed people’s toilets for a living. When she was financially stable, she brought all her children to Toronto and we lived together in St. James Town. We later moved to Calgary, but eventually returned to Toronto and lived at Jane and Finch. No one would think that we were brought up by a single mom. We were the best dressed in school. We had everything that two parents could ever provide their children. I also had a connection with my father in Jamaica. My mother reminded me that he let us go because he wanted a better life for us.


TV: How did fashion play in your youth?

AS: Everyone used to tell me, “you have a pretty face,” and that’s where it stopped. So I was always aware that my face was ok, but not my body. I desired to look like everybody else. I just didn’t want to be different.

TV: How did everyone else look?

AS: They got to go to every trendy store and buy anything that they wanted. I couldn’t. All the stuff I wanted to wear, didn’t look good on me. I squeezed into spandex, which wasn’t flattering. I was very self-conscious and aware that boys didn’t want me because I was fat. In Calgary, I didn’t have a date for the prom. A friend forced a boy to take me, and he wanted to go with someone else (laughs).

TV: Did you guys have a good time at the prom?

AS: He eventually met up with the girl and left me alone at the prom, but I was just happy I made it there. I was ready for the new chapter in my life.

TV: And that new chapter was in Toronto?

AS: Yes.

TV: How did Toronto improve your life as an adult?

AS: When I came to Toronto, I noticed that there were a lot more people who looked like me. The Caribbean culture was a lot bigger and I also noticed more bigger people. That was also the time the plus-size fashion industry was picking up so I decided that I would become a plus-size model.

TV: How did you begin a career in modeling?

AS: I went to an agency called Big, Bold and Beautiful on Bloor and they agreed to represent me, but I wasn’t there for long because I had to conform to wearing matronly styles that covered everything. It was like I was in Church and I had enough of that (laughs). I wanted to wear what the skinny girls were wearing. Why can’t I look sexy too? That’s when Norwayne Anderson of Normayne Anderson Management discovered me. At first, he refused me because he didn’t know how to work with plus-size models, and I said, “it’s the same as working with skinny models. Just take a chance on me. Send me out there. I will book those jobs.” After two hours, I persuaded him to sign me. Things really changed for me when Brian Bailey Fashions hired me. I was the first plus-size woman to walk on his runway during Toronto Fashion Week. I was excited. I said, “Yes! I arrived! I did it! You see, Norwayne, I told you!” Afterwards, I appeared in Bay, Sears and K-mart catalogues, and a few shows for small designers. Unfortunately, the plus-size fashions were still unflattering.


TV: You started selling clothes from the trunk of your car. What was that like?

AS: I bought sexy plus-size fashions in the States because they were more open-minded down there when it came to fashion and bigger women. I drove to different clubs and grabbed the bigger ladies. “Come look at my stuff!” It was fun. I loved it because I was changing women’s lives. Let’s face it, women go to clubs to meet men and get their groove on. To do that, they need to look sexy. It was a good opportunity to help those women look fantastic and it felt great.

TV: How would you describe the fashions that Voluptuous carries?

AS: When I opened my first store at Sheraton Mall in 2001, the styles were very youthful. I felt that there was nothing that plus-size women couldn’t wear. I encouraged my vendors to cut bigger sizes of the sexier designs. I told them, “we will wear them. Trust me,” and they did it. Americans immediately loved my styles. Canadians slowly came around. The styles really hugged the figure and accentuated the breasts. Dresses were short, shimmery and had holes in the sides and stomach. Fashions that would make any woman appealing to whomever they were trying to attract.

TV: What about your fashions today? Have they evolved from when you first started?

AS: Yes, they’ve definitely evolved (laughs). The women whom I served grew up. They have kids and a professional life. That’s the main reason I had to evolve.

TV: Were you reluctant to evolve?

AS: Extremely reluctant (laughs). Two years ago, my creative director advised me [to change my business strategy]. He said, “We have to grow up because our customers grew up.” We needed to cater to our more sophisticated and classy clientele.

TV: And how’s it going? 

AS: I think he saved my company. [Men judge women by their appearance]. If a woman only wears short dresses with holes all over the place, men will never want to marry her. They’ll just want her for one night.


TV: What sizes does Voluptuous offer?

AS: We carry sizes from 14 to 22. I always felt that there are a lot of health risks beyond those sizes. Someone once asked me, “are you encouraging obesity?” I’m not. I’m saying that there are bigger women who deserve to wear trendy styles.

