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."

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.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

David & Oge


David: I'm not sure how to describe my style, but Oge inspires me.

Oge: My style goes from edgy to sporty.

Check out David's blog The Smiling Pluviophile. "It's my written work with pictures."


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Caroline


Caroline: My style is cool, calm and casual. The triple "C". I like to dress according to how I feel. My style is very governed by what is typically associated with male fashion. I've always liked to wear loose clothing. As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate my femininity, which is mostly shown in my face, jewellery and by the way I style my hair. I like to wear kicks, baggy pants and t-shirts. That's when I feel sexiest -- not when I'm wearing a skirt. I feel strong this way and that's when I feel more beautiful.

TorontoVerve: You're a photographer. How would you describe your creative work?

Caroline: It's raw. I always want to capture realism. When I see a photo, I want to be able to feel that I know that person -- like I'm almost getting emotionally attached. I prefer to do portraits and doc-style. Something that conveys a story -- something real. I'm not into the bravado or what you see in most magazines. I think the photos in advertisements are awesome, but they don't make me want to buy clothes. However, sometimes they make me want to put on make-up and cuddle with a guy at the beach.

Check out Caroline's photos and videos at CarolineBrassard.com or visit her Instagram.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Glyde


"I follow the trends of my intuition. I bought this coat last year at Mama Loves You Vintage and now mohair sweaters are trendy, but probably Mama Loves You knew that would happen. Although I'm not looking so glamourous today, I'm inspired by old glamour photographs -- beautiful shots of glamourous people throughout history. I love Katharine Hepburn's style or 40's glamour like sheers and sequins with a masculine cut."

Check out Glyde's Instagram. She says her photos are "a provocation to make you see yourself. I hope for others to also reflect on how they're integrated in lovely things in our lives."

Glyde's street style previously appeared on TorontoVerve twice before.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Chrystal


Chrystal: My style was just thrown together.

TorontoVerve: What's your inspiration for your tattoos?

Chrystal: They're my life. Every single one of them tells a story. A very long story and I'm not done telling it yet.

TorontoVerve: What's your favourite memory of summer?

Chrystal: My favourite memory was actually in Spring. It's when all the women go crazy and don't care about style. They're so happy it's warm that they just want to be naked outside. It's my favourite time.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Luis


Luis: I think patterns are the best colours -- something gay to brighten up the day. I'm inspired by designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. She's always inventive. She can make something ugly look beautiful.

TorontoVerve: What's your favourite memory of Summer?

Luis: The nude beach on Toronto Island. It's the best place to be in the city.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Evolution of Tanya Grossi's Salvador Darling

During the last 9 years, Tanya Grossi (39) has transformed Salvador Darling into several profitable business ventures: a vintage boutique, a trendy café and a hip bar. What’s more interesting is that she did it all at the same Parkdale address. Indeed, no one can accuse Grossi of lacking vision.

She’s a woman who fearlessly follows her desires rather than the rules of conformity, and last month, she celebrated her sixth-year anniversary as a bar owner. I recently dropped by 1237 Queen Street West to talk to Grossi about Salvador Darling’s impressive evolution.


TorontoVerve: How did Salvador Darling start? 

Tanya: My background is in fashion. I first worked in wardrobe styling and then I was a buyer at Le Château. When I left Le Château, I knew that I would inevitably open a vintage boutique of my own. I bought this location when there were no other boutiques in the neighbourhood. It eventually became a café, but when more coffee shops appeared, I decided that it was time to do the bar thing. I live around the corner and I was tired of leaving the neighbourhood to go anywhere. I wanted to open a place where I can shop, drink coffee, and hang out. And hopefully, people would come.

TV: So why did you close the boutique to open a coffee shop? Was business not working out? 

Tanya: It totally was, but being a creative person, I get bored easily. I’m always looking for the next project. It’s all about timing. I always move on when I’m on top.

TV: Did you completely stop selling clothing when you opened the café? 

Tanya: No, I continued to sell clothes in the back, but then a couple of other vintage stores opened up so I decided to go full-café. I love to entertain and cook. I sold Panini and salads, and it was a lot of fun until it was time to do the next thing. People still tell me that I sold the best sandwiches. Some clients ask me: “why don’t you do the café in the day and the bar at night?” I tried that and it was just too much. I wanted to really focus on the night business and it was hard doing both and having a life.


TV: How hard was it to establish yourself as a bar in your first year? 

Tanya: It was very hard and, still to this day, people walk by thinking that it’s a furniture store. I don’t have the money to advertise. Word of mouth has kept my business going. Basically, I make sure that the people who walk through my door come back. I want people to have a good time.

TV: How would you describe the vibe at Salvador Darling?

