ON Magazine: Spring 2010

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SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

Royal LePage’s Central Toronto offices congratulate Our Neighbourhood Magazine on its expansion into Toronto’s many diverse neighbourhoods!

Is Real Estate Your Calling? This special edition focuses on leaps of faith – the stories of individuals who have identified their goals and set out to accomplish them. We applaud all the business owners and individuals who have taken their own “Leap of Faith”.

At Royal LePage we recognize the challenges that await someone who has decided to pursue a career in real estate. For many, it’s a passion that lies deep within and practicing as a Realtor® is something they’ve envisioned for years. They’re just not sure how to take that first step. Collectively, Royal LePage’s Central Toronto offices invite you to discover whether a career in real estate is for you. You’ll participate in an assessment program that includes a Personal Orientation Profile. Upon completion of this interactive assessment you will receive a report with useful career management feedback designed specifically to help you determine the suitability of a career in real estate. You’ll learn about the educational requirements, the costs involved and what to expect in your first year. To register please contact one of our Central Toronto offices: BAYVIEW BRANCH 1391 Bayview Ave Craig Homewood Broker Manager 416-424-4900 www.RLPBayview.com

YONGE ST BRANCH 3080 Yonge Street Trish Manning Broker Manager 416-487-4311 www.RLPonYonge.com

ST. CLAIR BRANCH 55 St. Clair Ave. W. Kevin Somers Broker Area Manager 416-921-1112 www.RLPCentral.com

KING WEST BRANCH 905 King St. W. Peter F. Holgate Broker Manager 416-205-0355 www.RLPDowntown.com

Helping you is what we do


Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Brokerage




CELEBRATING TORONTO’S DREAMERS 10 14 18 20 23 24 34 37 46 53

Passion for the Arts: Bernard Gauthier Major Player: Melleny Melody YORKVILLE Culture Shop: Dorjee Nepali distillery district Gotta Dance!: Ilona Kamecki the BEACH Star Power: Sandra Graham LESLIEVILLE Designing Woman: Avery Swartz QUEEN’S QUAY - harbourfront A New Vision: Jack Gilbert the annex Auto Magic: Jessica Gilbank WEST QUEEN WEST Family Ties: Fred and Nick Laliberte HIGH PARK Baby Steps: Susan Tomaszewski FOREST HILL VILLAGE


28 OUR WORLD Changing Lives Through Awareness 30 OUR NEIGHBOURHOODS A World Within A City




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SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Established in 2006, Our Neighbourhood Magazine (aka ON Magazine) is a free, independently owned, community-based print magazine devoted to supporting small businesses in the unique, culturally significant neighbourhoods of Toronto. ON Magazine is committed to the coverage of Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, Style & Design, Shopping, Health & Wellness, Travel, Lifestyle, Real Estate, and our Environment.



Roger Tumminieri

Jaclyn Law






Naomi Faith Brewer Heather Buchan Janice Chan Andrew John Virtue Dobson Sue Edworthy Adam Gontier Taylor Graham Taffi Rosen Nicholas Sgouros Gigi von Anrep James Williams

Gigi Lau

Nicholas Longstaff

The publication and all images within remain the property of ON Magazine and may not be reproduced in any form without prior written consent of the Publisher. Views expressed in ON Magazine by any contributor are not necessarily that of the staff or Publisher. Our Neighbourhood Magazine is published quarterly and is a division of ON Media Group Inc.



Heikki Walden OUR WORLD

Ben Peterson WEBMASTER

Jason Verbovszky

Kerry Brennan


416.455.7320 ON Magazine is printed by an FSC-certified printer with VOC-free vegetable inks.




ONline: ONmagazine.ca ONtwitter: twitter.com/ONmag COVER PHOTO BY ANDREW JOHN VIRTUE DOBSON



LIBERTY VILLAGE TOWN 1 bedroom, corner unit, 2 lockers Unobstructed downtown view!

Gigi von Anrep, Broker Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. 905 King West, Toronto, ON M6K 3G9

FOR SALE: $459,900

AUTHENTIC PENTHOUSE LOFT Wood beams, 1000 sq ft 1 bedroom, 2 baths, parking Gorgeous upgrades Too beautiful to miss!

www.KingWestVillage.ca gigivonanrep.blogspot.com


See My Feature Listing on page 60


SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


? D L U O M



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SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca



It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 40th issue of Our Neighbourhood Magazine! provide valuable services and contribute to the well-being of their community. There’s a story behind every business, and we’ve selected inspiring leap-of-faith stories from across the city. This issue will also set the stage for my next leap of faith as I expand ON Magazine from three to 33 neighbourhoods. I dedicate this issue to those who have followed their hearts, taken big risks and decided to live their dreams. I’d like to thank our staff and advertisers, as well as my family and friends for their ongoing support. And, as always, thank you for reading ON.



SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by CATHY CHEN

Typically, writing this note is the last thing I do before I publish an issue. I wait until every page is in place and ready for print before I sit down, exhale and write these words. I like to keep things in perspective. In that spirit, it’s almost exactly four years since I left my corporate career and took some much-needed time to myself. After much soul searching, I started a magazine for my neighbourhood, West Queen West, in August 2006, and published its first issue that October. (Read more about the beginnings of the magazine on page 54.) Fast-forward to spring 2010, and here it is – our 40th issue. We’re commemorating this milestone by celebrating Toronto’s Dreamers – people in your neighbourhood who, through hard work and ingenuity,

photo by Shireen Jeejeebhoy


SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


in your neighbourhood

This summer, get to know your neighbours... Let ON connect you to the people and events that make our neighbourhoods great places to live, work and play!

ONmagazine.ca 8

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

Uniquely Yours

Lighting for your lifestyle. 5,000 sq foot Loft Showroom

Owner Jodie Orange and Fritz

$ - $$ - $$$

624 King Street West (east of Bathurst) | 416-364-9099 9

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


A Passion for the Arts

We applaud Bernard Gauthier’s supporting role By Taffi Rosen


“What I do is extraordinary. Without a doubt, I have the best job in the world,” says Gauthier. “I get to meet the artists, tell their stories and put it on Canada’s premier arts channel.” Gauthier supervises a staff of nine that includes producers, editors, camera operators and a productions assistant. “I oversee Bravo!News and Arts & Minds, the weekly magazine-style half-hour show that features Canadian arts in motion from coast to coast.” Gauthier creates other arts programming, including news and TV specials with a roundtable format, where guests discuss contemporary arts issues and hot topics that affect Canadians. Gauthier lives in a turn-of-the-20thcentury building near Church and Bloor. “This neighbourhood offers a sense of community and acceptance. [My apartment] is close to everything, eliminating the need for a car. The best of downtown Toronto is just a short walk away.” Bernard Gauthier 299 Queen St. W. bravo.ca

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by TAFFI ROSEN

French-Canadian Bernard Gauthier is an inspiration. Generous in spirit, he’s a tour de force in whatever direction he chooses to place his considerable energies. 1994 was the genesis of Bravo! Canada’s Art Channel. At that time, Gauthier enthusiastically volunteered for any work required, and he quickly learned enough to make himself a vital team member, although he was still employed as the assistant-director of a young offender facility. Soon enough, he had a full-time position at Bravo!, and over the years, his single-minded determination garnered him the producer position for Bravo!News, for which he produced short interstitiallike pieces that highlighted the latest and greatest art events of the week. In addition, Gauthier continued to contribute to events such as the Giller Prize and live events at the Rehearsal Hall. In 2006, the media landscape changed forever when CHUM Ltd. was sold to CTVglobemedia. Then CTV took over the building at 299 Queen Street West. Many part-time and full-time employees lost their jobs, but Gauthier moved up once again, this time to the position of supervising producer of Bravo! and BookTelevision.


Right at Home Department of Interiors’ friendly design duo By Taylor Graham


changes to Moukperian. “She’s kept the store fresh,” he explains, and Moukperian laughs as she describes her slow moulding of the store’s design identity from Warsh’s almost exclusively Victorian tastes to including selections from almost every era. Moukperian has a strong passion for design, and with every new customer comes a new design challenge. “I love figuring out what people are really looking for.” Although the store offers merchandise outside the price range of many Torontonians, Warsh’s and Moukperian’s attitudes do not reflect that. They are very willing to invite any visitor into their world, showing photos and pieces that they have created in the past. What insight can Warsh offer about opening a business? “It’s madness!” he cries, with a little glint in his eye. It’s obvious he wouldn’t have it any other way. Department of Interiors 1234 Yonge St. 416.322.7277 departmentofinteriors.ca

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by Taylor Graham

“Luxury is a word Rosedale can afford,” says Robert Warsh, owner and jolly president of Department of Interiors, on Yonge just north of Summerhill subway station. “Quality of craftsmanship shouldn’t be overlooked anymore. If you want a piece of furniture to last, you come to us.” In the 1980s, sales-oriented Warsh came up with a business model that has kept his company alive and well in Toronto’s competitive interior-design community. “We’ve cut out the middleman,” he explains. At Department of Interiors, you can find high-end designer fabrics, furniture and antiques while avoiding designers’ hourly fees by moving straight to the construction of the pieces, drapery, etc., that you’re looking for. Warsh and his spunky, sneakersporting store manager, Susan Moukperian, also offer personal consultation as they are designers themselves. Originally located on Avenue Road, Department of Interiors has transformed many times to accommodate designer trends and the store’s growing popularity. Warsh attributes most of the positive


A Slice of Life Onassis Pizzeria is a Leaside tradition

photo by Taylor Graham

By TAYLOR GRAHAM For the past 25 years, there has been one name associated with bringing homestyle pizza and souvlaki to the Leaside community: Onassis. Upon entering Onassis Pizzeria Restaurant & Dining Lounge, just east of Eglinton and Bayview, for the first time, you most likely will get the impression that not a whole lot has changed since it opened. Stella Grigorates, the restaurant’s happy owner and operator, is quick to defend the restaurant’s retro decor, insisting that this is the way her customers like it. “We wouldn’t stay if people didn’t appreciate what we’re doing,” Grigorates states simply. “You can’t stay if people don’t like you.” Last summer, Grigorates and her daughter Christina visited family on the Greek island of Kefalonia. This is the same island that Grigorates and her late husband, Spiro, left many years ago to follow Spiro’s dream of owning a restaurant in Canada. Grigorates describes Kefalonia as “still beautiful, but much too busy,” and says that Toronto is now very much her home. She remembers the anxiety of coming to Canada, and how she quickly found comfort in the consistency of her growing business

and the stability of the family she and Spiro fostered in their adopted city. So what are Grigorates’ secrets to staying in business? A daily commitment to her restaurant – she makes it a point to keep the regulars happy – and being able to find joy in the tasks associated with preparing food for others. She puts in a full day every day, getting to Onassis at 9 a.m. to begin her preparations. “You gotta work,” Grigorates explains. “Not every day is a holiday.” Grigorates and her husband may have made their leap of faith many years ago when opening Onassis, but after Spiro passed, she had to rediscover her own passion for the restaurant. Again, it was the consistency of the business that kept her going. “The neighbourhood is nice, the people are nice. I’m just lucky to stay around all these years.”

