All posts by Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Learn About Exotic Leather Handbags by Christine VonBun

Toronto Canada’s biggest city, comes with all the trappings and frenetic pace of a metropolis. Finding and creating beauty can become obscure. However, we discovered designer Christine VonBun who handcrafts exotic leather handbags in her Toronto workshop. Discover her artistic inspiration and backstory here:

What brought Christine VonBun to Toronto?

When I made my decision to leave South Africa, I set my sights on a country with vast open space. The options were limited. My tennis partner spent eight years in Canada and loved it. Toronto was the obvious choice if I wanted to stay in my field with the benefits of a larger city. I never regretted that decision. We live three hours from Algonquin Park and try to get out with our beloved canoe (we name her HMS Edelweiss) as often as we can.

Christine VonBun fabricates a collection of handcrafted leather handbags in Toronto. Her interest in fashion started on a miniature scale sewing clothes for her dolls. Christine’s youthful pastime led to her educational choice, a dedicated fashion school in Vienna, Austria, called Modeschule Hetzendorf in a baroque castle.

Nadia clutch @ChristineVonBun

The school’s applicants must pass an entry exam to test their artistic and creative abilities. Christine began the intense five-year program at the age of 14. Many students were in their early twenties and the class size was limited to 24 people. The first two years centred around art, colour development and artistic education along with traditional high school courses. In the program’s third year, you are required to select a speciality. Christine chose leather and began working on handbags, belts and wallets.

After three years at Modeschule Hetzendorf, Christine received a journeyman’s certificate in handbag design and manufacture along with a degree in graphic and fashion illustration. However, her goal was to achieve her master craftsman certification, which in Austria legally allows you to open a store and workshop in your field. Christine VonBun was clearly dedicated; she had to work as an apprentice before applying for the elite track, which then required more specialised design and handcrafted work along with business related courses.

What was the final step?

“A technical two-day exam where you have to manufacture a prescribed handbag in a Master’s workshop – while they watch you doing it.”

Master craftsman Christine VonBun moved from Austria to Cape Town where she honed her skills working for Cape Cobra Leathercraft a manufacturer of luxury leather handbags made with exotic leathers.

How does Christine VonBun describes her exotic leather handbag collection?

I use my favourite leather (ostrich) as the basis of my collection. What I do now is a limited collection, all the bags have a similar identity.  Most of my bags include some interesting detail or complicated aspect of construction you won’t see elsewhere. I am trying to let my craftsmanship speak for itself to set my bags apart from others. My line now is all about elite craftsmanship, exclusive materials and timeless elegance.

Christine VonBun

What inspires your design work?

I love to travel, and I love architecture, especially modern architecture and art deco. My inspiration is something out of the ordinary; such as a building or a structure in a European city or even a small town, sometimes it’s the picture-perfect rock formation somewhere in the Canadian Wilderness. These things inspire me to create.

Can you explain how ostrich leather is different from other materials?

I fell in love with ostrich leather while working in South Africa. The leather is really in its own category with its unique texture and softness. Due to a natural tanning process, ostrich is the only exotic leather that gets more beautiful the more you wear it. The ostrich leather absorbs the oil from your skin and the textured quill areas get shiny and wonderfully soft. I have been wearing my denim blue Adele bag for over eight years, and it is still beautiful, I wouldn’t trade it for a new bag. Ostrich is often mistakenly referred to as endangered, and nothing could be further from the truth. There are now many ostrich farms and leather sources, but I use only Klein Karoo ostrich, they are the world leader for ostrich product. I won’t compromise on leather quality.

Adele Ostrich Shoulder bag @ChristineVonBun

What tools do you need for your work?

The primary machines are a particular walking foot leather sewing machine and a skiving machine for thinning the edges. When it comes to hand tools, I have a selection of double-facetted hand-knives for cutting, and specialised skiving knives for thinning the leather edges. I need a fishbone knife for turning the edges. There are also a variety of pliers and hammers, and a good assortment of small screwdrivers, chisels and some glue pots. I use different adhesives for separate parts of the process. The most important piece for hand working is a large soft flat stone. I got mine from my old Master in Vienna. These fine sandstones are not easy to come by – most come from European churches when they renovate.

