Take a Load Off Your Feet with Footworks

Those who resort to begging their significant others for shoulder rubs and foot massages should run, skip, and hop over to the new Footworks Relaxology studio in Kitsilano. Think traditional Asian reflexology and acupressure massage, but in a modern spa-like atmosphere. Orchids, brown leather armchairs, dark wood panelling, and privacy curtains are just some of the nouveau Zen decor details inside the upscale space. It's an inviting place that won't intimidate reflexology newbies like myself, which is exactly what owners Nancy Hannoun and Jenny Shin were aiming for.

For those who've never heard of it, reflexology is based on the belief that acupressure points in the feet correspond to different parts of the body. Firmly massaging these acupressure points leads to health benefits for other parts of your body such as your brain, vital organs, and joints.

My Footworks appointment last night was my first foray into reflexology. After being given green tea, I took off my rainboots and rolled up my denim leggings to my knees. The hour-long treatment began with a relaxing foot soak comprised of warm water, rocks, and pure unscented rock salt. My reflexologist then applied an exfoliating scrub and buffed the skin on soles of my feet before rubbing unscented body butter into my feet and up my calves.

After that came the massage. You can lean back with your eyes closed and doze at this point, but I wanted to pick my reflexologist's brain and learn more about this ancient practice. As she rubbed holly massage oil into my feet, she pressed and kneaded pressure points I wasn't even aware I had. Some points felt like nothing while others were very intense. The most intense spots on my left foot corresponded to my brain (top of the left big toe) and my kidneys, bladder, and urinary tract (near the inner arch of the left foot). I've been feeling some mental fatigue since starting my new job and for the past couple of years I've dealt with recurring urinary tract infections; it was uncanny how a few tense spots on the sole of my foot mapped so well to the rest of my body.

As the treatment progressed, I learned other interesting factoids about reflexology. For instance, did you know that there are three major schools--China, the United States and a growing European school? And that sometimes these schools disagree on which body parts respond to which pressure points? And the pressure points on your feet aren't symmetrical, so the same points on your left and right foot can twig into completely different body parts? I didn't.

By the end, I was so relaxed I almost dozed off. I walked out of Footworks with a new spring in my step. Nancy explained that the benefits of a reflexology treatment can be felt for days afterward in the feet and throughout the rest of the body, so chances are that spring in my step will last for quite some time yet.

A big thank-you to Footworks for letting me try one of their treatments. For more information or to book an appointment, check out their website.


Luxe or Less: Organic Hand Lotion

I'm going to confess something a little silly here: I like organic hand lotion, but not for any serious important reason like paraben-free formulas comprised of natural, non-carcinogenic ingredients. No, I prefer them because they tend to smell less obnoxious and artificial than their conventional counterparts. Superficial? Perhaps. But you'd be picky about nice-smelling hand lotion too if you're constantly washing your hands with drying office bathroom soap. Trust me, when you reapply lotion as often as I do, you get choosy.

A couple months ago I was given a tube of Consonant Body's Intensive Therapy Organic Hand Cream ($20 for $125 ml; available on the Consonant Body website or at BeautyMark) and I've been hooked ever since. This rich cream moisturizes deeply and contains vitamin E, chamomile, rosemary, and ginseng extracts. It's unscented and gentle and feels positively luxurious when you massage a dab into parched hands.

If $20 is more than you're willing to spend on hand lotion, there's always Organic Surge Orange Blossom Hand Lotion ($7-8 at Shoppers Drug Mart). This affordable drugstore find comes from a British company and uses 90% naturally derived and/or certified organic ingredients. But the best part is that Organic Surge's lightweight, fast-absorbing lotion "smells like orange Creamsicles," as one former coworker put it. The scent is citrusy with a light creamy touch of vanilla. I had this on my work desk for a year and a half, and every time I put some on I thought of orange smoothies and smiled to myself.

What's your favourite hand lotion?