Onassis Pizzeria Restaurant & Dining Lounge 804 Eglinton Ave. E. • 416.422.1771



twitter.com/ONmag SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Major Player

Melleny Melody is a creative tour de force By Taffi Rosen


Monroe and Shirley Temple on acid for her first album, Melleny Melody and the Syncopated Symphonies of John Henry Nyenhuis, for her label, Nepotism Records. Play Records was born in 1996. As a DJ-based company, its main purpose was doing shows and playing vinyl, hence the name. Next came Melleny Melody and the POP Machine hit “Doin Dishes,” and then Melleefresh and Dirty 30 with the hit “Beautiful Rich and Horny,” remixed by Toronto dance-music phenom Deadmau5. The track was incredibly popular on Beatport.com, an influential electronic music site. After numerous projects, from a lounge-y down-tempo label to eclectic pop and finally landing on trashy, raw, hot, dirty electro-house music, Melody decided that having her own label granted more opportunities to sell music. Performing around the world, attending major music conferences, connecting with other DJs and producers, and loads of social networking have contributed to her success. Play Records/Play Digital playrecords.net

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by TAFFI ROSEN

Melleny Melody is an experience. The singer/songwriter/actress/performance artist/ fashion designer is famous for her lounge queen persona, and most recently as an international electro-house dance diva. When you meet this prolific creator, you get walloped with her considerable positive energy and infectious laugh. Melody works from home in the Forest Hill/Casa Loma neighbourhood. “What’s great about the ’hood is that we are a hop, skip and a jump to downtown, living up on a hill overlooking the city, surrounded by lots of nature from the nearby ravines,” she says. “It’s like living in the Haliburton Highlands right in the middle of the city.” Melody’s acting career began in her teens, when she did commercials and film parts. After acting school in New York City, she ventured to L.A. “Unfortunately,” she says, “I wasn’t blonde enough, so I moved back to Toronto.” That turned out to be a good idea, as this led to radio plays and cartoon voices, including 65 episodes of The Care Bears for Canadian animation company Nelvana. “Spending a lot of time in the studio doing voice work prepared me more than anything for singing,” says Melody. She has a great voice, and she wrote music that was a cross between Betty Boop, Marilyn


Dressed for Success The Nissani sisters’ stylish leap of faith By Heather Buchan

We talk to Daphne Nissani, co-owner of womenswear boutique Boa, about combining her passions into a new career. What is Boa all about?

We offer fashion-forward clothes for priceconscious women between the ages of 20 and 39, and beyond. We have three stores — our flagship Yonge and Lawrence one, one in The Beach and one in Oakville. What did you do prior to opening your store?

I worked at a start-up financial institution right out of school. My sister worked for a marketing company. Both of us contributed different skills to Boa based on our previous jobs.

photo by Heather Buchan

What made you take the leap of faith to start your own business?

I always wanted to run my own business. I guess that stems from being a daughter of immigrants, who had little choice but to be self-employed. Watching them succeed and fail led me to want to be a part of what they were a part of. So nine years ago, my twin sister, Ofra, and I opened our store.


How is being self-employed different than working for someone else?

Freedom. The obvious not-reporting-to-a-boss thing helps, but when you have a business partner and staff that are trying to get their work done based on the work I do... I still have someone, or some people, to report to inevitably. What do you love most about it?

I love that I get to combine fashion and business at the same time. Being in a store environment, on the road or at my home office keeps me connected and interactive, without overdosing on any of it. What do you like about THIS AREA?

It’s a great neighbourhood, with awesome people and a nice, healthy community feel. The other store owners in the area are lovely, and it’s great to be part of such an active business improvement area (BIA). What advice can you offer?

Be patient. You can give it money, you can give it great staff and plenty of tangible things, but the best thing you’ll ever give it is time. The Boa Room 3217 Yonge St.

• •

theboaroom.com 416.485.9372 SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Everything In Its Place

Gift-store owner Steven Gerry creates his ideal space By Taylor Graham


Yonge and St. Clair’s old families in old homes; new families stacked in new condos; and office employees who flood Yonge Street at lunchtime. Gerry highlights how he prioritizes customer service as he half-jokingly remarks, “We know the dogs’ names before we know the clients’!” One of Gerry’s favourite perks of running his own business is attending trade shows. He finds himself in New York at least twice a year, digging around for new items to add to his merchandise collection. The daily tasks aren’t nearly as glamorous, he says, but they’re worth the effort. “Every day there’s so much work. A lot of work…If you want to be successful, it’s what you put into it. I really believe that.” Paperboy Cards and Gifts 7 Pleasant Blvd. 416.926.8622

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by Taylor Graham

Self-described as “detail obsessed,” Steven Gerry has found the perfect outlet for his organizational neuroses. Paperboy Cards and Gifts, which sits just east of Yonge and south of St. Clair, is a collection of Gerry’s hand-picked (and perfectly placed) eclectic merchandise with a “not so serious” theme. Walls of unconventional cards frame deliciously odd gifts, including milk cartons stuffed with cookies and books with titles such as Stuff White People Like. About nine years ago, Gerry became fed up with being somebody else’s employee. He recognized his road to happiness was an entrepreneurial one, where he could personalize his space. Although the prospect of starting his own business was a daunting one, Gerry took a deep breath and dived right in. “It’s just like what they say,” he explains. “Go big or go home.” Gerry couldn’t be happier with how things turned out. The store attracts all kinds of people from the neighbourhood:


Underneath It All A revealing look at Beestung Lingerie de Femme

photo by Heather Buchan

By Taylor Graham Aimee Finlay is a young entrepreneur going on her fourth year as a lingerie retailer in the highly sought-after Yonge and Eglinton market. Beestung Lingerie de Femme, located north of Eglinton between Castlefield and St. Clement, might not have been what Finlay first envisioned for her debut into the fashion world, but after talking with the landlord, she knew the spot had to be hers. In the 1930s, the same plot of land also played host to a boutique for ladies’ unmentionables. Today, Finlay’s Parisinspired shop combines two of her passions. “I love to travel,” she says, smiling, “and I love to shop.” Finlay couldn’t be more at home in the Yonge and Eglinton area, as she grew up a stone’s throw from the store. Many of her clients are her family’s neighbours and friends. “It’s nice to recognize your customers,” she explains, and attributes a lot of her successes to the close-knit community of retailers and residents. Her family in particular provides a lot of support. Finlay’s mother can be seen running an errand or two, or bringing over a hearty sandwich.


The area has had its difficulties, however, as last year’s economic troubles were coupled with Yonge and Eglinton getting a facelift. “Last year was tough,” Finlay recalls, and goes on to describe the sidewalks in ruins while construction on the water main was under way. Now with the construction completed and the economy turning around, she hopes the worst is over. She is excited at the prospect of new clients as the area continues its beautification and new condo developments go up. “The area is really changing. There are so many young couples starting their families in this neighbourhood.” Although Finlay might not have followed her original dream of designing lingerie, she has discovered passion in helping customers find the right oh-so-intimate garments. She prides herself on being able to find items for women of all ages, from 13-year-olds to women in their 70s. Explaining her item selection, Finlay states simply, “I sell things that I would like to wear,” coyly adding, “which is that something between racy lace and flannel pyjamas.” Beestung Lingerie • beestunglingerie.com 2504 Yonge St. • 416.481.2849

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Thinking Big

Silver Lining lights the way for small businesses By Andrew John Virtue Dobson


her downtown condo, offering a 13-month Silver Lining Action Plan (SLAP) that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Just over a year later, she opened an office in Edmonton, and her revenues hit the $1 million mark. Soon to follow were offices in Vancouver, Las Vegas and New York. Beyond her world of 9-to-5, Reiniger is president of Women Entrepreneurs of Canada and one of the operators of Nikibasika, an orphanage in Uganda that supports kids from families affected by HIV or civil war. She also wrote the book Inspiring Entrepreneurs: How to Build Your Business to its First Million. Reiniger launched Committed, a group of corporations interested in helping small businesses grow, by cold-calling Ted Rogers, the founders of RIM, and executives at Staples and Intuit. These partnerships have grown to encompass HP, Citi Cards Canada, RBC, WestJet and UPS, and the collective has hosted over 30 free events for small businesses. As anyone who’s met Reiniger will attest, that shy girl on the playground is gone, replaced by a successful businesswoman who inspires people and changes the world around her. Carissa Reiniger • silverlininglimited.com 416.850.4859 • info@silverlininglimited.com