Gloria #ShoulderBag #Leather @ChristineVonBun

How long does it take to make a bag like Gloria or Lola from start to finish?

The biggest factor in making a bag is that there are many individual steps. You are much more efficient when making multiples of the same style. On top of this, ostrich compared to a flat leather adds at least 50% additional time. Ostrich skin is a premium leather, the quill pattern complicates how you cut, you want to maximise every square inch. Ostrich also has the added difficulty of a very time-consuming preparation procedure order to start the assembly.

Lola Red Patent Leather Handbag @ChristineVonBun

To answer your question more precisely, if I make the Lola in patent leather, and I make more than one at a time, I could get away with about four to five hours per bag. If I make multiple Lolas in ostrich, I am likely to spend eight hours per handbag. However, a single bag could take 12 hours. With that effort to produce a single purse, it’s easy to understand why these handbags are limited pieces. View the Christine VonBun creator page and order your signature leather handbag today!

DIY Project – How Do You Make a Lavender Wand from Provence

This DIY project requires 100 stems of freshly-cut Provencal lavender. Elsa Lenthal follows a process, an old tradition, that her grandmother taught her. Lavender wands, or in fuseaux in French used to serve a very practical purpose to keep mites and moths away from clothes. Today, although the wands can keep the bugs away, they also make for beautiful keepsakes or dried arrangements.

How does she do it?

The lavender stems are then counted and cleaned of any tiny shoots, by hand. The fragrant bundle is then tied just below the flowers with a piece of ribbon. Elsa then individually folds each stem over the lavender buds “capturing” the flowers inside. The final step is to weave a bright ribbon through the stems covering the entire packet. The result is a lavender fuseaux, essentially shaped like a baby’s rattle. It takes Elsa, after years of practice, one hour to make each lavender wand.

Elsa makes hundreds of these wands every summer in Provence; she works while talking to customers in 4-5 markets per week.

The lavender wands will last forever.

  • 100 stems
  • 100 % French lavender
  • 100 % handmade
  • 100% traditional

Why Lavender? Here are 10  reasons.

A perfect hostess gift!
A present for your mum
for a girlfriend

Available in limited quantities – buy now!

Laurene Bosc captures Elsa’s step-by-step process to make lavender wands in her beautiful video below.

Photo credit: Lua Williams Photography, Canmore, Alberta

Travel Tips: How to Enjoy a Vancouver Weekend by KOTI Designs

Atelier creator Kaarina Talvila of KOTI Designs has lived in Ontario, Zimbabwe and Victoria, but there is no question Vancouver is her home. We all know that Vancouver is beautiful, but her description will make you want to move to this west coast metropolis.

A cyclist rides through Jericho Park #Vancouver @MyVancouver

“I absolutely love living in Vancouver and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Vancouver is a place with the perfect balance between big-city amenities and the outdoors. It’s a short five-minute walk to the beach from my house, and I have a forest at the end of the road, but I can also get right into the centre of the city in about half an hour. Inspiration comes easily when you live in a place where you’re surrounded by the serenity of nature, but also have access to top-notch museums, galleries and a vibrant craft community. And of course, there’s also a strong Asian influence in Vancouver which has definitely had an impact on my design sensibilities.”

Beach sunset friends #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Kaarina founded KOTI Designs in 2004. In the last five years, she has focused (full time) on her creative pursuit. The KOTI Designs silk evening bags are a reflection of this lady’s mathematical mind meeting her creative self. Read the background on KOTI Designs here.

Sunset silouettes people at beach #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Ask a local how they would spend the perfect Vancouver weekend?

Coffee at Nelson the Seagull in Gastown. This café has a small but excellent menu in a lovely old building with wooden floors, high ceilings and a bakery in the back.

Gastown Streets #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Lunch at La Taqueria, downtown on Hastings Street (right in the vicinity of two of my favourite fabric stores!). A tiny hole-in-the-wall place with a big selection of bite-sized pinche tacos. There is always a line-up, but it moves quickly.