Product Review: Dove VisibleCare Renewing Creme Body Wash

Better skin from a body wash sounds too good to be true, but that's just what Dove's new VisibleCare Renewing Creme body wash ($5-7 in drugstores) promises. Boasting a high concentration of NutriumMoisture--Dove's trademark moisturizing complex--this product supposedly makes skin softer and smoother within a week, with full results visible in three weeks. These are very tall claims for a drugstore body wash, so it was with considerable curiosity that I requested a bottle for review.

So did it live up to the hype? Yes and no. To fully test out its claims of better-looking skin, I stopped using body lotion so that any benefits could be attributed to the body wash alone. (Oh, the things I do for this blog!) After a week, my skin wasn't as dry as it would've normally been sans lotion; that was a pleasant surprise. But after three weeks, my elbows, knees, and legs started to look ashy and scaly. My skin felt drier to the touch and I resumed applying lotion post-shower again.

The VisibleCare Renewing Creme Body Wash wasn't a complete disappointment though. It has a creamy texture and the richest lather out of any body wash that I've ever tried. In fact, the lather is so rich that a little goes a long way and the 300 ml bottle will last quite some time. The scent is a nice clean soapy smell--nothing gourmand or fancy, but very pleasant and fresh in its own right. It's a good body wash for the price point, and once my review bottle runs out I'd definitely consider purchasing a replacement bottle for myself.

Have you tried Dove's newest body wash? What do you think of it?


$100 Shopbop Gift Card Giveaway

Apologies for the unexpected hiatus last week, dear readers! I got sick suddenly and by the time I recovered, the week was in full swing and I had little time for blogging.

But my return to the blogosphere is off to a running start already with a $100 gift card giveaway from Shopbop. The infamous online retailer is a one-stop shop for trendy clothes, accessories, shoes, and handbags from established as well as up-and-coming designers. Find great labels like Cleobella, Be & D, and Foley + Corinna. Bargain hunters should also check out the extensive Shopbop sale section.

The collage above features some of the items I'd love to splurge on if I had a chance. If you could spend $100 at Shopbop, what would you buy?

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me what you'd spend your $100 Shopbop gift card on before Friday April 8th, 12pm Pacific time. International entries welcome. If you don't have a blog/Twitter, leave your email address so I can contact you. Entries without a means of contact are automatically disqualified. The winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!

From Solo Lisa's Kitchen: Beef Skewers with Rosemary and Garlic

Things have been a bit crazy lately and consequently I don't have as much time to try new recipes as I'd like to. But this recipe from an old issue of Everyday Food magazine was simple, quick and tasty. I ended up taking the chunks of meat off the skewers and packing them along with leftover rice for lunch.

Beef skewers with rosemary and garlic

2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 flat iron steaks (1.5 lbs total) [sirloin steak will do if you can't find this]

  1. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. Soak eight 6-inch wooden skewers in water for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, on a work surface, chop garlic and rosemary, and sprinkle with a little salt. Press blade of knife back and forth across mixture. Place in a medium bowl, and stir in oil; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Cut steaks into twenty-four 1.5-inch chunks. Add to bowl; toss to coat. Thread chunks of beef onto each skewer; place skewers onto prepared baking sheet.
  4. Broil (without turning) 4-6 minutes for medium-rare.

Gypsy Market Vintage Arrives at One of a Few

Call me lazy, but I want to enjoy nice vintage clothes without actually hunting for them through piles of old smelly polyester. Is that so wrong? After all, I'm a busy gal and impatient to boot.

Luckily for ladies who feel the same way I do, there's Gypsy Market Vintage. The brainchild of stylist and vintage enthusiast Sarah La Greca, Gypsy Market has arrived in One of a Few (354 Water St.) and is staying throughout spring and well into summer. From what I saw at the launch party last Friday, the Gypsy Market pop-up shop features a carefully curated selection of one-of-a-kind vintage pieces in fantastic condition that would integrate well with contemporary wardrobes. I spotted bright neons, pretty florals, sheer black fabrics, dainty whites, and leopard prints galore. La Greca (who admits the 80s and 90s are her favourite decades to pick from because the pieces look more modern and less costumey) is constantly replenishing the shop with new stock, so make sure you stop by before this stylish gypsy caravan packs up and rolls out of Gastown.