Tanya: It’s like being in a really cool person’s living room. I collect a lot of art, antiques and weird objects. Everything here has a warmth or a story behind it. The concept was if Salvador Dali owned a bar, what would it look like? His whole surrealism movement was about having fun with art and not being so serious. When I go out, I want to be visually stimulated. I love watching my customers look around. I provide them with an experience.

TV: So you were inspired by Salvador Dali’s vision. How exactly did you come up with the name, Salvador Darling?

Tanya: It just came to me on a sleepless night. Dali saw things as dreamlike -- an adult playground. He also said that some of the most sophisticated people he knew were children inside. That’s my favourite thing. I always say: “never grow up, never be boring and never let the man get to you.” Why can’t I have fun when I reach a certain age? That’s why I have hula-hoops and a rocking horse here (laughs).


TV: I read that one of your loyal customers is none other than actor Geoffrey Rush. How did that happen?

Tanya: That’s a funny story (laughs). About 7 or 8 years ago, my sister and I were in the Bahamas, and we saw him come out of a convenience store. Apparently, he was there shooting one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I had always been a fan of his independent films like Shine and Frida so I told him that I love his work -- especially his art film, Lantana. He was surprised that I even knew about Lantana. After we chatted for a bit, he said: “I love you two. I’m sending you a limo and you’re going to visit us on the set.” And the next day, we were on the Pirates set and we met Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. Plus, we got to hang out with Geoffrey. Whenever he was in town for the Toronto International Film Festival, he would drop by and give us tickets for his film. We still keep in touch. It’s kinda cool.

TV: On your fifth-year anniversary invite it says, ‘you’ll never forget that a woman owns a bar.’ What did you mean by that? Is there a difference between male and female bar owners? 

Tanya: My ex-boyfriend at the time wasn’t proud that his girlfriend owned a bar so he was telling everyone that the bar was his. I also had a guy working for me and everyone assumed that he was the owner. And that always bothered me because there’s this assumption that a woman can’t own a bar. People who knew my ex would come in and ask: “where’s the guy who owns the bar?” And I would respond, “the guy who owns the bar? I own the bar and I worked my f@$king ass off for it!” So that’s why I said that on the invite. Owning a bar is not all fun and games and being in this business as a woman is rare too. Sometimes, I have to be a bitch. People come in and order booze and don’t pay. As a woman, I get taken advantage of. So I have to be a tough ass. It’s a fun business, but it’s hard finding a partner who’s secure enough having a girlfriend whose business is entertaining people. I’m kinda seeing someone now who gets it.

TV: Why did your ex have a problem with you owning a bar? 

Tanya: Jealousy. I tried to make him a part of all this. The reasons why he liked me -- I’m independent and have my own business -- were the same reasons he resented me. That’s not a partnership.


TV: What is the biggest misconception that people have about you? 

Tanya: There’s this assumption that I live this crazy life. I don’t go out to clubs. I love staying home. I have a dog. I read. I live a healthy lifestyle. I’ll be going to the Bahamas soon for a month and I’ll be doing a lot of deep-sea fishing -- it’s one of my favourite things to do in the world. I also love training hardcore.

TV: How do you train? 

Tanya: I love shadow boxing. Sometimes I do yoga. I can do almost every yoga move. I’m not a gym person. I don’t lift weights, but I do lift a lot of beer cases (laughs). I’m a hand-ons person.

TV: What other talents do you have? 

Tanya: I love music. I also DJ here and every second Tuesday at The Beaconsfield down the street. I love hip-hop. I consider myself a f@$king classy girl who loves hard hip-hop. I’ll often DJ in a dress and high heels. It’s hard to label me.


TV: How would you describe your style? 

Tanya: I love being a woman with a bit of an edge. I love dresses. I think I only own two pairs of pants. My edginess usually comes from my accessories or shoes. I’m confident and comfortable in my skin so I know the kind of stuff that’s going to look good on me.

TV: Where do you like to shop? 

Tanya: Mostly in vintage stores. My inspiration comes from my parents and they always dressed cool. My dad comes from a very big Italian family and he married a non-Italian. My mom is Eastern-European. She’s tall and looks like Marilyn Monroe. She always walks with an air of confidence. There’s a passion with the way that I dress and I think it comes from my background. If you have to think too hard about your style then it’s not you. To me, style is instinctual. It comes from wherever your inspirations are.

TV: Salvador Darling has been a bar for six years now. Are you getting bored? Will there be another evolution? 

Tanya: I’m definitely on for another couple of years, and then I want to do something else. Maybe a bed and breakfast someplace where it’s warm all-year round, but before that happens, I think there’ll be one more evolution (laughs). Then I’ll go when I’m on top.