Edible Canada under Granville bridge @EdibleCanada

Dinner at Edible Canada headquartered at Granville Island Public Market. This restaurant is where locals, visitors, professional chefs and passionate foodies congregate to experience the best in BC and Canadian cuisine. Edible Canada is a big promoter of innovative Canadian cuisine. All their food is locally sourced, and they have a great patio (for dinner or anytime).

Edible Canada Dining Room #CanadianFood @EdibleCanada

Edible Canada Food #CanadianFood @EdibleCanada

Iconic Vancouver – It’s almost a cliché now, but I think the Stanley Park seawall epitomises Vancouver. It provides views of all the disparate elements that make up the city. Stanley Park has views of the downtown skyline, the working port, the ocean, the forested mountains.

Vancouver, BC Canada #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Stay here – I’ve never stayed at the Granville Island Hotel, but I’ve always thought it would be the perfect place for visitors. It’s right in the city, but being on Granville Island, it’s surrounded by the waters of False Creek with all its marinas and small water taxis. As well, all the great restaurants, theatres and artists’ studios of Granville Island are right outside your door.

Don’t miss this insider experience – If you spend any time in Vancouver, you have to go hiking. Skip the Grouse Grind and instead, do the Sea to Summit hike on Howe Sound. It’s 7.5 km with a 900-metre elevation gain. When you reach the top, you can relax over dinner and a drink with a fabulous view. Afterwards, take the gondola down.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with permission
Cover Photo:  Seaplane over Coal Harbour – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 1: A cyclist rides through Jericho Park – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 2: Beach sunset friends – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 3: Sunset silouettes people at beach – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 4: Gastown Streets – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 5: Edible Canada under Granville bridge – Edible Canada
Photo 6: Edible Canada Dining Room – Edible Canada
Photo 7: Edible Canada Food – Edible Canada
Photo 8: Vancouver, BC Canada – Tourism Vancouver

Find Out What Makes Lavender Essential Oil So Popular

When it comes to lavender you fall into one of two camps (pro or con), but that is likely because of your exposure to over-processed, or worse, chemically created scents that try to mimic nature.

Lavender essential oil is expensive, although not quite as much as a return flight to France (from North America). Having participated in the harvest and watched the distillation process, I fully appreciate how much product (lavender) needs to be grown to produce that little vial of essential oil.

Lavender fields in Provence

Here, is a summary of the distillation process for traditional lavender growers:

  1. The flowers are cut, bundled and left to dry in the field for 1-2 days.
  2. Tractors loaded with dried bundles haul their purple loads to the distillery.
  3. This is where the bales of flowers are stuffed into enormous vats. It is incredibly hard work, but you smell terrific at the end of the day.
  4. Once the vat lids are closed, steam is pumped through the tubes (think large pressure cookers) until the flowers are hot enough to release their essence.
  5. This liquid has two components; a clear heavily scented essence and a fractional amount of essential oil. Both parts are collected and sold for commercial use.

Lavender distillation essential oil

What is the lavender essential oil used for?

lavender-wands-from-provence-by-lua-williams

Our friend Girl Gone Gallic wrote about 33 Uses for Lavender Essential Oil.  Yes lavender scent is used in everything from ice cream to floor cleaner, from lip balm to massage oils.

  • Household UsesShop here for 100% lavender “wands” for your linen closets.
  • Beauty Uses – perfumes, scrubs, balms
  • Relaxation Uses – massage, baths
  • Food Uses – syrups, cocktails, cookies, ice cream
  • Medicinal Uses –  cuts, bug bites, eczema

GGG and I are wondering could there be 100 uses for lavender essential oil? Please read her post here and let us know what to add to the list.

How Designers are Turning Rocks into Beautiful Gemstone Jewellery

Classifying Gemstones

Talk about a rock-hard job! A gemologist must wade through a detailed analysis to arrive at a classification for a rock. Their conclusion after reviewing  colour, clarity, hardness and refractory qualities determines the relative value of a stone.