The Man Behind the Shoes: Q&A with Stuart Weitzman

Behind the scenes of the SS 2011 shoot

As a brand, Stuart Weitzman is a study in contrasts. It's synonymous with beautiful designer shoes while lacking the air of pretentious exclusivity that pervades other brands. The shoes themselves are made in Spain and boast superior quality but aren't unattainably expensive. Heels can be sky-high yet never compromise their wearer's comfort. And whereas some labels don't make anything smaller than a 5, Stuart Weitzman shoes come in sizes 4-12 and 4 different widths, ensuring women of all shapes and sizes will find a good fit. Add to that the bewildering number of designs that come out each year (over 600), and women are sure to find a shoe to love.

Vancouver women will discover exactly what makes Stuart Weitzman shoes so special when Stuart Weitzman's first Vancouver boutique opens in Pacific Centre on the weekend of March 18th. In honour of this occasion, I had a chance to ask the designer himself some questions. Read on to find out what Stuart Weitzman thinks are the best and worst things a shoe designer can do, his junk food guilty pleasures, his fondest childhood memory (hint: it has nothing to do with shoes), and what fans can expect in his latest collection.

Stuart Weitzman has its roots in your father's Massachusetts-based company, Seymour Shoes. Out of all the things you could've learned from your father about running a business or making the perfect shoe, what are the truths and principles you still keep close to heart today?
I learned from my father that if you continue to produce a good quality product, people will come back again and again as they know they can depend on your product to suit their needs and lifestyle.

What's your fondest memory of growing up as the son of a shoemaker?
My fondest memory...my dad took me to the Dodger–Yankee World Series game in which Jackie Robinson stole home under Yogi Berra’s glove.

You've said that "The first element for me is always the woman" when designing. Who are the women--past or present, or the women in your own life--who inspire you most in your designs?
Honestly that woman I speak of really has a hundred faces… the celebrity, the career woman, the mother, the daughter, the trendsetter, the bride, the loyal customer, etc.


The first shoe that you ever designed was bronzed. Are there any shoes from past or present that would also be worthy of the bronzing treatment?
I guess I would have to say our 'Alex' wedge. It has been our top seller for the spring collection these past 3 years as well as a celebrity favorite, especially with Jennifer Aniston. It’s perfect for summer as its neutral tone goes with any outfit, plus its versatility and comfort make it easy to go from day to night.


Can you give us a sneak peek of what we can expect from Stuart Weitzman in spring 2011?
Textured detailing, especially braiding, raffia and wovens. Bold bright colors and not just one hot hue for the season, but experimenting with using them all together in a beautiful hand-painted python. Plus we added more chic summer flat sandals to the collection, as it is becoming more and more the summer staple of fashionable women around the globe.


Fill in the blank: "The best thing a shoe designer can do is..."
Make women feel empowered when wearing his or her designs.

Fill in the blank: "The worst thing a shoe designer can do is..."
Sacrifice comfort.


Favourite music to listen to while working?
Show tunes from the golden era (Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein).

Fill in the blank: "When I'm not working, I can be found..."
I cannot be found.

Guilty pleasures?
Tootsie Rolls and Mallomars.


P.S. Can't get enough of Stuart Weitzman? Check out I'm the It Girl's interview.

Q&A with Christie Lohr, Founder of Style Nine to Five

Many who dream of working in the fashion industry have little to go on except talent, determination, a prayer, and lots of luck. And while those things are still important, Christie Lohr, the founder of Style Nine to Five, wants to make the process slightly less daunting for those dreamers. Style Nine to Five is a nationwide website and resource that connects fashion industry employers with job seekers. (Think of monster.ca but focused exclusively on fashion.) Post resumes, browse the job listings, and read the insightful industry-focused blog posts for tips.