TV: Why would someone ask you that question?

AS: People wonder why I sell clothes to big women. “They’re big. They need to lose weight.” I don’t consider myself obese. When I look in the mirror now, I love what I see. Actually, when I started to love me, I began to take care of me. I go to the gym, eat properly and treat myself to manicures and pedicures. I live a healthy lifestyle.

TV: How would you describe a woman who shops at Voluptuous?

AS: She’s fashion savvy. She’s knowledgeable about where fashion is going, and she’s ready to experiment. She’s ready to jump out of the norm and do something different. She wants to really express herself.

TV: When you started, there weren’t many stores offering plus-size women trendy options. Why do you think it took so long for the fashion industry to catch on?

AS: Retailers offer what the public wants. As society changed, plus-size women became more confident and their voices started getting heard -- especially through social media. Now they’re making a whole lot of noise. So the fashion industry had to evolve and cater to them because they’re no longer silent.

TV: You once you said that you faced many challenges being a black woman in the corporate world. What were some of those challenges? 

AS: There’s a before and there’s a now. Before, everyone thought that I was crazy. I literally had to kick down doors to open my stores in malls. People thought that I couldn’t run a business. “Who is she?” Some customers didn’t believe I was the owner. They would ask to speak to my boss. I think there are many challenges black businesswomen face. Now, on Queen Street West, it’s a different story. Two days ago, someone approached me and said, “You’re Angela Samuels. You’re the woman who started it all. You proved that [plus-size women] can look sexy.” It felt so good to receive that kind of acknowledgement. My customers tell me that people tell them: “you look great! Where did you get that dress?” Hearing that means the world to plus-size women. I often tell my staff, “if an outfit doesn’t look good on a customer, go find something else because we need her to get that compliment.” Once she receives that compliment, she’s hooked. Incidentally, a lot of slim women walk into my store and they’re quite upset when we tell them that we don’t carry their size.

TV: How often do you turn slim women away? 

AS: Quite a bit. We tell them that we only have sizes 14 and up, and they ask, “what do you mean? You must have a small.” They get offended because we can’t serve them.


TV: As a mother with three children (11, 5 and 18 months), how difficult is it for you to run your business? 

AS: It’s the hardest thing in my life. That’s partly why I had to downsize from five stores to two. I lost touch with my business because I was focussed on my children. It was a learning process. I’m a business mom, a dance mom, a basketball mom and a soccer mom (laughs). After running my business for the day, I have to run home to prepare dinner for the family and help my kids with homework. It’s a balancing act.

TV: Does your husband help you run the business? 

AS: He’s very supportive and a great dad, but Voluptuous is me.

TV: Are you happy? 

AS: Yes, it’s been a long journey. I’ve evolved and the flower is now blossoming. I’m in a good place now.

* * *

Follow Angela Samuels on Twitter and Instagram

and

Voluptuous on Twitter and Instagram.

Voluptuous Clothing is located at 636 Queen Street West in Toronto and at 100 Kingston Road East in Ajax.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Andrew


"I don't even know how to describe my style. I go vintage shopping sometimes. I get inspiration from random fashion blogs, but I'm not following any particular movement or anything."


Friday, November 7, 2014

Riley


Riley: My style has always been vintage. This top is from the lingerie section of The Salvation Army. My mother inspires me. She's the most womanly woman I know. She would never leave the house in anything less than lipstick and a pair of pumps and I think I just took everything from her -- especially now that I'm grown up. Lipstick is like my weapon (laughs).

TorontoVerve: What are you most happiest about this year?

Riley: I've been working on this startup company all year and we just incorporated. It's a film company based in Nova Scotia and we're going to produce the kind of projects that's going to put Nova Scotia on the map. I'm so over-the-moon excited about it.

TorontoVerve: You moved to Halifax from Toronto. What has the transition been like for you?

Riley: It's hard to go from a big city to a small centre. You lose the diversity and energy, but you really have to figure how to create it on your own. You can either fade into the background and decide it's a small town, I should just stay home and watch Netflix, or you can just go out and make crazy waves. I feel like I've done more things in the past year in a big way than I would have done in Toronto in the next five years.

TorontoVerve: How would you describe the street style in Halifax?

Riley: There's not much street style in Halifax, but when there is, people are so ambitious about it and they're completely unapologetic. They do not care. They would just throw it all out there and I have to admire them for that.

Riley's vintage street style previously appeared on TorontoVerve two years ago.

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.