SMJ Magazine holiday/winter issue #11 2016

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Anu Vittal: Determined to Re-Invigorate the Arts and Her City

Lifestyle SMJ’s Beauty Closet


Zia Zamora: Hitting the Ground Running WINTER 2015 $4.99 CANADA




‘Affairs of the Heart’ FEATURES:


MORE on High Performance



MALIA INDIGO Malia Indigo is a woman in a hurry. Born in Cameroon, she grew up curvy when the beauty standard set by fashion dictated a different shape.Undaunted, she started to work on herself, to understand her body, how to carry her weight, and accentuate her beauty by staying natural. With the self-confidence that resulted from compliments from people, she decided to make a change by becoming a body advocate, and from that, become a model. Based in Toronto, 5’10” and size 14, Malia Indigo is a plus size model who can easily switch from a glamorous to professional, from casual to sexy. Look elsewhere in the magazine for more! “Although I enjoy playing with numbers, modeling is my way to communicate, inspire and help to build self-confidence. My goal is to promote acceptance of natural beauty.” “Never allow someone to be your mirror; know yourself, love yourself.” “Imperfection is a part of perfection.” For booking and inquiries:



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8. From The Desk of Shelley ... by Shelley Jarrett 26. Anu Vittal:Determined to Re-Invigorate the Arts and Her City Andrew Terry Pasieka 28. Linking Events at MAC’S Cranberry Cocktail & Market Andrew Terry Pasieka 32. Losing More Than Weight ... by Steven Weisberg 38. Youth Author Finds the CORE to Achieving Goals ... by Caroline Dinnall


9. Inspirational Corner ... by Josephine Casey 10. SMJ’S Beauty Closet : 10. Smart Choice: Movin’ On Up ... by Shelley Jarrett 11. Finding The Wright Way ... by Andrew Terry Pasieka 12. World MasterCard Fashion Week Toronto 12. From The Runway ... by Claris Minas Manglicmot 13. Montreal’s Modeles LCP ... by Claris Minas Manglicmot 14. A Different Kind of Tightrope ... by Andrew Terry Pasieka 18. Hamilton Fashion Week Co-Founders ... by Michelle Moore 19. Hamilton Fashion Week Designers ... by Michelle Moore 20. The Fascinating Founder of Cocktail Crawl Social Club ... by Michelle Moore 21. Farahri Shows ‘No Fear’ in Revealing All Her Sides ... by Andrew Terry Pasieka 34. Black Women and Mental Illness ... by Shelley Jarrett 36. Your Health Is Your Wealth ... by Dr. Lisa Ramsackal


39 30. ZIa Zamora: HItting The Ground Running ... by Shelley Jarrett & Andrew Terry Pasieka 37. Uniquely Different As the Salt of the Earth ... by Karen Baker 39. A Day In The Life: In Coversation with Sandra Dawes ... by Sheralyn Roman



22. ‘Affairs of the Heart’: An Open Discussion ... by Akua Hinds, Shelley Jarrett & Andrew Terry Pasieka 42. Living With An Artist: A Profile of a Man and His Brand Andrew Terry Pasieka HOLIDAY/WINTER 2016 IMAGE5

April 2nd, 2016

Registration is open now! Register at or call 416-839-2792



Founder & Publisher Shelley Jarrett Editor-in-Chief Andrew Terry Pasieka

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Creative Director/Layout Sheri L. Lake Photographer Lubin Tasevski Fashion & Design Editor Claris Minas Manglicmot

My D

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Staff Reporters Caroline Dinnall

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Featu Jane Da


Weddiylis-Hinch ng Gur u

FRONT COVER: Andrew Terry Pasieka




Photo by Lubin Tasevski Graphic Layout by Sheri Lake Jacket by Zia Zamora Makeup by Wright Artistry

Contributors Shelley Jarrett Andrew Terry Pasieka Barbara Onwumere Claris Minas Manglicmot Jospehine Casey Dr. Lisa Ramsackal

Caroline Dinall Sheralyn Roman Karen Baker Akua Hinds Michelle Moore Steven Weisberg

Publicity LIM Media Group Inc. Website Contact SMJ Magazine is a division of Seventh House Publishing Arts. Holiday/Winter Issue 2016 No. 11

Akua Hinds

Akua Hinds was born and raised in the Greater Toronto Area by Barbadian parents. She works as a journalist, actor, music teacher, and musical performer. She is an independent Passion Parties consultant, and owner of three worldwide niche dating sites. Akua enjoys connecting with people and connecting people.