Having worked in a variety of fashion jobs herself, Christie is the perfect person to ask about building a career out of a passion. I caught up with her for a quick Q&A about the website and asked her advice on how to break into the industry.

You've worked in all different aspects of the fashion industry. Can you talk a bit about your career background?
My very first job in fashion was as a sales associate at Le Chateau. Admittedly, it’s a position many don't want to start in, but it was an important stepping stone. After many promotions, I became store manager of the flagship store on Robson. Years later, I wanted a new challenge and soon found myself flying to Montreal to take on my next career role as an assistant menswear buyer. This job was a real eye-opener about the reality of retail and a look at a side of the industry I didn't know existed, or had only heard of in movies. At any minute of the day, I was asked to present my division to the president of the company. Ready or not, I had to deliver. I learned to always bring something valuable to the table. I also realized what amazing talent and brilliance the company has.

After a short time, I came back to Vancouver where I became an editorial intern at FASHION Magazine. I had always dreamt of working for a magazine and knew I wanted more than what I was already doing. I applied three times before I was accepted. My advice to you is if you really want something, never give up. It just might not be your time yet. Don't let the word “no” discourage you, ever. Interning at FASHION opened many doors for me in the writing world and I eventually launched my own website, christielohr.com. After the internship, I became a retail recruiter for Le Chateau. This is where the idea of Style Nine to Five came from.

As for my TV work, that all started for me when I went on as a spokesperson for Le Chateau. After I eventually left I continued the fashion segments on my own.

How did the idea for Style Nine to Five come about?
It was during my time as a recruiter that I realized the need for a fashion career website. Where were all these candidates who wanted to work in fashion? Not on other job sites I was using. I saw an opportunity to connect employers and jobs seekers in the fashion industry. During my time as a recruiter, I was also involved in HR, an area I missed when I was a store manager. I love to inspire, motive and help in the growth of someone's career. Style Nine to Five has allowed me to do this in a small way. That's really my passion.

How long has the site been around?
It will be one year in April.

What sorts of jobs can prospective job hunters find on your site?
Really anything in fashion: designers, buyers, visual merchandising, PR opportunities, retail management, editorial positions...the list goes on.

Do you ever get any job listings that make you go "Darn, I wish I could apply for this myself"?
The odd time, but running Style Nine to Five is a full time job and something that, at this time, can't take a back seat. Plus, I'm loving every minute and find it incredibly fulfilling!

What advice do you have for someone hoping to work in the fashion industry?
If it's truly your passion and love, doors will open for you but you need to be willing to put in a lot of hard work and time.

Don't be afraid to just ask. Invite someone for coffee and pick their brain, send that email, get out there and just do it.

Get a mentor, intern lots and network. Interning and starting from the bottom is not a bad thing. That's what I did and it's what will get you to where you want to be. What makes you different than the thousands of others who want the same job you do? You have to think about how you’re going to stand out. Perhaps it’s your eye for fashion or your work ethic. Being nice also goes a long way. I know it sounds simple, but be nice in everything that you do.

What's next for you, personally and/or professionally?
Continue to build Style Nine to Five, become more involved in the Canadian fashion community, and offer amazing opportunities to as many people as I can.

P.S. In case you didn't see it, I made Style Nine to Five's list of stylish Vancouver dot coms. The list includes quite a few fantastic bloggers and I'm flattered to be included. Thanks to the Style Nine to Five team!


March issue of Vancouver Fashion eZine is out!

This month I got to interview talented makeup artist Eman Aziz. Known amongst local photographers for being able to create flawless complexions and versatile looks, Eman keeps busy teaching at VCC, preparing for editorial shoots, and preparing brides for their big day. Find out how she got into the industry and her top predictions for spring/summer beauty trends by reading the article here.

