100-mile Earrings by Indigenous weaver, Shirley Brown


I was expecting glass jars with cotton beards and raisin oatmeal cookies when I attended the craft fair at Mt.Pleasant Elementary yesterday. Instead, I met Shirley Brown, a cedar bark weaver and jewelry maker.

A year ago, before I’d heard of things like the WhoMadeMyClothes campaign and the True Cost Documentary I probably would have admired Shirley’s art for all of 2.3 seconds before deciding I would rather spend their $30 price tag on heck, an entire new outfit at Winners.

This time I stopped and asked her how she makes her pieces and heard an amazing story of how Shirley hand harvests cedar strips from her home in Bella Bella, BC–one time getting a single strip 20 feet long. An orange-wedge-shaped smile expanded across her face as she told me about how much she loves being in the forest, listening to the trees, and touching the bark.

So, yeah, I bought the earrings partly because they are pretty and sustainable and locally made, but mainly so I could have a piece of that giant grin.




Let the Sequins Fly: SFU Fashion Week heads to Vancouver

“Cut it out, kid.”

That’s pretty much what Vancouver Fashion Week said to Kayode Fatoba when he launched SFU Fashion Week, the city’s first ever fashion show organized by and for university students. Naturally, he’s doing the exact opposite.

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Fatoba is an undergraduate student at SFU. He founded SFU Fashion Week in 2014 in order to give students a voice in the fashion industry and a space to participate in it.

“As we’ve seen from the Balmain x H&M release, the fashion industry has a big effect on people in my generation. Yet there are few ways for us to challenge or critique it. This is what SFU Fashion Week is about and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” he says.

Fatoba explains that a representative from Vancouver Fashion Week requested he discontinue his event as they felt it was encroaching on their territory. Not only is Fatoba refusing to dismantle his catwalk, but this year is building it closer then ever. Instead of its usual home on Burnaby Mountain, SFU Fashion Week will take place this April at the university’s downtown campus.

photo courtesy of SFU Fashion Week

Fatoba says he hopes the move will help him broaden the show’s audience and allow him to better achieve the goals that inspired him to start the event in the first place: to give students a way to express their views of the fashion industry and provide early-career designers and entrepreneurs a free, yet high profile, platform to showcase their goods.

“I started SFU Fashion Week because I felt there wasn’t any fashion shows in Vancouver that were critical of the industry. At the same time, I had a lot of friends that were starting clothing businesses but couldn’t afford to participate in any of the established events. So, I thought, why not create our own community platform?”

photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/SFUFashionWeek/?fref=ts
photo courtesy of SFU Fashion Week

This year, SFU Fashion week will address height-based discrimination. “Society often limits people or defines them according to how tall they are. This is something that people have no control over and we think it’s time this is addressed.”

The show has featured speakers such as Fathima Bahar, President of the SFU Muslim Students’ Association, who discussed hijab-related stereotypes and Rwandan genocide survivor and founder of EduAfrica, Jean De Dieu Tuyisenge, who produces tee-shirts to raise awareness of his education and development projects.

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photo courtesy of SFU Fashion Week

Learn more about SFU Fashion Week by visiting their website or Facebook page.

Crazy About Clothes Consignment: Putting the ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ back into boutique shopping

For some people, it’s a discarded shoe. For Nancy McConnell, it’s a magic wand.

McConnell is the owner of Crazy About Clothes, a upscale consignment store based out of Maple Ridge BC that specializes in high-end, brand name and high quality fashion. Previous to starting the business in 2011, she spent 27 years working as addictions counselor, including 10 years in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

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After nearly a decade working in what is often called Canada’s poorest neighbourhood, McConnell explains that one of her reasons for opening the store was to surround herself in beautiful things—and help others do the same.

“I had a young girl and her mother come looking for a prom dress when I first started. They were on a very limited budget and had been struggling to find something. I brought in my niece’s dress for her the next day and when she tried it on and it was just perfect she started crying, then her mom started crying, and I started crying. It was such a special moment.”

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In true fairy godmother form, McConnell gave the dress to the girl and her mother for free.

Thanks to McConnell’s magical touch, Crazy About Clothes has grown since those early days to include a clothing selection of some of the highest quality items in the lower mainland.

“I have women come from Chilliwack to West Vancouver to consign their clothes in this small store all the way out here in Maple Ridge—and that’s because of the relationships I have with them. I think I bring my counselling background into it because I always learn the story behind each piece—or me that is what makes each item so unique.”