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


As the president and founder of Silver Lining Ltd., a company dedicated to helping small businesses grow, Carissa Reiniger is passionate about entrepreneurship. She’s known as one of Canada’s most successful female business owners, but she wasn’t always so confident. In fact, she admits, “I was once an incredibly shy girl.” As a youth, Reiniger was home-schooled, as she had severe social anxiety. Her life changed when she decided to enter the wild world of high school. She decided to combat her shyness by getting involved in school life and volunteerism. “Taking the step to consciously push myself out of my comfort zone…was impossibly hard, but literally changed my life,” says Reiniger. After high school, she studied psychology at the University of Alberta. She graduated in 2004, then moved to Toronto, where she didn’t know anyone. She bought a one-way ticket so she couldn’t back out. “I wanted to prove myself to myself….It was a big step, but I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t taken it.” Reiniger worked for marketing and advertising companies, but her heart wasn’t in it. She realized that her true passion was helping entrepreneurs. Reiniger launched her company out of


Culture Shop

Tibet Gallery is an enlightening experience

photo by Taylor Graham

By Taylor Graham The positive energy that circles Yorkville’s Tibet Gallery is the product of one man’s entrepreneurial spirit and his undying need to foster community. Dorjee Nepali owns and operates Tibet Gallery, and he travels to Nepal to hand-pick his fair-trade merchandise, which includes handcrafted items such as high-quality pashminas, seasonal clothing, jewelry, Buddhist prayer statues and ornate carved furniture. The best feature of the store happens to be the modest, obviously contented Nepali himself. He has spent the better part of his 12 years in Canada developing his vision to bring Tibetan culture to Toronto’s doorstep. “I’m so happy where I am,” explains Nepali. “It’s great coming to my own store every day.” Nepali came to Canada in 1998 without money or a place to stay. In fact, the nowprosperous business owner spent his first nights in Canada in a shelter at Queen and Spadina. He spent his first few years in Toronto working in restaurants and large retail stores, saving enough money to start his own retail venture. Nepali and his family are no strangers to hardship; long ago, his parents had to flee Tibet for nearby Nepal and restart their lives in a foreign land. When asked about his experiences adapting to his new way of life in Toronto, Nepali explains that his parents’


previous struggles kept him going. “What I went through is nothing as terrible as what they went through.” Nepali has always wanted to rediscover his parents’ heritage, as he was influenced by many cultures early on, even including attending a Catholic high school. When he arrived in Canada, it was Tibetan culture that called out to him the strongest, and he decided to learn more by bringing the Tibetan community to Toronto through his merchandise. What Nepali ended up creating was a place for a community of people from many different backgrounds to explore their own spirituality. What tips does Nepali have for opening a new store? Keep it simple: “If you have the right attitude and you work hard, it pays off. Honestly.” Nepali works at his store almost every day, providing personalized service and sharing his knowledge of Tibetan culture. “Your greatest teacher is your clients,” says Nepali. “It’s important to adapt because nothing remains the same.” Tibet Gallery 24 Bellair St. 647.345.4422 tibetgallery11@yahoo.com

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Whole-body Health Care By ROGER TUMMINIERI The Integrative Health Institute (IHI) was founded in 2007 by Erin Wiley and Meghan Walker, both naturopathic doctors. Located on the southwest corner of King St. East at Sherbourne, IHI’s services include naturopathic medicine, massage therapy, counselling, chiropractic care and more. We talked to Wiley and Walker about their dream in the making. What’s your vision for IHI?

Our vision is to provide the highestquality and most innovative integrative medical services in the city. We believe in a balance between complementary and western medicine, and will work with you to ensure that you feel supported by your entire medical team. What inspired your vision?

The vision for the clinic came about following the work that we did while practising in South Africa. We practised naturopathic medicine in remote, community-based centres, providing care for everything from labour and delivery to palliative care for patients with endstage AIDS. It was while working in Africa


that we truly began to understand the importance of not only providing quality medical support, but also communityoriented outreach programs. What inspired you to take your leap of faith and launch IHI?

The leap of faith to found IHI came about as we were unable to find a model or clinic in the GTA that provided the balanced integrative approach that we had found so successful while working in remote Africa. We knew that if we could make our model work in South Africa, we could not only make it work, but change people’s lives here as well. We were unwilling to settle for anything less, and decided that rather than go and work for someone else, we would build our model from the ground up.

Integrative Health Institute 46 Sherbourne St., 2nd Floor 416.260.6038 integrativehealthinstitute.ca

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by Davide Bagnarol

IHI offers naturopathic medicine and more



Gotta Dance!

Dance District is all about self-discovery

photo by Taylor Graham

Ilona Kamecki (left) teaches many styles of dance.

Seven years ago, Ilona Kamecki had an epiphany. She wanted to know why, after such a happy childhood and young adulthood, she felt weighed down, uninspired and lonely, despite having three grown children and a husband. She soon pinpointed the problem, the reason for her lack of passion: She no longer had an outlet for her creativity. Growing up in Poland, Kamecki spent most of her time in the world of art and dance. As she embraced the responsibilities of adulthood, these pursuits fell away. To begin her journey back into the world of art, Kamecki decided to teach dance. She had to overcome some major obstacles – she didn’t speak English well, and she wasn’t sure if there was enough demand for dance lessons in Toronto. Also, her husband wasn’t supportive of her goal. To move towards happiness, she moved on from her husband and, in reflection, she states, “I trust myself now more than ever before. Do what you want. Go for it.” It was Kamecki’s daughter who found the studio that she now occupies, teaching Torontonians salsa, merengue, tango and


By Taylor Graham other dance styles. At the time, she wasn’t too keen on the location, but now feels lucky to be part of the Distillery District. When you walk into Dance District Social Dance Studio for the first time, you immediately notice its air of professionalism. The studio’s dramatic colour palette of red, black and white express understated luxury, yet you feel comfortable enough to relax and enjoy yourself, thanks to the generous natural light, Kamecki’s paintings, and the historic building’s charms. Without money to hire help, Kamecki and her children transformed the space from a dirty, bare room, right down to the electrical systems and plumbing. Her son Marek is the studio’s acting manager, and he occasionally teaches. Now five years into her studio’s life, Kamecki has reconnected with her artistic side. She makes it her priority to inspire youth and adults alike to have fun with their creativity and to make dance a part of daily life. Dance District • dancedistrict.ca 55 Mill St., Building 5, Suite 250 • 416.603.4004 SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


The Salt Road

Q&A with Andrea Brockie By HEATHER BUCHAN

We dish with “The Salt Lady” about her boutique, Selsi Sea Rocks. what’s it like being self-employed?

There’s creative freedom and constant learning. With each new challenge, there is no passing the buck. It’s sink or swim, which forces creative solutions. In the good times, it’s great...but it’s enjoying the challenging times that makes a true entrepreneur.

What made you start your own business?

A combination of meditations, soul searching, conversations, and an overall deep sense of knowing that this was the right path for me. What services do you offer?

We offer tons of knowledge. We talk about the history of a certain spice or soap recipe and its benefits in the kitchen or natural remedies. We custom-blend spices or essential oils. For special requests, we research, create and deliver as best as we can.


What do you like about THIS AREA?

The balance between our loyal clients and the tourists. We get people from all walks of life, from Oprah’s chef to Brazilian backpackers. What advice can you offer?

Be clear about what your business is. Selsi Sea Rocks • selsisearocks.com 93 Front St., Lower Level • 416.854.9088

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


What is your business?

We sell high-end gourmet and body products that are rustic, natural and therapeutic. Initially, it was all about salts — bath salts, gourmet salts, even salts for decor — but we’ve expanded to include organic spices, olive oil soaps from the Middle East, truffle salts from Italy, and glacial muds and seaweeds from northern Canada.



Star Power Sandra Graham’s second act

photo by TaFFI ROSEN

By Taffi Rosen Sandy Graham moved to Toronto from Montreal in 1979. She settled in the Beach, and still lives there with her two boys (her brother is across the street). “My father was born and raised here. These huge old oak trees on the boardwalk are the same ones that were here in his youth, and the baseball diamond was here, where he played as a young man.” Graham has worked in entertainment for 35 years, wearing a variety of hats including promotion manager for BMG Music and creator of the Beach Celtic Festival. Two years ago, she quit. “This business is not for the faint-hearted, and my heart and soul had been a bit beaten up after all these years.” But fate stepped in. A friend cajoled Graham into becoming co-owner of the Canadian edition of the newly revived Cashbox USA, a music magazine published from 1942 to 1996. Then came the opportunity to represent Zach Raizman, a young artist from Winnipeg. “Zach’s

enthusiasm, talent and charisma made me realize why I love the business so much,” says Graham. “It’s all about the music, and Zach has that magic that makes things happen.” In February, Graham took a chance and put out the big bucks to go to MIDEM, the biggest international music market, planting the seeds for potential collaborations between Raizman and international contacts. She is also helping her brother, Don Graham, launch his new CD, A Willing Heart. It looks like Sandra Graham has prevailed in this challenging yet rewarding music business. “I am once again excited to be in this very strange and very complicated business.” Cashbox Canada 2255B Queen St. E., Suite 132 416.686.9231 cashboxcanada.ca



twitter.com/ONmag SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Designing Woman

Print and web designer Avery Swartz is making her mark

By Sue Edworthy

Where’s your workspace?

I work out of my home. One of our bedrooms is my office, and it’s lovely. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

What made you take a leap of faith and start your own business?

I played around a bit with web design at my previous job, and found I really liked it. I wanted to transition to something that I could “make my mark” in. And I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

What do you like about Leslieville?

Print and web design for theatre companies, arts groups, charities and small businesses, including logos, marketing collateral (letterhead, business cards, envelopes, etc.), magazines – I consider layout and typography my strong skills. I also offer original website design and build, website facelifts, blog design and email marketing design.

I love my neighbourhood. I like getting to know my neighbours and other small business owners. I like that I live on a treelined street that’s quiet, but I’m so close to downtown. I love being close to the lake. I have a dog, and Greenwood Park is just up the street, with a great fenced-in dog park. Every night around 5, all the neighbours with dogs come out, and it’s like social hour. Our dogs play, and we all gossip. It’s fun. Oh, and the best pub just opened at the end of my street – The Ceili Cottage (ceilicottage.com). It’s gorgeous, and has the best oysters in the city, thanks to champion oyster shucker Paddy McMurray.