Dreaming of dace

It's not surprising to hear constant refrains of "Is it spring yet?" considering the harsh winter weather we've had. Add spring/summer 2011 clothes like those of Vancouver-based label dace to the mix, and spring can't come fast enough for our liking. Think sporty anoraks and tailored blazers, silky loose blouses and cuffed trousers, all in muted tones of blue, white, pewter and blush pink and accessorized with tan leather belts and chunky strappy sandals.

These lookbook images sum up what I'd love to be wearing right now. I referred to them constantly while writing an article about dace for the February issue of Vancouver Fashion eZine. Now I just like looking at them and fantasizing about wearing each of these outfits in the warm sunshine, shades perched on my nose and an iced coffee in hand.

This isn't just any seasonal collection though. 2011 marks dace's 10-year anniversary, and to celebrate, they threw a very chic soirée at OPUS Bar on Thursday February 24th. Think cocktails, canapés, mini cupcakes, and well-heeled fashion industry insiders, media types, and well-wishers all congratulating designer Dace Moore on the major milestone. Trios of impeccably styled models showcased the label's latest offerings as photographers snapped away and onlookers oohed and aahed. I didn't take very many photos that night (at least very few that turned out well), but I did manage to take a picture of one of the trios.

Congratulations to dace, and here's to another 10 years.

Alternative Apparel Comes to Times Profile Shop

If you're looking for an alternative to American Apparel, look no further than, well, Alternative Apparel. Like its similarly named counterpart, Alternative Apparel specializes in quality casual basics that would integrate well with any on-trend wardrobe. However, unlike the "other" AA, Alternative Apparel prides itself on having remained true to its values: "comfort, craftsmanship, authenticity, community, and alternative."

Style-savvy Canadians are used to seeking their Alternative Apparel pieces at Aritzia, TNT and Urban Outfitters. But right now for a limited time, the Times Profile Shop is collaborating with the brand to bring 60 pieces to Vancouverites. At the media preview that TPS hosted 1.5 weeks ago, I spotted tees, tank tops, hoodies, and lightweight cardigans ideal for spring--all soft to the touch, perfectly worn in, and built to last. Those looking for eco-friendly fashion should check out the fleeces (a mixture of organic cotton and recycled polyester) and the organic cotton tees.

Aside from their organic/sustainable fabrications, Alternative Apparel has two other claims to fame: being the makers of the Perfect T-shirt and being the first company to pioneer the use of burnout fabrics. The Perfect T-shirt has its roots in founder Greg Alterman's college days, when his quest for the perfect soft, fitted, worn-in tee led nowhere and prompted him to create and sell his own. As for the burnout fabrics, they remain more popular than ever. This spring the company's adding burnout fleece scarves, drawstring dresses, camis, outerwear, button-down shirts, and denim shorts to the mix.

The Times Profile Shop stocks a featured label exclusively for a limited time, and in exchange, the label does a few limited edition pieces exclusive to TPS. So chances are that when you finally trek down to Gastown in search of your Alternative Apparel Perfect T-shirt, you'll find something even more special than that.

Thanks to Alternative Apparel and Times Profile Shop for the sneak peek. Last two photos in this post courtesy of Lotus Leaf Communications.

Malene Grotrian Giveaway Winner

The winner of the $200 gift certificate to be redeemed at Malene Grotrian's studio is...


Congratulations! Please email me your mailing address to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Eco Fashion Week F/W 2011: Prophetik

As with last season, Eco Fashion Week ended with the Prophetik show. The mood was set when the audience took their seats and found fresh-cut flowers on their seats with press releases. Antique props decorated both ends of the runway. Then the sounds of guitar music filled the air and fake snow began falling. The show opened with a long white gown befitting a fairy-tale princess. It was clear that Prophetik was preparing to take its audience on a romantic journey to the past.