Follow Tanya & Salvador Darling on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


* * *

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jason & Alex



Jason: "My style is modern rock n' roll."

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

Jason: "Not listening to my parents. I should have listened to my parents."

TorontoVerve: "What was one thing that you should have listened to them about?"

Jason: "Choose your friends wisely."


Alex: "My style is laid back -- whatever's comfortable. I'm not picky. I'm not a freak who lays out her clothes in the morning. I just pick it up and go. I'm usually in a rush."


Follow Jason on Instagram.

& Alex on Instagram & Twitter.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sebastian


Sebastian: "Today it's all about the accessories, make-up, hair and vintage. I have the classic Marilyn Monroe curl and dark red lips. I'm inspired by Marilyn's face. She always had the most striking lips, eyes and iconic white hair."


TorontoVerve: "Do you have a special talent or hobby that people are unaware of?"

Sebastian: "I play piano. No one knows about that. People who know me think I'm all about the fashion industry, but I also enjoy painting, sculpture and photography. Piano is one of my first loves."

TorontoVerve: "Is there something about the fashion industry that you don't particularly like?"

Sebastian: "I think the thing that I dislike the most about the fashion industry is how exclusive they try to make it out to be. When you go to high-profile fashion events, unless you're somebody or you can prove that you're somebody, they kinda look down upon you or have this snobbish sort of attitude. So, I feel like the high fashion industry needs to be more accepting to outsiders trying to make their way in."

Sebastian's cool street style has previously appeared on TorontoVerve.

Follow Sebastian on Instagram.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gurratan Singh

Gurratan Singh: I would describe my style as a blend of modernity and tradition. I honour my roots by celebrating my distinct identity, but also keep it modern with my tailored suits and clothing.

TorontoVerve: Is there anyone in particular who inspires your style?

GS: Aside from my brother, it would have to be model/actor Waris Ahluwalia, most famous for his recent Gap ads. For all Sikh men, he's an amazing style icon.

TV: How does fashion play in your law profession?

GS: Fashion plays into law in a very direct way. I’m a Lawyer, so my style reflects the confidence, strength and professionalism I present in the courtroom.

TV: Where do you have your clothes tailored?

GS: I get my clothes tailored from everywhere, but the bulk of it is from Delhi and Punjab tailors.

TV: What is your proudest moment in life?

GS: It wouldn’t be one exact moment. The proudest feeling I have is when I can connect with a community and push forward an agenda that creates positive change. I've done a lot of work that involves youth in the community and some of my proudest moments are when I see them become self-empowered to become agents of change.

TV: You're planning on running for Regional Councillor for Ward 9 and 10 in Brampton. What has inspired you to run? 

GS: Brampton is an amazing community, full of people from all over the world. But Brampton isn’t getting the representation it deserves. Our current council doesn’t represent the community, has serious issues of accountability and transparency, and is not working to create a livable city. Brampton needs a fresh start, I want to work towards building a better community where people come to live, work and play.

TV: Has your brother (NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh) given you any advice on your campaign? 

GS: My brother is one of my main sources of guidance and encouragement. He's often said when you're in a role of service that's when you can see what you're really capable of. There's a quote from Booker T. Washington, "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." I very much believe that. By working to help create a better community, and creating a campaign where we work to empower young people, I've experienced a lot of personal growth, its a beautify thing.

Gurratan Singh has previously appeared on TorontoVerve with his brother Jagmeet and in our recent TIFF tribute.

Follow Gurratan on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Heather Babcock: Ode to Summer

It's been an unusually chilly summer. Seems like everyone has been previewing their Fall fashions in the past few weeks. But alas, today is officially the last day of summer and to commemorate it Heather Babcock shares some of her enchanting poetry.

"I started writing poetry when I was in my late teens and it was just horrible," she recalls. "It was all just melancholic navel-gazing. I eventually realized that if I really wanted to become a better writer, I needed simply to become a better reader. So I read books by Toni Morrison and Hubert Selby Jr., Helen Potrebenko, Charles Bukowski and George Orwell. Toni Morrison taught me empathy and Hubert Selby Jr. taught me compassion. Empathy and compassion are what makes a writer. I’ve been told that my prose reads like poetry and that my poetry reads like prose. I take that as a compliment."


Summer

The laughter between the old friends is slow and easy.
Their hands
-brittle from years of labor-
Swat at greedy wasps hovering
In ecstasy
Over beer bottles
Sweaty under the mid-September sun.
Hot winds carry the summer’s #1 hit song from the bar’s speakers to the pretty girls
In juicy pinks and splashy blues
Strutting past the clothing shop windows
Shaking their hips and rolling their eyes at the mannequins
Dressed in grey tweeds and heavy wool coats
The omen of these elegant soothsayers purposely lost on the old friends and the pretty girls
Who know better than to distinguish between fantasy and
Memory. 