How is being self-employed different from working for someone else?

What advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs?

What are your services?

I make all the decisions. If I want to take the business in a certain direction, cultivate new clients, offer different services, etc., I succeed or fail on my own – not by anyone else. That offers tremendous freedom, and also tremendous responsibility!

Write a business plan. It’s the one thing I never did, and I regret it. It doesn’t have to be fancy – it can be just one page. But write it down – that will give your business direction and clarity. Two years into my business, I’m writing a business plan – better late than never! averyswartz.com


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Where did you work previously?

The Toronto theatre industry, in marketing, publicity and arts education.


Keeping the Faith

The power of believing in your dreams By Naomi Faith Brewer and Adam Gontier


“Faith” is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. The word “faith” conjures up different concepts for each of us. Adam: I was introduced to my future career at age 10. As my friends and fellow students worked their hardest to excel in grade school, I spent my free time listening to and practising rock music. I consider this a leap of faith early in my life. Music had taken me over. I believed I was going to play music when I got older. And in the end, my faith paid off, and here I am, the singer/writer/ guitar player in a rock band, Three Days Grace. Choosing this path ultimately grew into a business and a corporation, which has provided us many blessings. naomi: Yes, “faith” is my middle name. I am a writer, actor, artist, humanitarian and self-appointed representative of those who follow their hearts, in whatever capacity – something my beautiful mother instilled in me. She gave me the ability to have faith during the most painful time in my life, as she was battling cancer this year and passed on to the other side. She

was taking her own leap of faith, knowing that she would soar above and among us, entirely with grace. At 17, I took my own leap of faith. After being accepted to the American Musical & Dramatic Academy in Manhattan, I packed my bags and drove across the country. In 1998, Adam and I followed our dreams and our hearts. We rented a small apartment near Christie and Dupont – the neighbourhood definitely contributed to our creativity, and for that we are most grateful. We built a writing den and makeshift recording studio. The rest is “history” or “herstory,” as we say. We now reside in Riverdale, and although things have progressed for us, our morals and values remain the same. We continue to live and learn, make mistakes and challenge ourselves. Being writers in this moment is in itself a leap of faith. There’s always that element of apprehension. We put pen to paper, hoping that our words will resonate and inspire the brave spirits who rise to the occasion to take their own leap of faith. threedaysgrace.com


SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Ad Man

Context Creative’s Andy Strote By Taffi Rosen



writers came from various backgrounds, discovered the business and talked their way into it.” Over the next 12 years, Strote honed his skills at agencies including Ted Bates and Ian Roberts. Following that, for six years he built a freelance clientele but realized that being a one-man band limited his earning power. Fireworks Creative was born when Strote found art director Simon Burn in 1995. By 2000, when the company was sold to an IT firm, it had 24 employees. Today, at Context Creative, Strote continues to stay on top of the technology curve, delivering fresh ideas for his clients. Strote’s family lives in a charming house on a quiet street with magnificent old trees in the Danforth area. “We raised our son here, we know our neighbours, and we enjoy going for walks through the streets,” says Strote. “It’s a great neighbourhood for us. Sometimes we think about moving, but in the end, can’t think of anywhere in the city we’d like any more than the Danforth.” Context Creative • contextcreative.com 317 Adelaide St. W., Suite 800 • 416.972.1439

twitter.com/ONmag SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by TaFFI ROSEN

The first thing you notice about Andy Strote is his strong resemblance to actor Robert Mitchum – that calm demeanour that exudes confidence and conviction. No small feat considering he is in the exciting yet demanding business of advertising. He has been president and partner at Context Creative, an award-winning advertising firm, since 2001. “We’re proud of the work we do, and most of all proud of the results we can get for our clients,” says Strote. In high school, Strote and a friend launched an alternative newspaper, writing about music and other subjects that weren’t in the existing school paper. They nearly got kicked out for selling their paper (price: 10 cents), so they took it to the streets. The paper was just an inkling of Strote’s enterprising spirit and creativity. After high school, he moved from Newmarket to Toronto, and decided there was more to life than packing boxes in a warehouse. It was 1976, and there were no courses for copywriting at that time. Strote’s fortitude kicked in, and he convinced a small agency that he was the guy for a junior copywriting position. “All


From Here to Mumbai… and More Gerrard Street East offers a whole new world


By Heather Buchan Strolling along the stretch of Gerrard Street East between Greenwood and Coxwell avenues is a transformative experience, one that transports you to a world thousands of miles away. Perhaps it’s the incense wafting from the clothing stores, the Hindi music blaring into the street, or the glimmering saris displayed in store windows lining the sidewalks that first signal your arrival in Toronto’s Little India, formally known as the Gerrard India Bazaar. Touted as one of the largest South Asian commercial centres in North America — aside from New York’s Jackson Heights and Chicago’s Devon Avenue — Toronto’s Little India is made up of more than 100 Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Afghan restaurants, cafés and shops. Although it’s a popular area for shopping and dining, the area isn’t actually home to a large South Asian population. So, how did Little India come to exist? Nearly 40 years ago, businessman Gian Naaz bought the Eastwood Theatre (known today as the India Centre)


and began showing Bollywood films, attracting Indo-Canadians from across the Greater Toronto Area to its screenings. In the following years, more and more businesses opened along the same stretch of Gerrard Street East to cater to Indo-Canadians, and what is now known as Little India was born. From picking up the latest Bollywood films, to finding ornately sequined fabric at the silk houses, to sourcing 22-karat gold baubles at the jewelers, to savouring Tandoori chicken at one of dozens of restaurants, to sifting through exotic and hard-to-find spices at the food markets, Little India offers it all. It’s also the gathering place for Indo-Canadians during South Asian festival times throughout the year, such as the upcoming Vaisakhi spring festival, taking place on May 1 and 2, which is celebrated by more than 100,000 Toronto Sikhs. Visit the neighbourhood to experience savoury foods, traditional music and dance, and even a spirited “Indianidol” talent competition! Gerrard India Bazaar gerrardindiabazaar.com gerrardindiafestivals.com SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca



Changing Lives Through Awareness By Roger Tumminieri

What were you doing before you founded Journalists for Human Rights?

I was working in Ghana, a country in West Africa. I was based at Ghana’s Ministry of Justice, International Law Division, writing Ghana’s reports to the United Nations on various international human rights treaties. Before I left for Ghana, I had just finished my Master’s degree in political theory from the London School of Economics.


What inspired you to start


While in Ghana, I became extremely passionate about human rights issues. I spent my six months there talking to and working with human rights victims – and abusers – daily. I became enraged by the realization that we, in the west, have so many more opportunities than the average African just because of where we’re born, and I felt I had no choice but to lend a helping hand. However, I became quite disillusioned with most human rights work being done in Africa – including what I was doing there. There are too many lawyers and politicians talking about SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


We talk to Ben Peterson, co-founder and executive director of Journalists for Human Rights (jhr), about the leap of faith he took to defend human rights in Africa.

human rights issues, but not enough is being done to actually improve the lives of those most vulnerable to abuse. So I came to the conclusion that the first and most necessary step to ending rights abuses is to increase public awareness and acceptance of human rights norms. The only way people can start to defend their rights is if they know they have rights in the first place – not a common occurrence in many parts of Africa. I started jhr to spread human rights awareness in the most efficient and effective manner possible – through local media.

“The only way people can start to defend their rights is if they know they have rights in the first place – not a common occurrence in many parts of Africa. I started jhr to spread human rights awareness in the most efficient and effective manner possible – through local media.”

What obstacles did you face?

I started jhr when I was 24 years old. My other co-founder was only 23. We really had no idea what we were doing – we were just passionate and knew we had a great idea. We made dozens of mistakes along the way, a trial by fire in some senses. However, we navigated through the land mines and came out the other side intact. Today, the biggest issue we have is fundraising. We’re in constant need of funds for our projects. Our work is extremely effective, but because it addresses long-term issues, jhr is not as “flashy” as causes that focus on immediate needs, like hunger relief organizations. My argument is that a donation to jhr is, in the long run, more effective, because we are addressing the root causes of Africa’s issues, not the symptoms.


What advice can you offer about starting a not-for-profit organization?

Make sure you have enough passion and dedication for your cause that you won’t mind working 100-hour weeks and not making a salary for the first few years of your work. If you can get through the startup phase, there is nothing more rewarding than looking back and knowing you’ve improved hundreds, thousands or even millions of people’s lives for the better. Since its founding in 2002, Journalists for Human Rights has harnessed the power of the media in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The organization is based in downtown Toronto. For more information, visit jhr.ca. SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca




Re-discovering what Toronto has to offer By Heikki Walden

An actor entertains participants at a Jane’s Walk event.