Tennessee born-and-bred designer Jeff Garner usually looks to history and pioneers for his sustainable fashion inspiration. But this season, he turned to the court of Louis XV. Titled "Artist Wonderment," his latest collection envisions a fantastical escape from Louis XV's regime "when art became frivolous, a slave to consumers, diseased of romantic snobbery" and into something more genuine.

Patchwork proved to be a major motif. I'm usually not a fan, but the colours and fabrics in Garner's designs blended together harmoniously and the garments had sleek lines that counterbalanced their homespun quality. Eclectic fabrications were used: silk, organic velour, 100 year-old southern quilts (Garner's own bedspread from his childhood was reworked into a jacket), hemp, cactus silk, ostrich feathers. Pieces shown ranged from sweeping evening gowns for the women to breeches and dapper coats for the men.

Music and accessories played a big part in the show. The catwalk's soundtrack was expressly composed for Garner by Thomas Ian Nicholas and Benjamin Ellin, while local bluegrass band Viper Central provided live entertainment. The shoes caught the eye of many a front-row member; they're the result of a collaboration between Prophetik and LA label CYDWOQ.

Prophetik always puts on a great show. I can't wait to see what's next.

Thanks to Mark Feenstra for the runway photos.

Eco Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2011: Lav & Kush, Peridot Kiss

This season, Lav and Kush and Peridot Kiss continued to deliver on the looks that their fans have come to love. For Lav and Kush, this meant flirtatiousness, femininity and ruffles. For Peridot Kiss, this meant adding bright jolts of cobalt blue and purple to an otherwise neutral collection, bringing vibrancy and youthfulness to jersey separates.

Both labels' shows were a wintry continuation of the design motifs presented last season (see the show reviews here and here). Because I recently did Q&As with both designers (see here and here), I'd rather let the clothes do the talking by posting my favourite looks from both shows. Enjoy!

The subtle gathers at the edges of this Lav and Kush top make it so pretty while maintaining the piece's overall simplicity.

This black jersey and lace blouse would look great tucked into shorts, high-waisted skirts, or tailored trousers. (Lav and Kush)

Love this purple belted cardigan/jacket. (Lav and Kush)

A black jersey dress with an asymmetrical neckline and an inverted drape at the hem that would be great for the office. (Lav & Kush)

A minimalist poncho by Peridot Kiss

A cozy draped cardigan with a cool threaded crisscross closure on the front (Peridot Kiss)

Thanks to Mark Feenstra for the runway photos.

Eco Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2011: Sofia Clothing

After watching Sofia Clothing win the Generation Next new designer competition last fall, I wrote, "I was definitely impressed by the construction, fit, and conceptual integrity of this collection; its polish and maturity reflected a defined vision." At Eco Fashion Week last week, it was with curiosity and delight that I watched her return to the runways with an impeccable fall/winter 2011 collection that bore all the hallmarks of her previous work.

Working with a limited palette of black, charcoal and shades of red, Sofia created a wearable collection of mix-and-match separates. Pleated skinny leg trousers shared the runway alongside a sheer blouse, a cocoon-shaped ribbed sweater, and mini dresses that could double as tunics to be worn with leggings or your favourite jeans.

I was particularly enamoured with the outerwear in this collection. Basic dark coats can be so boring, but hers boasted tab button closures and subtly contrasting trim. On one coat, the slim-cut sleeves were left too long so that they had to be pushed up the arm for a ruching effect. Another coat had a dramatic funnel collar. Outerwear is hard for even established designers to make and sell (the higher price point is a turn-off). For a young designer to attempt it and to include so many great coats and jackets in a collection--well, it certainly speaks to Sofia's audacity and talent.

Collections like Sofia's make me excited because 1) they hint at the untapped potential of a young designer who still has a long way to go, and 2) they prove that eco fashion doesn't need the "eco" prefix to sell its wares to style-conscious consumers. Keep producing beautiful clothes, and those consumers will come for them. The "eco" part is just icing on the cake.

Thanks to Mark Feenstra for providing the runway photos.
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