Stephanie Dwarka

Michelle Moore

Educated in journalism, graphic design, web-based marketing, and social media at Sheridan College in Oakville, Stephanie Dwarka will be working with the Publisher as a social media assistant. She brings skills in managing various social media platforms and in writing blogs. She is positioned to assist directly with SMJ Magazine, having worked as an entertainment & lifestyle reporter for the online college publication Sheridan Sun and as a junior copywriter for My Mississauga Magazine. Finally, with the Mississauga Arts Council, she has been a featured guest writer for the Limelight Association of Young Artists’ Magazine.

Michelle has been in and around the Entertainment and Fashion industry for a few years now...In 2014 she was extremely busy juggling her role as a Account Director within a Entertainment Insurance Brokerage, along with being the Executive Assistant for the C.E.O of Canada Glass Awards. She was also involved with the 2015 Juno Awards as a Volunteer Coordinator. Michelle still manages to hold down a full time job within a high end concierge services company.

You can contact Stephanie at

Michelle will be joining the SMJ team officially after having covered the 2014 African Fashion Week Toronto for SMJ. Her passion for fashion and hunger for experiencing new things has made Michelle the perfect fit to be an integral part of the SMJ Magazine Fashion & Design team. She will also provide arts & entertainment coverage on occasion. HOLIDAY/WINTER 2016 IMAGE7



I will be gaining more social media exposure with the addition of Stephanie Dwarka as my assistant. As we close out 2015, I reflect on the year, and can honestly say I am in a stronger position than I was in December 2014. But 2016 will be something else!!

I continue to be proud about the growth and development of SMJ Magazine as each issue is published, but there is something special about our Holiday/Winter issues. Two years ago the editor-in-chief and I officially introduced ourselves as partners in both business and in life. Then a year ago, Andrew and I shared our intimate thoughts and a selected look book from our wedding. This year I have been privileged to have Andrew write about me as one of Canada’s ‘One Hundred Black Women to Watch,’ and I followed up with that with my own story in our previous issue about myself as a brand and a business woman. In this, our third Holiday/ Winter issue, Andrew gets a chance to shine, on the front cover and in describing his special kind of brand! I am very excited to announce two new features of SMJ Magazine which I am confident will propel our publication to new heights of popularity. Andrew’s inspired idea resulted in a very interesting three-way discussion on relationships with Akua Hinds, our newest regular writer, who will start writing on ‘Affairs of the Heart’ in 2016. You will find out a little more about Andrew and I, as well as Akua’s unique background and ability to report on what we feel will be a titillating topic! And I am expanding on a regular piece on beauty written by Barabara Ownumere. In this issue I interviewed Barbara as part of something I call ‘SMJ’s Beauty Closet.’ We welcome back Michelle Moore, who was with us for one issue in 2014, to join our expanding fashion & design team.



My vision remains clear, my mission stays unobstructed. I see massive transformation in 2016 in the world around us and the world SMJ Magazine will be a part of, especially with the continued growth in our team, our partners and sponsors. I will continue to be a woman of ideas and inspirations, to keep striving to be the best everyday, to motivate people to be the best they can be as well. This publication works as a cultural outlet for me. What I would like to leave with you is this: be authentic, create your own opportunities, be effective with your gift and talents in order to master your “BRAND.” True power starts with finding your passion. I encourage you to be persistent, consistent and focused. If God promise you something He will deliver. Yes, sometimes it seems that we wait forever. But sometimes waiting can be a good thing. We develop stronger character when we wait. As the scriptures say, A man’s gift will make room for him, and bring him before great men. (Proverbs 18:16) A very special thank you to all our followers, readers, advertisers, sponsors, partners, featured guests, and volunteers of special events. Please continue to believe in us, support us and tell others about about us. On behalf of the entire SMJ team I would like to wish everyone and their families the gift of faith, the blessings of hope and the peace of God’s love this holiday season and always. And remember to step out in 2016 focused, energized and determined to succeed. Happy holidays!!! In additional to all the other social media platforms, and to prepare for the new wave of digital technology,