Even today, gemstone classification follows a methodology first invented by the Ancient Greeks. The analysis starts by dividing stones into precious and semi-precious piles. The precious gem group includes sparkling diamonds, red rubies, icy sapphires and green emeralds. The list of semi-precious stones is extensive.

The problem?

“There is no universally accepted grading system for gemstones.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Inert. Stable. Perpetual.

Powerful. Influential. Transforming

Hocus pocus?

Maybe, but there is a strong belief foundation behind the dominant properties of stones.

From the American Gem Society website:

“According to folklore and stories throughout history, many gemstones are thought to offer mystic healing to its wearer.”

For the fashion crowd here is what Elle Magazine had to say:

“Despite what you might think, touting the “healing” properties of gemstones isn’t just a fleeting Hollywood trend reserved for Miranda Kerr and um, Spencer Pratt. Gems and stones have been believed to hold metaphysical properties, alter our moods, and remedy a spectrum of ailments for thousands of years.”

Whether you are a believer or not. It could hardly hurt to add one of these fabulous gemstone jewellery pieces to your accessory collection.

The Powers of Gemstone Jewellery

Colleen Poitras’ significance bangle marks the power of gemstones by acknowledging life’s milestones and the need for a little luck around your wrist.

Significance bangle moonstone @ColleenPoitras

Erinlaura harnesses the strength of rough cut stones with dainty gold filigree to craft harmony in her pendants.

Collins Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Anastassia Sel remodels old-style ring settings with stunning non-traditional stones.

Aurora Ring #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

Gemstone Qualities

What stone to buy? Here, are some details on a few of the semi-precious stones in their gemstone jewellery collections.

Purple Amethyst @ColleenPoitras

Amethyst is quartz. A crystal that calms the wearer and brings a closer connection to inner thoughts. The stone creates a deep awareness (especially if worn during meditation) and a sense of protection. This gemstone helps to banish negative energies. The Greeks believed the purple amethyst to be a “sobriety stone” associating its rich burgundy colour with Bacchus (god of wine). February babies this is your birthstone.

Black Onyx @ColleenPoitras

Black Onyx – Persistence and healing this is the stone to wear to that challenging client meeting. The impenetrable dark stone improves both focus, dedication and retention. Black Onyx might be a good choice to wear to your next exam or budget meeting. Perhaps a gift for a student.

Chalcedony @ColleenPoitras

Chalcedony is known as the Speaker’s Stone. The stone of someone who reflects upon the impact of their words before speaking. This light blue stone absorbs negative thoughts and energies. A nurturing stone for a friend.

Labradorite @ColleenPoitras

Labradorite this stone is bewitching and transforming. Facilitates magical powers and clear a path through the haze of memories and desires. Having trouble remembering your dreams? This stone provides clarity, improved communication and tempers negative feelings. Maybe you should get one for everyone in your office.

Moonstone @ColleenPoitras

Moonstone associated with the moon and the goddess Diana. A gemstone for the ladies, it encourages reflection and inner exploration. Moonstone is a good luck stone, offering protection and increased fertility.“ According to Hindu mythology, moonstone is made of solidified moonbeams.” (source). The adularescent nature of this stone with made it a favourite of 1960’s flower children. Moonstone continues to charm designers.  This stone is an excellent choice for the ladies on your shopping list.

Rose Quartz a bit like rosé wine this gemstone can vary from pale to dark pink. However, in this case, it has nothing to do with the length of time spent on grape skins. Prized by ancient cultures, archaeologists date rose quartz jewellery specimens from Iraq to 7000 BC. Revered for centuries, rose quartz is a healing stone. A love stone.

Rutilated quartz @ColleenPoitras

Rutilated Quartz a clear quartz peppered with Golden Rutile increases creativity and balance your energy chakras. Trouble sleeping? Worried about ageing or life’s road blocks this attractive stone will help bring clarity and centre your thoughts. This stone may even improve your love life.

Watermelon Tourmaline Union Necklace #Jewellery @AnastassiaSel

Tourmaline is a quartz stone. These crystals run the gambit of the colour spectrum from clear to black. The stone of luck, love and positive energy. A watermelon tourmaline gets its name from the green exterior and red interior, like the melon. Wearing a black tourmaline stone might just bring you more luck than playing the lottery.