One of the main factors behind Toronto’s urban vibrancy is that we are a city of neighbourhoods. The City of Toronto identifies 140 neighbourhoods in its maps, and many of us Torontonians like to define ourselves by the neighbourhoods in which we live and work. However, it can be all too easy to take our neighbourhoods for granted and not experience what’s actually happening around us. As a way to kick off this column, I want to encourage you to go out and re-discover Toronto neighbourhoods first-hand. Neighbourhoods are meant to be experienced. What I’m saying is that you won’t appreciate the importance of neighbourhoods unless you get out there and walk around in them. The great thing about Toronto is that there are many excellent free events to help you do this. I will mention three types of events, but you can find countless others. (Start by turning to ON’s event listings on page 61.) The first weekend of May presents a fabulous series of neighbourhood walks led SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


A rainbow of Fiat cars at Little Italy’s Fiera Festival

by local experts, under the umbrella title of Jane’s Walk. This is a remarkable event that has spread to many cities around the world since its origins in Toronto in 2007. I have participated in a Jane’s Walk event, and it’s a great opportunity to discover the city. You get to meet fellow participants and engage in the stories of the neighbourhoods. To see which neighbourhoods will be covered, visit janeswalk.net. Doors Open Toronto takes place during the last weekend in May. This event will expose you to Toronto’s architecture and history, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at life in Toronto. I have attended for several years and have met wonderful people and discovered amazing things about the workings of the city. During Doors Open, buildings and spaces that are rarely accessible suddenly become available for tours. One hundred and fifty buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and/or social significance open their doors to the public. Admission is free. The City of Toronto, along with a tremendous group of volunteers and sponsors, organizes this annual event. The


website is toronto.ca/doorsopen. Also in May, Toronto strides into outdoor festival season. Neighbourhoods all over the city sponsor street festivals with music, food, games and entertainment, such as Taste of the Danforth (tasteofthedanforth.com) and Taste of Little Italy (tasteoflittleitaly.ca). A lot of times, the streets are closed for pedestrian access only. You never know what things you will discover or whom you will meet. During this same time, cultural festivals enliven the city at Queen’s Park, Yonge-Dundas Square, Nathan Phillips Square and Harbourfront. Head out into Toronto’s downtown neighbourhoods and you will discover two or three events happening every weekend during the summer. You will be enthralled and entertained every weekend – for free. Best of all, you will actually experience your neighbourhood. Let us know what you discover in your adventures in Toronto neighbourhoods! Heikki Walden is a Toronto enthusiast, home appraiser and realtor.

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A New Vision

Toronto lawyer pursues a new passion: digital photography By Taffi Rosen


impressive portfolio comprises a range of eclectic subject matter, including images captured while travelling: ruins in Burma, wild animals in Africa, and the dusty backwater oasis of Patagonia. “I explore different combinations of the colours, textures, patterns and forms that I find appealing. Through a juxtaposition of objects with organic or structural forms, and by altering the scale of various objects relative to other elements, I seek to create a personal interpretation of form, light and color,” says Jack. His first show was in May 2003 at the Robert Mede Gallery, where he sold all 68 of his hand-printed digital photographs. The best part for Jack was donating the big fat cheque to charity, and he continues to give away all the proceeds from his exhibitions – so far, over $25,000. “I may be in my senior years, where most of my contemporaries have retired or faded away, but I continue, with enthusiasm, on a neverending learning curve to improve my photographic art. Where my dad in the ’20s was photographing using glass plates, it is mind-boggling to live in this 21st century and pursue photography with pixels.” jackgilbertphotography.com SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by TaFFI ROSEN

Jack Gilbert and his wife, renowned artist Ina Gilbert, live high up in a spacious light-filled condo in one of the Harbour Square Towers on Queen’s Quay. This area is a mecca for the arts. You can catch dance performances and concerts at the outdoor Harbourfront stage, visit markets that change weekly, go to art exhibitions at The Power Plant, or stroll past the moorings to the music garden. “I am five minutes from my office and similarly from all kinds of photographic sources needed for my work. It just couldn’t be better,” says Jack, who was formerly a lawyer with a practice principally in the securities, corporate and business fields. “I retired from an active practice in November 1994. However, I maintain a Toronto office and continue to be involved in many entrepreneurial pursuits. At the same time, I pursue an active interest in photography.” When Jack was young, his father, Nathan, inspired in him a love of creating images. Jack’s brother Al made a glowing career out of photography work, even earning a lifetime achievement award from the Professional Photographers of America. Now it’s Jack’s turn to explore his considerable visual acumen. Jack has mastered digital cameras and software program Photoshop, and his


Delicious Destiny

309 Dhaba continues to bring in the crowds


By ROGER TUMMINIERI The Ahluwalias have been on their leap-of-faith journey for many years. PK and Taruna have followed their dreams across continents and oceans. Starting in India, on to the U.K., and finally settling in Canada, the Ahluwalias have taken many leaps of faith that have ultimately led them to Toronto. After years of working in various industries and never feeling quite fulfilled, PK and Taruna decided to open a restaurant. They focused on Indian cuisine, Chef PK’s specialty, and chose a location outside of the downtown area. Their restaurant was a hit. After several fruitful years, they stumbled upon a new location quite serendipitously. The Ahluwalias decided to take another leap of faith and move their flourishing business from its comfortable confines in Etobicoke to the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District.

“We moved our restaurant because we wanted to work closer to where we live,” explains Chef PK. “Thankfully, our customers followed us, and we’ve enjoyed great success ever since.” Their risk has definitely paid off. The restaurant, 309 Dhaba Indian Excellence, was even featured in The Food Network’s Restaurant Makeover. Chef PK teamed up with worldrenowned Chef Susur Lee to perfect Dhaba’s menu, while designer Brenda Bent worked with Taruna to put a new face on the front-of-house. Set cheek by jowl within a busy strip of restaurants, Dhaba continues to stand out as much for its excellent hosts as for its fabulous food. 309 Dhaba Indian Excellence • dhaba.ca 309 King St. W. • 416.740.6622


(416) 340-0365


SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Reaching for Success Monica Plewes follows her dream

By Roger Tumminieri

Pilates studio?

Before opening CORE Studio, I was a consultant in the capital markets and financial services industry. Having been involved in the health and wellness industry since I was 18, I’d always dreamt of having a studio of my own. A lovely but very stressed-out manager in a company I was working for at the time was the catalyst for change. As I watched her trying to balance work and life with her husband and two kids while working 12- to 14-hour days and travelling four days a week, I realized I wanted a different kind of life. I liked my work, but I did not love it. Someone once said, “Do something that you love and don’t work a day in your life!” So I put a plan together and began saving money so I could start a studio. What challenges have you faced since opening CORE Studio?

I was surprised by how difficult it was for me to have conversations with staff when problems arose. I sought out management counselling, and they helped me overcome


this and become a better studio director. Financially, opening my business was tough. To save money, my husband and I moved into two of the studio’s privatesession rooms. We’d cook dinner once everyone had gone home and roll the TV into the reception area to hang out. Clients don’t automatically line up when you open your door. It takes time to build a business. Even though I saved money for equipment and the first few months’ rent, I was forced to keep my consulting job. After a year, it was simply too much to handle, and I took the greatest leap of faith and quit my consulting job. It’s the best decision I ever made. I’m so lucky to have a job I love, and teachers and students who make my life richer in ways that the salary I used to earn didn’t buy me. I recently became a mother, and five years into running the studio, I can be a mom and a professional and be happy at the same time! CORE Studio • corestudio.ca 553 Queen St. W., 3rd Floor 416.545.7743

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


What inspired you to start a yoga and


Finding His Focus

Tribal Eye’s owner is passionate about African art


By James Williams Black History Month may be over for this year, but it’s never too late to be enthused by the achievements this established tradition inspires. Indeed Anthony Richards, joint-owner of Tribal Eye & Lite It Up Candles in Kensington Market, has built his whole life around the leap of faith he made during this annual celebration of African ancestry, over 20 years ago. Although Trinidad-born Richard’s background was not an artistic one, it would be his passion for African art that proved the inspiration behind Tribal Eye. Whilst studying at university in the 1980s a well-connected Richards was given the opportunity to put on an African art display during Black History Month, showcasing such treasures as Luba wood sculptures, kindly lent to him by the Kenyan Embassy. “I thought it was important to display art that expressed African culture and dignity; that portrayed a non-violent image,” explains Richards. The display was a hit and the idea for a store specializing in African art was ignited. The challenge for Richards came in establishing his sources, and he spent


two months travelling in Africa, scouring local art markets for the most eyecatching pieces. Because of this Richards can vibrantly recount the story behind each piece in his store. For 20 years, in Markham then Cabbagetown and now Kensington Market, Tribal Eye has stocked a spectacular array of African originals, from Malian wood sculptures and djembe drums to Prime Arts prints. In 2007 Tribal Eye joined forces with Valerie Augustine’s Lite It Up Candles and now also boasts shea butter oils, scented candles and organic black soaps as part of its armoury. And the effervescent Richards is as passionate as ever: “We bring some culture to Kensington Market,” he says, smiling. With more art hunting trips to Africa planned for the spring, we can expect Tribal Eye’s unblinking progress to continue in 2010. Tribal Eye & Lite It Up Candles 73 Kensington Ave.

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca



Auto Magic

Girl-powered Ms Lube speeds to success By James Williams


“There seemed to be no women doing it,” she recalls. It became her ambition to set up a space where passionate women like her could learn the trade. Quitting her job in corporate communications at 24, she set the wheels in motion (so to speak) and began training as a mechanic. She spent the next 11 years honing her skills with Volvo and Mercedes. It was October 2008 when she finally saw the chance to realize her goals. “I had passed this Bathurst location many times and thought it would be perfect. When I saw it was available, it felt like a sign – I have to do it!” Just 18 months later, Gilbank’s company already enjoys many loyal customers and even holds automaintenance classes for the public in its upstairs lounge. Ms Lube is history in the making, right here in the Annex. Ms Lube by Mechanchik 499 Bathurst St. 416.967.5823 mslube.com

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So, your car has broken down. Better start bracing yourself for the typical battle with a surly mechanic who’s out to make an easy buck or two. Right? Well, not necessarily. The women at Ms Lube by Mechanchik, the first all-female automotive service in North America, certainly don’t believe it has to be this way. Jessica Gilbank opened Ms Lube in March 2009 because she believed in a different approach, one based on open communication, on explaining matters properly, and on encouraging two-way relationships with customers. “Above all, I wanted to provide a relaxed environment, where customers feel comfortable talking over their vehicle concerns with dedicated professionals they trust,” Gilbank explains. It is clear upon entering her Bathurst Street location, with its open workshop and friendly all-girl team of mechanics, that Gilbank has successfully put her dream into action. But make no mistake – it took years of hard work and devotion to achieve it. Gilbank’s journey began when she started attending car shows in the 1990s.