Photo by Lubin Tasevski Dress by Zia Zamora Makeup by Wright Artistry


Holiday Joy

by Josephine Casey

As the holiday season begins, The presence of joy unleashes within: The joy that surrounds us in the atmosphere, The joy inside of us that show each other that we care; The season has brought such a delightful pleasant feeling-With a wonderful spectacular special meaning-With it brings a warm and comforting refreshing awareness, One that can be based upon faith, fulfillment and forgiveness; So to have and to hold memories of families, friends and loved ones, And to know that such a season can bring such satisfying sensation, That people spread the goodwill and cheer among their peers-Is a precious delightful moment that cannot and shall not be missed, Feeling overjoyed with a merry blessed heart, And being gratified gladsome and festive all play the part; As you hear the laughter from the children coming near-In such high spirits (and without fear)-So lively and upbeat as if they are walking on air; In the sky the dazzling lights so captivating-That shine so bright we are lost in star-gazing, While inside the warmth of the fireplace-Always seems to bring warm smiles to our face, The holidays will always be cherished as a special time, And always remembered as one of a kind; This is a joyful holiday reflection: Made with amazingly kind affection.

Warm wishes, Author of Life’s Poetry (Be Inspired! Feel Inspired! Stay Inspired! This is your time...Just Shine!) y/616103795071458





Barbara Ownumere has been giving us hair and beauty tips for two years now. Recently, she had the opportunity to take her hair salon school to the next level. Literally. Smart Choice moved from the basement to the second floor of the commercial complex along Islington Avenue in Etobicoke where she is situated. We thought this would be a good time to reflect on her career and her latest move. SMJ: How long have you been in business? I have been in business for the past 6 years full time and 2 years part time. However, I have been in the hair industry for over 20 years. SMJ: Why did you decide on this type of business? As the owner/operator of Smart Choice Hair-styling Center, I am in the business of helping other hairstylists to improve their skills, their confidence and keep them up to date with current industry information. In addition, I assist other hairstylists to acquire their mandatory hair styling license from the Province of Ontario. SMJ: What prompted you to want to move upstairs? What was the motivating factor? My business was growing steadily which encouraged me to move up to this location the top floor of the Elmhurst Plaza. The new location has great natural light with more space. This location lends itself easily to offering more classes on hair styling exam preparation, make up, cutting, coloring, permanent wave, relaxer, up do’s, braiding, marcel irons, hair extensions, barbering, and the latest trends in hair styling techniques. All classes offered are from Beginner Basic to Professional Advanced. SMJ: What are some of the new things or ideas you have in mind for the new space? Hair styling exam preparation classes are on going all year and have a continuous intake, so you can start at any time, and can



take a 2, 4 or 6 week program. We will be hiring full time license hairstylists to help build a clientele and start their own business. We will also be helping business owners manage their own business, in order to help them become successful business owners. SMJ: What would the new location look like in the future? In the future we will be offering more hands on training, with hair and makeup, semi permanent makeup eyelash extensions, wig making, ear and nose piecing being a few classes we will be hosting in the new year. SMJ: With the holidays now and the colder weather here, do you have some tips about what we can do with our hair? What do we need to do to compensate for the need to wear headgear? Here are some tips for winter hair care. Depending on your hair type, you may want to change up your hair care line. For dry hair, Shampoos and Conditioners that are infused with Argon Oil from the fixx line is a great way to combat the harsh winter weather. Normal hair will appreciate a gentle shampoo with chamomile from Royal Spa line. We carry both products. You still need to wear a hat. Along with keeping your head warm throughout the winter months, it also protects your hair from the drying wind and freezing temperatures. SMJ: What else can we look for in 2016 from Smart Choice Hair Styling Center? In 2016 you will see the launch of the new make-up program at Smart Choice Hair-styling Center. The Make up programs start as low as $69.00. You can learn everything from basic everyday application to special, advanced bridal and professional techniques. Some internship with fashion shows, pageants and special events which can be arranged, which can also help advance your Hair and Makeup Career. Hair styling classes start from $49.00 and up. The classes are from one day seminars to full time programs. We will be accepting students starting in January 2016. www.hairlicence.tranining