Skimbaco Essential Oil Diffuser Jewelry for Easy Designer Fashion

Discover how a lifestyle choices created a successful brand and a line of essential oil diffuser jewelry.

Katja Presnal is the founder of Skimbaco a lifestyle brand that she founded in 2006. She tells us that the name is not something you will find in a dictionary. Rather it’s a combination of a Finnish slang word “skimba” for skis and “co” for Colorado.

“The company was launched while we lived in Colorado and skiing in was the way we enjoyed life to the fullest at the moment. Everyone can define their own “skimbaco” – it is like modern carpe diem of enjoying the moment despite where you are.”

katja-and-gaby-in-bali @Skimbaco

Presnal says that her family does live a “Skimbaco” and somewhat nomadic life. “Our three children were born in three different countries, and we have explored the world together. Just in the past two years, we have lived in Sweden, New York, and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia.”

Skimbaco Lifestyle started as an online store for artisan products (closed in 2008) and a blog. Presnal’s proven creative talent landed her a job at a marketing agency, where she worked with large brands. However, she felt that she was not living the Skimbaco lifestyle and felt this was critical to growing the company. Quitting her agency job apparently worked as Skimbaco is now an online magazine and significant lifestyle brand. Presnal and her team encourage you to travel the world and embrace local culture through the glossy magazine pages.

What is it about essential oils that you feel relates to the lifestyle you are promoting in your business?

I’ve always been a huge believer in natural remedies and even only used essential oils for the labour when our second daughter was born. After visiting farms around the world and seeing how they cultivate cinnamon in Sri Lanka and aloe vera in Italy, I have always been drawn to using earth’s best for skin care, wellness and yes, even health care. I started using essential oils as part of daily wellness regimen about two years ago, and it took me by surprise what kind of difference the daily use of essential oils can contribute to your physical and mental well-being. I realised that essential oils are not just some natural remedies to be used in need, but that they can be part of your wellness regimen to keep you healthy – and happy.

enjoy-life-jewelry-lifestyle #Jewellery @Skimbaco

How did essential oils result in designing jewelry?

I started using essential oils in my favourite leather bracelets a few years ago and realised that leather diffuses the oils. The scent stays in the jewelry longer than on the skin. It became my favourite way of diffusing my oils, so I teamed up with my favourite designer DeAnna Cochran to create a designer diffuser jewelry line. The ENJOY LIFE diffuser jewelry collection by Skimbaco Lifestyle is done in partnership with DeAnna, and all of our pieces are handmade in her studio in Texas.

Can you describe the process for designing the diffuser jewelry?

First, we test different materials on how they absorb the essential oils, and we test them with several oils. It’s important that the materials diffuse the oils, but also won’t get ruined in the long-term use. A lot of our inspiration comes from our travels. The current collection is inspired by the colours of Bali, the sandy beaches and tropical ocean.

2getger-turquoise-earrings #Jewellery @Skimbaco

I try to stay on the top of today’s trends. However, I also wanted to offer pieces that are pretty timeless, that you can wear for years. We don’t follow a specific process yet, and some of our designs have even been born out of an accident. For example, our team member saw a close up picture of the 2GETHER silver hoop earrings for the first time, and she immediately commented: “I love that minimal necklace!” We were puzzled at first, but then saw it as an opportunity to create a minimal necklace and the Just ONE DROP necklace was born.

just-one-drop-turquoise-lava-bead-silver-hoop-necklace #Jewellery @Skimbaco

What materials are used in the jewelry?

We are constantly testing new materials and how the oils can be used in them. We currently use lava beads, leather, and geode crystals. Currently, most of our metals are silver.

Check-out the full Skimbaco collection of diffuser jewelry here.

Images credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Katja Presnal at Skimbaco Lifestyle

Smart Designer Shopping for the Uncomfortable Realities of Travel

Unfortunately, the glory days of travel are long gone; glamorous overland excursions, plush ship berths, expensive china and silver flatware remain legends of past voyages and dreamy novels. Although, you can still find handcrafted leather steamer trunks, smart cosmetic cases with shiny buckles and monogrammed hat boxes – in flea markets.