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McConnell also supports women, youth and families in need by donating all of the clothe she can’t sell to Atira Women’s Resource Society, which supports women and families who experiencing the impact of violence committed against them and/or their children.

“The clothes I donate go directly to participants, like single mothers attempting to transition back into the workforce. I feel good about that because it’s my opportunity to give back.”

McConnell has also helped raise funds for charities by putting on fashion show fundraisers, including $9,500.00 for Connor’s Cancer Warriors at Make A Wish Foundation.

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Learn more about Crazy about Clothes by visiting them online at their Facebook Group, at their website, or in person at 11952 228th St., Maple Ridge, BC.

Eco-Halloween meets federal election fallout (and UPCYCLING CONTEST)

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Got some lawn clutter? No Halloween costume plans?


That was me until I decided to kill two endangered birds with one stone with my butterfly wings-campaign sign upcycling project.


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All you need is some glue, cardboard, a few ropes and at least one retired parent to do all the work for you!

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Sadly, this year’s versions didn’t actually grant me the power of flight (grandpa labour just isn’t what it used to be).


Got a Halloween upcycling idea? Post a pic of your costume on instagram or twitter (hashtag #bricolagehats) including at least one reused object/material and I’ll give out a gorgeous upcycled Bricolage hat to one random entry. Contest closes October 30.

Slowing down fast fashion one button (and bow) at a time

They call it Fast Fashion, the rapid production and consumption of low cost items. Kayla Gilliland is helping teens of today and tomorrow, slow down and smell the rose-coloured thread.  

kids modeling their homemade backpacks (look ma, no princesses!)
kids modeling their sewing success (look ma, no princesses)

Gilliland, along with business partner, Linda Bell, recently opened Buttons and Bows, a sewing lounge and ladies fashion store in Maple Ridge, BC.

Gilliland explains that her drive in starting the business was to get local residents—particularly children and youth—excited about a past time that has become more retro than sock hops and disco dancing.

“A lot of young kids don’t see people my age sewing—they think it’s only something that grandmothers do. One of my greatest moments is when kids in my classes say things like ‘oh gosh, I want to be a sewer like you. I want to get a sewing machine for Christmas.’”


Not only does Buttons and Bows offer the city’s only source for high quality sewing notions and fabrics, but it also provides classes for children and adults on topics ranging from quilting to jean upcyclying. Buttons and Bows also stocks locally made, refurbished and consignment clothing.

Gilliland notes that one of her main priorities is encouraging local high school students to take sewing at school, which she does by offering a local source of the materials they need to complete their class projectes—such as high quality thread and pajama textiles.

“Already two of the local high schools are now only offer sewing up to the grade-eight level. For me, sewing classes were such a big part of my school experience—I want to make sure that others have that same opportunity,” says Gilliland.

an upcycled jean jacket by Gilliland’s line, Kay Loren.

In addition to the classes, Buttons and Bows also hosts a dazzling array of everything from Gilliland’s handmade leggings to upcycled belt-bracelets and of course, pre-loved buttons.

“We had one woman who had been collecting them for over 20 years. She brought in this big jar and had a story about each one, it was magical hearing her talk about them,” says Bell. “That is what makes this place so special: the people and we meet.”

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You can learn more about Buttons and Bows by visiting them online at their homepage or on Facebook or checking out their store in person at: 22785 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge, B.C.

Automobile Wreck Yards: the next hot thing in fashion upcycling

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Smart cars, electric cars, zero emissions, blah blah blah. Everyone’s so crazy about greening their transportation tire-print and saving the planet they have missed out on the most important of the three ‘r’s: AccessoRizing.


Sure, we could recycle old cars and put their parts in new ones, but hello, that would be totally overlooking their potential as super cute house and fashion decor items, like . . .


coffee tables . . .


hats . . .


or just a cozy place to make sexy faces in.

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And the best news: WE HAVE SO MANY OLD AND ABANDONED cars like, everywhere, you don’t have to go far to find one just right for you.