FINDING THE WRIGHT WAY By Andrew Terry Pasieka

Robin Wright knew she was creative from as early as she could remember, and knew she wanted to do something in the arts. “I’ve had so many twists and turns along the way. I can see where every one of them has led me to where I am today.” It started with an interest in photography in high school, but started in earnest with doing makeup for a photographer. Robin smiles,“I wasn’t very good at it.” Robin moved away from makeup after high school and took a post-secondary course in graphic arts. She wound up working for a fashion house, gaining insight into layout, marketing and advertising. She had setbacks, but never stopped believing in her ability. Trying to tie down that ability into a profession however, was proving to be difficult. She did know she wanted to be an entrepreneur. “The path that I am on and continue to be on is that a lot of my work has been inspired by hardships and struggles along the way. Every creation seems to come from a dark place.” Her latest creation is her own cosmetic line called Wright Artistry. “It’s all about diversifying makeup artistry and embracing the clients’ individual style through the passion of art and me as an artist. I also want to embrace a culturally diverse clientele because there is beauty in every nation.” The Publisher of SMJ Magazine epitomizes that. Shelley has been a client of Robin’s

for over two years now, and happened to be around at the time of the interview, so we asked for her opinion. “I love the natural look that Robin gives me. She just does her thing. She is so good at what she does; I am always satisfied.” Her line consists of five lipsticks, a lip gloss, and four eye shadows. As to how she chemically came up with the “Wright” formula, Robin knew what she was looking for and sourced out shades through a supplier. She wanted to create a high-end, luxurious feeling product at an affordable price.

“When you purchase a Wright Artistry product, it will be like purchasing a Porsche on a Ford Budget.” The parabin-free, vanilla moisturizing extract products will be launched in midDecember 2015. Robin wants to focus on skin in 2016 and come out with top-of-theline foundations. She will still be available for personal services such as weddings, special events, and one-on-ones. To find out more, try on a shade in her virtual mirror, or pre-order product, log on to:



From The Runway

By Claris Minas Manglicmot

It was a privilege covering the fabulous, most prestigious and the second biggest fashion week held in North America after New York. How lucky we are to live in GTA and be able to report on this event live on our doorstep. What makes World MasterCard Fashion Week different is the fact that it promotes Canadian culture and fashion. In fact, there was a huge sign that made for a great photo opportunity just outside the main entrance area that says “WEAR CANADIAN MADE” . SMJ Publisher Shelley Jarrett and myself took the time to say ‘we were there!’

pleasure occasion. If you are on the mood to party and want to feel sexy the see-thru with sequence, beads and embroidery would be your perfect fit. To tone things down a bit, pick on the designs with frills and feather effects which still dazzle. The more formal gowns and wedding gowns concluded the NARCES presentation. They were fabulously elegant but refreshingly easy to wear. There are times where no lady wants to be a damsel in distress needing a prince to come to the rescue. Most wedding gowns are not fit for the rigors of a reception, but with NARCES wedding gowns go can go from church to the reception to the after party.

My most positive impressions of the day we spent centered on the work of Designer & Creative Director Nikki Wirthensohn Yassemi of NARCES and Fashion Designer Rachel Sin. I sat in my seat along the runway not knowing who and what NARCES is. The venue is full packed with people, so either they were here because of NARCES, or just because it was MasterCard.

Still thinking about her designs long after the show is over, I wondered about the transformation that women sometimes experience when they dress up for the evening looking like a totally different woman. That is the transformation I imagine wearing NARCES.

The first model to come out was wearing an elegant whitish gown covered with a 3D-type couture of pinkish flowers on it, flowers being the trend in 2016. To me, It had a touch of Christian Dior inspiration. That first piece left me breathless and wanting for more The NARCES collection on the runway presented a full wardrobe of impeccable evening wear for the woman with busy social life. It is a collection that a woman could wear in any social setting depending on her moods. NARCES has simple fabric with chic cuts and floral designs that would suit a woman in a business environment or simply



