RENEGADE | Stephanie Ibbitson of Sonya Lee

Jan
17th

Every so often you meet a creative who is unlike their counterparts – bold, confident, outspoken and sharply business savvy. They understand creativity as a business, are steadfast in their vision and don’t let the haters get them down. They’re hard to come by, but as soon as I sat down with Stephanie Ibbitson, I could tell she was one of those badass creative renegades (disclaimer: I was right).

The designer of Toronto-based handbag brand Sonya Lee, Stephanie has a no-bullshit attitude that I was immediately drawn to, fully engaged as she told me how she got started in the fashion industry with no formal training (‘a lot of sewing experience and a shitload of determination’) and how most of her creations come from a background in industrial design.

You would never guess it though. Her collection of high-quality leather bags are beautiful and incredibly well-made, handcrafted by Stephanie herself in Sonya Lee’s Toronto studio. The bags and backpacks (named after strong females in her life) are durable and actually designed to get better with age, something that’s rare in this world of fast fashion. She describes her bags as “clean, industrial and a bit androgynous”, made for a woman who loves style just as much as functionality (and prefers to buy for quality rather than an over-priced luxury label).

Keep reading find out how Stephanie took the risk of quitting her advertising job to launch Sonya Lee, why her bags differ from other designer goods on the market, and what smart business advice she has for aspiring renegades like herself.

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Although you work in the fashion industry, you studied industrial design in college – how did you get started designing bags?

Well once I graduated from OCAD, I actually went to work at an advertising agency. They had an opening for the Unilever team and I got hooked up through one of my professors who put me in touch with the VP there. So I’d been working there for about a year and a half, having moved from a project co-ordinator to an account executive, when my roommate was like, “I can’t stand to look at you being so miserable all the time, I think you should rethink what you’re doing with your life.” At the time, I was already filling that creative void by doing a bunch of side projects sewing for friends, so I gave the agency my two weeks’ notice and they were like, “What other agencies are eyeing you up?” – haha! When I told them I was starting my own handbag business, they were just like, “Um, yeah, good luck with that” – they thought I was completely insane.

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Finances for Freelancers | The Road to Retirement, Part 1

Jan
12th

Finances for Freelancers

“So, how much money do you have put away for retirement?”

Big gulp.

“Ummmmm… yeah…. about that…..”

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Talking about finances has never been a fun topic for me. In my twenties, I was an impulsive buyer and lazy saver, living for the ‘now’ (yay, fun!) rather than the future (borrrrring). I’ve gotten much better in my thirties, acquiring some savings and planning for things like a wedding and buying a place in the city. But when it comes to the big, looming question of retirement savings, well that’s an area I haven’t even touched (I mean, I like, JUST rid my life of credit cards). My career so far has had me on contracts, working overseas, and most recently as a freelancer, so with no company pension or contributions from Ye Olde Bank of Lauren, I’m officially at the starting line. Only problem is, the finish is a long ways away.

Like many Millennials, I haven’t taken much time to look past the immediate present. Sure, I think I’d like to buy a house in a few years’ time or would like to expand my business offline in the next couple of months. But retirement? I haven’t even thought past 40. My parents JUST retired. I have plenty of time to save.

Except that I don’t.

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The Only New Year’s Resolution I’m Making in 2017

Jan
2nd

Well, now that we’ve bid adieu to the hellhole known as 2016, everyone is making sure they burst into 2017 with that age-old tradition, the thing that makes us hopeful for a great year ahead – New Year’s resolutions.

I’ll be honest, most of my New Year’s resolutions for 2016 fell to shit. Lose weight (I gained it), write more (I wrote less), buy less (still bought a lot of crap I didn’t need), and achieve work-life balance (HA. HA. HAAAAAA.) Which is the case for many of us, to be honest – we make these resolutions as a means to start fresh and make changes to our lifestyles, jobs, and appearances, but they often last a mere few months until something throws us off the wagon and we get discouraged or distracted and the adrenalin of a new year starts to wear off.

So this year, I’m only making one resolution. One that will likely waver at some point, but can easily be reinvigorated. One that doesn’t overwhelm. And one that will have a domino effect on any other goal I might have…

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Recipe | Ripe Nutrition’s No-Bake Energy Truffles

Dec
28th

ripe-nutrition-energy-truffles

Soooooo, I’ve got a bit of a confession to make:
I’m a snacker.

On any given day when I’m working from home, you can find me picking at everything from crackers to cookies to slices of cheese to whetever the hell else is in the fridge and edible (desperate times, people), eating just enough to satisfy me for an hour, rarely interested in actually making a meal. Snacks provide comfort when you’re down, interest when you’re bored and a short break from a crazy workday.

That being said, no one lived a healthy life through mindless snacking. And since my snacks often consist of the baddies (chocolate, sugar, dairy), my friend Alexandra Baird of Ripe Nutrition paid me a house visit to stop the madness. Lucky for me, instead of slapping me on the wrist for my indulgences, she showed me how to adjust my snacking habit, so I was eating more of the good stuff that would fill me up between meals (and later taught me how to make easy prepare-ahead meals… more on that in the new year).

One of the tastiest snacks she introduced me to are her signature No-Bake Energy Truffles. These superfood-dense balls of goodness are filling, last a long time in the fridge and can be shoved in my purse for a snack on-the-go. Plus, they actually taste like a treat without any of the bad stuff – the dates provide sweetness while the nuts add a natural saltiness. #winning

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