Suit Yourself

Pasqualino Menswear gets a stylish makeover


By James Williams There can be few “leap of faith” stories that reflect the character of their neighbourhood as perfectly as Pasqualino Menswear in Little Italy. With its vibrant nightlife and closeness to downtown, Little Italy has become the neighbourhood of choice for many young, trendy professionals, who are after the latest in slick designer menswear. When Lenny Pasqualino leapt in to revolutionize Pasqualino in October 2008, taking over from his father, Frank, on the store’s 20th anniversary, he had a keen sense of how Little Italy had evolved. The store was mainly known for selling highquality suits, but Lenny felt it was crucial for Pasqualino to move with the times. “We’re much more youth-oriented now,” he explains. “The image change has got people excited about men’s fashion again, and the new collections are unbelievable.” And he’s right. With hip urban clothing by the likes of Ted Baker, William Rast (Justin Timberlake’s label), Seven for All Mankind and Sand now sitting snugly alongside snappy new suits, the store has a new energy.


It seems that Lenny has Little Italy’s style sensibilities figured out. For a man who has only been working in the fashion industry for 18 months, that’s pretty good going. “My background was in investment,” Lenny says. “When my father told me he was thinking of closing down Pasqualino, I thought I could give it a good shot at turning it around.” Lenny’s leap of faith has brought fresh verve to Pasqualino Menswear, and it is now right at home again in Little Italy. “We’re the local high-end store again,” chuckles Lenny. The store is stretching its stylish limbs still further with a new website and blog, which will offer fashion tips. It’s a modern-day story of growth and family loyalty, straight from the heart of Little Italy. Pasqualino Menswear 34 Clinton St. 416.533.3923 pasqualino.ca

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Just Desserts Lesley Mattina is baking up a success story

By Roger Tumminieri

I was working at some notable restaurants in Toronto as well as Niagara and in the U.K. What inspired you to open a bakery?

Pastry chefs are a dying breed. Restaurants are outsourcing their desserts and breads. I wanted to be able to work for myself and take advantage of my knowledge of what chefs and restaurants are looking for. I speak their language more than a salesperson or someone without first-hand experience in the business. What obstacles have you faceD?

Well, money, of course. It’s incredibly difficult to get investors, especially the kind of investors you would want. Also, I am a pastry chef, not someone necessarily well versed in all things business, so I have experienced a rather steep learning curve.


Trust only yourself. Learn what you need to learn before taking the leap so you don’t need to rely on others so heavily. And have fun – if you don’t think you can have fun doing what you are doing, it’s not worth it. What’s special about Little Portugal?

I love the feeling of old world and new world smashing together. On Easter, there is a procession down my street, very serious, very respectful. There is, of course, the cotton candy salesman walking side by side with various men dressed as Jesus. It is a sight to see. OMG Baked Goodness • omgbakedgoodness.com 1561 Dundas St. W. • 647.3485.OMG


www.remax-central.ca RE/MAX CENTRAL CORP., Brokerage 1272 Dundas Street W., Toronto 416-530-1080 I N D E P E N D E N T LY OWNED AND OPERATED


SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by Meaghan Robidas

What were you doing before you opened OMG Baked Goodness?



Heart and Soul Carl Cassell brings a little bit of Harlem to Toronto


By Roger Tumminieri

I first met artist and entrepreneur Carl Cassell at his West Queen West restaurant, Irie Food Joint, in the fall of 2006 as I was publishing my first issue of Our Neighbourhood Magazine. I interviewed him over breakfast at The Prague, a West Queen West staple located across the street from Irie. We spoke about his newest leap of faith – a second restaurant he was building but had yet to name. Cassell talked about his dream: open-minded people from all walks of life would congregate in this new space and engage in meaningful dialogue about art, culture, food and music. His vision was intoxicating. Eventually, he would land on the name for this spirited gathering place: Harlem 1920, inspired by the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. I recently had breakfast with Cassell again. This time around, I’d set out to see how Harlem 1920 was doing and to capture Cassell’s newest leap of faith, Harlem Underground – a spin-off restaurant and bar located where Irie used to be. This conversation never really took place. Instead, our dialogue flowed


to cover other fascinating topics like economics, local politics and the future of Toronto neighbourhoods. “The world is in our neighbourhoods,” Cassell states. “This is the future! Just take restaurants for example. You’ll find a Thai place, an Italian place, a Chinese place, a Japanese place in virtually every neighbourhood. This is happening all over Toronto, even in neighbourhoods like Little Italy and Little India, which are now becoming more culturally diverse. As a result, Toronto is a global hub for culture and a magnet for creative people with an elevated consciousness.” Suffice to say, this was an interesting breakfast (and delicious too). It’s clear that Cassell’s newest leap of faith, Harlem Underground, is proving to be a fruitful endeavour. The question in my mind is: What’s next for Carl Cassell? Harlem, 67 Richmond St. E. Harlem Underground, 745 Queen St. W. harlemrestaurant.com

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Calling the Shots Joshua Quirola’s downtown gamble is a winner By ROGER TUMMINIERI

Joshua Quirola took his leap of faith when he resigned from his career with a major telecommunications carrier because he thought there was a better way to be successful. After seeing his father work hard for years climbing the corporate ladder only to be laid off during corporate cutbacks, Quirola wanted for a way to control his own destiny. When he left his lucrative job to open his own Telus store in Mississauga, there was no going back. “I was stressed, anxious and fearful that I would run out of money, that I did not learn enough about laws and taxes,” Quirola explains. “But I kept focused on my dream of being successful on my own terms.”

On the verge of outgrowing his new space, Quirola was forced to make a tough decision quickly. He had to move his business. “I was given 24 hours to decide. A new space had opened up on King Street West near Bathurst. I took the drive that day to look at it. The moment I arrived, I saw first-hand the vibrancy and energy of the downtown Toronto culture. When I looked across the street and saw the CN Tower rising above the retail storefronts along King West, I knew there could be no other place for me to re-launch my business.” Quirola feels blessed for the help he’s received from his family, friends and staff who have taken risks to help him succeed. “It’s not just me who took a leap of faith,” he says. ”We’re all in this together.” Nexgen Wireless Corp. 720 King St. W., Suite 155






Old Town Square


416.504.5787 638 Queen St. West catering@theprague.ca


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“My calling is not to be a Telus store owner but rather to help people find innovative ways to communicate.”


Twice as Nice

Q&A with Francine Di Giacomo-Danan By Heather Buchan Francine Di Giacomo-Danan (left) and Lyanna Di Giacomo Tell us about your two businesses.

Stitchy Lizard started in 2002 as an embroidery company, and in 2005 we expanded into a promotional and embroidery screen-printing company. In 2009, we started the gift shop Cadeaux Boutique. We have three full-time embroiderers, two customer service reps and a graphic artist and us two. We just keep growing.

What do you love most about being self-employed?

Well, you’re in charge. I always thought that in owning my own company, I could take off whatever time I wanted. But you don’t have time to take off! But it is nice. I don’t have to ask permission when I want to go on a trip. And I like to travel, so that’s nice. To me, the most important thing is working with my daughter. I really enjoy what I’m doing.

photo by TAFFI ROSEN

What made you take the leap of faith?

My husband kind of pushed me into it. I started the company for my daughter. We kind of just threw my daughter into it when she was 22 and had just graduated from fashion at George Brown. I joined as co-owner six months later. And the rest is history. Our first location was in a garage/ warehouse in Woodbridge. We came to Liberty Village nearly a year later, in 2003. When we came here, the building was just an old warehouse. Stitchy Lizard 171 East Liberty St., Unit 137 416.203.7776 stitchylizard.com


What do you love most about the Liberty Village neighbourhood?

I love everything about it. The neighbourhood is growing so fast with all these condos, and there’s all the new restaurants. Plus, I only live one kilometre away. You’re in downtown Toronto, but you’re not in the core with all that traffic. Everything is so convenient. You’re in a little village but you’re still in downtown Toronto where there’s a lot of green space. Cadeaux Boutique 171 East Liberty St., Unit 139 416.203.6912 cadeauxboutique.com

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Eye for Style

Q&A with Hush von Osafo’s Stephen Phillips By Roger Tumminieri

Why did you start your own store?

l have always wanted to have my own business, be it fashion or something else. lt happened to be fashion since that was what l chose to study. What was your career path?

After working overseas for about a year, l joined the Giorgio Couture Group/Versace Boutique on Bloor Street. l was inspired there by a gentleman called George Elian to one day open a fashion business. l was also inspired by my mom, a dressmaker.

416.967.0527 www.vinnymassimos.ca


What advice can you offer anyone who is thinking about opening their own fashion boutique?

My advice is to: a) love fashion – to do it not only because of the business part of it, but the love for fashion; and b) have a good knowledge about the product. What kinds of fashion details do you pay attention to?

If it is garments, one has to know a great deal about fabrics – their texture, weight, thread-count, contents, etc. The same goes for leather, buttons, trims, etc. Hush von Osafo 851 Queen St. W. 416.861.9733

1130 Queen Street West Toronto, ON M6J 1J3 376 College Street Toronto, ON M5T 1S6

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


We talked to fashion designer Stephen Phillips about his West Queen West clothing store, Hush von Osafo, which offers stylish clothing for men and women.


Better Together

Parlour Salon is a testament to reinvention By Andrew JOHN VIRTUE Dobson


Franz David is co-owner of hot hair spot Parlour Salon.