Travel Air #TravelTips @Atelier_boutiq

Today’s reality of airline limitations on baggage weight, size and quantity force you to pack wisely. Standing in the queue at airport security, balancing your laptop, spare change and shoes, is usually enough torture to ensure that you do not select more than the absolutely necessary items for your trip.

Mediterranean Boat #TravelTips @Atelier_boutiq

However, black suits and white shirts are boring.

Essential Poncho @ArtiganiMilanesi

At Atelier, we have travel solutions for your next voyage, accessories to brighten up your suitcase without adding weight or bulk. Here are some smart shopping ideas for your next out of town business meeting:

Essential Cashmere Cardigan this Italian tailored sweater will keep you warm on the plane or in the conference room. Available in multiple colours.

Essential Cardigan @ArtigianiMilanesi #cashmere

A stunning 100% silk scarf by Morija Designs, is easy to pack and will dress-up with any outfit.

Smart Designer Shopping Travel Silk Scarf

Eye-catching and comfortable to wear jewellery like the Collins Necklace or the Matter Series Ring in stainless steel will steal the show at your next client appointment.

Collins Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

 

 

Inspired by Art Deco KOTI Designs Luxury Silk Evening Handbags

“Home” in Finnish is KOTI, the name that Kaarina Talvila chose for her company. For her, it is a fitting name linked to memories of her mother who first taught her how to sew. KOTI Designs is also evocative of the fact that Kaarina is very settled in her adopted city of Vancouver, a place where she has lived since 1980, and the fact that she is at home (literally and spiritually) in her studio.

Silk Canister Purse in Violet and Cream Silk @KOTIDesigns

 

We were curious about the KOTI Designs story; from geology to silk handbag design. Kaarina Talvila achieved a major in geology from the University of Toronto and subsequently worked for a Fortune 500 company in computer support for mining exploration – mapping and data analysis. Now, she creates geometric patterns for silk evening bags and finishes them on a 35-year old on Viking sewing machine.

Silk Canister evening bag in Steel Blue and Chartreuse @KOTIDesigns

 

When did you start KOTI Designs?

I started KOTI Designs on a very part-time basis about twelve years ago (2004), when my children were in elementary school, but I didn’t turn it into a full-time undertaking until about five years ago.

Why did you start KOTI Designs?

Despite the early career in a science-based field, I’ve always been a creator  – right from childhood. In fact, I took time off from my software work to go back to school to do a crafts program, but I never thought it was a viable career choice. When I was a stay-at-home mom, though, with children in school all day, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to pursue, finally, the creative life I’d been wanting for as long as I could remember.

Square silk Purse Red and Purple @KOTIDesigns

Can you tell us about the crafts program?

I already knew how to sew, thanks to my mother, as well as high school Home Economics classes and years of sewing my clothes. Before starting my new venture in earnest, I took a two-year hiatus from my software career and attended Capilano University for their craft program, which encompassed weaving and surface design, as well as drawing, design and art history.

How did you learn to work with silk?

When I was at Capilano University, we got a good grounding in working with all natural fibres, both for weaving and surface design.

Why do chose to you work with silk?

When I was doing table linens, I was using natural linen because of its durability, but for my evening bags, silk was the only choice. Silk is elegant and lustrous. It represents refined quality and still has an aura of the exotic. And, most importantly for me, silk is unmatched for rich and vibrant colours.

silk-evening-bag-half-moon-shape-in-black-and-scarlet-and-gold @KOTIDesigns

Your designs are inspired by Art Deco and the Japanese aesthetic – what is it about bold, precise patterns that speak to you?

Art Deco is very geometric, and that’s me with my math and science background. My designs are very controlled and precise, but also minimalist, and that’s where the Japanese aesthetic comes in. I love the balance and apparent simplicity of Japanese design.

Can you describe your workshop (atelier)?