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Once again, in honour of my National Thrift Store Day month-long feature, items featured in this look are all pre-loved. They include:

  • Calvin Klein pink dress and black boots from Value Village, Coquitlam: $30
  • A fuchsia necklace and black rhinestone necklace from Crazy About Clothes Consignment, Maple Ridge: $20
  • Turquoise belt Art Knapp, Coquitlam (not new, but from the discount bin and considering how many people already tried it on, it’s pretty much the same thing): $5

Total cost (not including jewelry): $55

This Season’s Must Haves Accessories and Other Uses for Small Dead Animals


So apparently this season’s hot accessory trends are hippy beads, mismatched earrings, delicate little leafy things and basically a bunch of other super boring stuff that I’m never going to wear. Being such a fashion-forward mom, I was super bummed by all the blah.


That is, until it hit me: I CAN SET MY OWN TRENDS! After all, when you are as crafty as me, you can make anything into a killer look.


Household objects, empty bleach bottles . . .


. . . even a dead pigeon. Or was it a squirrel? It was mainly just a bunch of tiny little bones so it was hard to tell.


Of course, there is one accessory that you don’t even need to go to the recycling depot to find and it never goes out of style: attitude.


In honor of my National Thrift Store Day month-long feature, items featured in this look are 90% pre-loved. They include (drum roll):

Total cost for this (mostly) thrift store look: $55

Personalized toiletries: every boy’s favorite recess treat!


School is officially starting next week here in Port Moody. I was super excited about all the extra time I’d have for expanding my earring collection till I found out some horrible news: MY SON’S SCHOOL DOES NOT HAVE AN IN-HOUSE CHEF.


That’s right people. Apparently I’m expected to make and pack his lunches EVERYDAY! How am I supposed to find time to do that when I’m already sooo busy sourcing organic, fair-trade, low-carb ingredients for my noon nutrition breaks? Do I need to hire a caterer? Because that could seriously cut into my earring budget.



Then it hit me! I don’t have to eat it, so who cares what I put in there?


Wait till he sees the soft-as-satin treat I’m packing for recess!

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Though the items featured in this look may not have been organic, fair-trade or even low carb, in keeping with my month-long National Thrift-Store Day theme, they were all procured from thrift stores. They include:

  • Turquoise Jones New York blouse from Crossroads Hospice Society Thrift Store (Port Moody), $6,
  • Navy Lord and Taylor pencil skirt from Value Village (Burnaby), $13
  • Black Clarks Artisan wedges from Value Village (Coquitlam), $20
  • Vintage chandelier earrings (gift)
  • Some random necklace I found in my mom’s jewelry box that she got in Mexico
  • Puke yellow nylons from Target (not technically thrift store find but I AM ONLY HUMAN, plus they were super cheap. Yay bankruptcy sales!), $3.

Total cost (not including jewelry): $42

Facing Old Fears to Save Lost Sweaters: Bricolage Hats gets Etsy

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I swore I would never do it again.

But, when my friend cancelled at the last minute a couple weeks ago, old sweaters and my mom were counting on me so I had not choice but to brave the camera after 20 years in retirement.

All the hats posted on Bricolage Hats are made out of old wool sweaters, making them eco-friendly, super snuggly and thanks to her felting-skilz, super gorgeous as well.

Was it weird whipping out my old catalogue poses in front of the car dealership I grew up across from and hoping none of my old high school friends drove by? HECK YEAH.

Was it fun getting to control the lighting and set the shot and for once be the boss instead of the girl standing around like a giant useless bowl of vanilla pudding: HELL YEAH.

And I must have not done a totally bad job because **YAY** we just sold our first hat!!

Cover pages and other ways to lose friends . . .

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The good news: my first round of cover proofs are in!

The bad news: I am way pickier than I realized.

On of my friends put together these mages for my novel cover earlier this week and while they are totally gorgeous they are totally not what I have been imagining in my head for the last, oh I don’t know, TEN MILLION years I’ve been working on this project.

Of course, I could have asked her to change this and that and integrate this and tweak that and do it now now now because obviously everyone is as excited about this as I am, right!


Everybody didn’t just pour their creative soul into this manuscript. I did. Let’s just say things could have gotten ugly fast and I might have even lost a friend in the process if she wasn’t so unbelievably GRACIOUS and told me she wouldn’t be offended if I didn’t want to continue with the project.

So I have decided to hire someone who specializes in YA novel covers. And I’m excited about that because I’m sure she will be used to author-zillas like me and won’t get annoyed too much by my impossible demands.

And that doesn’t mean I won’t ever ask for help, but next time I do I’m going to remember: just because this project is personal for me, doesn’t mean its personal for everyone else.