Where Queen Street and Ossington Avenue meet sits Parlour Salon, one of the city’s newest hair-care spaces. In a very short time, Tyler Moore and Franz David have made a name for themselves as owners of the new “it” place in one of Toronto’s upand-coming neighbourhoods. To make it happen, both owners took a chance to realize their dream. Moore and David had been working at another salon together. The pair had been thinking about opening a salon, and one day they noticed a sign hanging in an empty building on Ossington. They jumped at the opportunity. After securing financial backing from banks and family members, the duo started to transform the cold, dark space into the current sun-filled, white-and-black salon with the help of Moore’s family contractor connections. The overhaul took just 10 days. “Parlour’s great success is due to the fact that our loyal customers of the past have followed us to our new salon,” says Moore. In a laid-back yet professional atmosphere, he and David treat each client as an individual with different expectations each time they sit in the stylists’ chair. Moore notes, “There are


no cookie cutters here, but we do realize that most people want edgy but practical, modern but functional.” The business continues to grow. It now has two colourists, five cutters, one assistant and one receptionist. Haircuts are reasonably priced at about $57 for adults, $47 for students and $30 for kids; colour services start at $65. Moore and David hope to continue working with other businesses on the Ossington strip to promote their unique and booming neighbourhood, known for its focus on arts and design. They are excited to continue serving their community through excellent hair service, community outreach and fundraising initiatives. (Last year, during Pride Week, they donated 10 per cent of Parlour Salon’s sales to CANFAR AIDS Research.) Next time you’re in the ’hood, do yourself a favour and pop by Parlour. Parlour Salon 6 Ossington Ave. 647.345.6663 parloursalon.com

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca



Family Ties

Poutini’s brother act makes comfort food hip By Gigi von Anrep


says. Indeed, family and friends were wary of the restaurant business in general, so they were naturally skeptical about opening a concept restaurant in hard economic times. “People always need to eat, and we knew they weren’t going to fine dining restaurants, so takeout comfort food seemed like the perfect antidote,” says Fred. Poutini’s mouthwatering menu features traditional poutine and variations with pulled pork, bacon and chives – there’s even a vegetarian gravy. Clearly, the brothers’ gamble has paid off; now just a few months shy of its first anniversary, the restaurant sees steady business all week long and lineups on weekends. “It was a lot of luck, but it helped that we made quality the highest priority and started out very simple,” says Nick. “West Queen West is a neighbourhood that only accepts the ‘real deal.’” Poutini’s House of Poutine 1112 Queen St. W. poutini.com

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


When it comes to leaps of faith, they don’t get more daring than the one taken by the owners of Poutini’s House of Poutine. In 2008, two twentysomething brothers who had never owned their own business found the space for what they eventually decided was to be the first poutine shop in Toronto’s west end. “It seemed like a nobrainer. There are lots of bars, and until we came along, Pizza Pizza was the only place staying open late,” says Fred Laliberte. Fred and his brother Nick had worked in restaurants, kitchens and hotels during their short professional lives, picking up knowledge and skills along the way, but that didn’t prepare them for all the challenges of opening a restaurant of their own. “There was a lot of fumbling in the dark, you could say,” says Nick with a laugh, “but you learn as you go along.” Step by step, a restaurant was built. With lots of help from family – including money, materials and contracting help – and a little help from credit cards, Poutini’s came together. “It’s tough trying to get bank loans for a restaurant in the middle of a recession, I’ll tell you that much,” Nick



Sweet Spot Coriander Girl blooms on Queen Street West


By Andrew JOHN VIRTUE Dobson The sweet scents of lavender, handmade soap and fresh-cut flowers kiss your cheeks once you crack open the front door of Parkdale’s newest florist. And does she ever love her neighbourhood! The sign sitting outside of her shop reads, “Coriander Girl loves her Parkdale Peeps.” Coriander Girl a.k.a. Alison Westlake has lived in the neighbourhood for the past several years and says she can’t imagine living or working anywhere else. She’s always been passionate about flowers, but she hasn’t always been known by the name of her adorable store. Westlake spent well over five years working in Toronto’s film and television industry as an actress. During this time, she also worked at a small landscape design company. “Like a little sponge, I soaked up as much information as I could about every plant and their endless varieties,” Westlake explains. “I learned how to cultivate happy, healthy plants, and enjoyed nothing more than to create little vignettes at home with fresh-cut flowers.” Westlake signed the lease for her store in July 2009. Learning about the


rental opportunity was the catalyst for writing her business plan. She had been dreaming of owning a flower and vintage shop for ages, and is a strong believer in “enthusiastically diving in because we must pursue our dreams.” Westlake’s shop has already earned a reputation for being not only a flower mecca but also a great place to buy antiques and locally handcrafted gifts. She can put together a beautiful bouquet in a flash. Forget the oft-repeated saying, “You must spend at least $30 on a bouquet!” This girl has arrangements for all tastes and budgets. Coriander Girl is always full of life (just like her flowers). She gets great pleasure from seeing her lovely bouquets and gifts leave her shop, destined for people’s homes. Her philosophy is simple: “When something fills you with endless joy, you must pursue it.”

Coriander Girl 1537 Queen St. W. 416.532.3333 coriandergirl.com

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca



Dealing Inspiration

Stuart Knight motivates others to take their own leap of faith By Janice Chan

For many of us, taking a leap of faith means stepping out on a limb with nothing more than a wing and a prayer. But what would happen if you did? “What would you do if you didn’t?” asks Stuart Knight, president and founder of Stuart Knight Productions. “Taking a leap of faith is less about stepping out, and more about stepping within. You owe it to yourself to discover who you truly are, and while the idea of the journey there may be a little scary, the pain of not getting there is real.” Fourteen years ago, Knight graduated with honours from one of the most prestigious business schools in Canada. From there, he surveyed all the promise and opportunity offered by the corporate sector. As it turned out, he had no intention of driving someone else’s bottom line. Instead, he set his sights on changing the world – a lofty goal indeed. A consummate performer equipped with a quick wit and bursting with a contagious energy, Knight followed his heart, his heart pushed his pen, and his pen launched an onstage career.


Today, Knight delivers “cool motivation” to the smart masses. He writes, directs, produces and stars in productions that empower audiences to do exactly what they want. So far, over one million people have seen his musicals, one-man comedy extravaganzas, high school shows, and presentations on The Art of Powerful Conversation. But it doesn’t stop there. Last year, Knight launched The Evolution Group, a course that inspires people to deliver on their ambitions and leave behind the trappings they never wanted in the first place. He also released his first book, You Should Have Asked, which continues to challenge the status quo by encouraging people to get the most out of life, one conversation at a time. The young entrepreneur assures us that if you leap, eventually you land. Stuart Knight Productions 416.703.9696 stuartknightproductions.com

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


A Dream Come True

Caren Cooper’s passion is helping others


By ROGER TUMMINIERI Caren Cooper’s life path seemed to be no different than most: she spent some time travelling in her early 20s, graduated college with an international business diploma, and landed her first job in an international company shortly after. Less than a decade later, her resumé was a testimonial to her hard work and dedication, and she had moved up the ranks in the corporate world. Yet the promise of future promotions, and the power and money that come with such promotions, were losing their glittery appeal. Something was missing. In 2002, Cooper decided to take a leap of faith. She left the corporate world to follow her dream of becoming a certified yoga instructor. “When we are on the path destined for us, life has a way of falling into place without effort, without fears and without hesitation,” says Cooper. “I truly believe I’m doing exactly what I was always meant to do. “ Cooper is now a certified yoga and pilates instructor and rehab specialist working at various studios in Toronto, and the owner and wellness consultant of Jivita Wellness, a company that provides


overall wellness programs for individuals and corporate clients. Cooper’s decision to follow her dream has allowed her to make a living doing what she’s passionate about. In 2009, Cooper took another leap of faith and followed her 20-year dream of working with at-risk youth. New Opportunities in Wellness (NOW) 4 Youth (now4youth.org) provides career training in the wellness field, such as yoga and pilates teacher training certification, for at-risk youth in the GTA. The charity is raising funds and selecting its first group of youth trainees. “Today’s youth face issues on violence, drugs and sexuality earlier than any other generation, which can lead to bad choices in their own lives,” says Cooper. “My goal is to provide career training in the wellness field for our youth, giving them the confidence to make positive life choices on their own.”

Jivita Wellness 6 Rolyat St. 416.220.0302 jivitawellness.com SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


A Dog’s Best Friend Bark Your Fancy gets tails wagging

By Nicholas Sgouros


his presence was a massive breach of the provincial health code. Nor was he allowed in the Toronto office where Swain was an executive assistant, a job she found painfully boring. Her decision to open Bark Your Fancy was not so much a leap of faith as much as it was, in her words, “my only option.” Luckily, Swain’s got the right stuff to make it work. Bark Your Fancy only stocks nutritious, holistic pet food, over half of which is made in Canada. Customers shop here because they know paying a little extra for healthy food now is better than paying skyhigh vet fees later. Last month, Scamp, a half-Yorkie, halfMaltese puppy, joined Maestro and Swain in the store. “I figured, what the heck, I own a pet store, after all,” Swain says. The three make quite a team. Youthful Scamp greets customers at the door while older Maestro lounges in the aisles looking, if not acting, the part of a loyal guard dog, and Swain sits behind the counter ready to change the way you think about pet food. Bark Your Fancy 240 Annette St. 647.343.8919 SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


In England, when a teenage girl’s parents suspect she harbours a crush on a neighbour boy, they ask her, “Whatsa matter? He bark your fancy?” – a cheeky play on “spark your fancy.” Susan Swain’s parents are British, and this embarrassing (at the time) phrase haunted her adolescence, but as she grew older, she became fond of the linguistic quirks of her parents’ homeland – so much, in fact, that when she opened a pet food store in September 2009, she named it Bark Your Fancy. Everybody knows that a great city deserves a great park, and Toronto is no exception. High Park is jam-packed with sports enthusiasts year-round, including skaters, joggers, soccer players and skiers. But no group is more boisterous, vivacious and life-loving than the hundreds of dogs that run free daily in the generous off-leash area. The neighbourhoods surrounding High Park must have the city’s largest canine population, and Bark Your Fancy meets their needs. Swain’s reason for opening a pet food store is simple: She wanted to take her dog to work. Her handsome mixed-breed dog, Maestro, wasn’t welcome at the bakery she managed on Vancouver Island, as


Looking Good! The Little Hair Shop’s big success By Heather Buchan We asked Asil Marhom, owner of The Little Hair Shop, about helping people look and feel their best. What is your business?