I have a lovely studio space. It’s on the second floor of my home in West Vancouver, with windows that look out over Burrard Inlet and a walk-out deck. I’m a bit cramped for space, but the beauty and serenity more than make up for that.

silk clutch evening bag in black rust and red @KOTIDesigns

How long does it typically take to make a bag?

I usually make the purses in batches of four or five – do all the cutting, then all the sewing, etc. It’s much more efficient than doing them one at a time, but if I were to work it out per purse, it would be about 3.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on the style.

The beautiful KOTI Design bags are made from fine silk cloth and fabricated with an exacting eye.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of KOTI Designs

The Yin and Yang of Erinlaura Designer Jewelry

For this young Vancouver designer, opposing energies create unexpected harmony in her jewelry. Erin Johnson has lived in Canada’s west coast metropolis for several years now. Originally, she moved to attend the University of British Columbia, but the city’s many attractions keep her close.

Mia Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Erin founded her company Erinlaura Jewelry three years ago, the brand is a combination of two names – her grandmother’s and her own. Erin describes her grandmother, Laura, as an influential force in her life and one who continues to provide guidance. As a young woman, Laura emigrated to Langley, British Columbia from Vieste, Italy, with her spouse and they started a family. Young and resourceful Laura made everything from scratch from pasta to blankets, from bread to clothing. Erin credits her grandmother with teaching her how to work with her hands.

“She has always taught me to be strong and never give up. She has also taught me that it is ok to fail, which is an important thing for anyone starting their own company.”

Experimenting with materials Erin designed a delicate ring for herself using rose quartz and unwittingly launched her company. She wore the ring to work (at fashion retailer Aritzia) and before she had finished her shift co-workers were placing orders for similar models.

Collins Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Each Erinlaura Jewelry piece is named after one Erin’s best friends (clearly, she has a few). Combining rough cut stones with delicate chains is the yin-yang of Erin’s work. She tells us that she is attracted to the flaws in gemstones and it is in those blemishes that she sees the beauty and the possibilities. Her base materials come from stores in Vancouver and Arizona, and her inspiration from her surroundings.

Check out some of Erin’s “friends”: Mia, Kristen and the Collins necklaces. Rough semi-precious stones wrapped in fine strands of gold.

Cali Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

Before we let Erin get back to her studio, we asked her to share her favourite Vancouver haunts, and where she hopes to see someone wearing her jewelry.

#TastesofVancouver

Coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters – Start the day with the perfect raw almond milk latte.

Breakfast: Café Medina for the best brunch in town.

Lunch:  Lift for an excellent view of the water and fresh oysters too.

Dinner:  AnnaLena Restaurant for tasty share plates and even better cocktails.

Stay: Rosewood Hotel Georgia with its unbeatable central downtown location.

Classic Vancouver?: Take a walk on the Seawall.

Healthy activity?:  Quarry rock hike with a Honey’s Doughnut in Deep Cove afterwards.

Dream of Drifting Away to Provence with the Scent of Lavender

Lavender is big business in Provence.

There is a significant agricultural industry built around the purple plants, which includes farmers, distillery owners and manufacturers (cosmetics, food). The is also an enormous impact on the tourism industry with countless visitors clamoring to get to see the rows of lavender plants at the peak of the blooming cycle.  There are tour groups and private guides who count on the lavender playing a part in their summer business.

Lavender Fields in Provence #Lavender #Provence

So, where do you see the fields? When is the best time for lavender viewing? Is there a driving route that you would recommend?

Franco-American blogger, Girl Gone Gallic  answers all of those questions in her post:

Tantalize your senses… Visit the Lavender Fields of Provence

Lavender has always grown wild in Provence…

Every year thousands flock to the hills and valleys of Provence to visit the famed lavender fields.  There are several different lavender routes (six official itineraries to be exact) that can be followed depending on the time of year and your interests…

Keep reading Girl Gone Gallic’s post here for details on lavender itineraries, drying tips and much more.

Can’t travel to Provence? We have the answer SHOP NOW! for lavender “wands” these make beautiful gifts, dried bouquets and they last forever.

lavender fuseaux