‘Tis the Season… For Helping Those In Need

Dec
2nd

virginmobile-2

Richard Branson’s autobiography, Losing My Virginity, was the first entrepreneurial book I’d ever read. Flipping through the pages shortly after I’d graduated from school, his life story was one I’d never imagined possible – a 16-year-old high school drop-out who built the Virgin empire starting with one tiny record store and growing to develop everything from airlines to mobile phone companies, leading with the motto “Oh, screw it, let’s do it.” A true renegade, Sir Richard had me hooked. Reading his book, I felt the tingle of adventure and the excitement of risk and knew that there was no going back – this was a life I craved.

Fast forward to just last week, when I found myself no more than six-feet from the man himself, sweaty-palmed and anxious as I waited for him to take the small stage for a panel discussion and hyped announcement. I was at a party at “Steve’s House”, the friendly name given to Virgin Mobile’s super-fast modem for their new Home Internet (yep, the peeps that brought the world Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Radio and the epic V Festival are hooking Canadians up with quality internet, too).

But in true Virgin style, the party was for more than just celebrating the arrival of Virgin Mobile Home Internet. The brand has always been a leader in philanthropy, which is why the Home Internet announcement came with an even bigger announcement – one that would directly impact Canadians and encourage them to build better communities by empowering at-risk youth to turn their lives around through the Virgin Mobile RE*Generation program.

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One of a Kind Show | A Guide to Shopping Local

Dec
1st
ooak-cards(cards by Vancouver-based brand I’ll Know It When I See It, booth U-39)

It’s the mooooost wonderfullllll tiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeaaaar. Yep – it’s the week of Toronto’s One of a Kind Christmas Show, also known as the best damn place to shop for the person who has everything (or for yourself, which is the route I generally end up taking).

I’ve been hitting up the One of a Kind Show for years, stocking up on everything from shortbread for my mum to jewelry for my bestie. But besides being my fave destination for holiday gifts, it’s also the best place to discover local artisans, renegades from across Canada who are putting their passions out there for the world to see. And I EFFING LOVE IT. I talk to everyone, ask them their life story, and leave with a whole list of people that would be perfect to feature on the site.

So when the show asked if I’d like to take part this year, I gave a resounding ‘hells yes’. Using some of my fave pieces from the Fashion District exhibitors, I styled a mannequin that is oh-so-very Lauren (i.e. dressed head-to-toe in black), and took my mum with me to view it so she could take a bunch of pics of me beside it (not embarassing AT ALL).

The show is on through this weekend until December 4th, so if you’re headed to do some holiday shopping, I’ve sussed out a few of my favourites from this year’s exhibit. Pop by these nine booths for the goods and don’t be shy to add me to your gift list. Ahem.

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Renegades | Gimme360

Nov
21st

Renegades | Gimme 360

(Gimme360 founders Josiah Crombie, Lucas Bruno and Daniel Bokun)

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The first time I met the guys behind Gimme360, I wasn’t sure what hit me.

Friendly, funny, warm and passionate, founders Josiah Crombie and Daniel Bokun were buzzing with excitement to tell me all about their innovative apparel brand that fuses giving back with minimalist design and virtual reality. The concept is simple – each shirt is emblazoned with the exact co-ordinates of where your donation goes to. And when you hover your phone over the logo tag on the front of the shirt, a virtual reality experience appears on your screen, actually showing you the community that your donation positively impacts.

I later met the two other co-founders, Lucas Bruno and Alex Jager, making up a group of four young guys who evoke the same energy and passion for their growing Toronto-based company. And although they each have a distinct set of skills to bring to the company, they share the same value and vision for Gimme360 – to tell the story of where your donation actually goes.

“What we’re able to do is connect the product to the cause,” says Josiah. “We found a lot of people in the social enterprise space were saying ‘Buy this bracelet, it saves the rhinos’, but what’s the connection there? How do you know they’re actually doing that?”

For their first Kickstarter campaign, the guys have chosen French water charity 1001 Fontaines as their cause. With a goal to provide clean water to 300,000 Cambodians, Gimme360 give 33% of the sale of each piece directly to the charity. And a little goes a long way: “For this project in Cambodia, the sale of one shirt would positively impact 60 people, giving them access to clean water,” says Daniel.

I sat down with the guys (sans Alex) to hear more about Gimme360 and how these renegades are changing the way we give back, lessening the gap between donations to charity and the impact they make.

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Tuck Shop Co. Holiday Wreath Workshop

Nov
17th

tuckshopco-1
There are few things I love more than the holidays – a season filled with good times, good friends, good booze.

This past Tuesday, all of that goodness came together at one of my favourite local shops, Tuck Shop Co., as I co-hosted a wreath-making workshop to kick off the hols (I know, SUPER fun, right?). My love for Tuck Shop runs deep, from their City of Neighbourhood touques that launched a wave of Toronto-proud brands to pop up in its wake, to their newer heritage collection of luxe cabin-to-city goods. Walking into the flagship store on Summerhill, which owner Lyndsay Borschke took over in May of this year, is like walking into a cozy, stylish space that celebrates everything it means to be Canadian.

That nod to Canadiana and local love made it a perfect spot to host our #SipandSwag event, the sip being whiskey-fueled apple cider and the swag being the name for the beautiful garland we would be DIY-ing. Joining us were an intimate group of the Toronto Instagram and blogging scene, some of my favourite peeps and those that shared the same values as both Tuck Shop Co. and This Renegade Love – a deep love for our city and community. It was a celebration of all things local and I gotta say, I was in my element.

We were also lucky to bring on some awesome partners to lead us into the festive season. Our hot apple cider was courtesy of Greenhouse Juice, mixing their fresh apple juice with whiskey (hey, it’s the hols) and cinammon to keep us warm. I was also introduced to Alveole honey, an amazing brand that REALLY brings the local love – their neighbourhood-tagged jars house honey from hives in specific regions of the city (live in Leslieville? There’s a honey for that!). And of course, we couldn’t have DIY’d the night away without the lovelies at Stok Floral & Design, who provided all the greenery and showed us how to create our beautiful swags (oh, I’m sorry – y’all didn’t think I was the one TEACHING did you?? Naw, I was too busy with the ‘sip’ portion).

A night filled with crafts, laughter, drinks and local renegades? Can’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season. Even if my swag did end up looking like a Charlie Brown reject (I’m not the best with instructions).

Here’s a selection of snaps from the night to get you in the festive spirit. And in case I don’t get to say it again…

Happy Holidays! Shop local. xo

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