The Little Hair Shop is a boutique hair salon at the north end of Roncesvalles Avenue. We are in the business of making people feel great about themselves. What did you do BEFORE?

I worked at other salons, Umberto’s and Moods, before venturing out on my own. Why did you start your own business?

It’s all about helping people by expressing our full potential of education and experience.


What are your services?

We offer hair services for both men and women and they include, but are not limited to, hair counselling, cutting, colouring, styling and extensions. We also offer a special seniors’ discount day once a week.

How is being self-employed different than working for someone else?

Working for yourself is like owning a home as opposed to just paying rent. It’s hard work, but it’s a great reward. It’s a great feeling to know you’ve made someone feel great about themselves. What do you like about your neighbourhood?

Roncesvalles Village is amazing. It’s very creative and vibrant, and it’s a very active community. It’s also hip, with lots of character. I also love being so close to High Park. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Work hard, keep learning, get involved with the community, have fun and never give up. The Little Hair Shop • thelittlehairshop.com 477 Roncesvalles Ave. • 416.588.5552


SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Arts by the Park

Periwinkle showcases local crafters

By Nicholas Sgouros


the labour involved in opening a store, but it takes a special individual to wake up every morning with the proper mindset to see it through. Yong believes Bloor West Village is the perfect location for Periwinkle. “It is such a kind and supportive community,” she says. “And I feel it is my duty to give back by providing an innovative shopping experience, as well as a showcase for talented designers and artisans.” Yong has made it her mission to teach her customers that “the value is in the appreciation of the hard work and talent involved in the creation of each item in the store.” Open seven days a week and only a short walk from High Park, Periwinkle is both easy to find and, much like the park, fun to explore. So if you’re picnicking in Toronto’s largest park this spring, be sure to stop by Periwinkle. Yong will be behind the counter, and you’ll recognize her by the permanent weekend smile on her face. Periwinkle 2137 Bloor St. W. 416.551.2553 periwinkleonbloor.com SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Cindy Yong has made over her life into a perpetual weekend. Yong was finding it difficult to run CUPCAKE, her one-of-a-kind handmade accessory line, and manage GUESS Canada’s flagship store in Yorkville. The weekend craft shows she participated in around the country were always the highlight of her week. So, in November 2009, Yong took her leap of faith and opened Periwinkle, a high-end boutique that features the work of local crafters and designers like herself. It’s like a neverending weekend craft show. Periwinkle expands the concept of “cubby-hole” shopping, a form of window shopping popular in China, by offering a tactile experience. Yong presents products in display cases and on tables and walls so they can be examined and tried on. Designers rent display areas for two to three weeks, ensuring an ever-changing stock of interesting and innovative arts and crafts. If you’ve been looking for an alternative to the mall, this is it. Yong says that making the decision to open Periwinkle was the hardest part. Her philosophy is that anybody can do


Baby Steps Diaper-eez is a place for families By Heather Buchan

We chat with Susan Tomaszewski about serving Toronto’s littlest residents.

store in Toronto to rent both breast pumps and baby scales. Our knowledgeable staff help choose products to fit your budget, your baby and your lifestyle.


Tell us about Diaper-eez.

Since 1994, we’ve provided peace of mind for new and expecting parents, their families and friends. From layettes to nursing bras, breast pumps to baby carriers, we guarantee whatever people choose will be wonderful for the baby or new family they’re buying for. Previously, I was a teaching assistant with the Toronto School Board. I love children and babies and new and expecting families, and I saw a void in the marketplace for a shop specializing in cloth diapers. My mom and I were selling the same products from home, and when an ideal store location presented itself, we jumped for it. Our services include cloth diapers and bra fitting. We’re the only

What’s it like to work for yourself?

I love it. I can take my ideas or those of my staff and customers to fruition. It allows me to connect to the neighbourhood. The families and people here are the best. any advice for new entrepreneurs?

Find something that you have passion for. Research that market, start small and grow. You must have family support — if you think you’ll work fewer hours than your current job, I have news for you. Diaper-eez • diaper-eez.com 2309 Bloor St. W. • 416.762.5811

Living And Working In Our Great Neighbourhood i listen and care about you and your real estate needs.

ReMax Central Corp., 1272 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario M6J 1X7

Suzanne Manvell 416-530-1080 office 416-768-3858 cell

www.suzannemanvell.com 53

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


Living the Dream

Roger Tumminieri takes ON to a new level



yet another leap of faith toward achieving his dream of expanding ON Magazine. “This issue marks ON’s 40th,” he says proudly. “In it, we shine a light on Toronto’s dreamers and celebrate those who have decided to take risks in order to live their dreams.” As Tumminieri speaks, I find myself caught up in his energy and ambition. As the sun sets behind him, casting long shadows across the downtown oasis that is Trinity Bellwoods Park, he reflects on the journey so far. “If anything has really struck me over the past four years of publishing ON,” Tumminieri asserts, “it’s the stories of the people behind the businesses; the lawyer turned organic butcher or the investment banker turned yoga instructor. The stories of how these people were able to take their dreams and make them their reality continue to inspire me.” Our Neighbourhood Magazine continues to tell the big stories of the people behind small businesses. ON will be branching out across Toronto this summer as Tumminieri plans to publish 10 magazines covering over 30 neighbourhoods. “I’m living my dream,” he states. “It’s going to be a great year!” SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

photo by CATHY CHEN

I met up with Roger Tumminieri, founder and publisher of Our Neighbourhood Magazine, for a walk in Trinity Bellwoods Park to talk about his leap-of-faith story and what it’s like to be on the brink of publishing his 40th issue. Four years ago, Tumminieri quit his unfulfilling corporate job and focused all his energy and resources on getting ON off the ground. “I had no publishing experience. All I knew was that I needed to be my own boss, I needed to create, and I needed to be in a position to help others,” says Tumminieri. “I thought starting a magazine about the people behind the businesses in my neighbourhood would be a great way to satisfy these needs, so I started Our Neighbourhood Magazine for what is now known as West Queen West – Toronto’s Art & Design District.” Tumminieri’s idea had legs and success soon followed. “Once I figured out how to publish one neighbourhood magazine, I started dreaming about what it would be like to have magazines dedicated to many neighbourhoods.” Thirty-nine issues and two additional neighbourhoods later, Tumminieri is taking

work at

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SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca

EVENTS APRIL EARTH DAY April 22 earthday.ca

THE GREEN LIVING SHOW 2010 April 23 to 25 Direct Energy Centre Exhibition Place (free for anyone bringing e-waste to the event; see website for details) greenlivingonline.com/ torontoshow/index.html 20-Minute Toronto Makeover April 24 toronto.ca/litter/clean-up /index.htm


jane’s walk May 1 and 2 various locations (free) janeswalk.net

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market - Tuesdays May 11 to October 26 (free) tbfm.ca

Vaisakhi Spring Festival May 1 and 2 Gerrard India Bazaar (free) gerrardindiafestivals.com

The Clothing Show Spring 2010 Edition May 14 to 16 The Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place theclothingshow.com

Contact Toronto Photography Festival May 1 to 31 various locations contactphoto.com United We Rock! The Concert for Human Rights May 8 Yonge-Dundas Square (free) unitedwerockconcert.com Salut Wine + Food Festival May 8 to 15 various locations salutwinefestival.com Enter OCAD: OCAD’s 95th Annual Graduate Exhibition May 6 to 9 Ontario College of Art & Design (free) ocad.ca Idomeneo – Canadian Opera Company May 9 to 29 Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts coc.ca


Cardiac Health Foundation Walk of Life May 15 E.T. Seton Park walkoflife.ca Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival May 20 to 30 various locations insideout.on.ca Doors Open Toronto May 29 and 30 various locations (free) toronto.ca/doorsopen/index.htm Harbourfront Purina Walk for Dog Guides May 30 Harbourfront purinawalkfordogguides.com Silver Screens Arts Festival May 31 to June 6 Ryerson University silverscreens.ca

SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca


CFC Worldwide Short Film FESTIVAL June 1 to 6 various locations worldwideshortfilmfest.com

The Beer & Cocktail Show June 4 to 6, Downsview Park thebeerandcocktailshow.com/2010

Korean Dano Spring Festival June 4 and 5 Christie Pits Park (free) koreatownbia.com

Scotiabank Rat Race for United Way Toronto June 10 downtown Toronto unitedwaytoronto.com

Waterfront Blues Festival June 4 to 6 Woodbine Park, The Beach waterfrontblues.ca

Taste of Little Italy June 18 to 20 College Street between Bathurst and Shaw tasteoflittleitaly.ca

CALPHALON CULINARY CENTER 7th ANNIVERSARY June 5-6 416.847.2212 calphalonculinarycenter.com

22nd Telus Toronto International Dragon Boat Festival June 19 and 20, Centre Island dragonboats.com

Under 30 Crafts Market June 5 Bloor Street United Church under30crafts.com

Toronto Jazz Festival June 25 to July 4 various locations tojazz.com

Luminato –Festival of Arts and Creativity June 11 to 20 various locations luminato.com

Pride Week June 25 to July 4 various locations pridetoronto.com

Tasty Thursdays July 16 to August 27 Nathan Phillips Square toronto.ca/special_events/ thursdays/index.htm


14th Annual Corso Italia Festival July 3 and 4 (free) torontocorsoitalia.com Fresh Wednesdays July 5 to August 26 Nathan Phillips Square toronto.ca/special_events/ wednesdays/index.htm Summerlicious July 9 to 20 various locations toronto.ca/special_events/ Sunday Serenades July 12 to August 23 Mel Lastman Square toronto.ca/special_events/ serenades/index.htm

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CalphalonCulinaryCenter.com Monday 10 - 6 • Tuesday – Friday 10 - 9 Saturday 10 - 6 • Sunday 12 - 5 SPRING 2010 | ONmagazine.ca