Heather describes her inspiration for her Summer poem: "I took a long walk along Royal York and Bloor early in the summer. There were these two lovely older men sharing a drink and a laugh outside of a pizza parlor and that is what inspired the opening line of my poem. On a gorgeous summer day, I can’t even remember what being cold feels like – there’s the memory of snow and ice but they are so removed from the present that they are really closer to fantasy than memory. Speaking of memory, I have a lot of wonderful memories of this summer, but probably my favorite is of releasing butterflies in the park with my nephew and my mother."


Requiem for Honest Ed's 


Fifteen years from today

A young man stands at the window of his condo unit 

On Bloor and Markham Streets

Sipping his twelve dollar latte,

He looks out at the Stepford skyscrapers

Stretching above him

And he doesn’t know what

We know

He’s lost.


"Honest Ed’s is one of the most inclusive places in the city." Heather shares. "It’s not just a bargain basement – it’s also a free museum of Toronto’s theatrical history. I think that Toronto tends to take itself a little too seriously sometimes and Honest Ed’s is a reminder that it’s okay to be a little silly and to have some fun. I will miss it."


Where Did My Face Go?

Where did my face go?
It was just here two days ago
In the looking glass over my sink
An artificial pink landscape
Populated with a pair of eyes, one nose and one mouth
All arranged in precise order and easily accessible.
But today everything is astray:
Cracks and holes,
Nothing left but two grey half moons
Circling a starless sky.
Where did my face go?
Perhaps I’ll find bits and pieces of it around my house:
My nose in the clothes dryer, rolled up in a forgotten sock;
Eyelashes hidden between my sofa cushions;
A mouth under my bed, stuffed with dust bunnies.
The face itself is gone,
Skipped town,
It was too big to lose.
So where did my face go?
And why didn’t I notice it leaving?


"Where Did My Face Go? is about the danger of not loving yourself," Heather explains. "When you deny your own true beauty, when you try to change yourself to suit someone else’s ideal, you risk losing what makes you unique and special."


Check out Heather's website, Writing to Exhale, for more poetry and photos.

Heather will be reading her poetry at The Central on Wednesday, September 24th and The Urban Gallery on Saturday, September 27th.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Toronto Tweed Ride

Yesterday the downtown core was in a frenzy as the streets were filled with vintage wear, classic bikes and handlebar moustaches. That's right, it was the 2014 Toronto Tweed Ride and participants braved the heat in their woollen fashion all in the name of charity.

Bikes Without Borders is a charitable organization that provides bikes to people around the world for positive change and Toronto was one of many cities to raise money for the worthy cause (similar rides were organized in Paris, Moscow, London, New York, Sydney, Tokyo and Vancouver to name a few).

TorontoVerve peddled with the fashionable group to capture their extraordinary street style and learn what the ride meant to them.


Charlotte

"It's my first Tweed Ride and I wanted to wear something elegant. These are the clothes I typically wear day-to-day -- usually not altogether like this, but it's a special occasion. My favourite piece is this vintage hat. I just love the flower in it. I found it on eBay for $20."



David

"Today I would describe my style as cobbled together but fun. It's my first Tweed Ride."



Glen (left), Cole (Centre)

Glen: "I would describe what I'm wearing as Highland daywear. The Duke of Windsor inspired my look. This is my third Tweed Ride."

Cole: "I'm wearing a classic English country suit with 4 buttons. I had it cut for myself years ago because I always liked the look of it. When I heard about the Ride, I just had to wear it."



Amanda

"Today my style is eclectic. This is my mom's dress, scarf that I bought, hat that was given to me and a bracelet from Florence. I pick up things along my way and put them together to tell a story. I've participated in all the Tweed Rides because I love the Bikes Without Borders cause. The Tweed Ride is also a nice way to come together with Cycle Toronto and celebrate bikes and fashion."

Check out Amanda's blog Girl About Toronto. "It's all about covering arts and culture in the city."



Camille

"This is my first Tweed Ride and I had a good time. It's fun to dress up in Toronto and ride through the city."



Tanya

"My style today is a mixture of different periods because I was having trouble sticking to one. I like them all. So apparently my dress is from the 50's and my hat is from earlier. I helped organize the Tweed Ride so this is my third outing. Seeing everyone participate was so heart-warming for me because it just means that we're fundraising more and more for the work that we do. From a fashion perspective, the Tweed Run is a fascinating entity because it gives adults a platform to dress in vintage and celebrate vintage, and I don't think there's much else event-wise that's out there for people to do that -- at least I haven't heard of one. It's like Halloween for adults except tasteful and fashionable."