The spring/summer collection of Rachel Sin at World MasterCard fashion week is the answer to modern 21st century career women. Her fabulous day to night collections is an answer to women who are busy and cannot afford the time or the money to go home and change for the evening. When Rachel Sin models hit the runway, the colors, the fabric, the textures, and the cut are not the typical corporate fare. My favorite piece was the black tight pant suit with the sexy see-through fabric tops. I can simply wear a jacket or a suit on top and take it off and go straight from work to dinner or cocktails. The skirt cuts with the front side slits of different variations in length, color and fabric is a real stand out. Rachel’s unique cuts and design caught my attention. I found out later she has a master’s degree in architecture. No wonder why she has that distinct cut and style in her collection.I can’t wait to wear my favorite of her collections next spring and summer. NARCES: To watch her full segment at WMFWT Spring/Summer Collection 2016, please click the link: For more on Designer & Creative Director Nikki Winthensohn Yassemi, please click the link: Photo credits to: Stefan Wirthensohn (Manager of Nikki Wirthensohn Yassemi) To see Rachel Sins fall/summer 2016 collection watch this video : Photo credits to: Che Rosales and World MasterCard Fashion Week




By Claris Minas Manglicmot

AGENCY The glamour and hype of the World Master Fashion Week is a given. The sponsors are big companies, media are main stream, and the venue is big time. However, there are always stories that are worth pursuing other than what I witnessed in the runway. I picked Modeles LCP, a modeling agency specializing on male models, whose clients included several of the runway designers. I was intrigued by this all-male modeling agency from Montreal, and did a Q & A to know more about the fashion industry and events like MasterCard from the point of view of a modeling agency. I wanted to know what challenges and advantages, if any, are there in being in this women dominated industry. I interviewed Lisandro, the Owner and Operations Manager of Modeles LCP. Below is the flow of our conversation.

passion to prepare. We felt that our models could step up and showcase the collections of different designers who we noted were going to be in Toronto. With media exposure and networking with a lot of people from the fashion industry, we are ecstatic that we have been able to hold our own against many famous models from big agencies in the world. We worked very hard to be part of this event; it was meant to be. SMJ: How would you describe your experience in WMCFW compared to other fashion shows you joined in the past? L: There were more agencies trying to book the jobs at WMCFW than the other fashion weeks; thus, there was more competition. However this made us more persistent and we worked hard for our models to book shows. Everyone from the industry was also attending the WMCFW; from that point of view alone it is a great advantage for us to be seen and showcase what our models can do on the runway. SMJ: What have you learned from the experience in WMCFW? L: We learned that we still have many things to learn!! This has made us more humble even if we have achieved many things in a short period of time. Working hard and maintaining a great relationship within the industry are core values of our agency. Our good relationship doesn’t end with the designers and producers; it extends to the photographers, make-up artists and hair stylists. This has proven to be very important in keeping our reputation and brand beyond reproach throughout the industry.

SMJ: The World MasterCard Fashion Week is the most prestigious fashion week in the country. How do you feel that your models and your agency had participated in it?

SMJ: Modeles LCP is based in Montreal. Have you found any challenges logistically and financially because of your location?

L: It was a privilege to work with different designers at the World Mastercard Fashion Week in Toronto. After our experience at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week few months before WMCFW, it gave us the energy and

L: We always say Montreal is a center of arts and inspirational and many talented designers and other artists in fashion. Although we acknowledge Toronto is the center of the business because of WMCFW, we are not fazed




by the distance between these two incredible cities. Most of the time, the fittings need to be done on a certain date but with our good relationship with the designers, they tend to be a little flexible with us and with the schedule because they understand that we are coming from Montreal. As long as we know the schedule ahead of time, our agency and our models can adapt. We have been part of many amazing runways in Toronto in the past, and for sure, we will continue doing this. We are also glad to have many friends in Toronto who always welcome us to their homes. Their homes became our models’ apartments and we really appreciate their hospitality. A big thanks to Andrew, Ben, Alex and Christian for supporting our agency in this manner.




SMJ: What support is given by WMCFW to your agency/models and the designers they walk for? L: Just being on the runway to showcase the designers’ collections is a huge support coming from WMCFW. It is one of the best fashion weeks in the world in terms of media coverage. WMCFW provided everything that we needed to have a great presentation, from the super runways, backstage, and overall venue with makeup / hair stylists. It has given our models a world class stage to be on and has indeed a great experience. SMJ: Modeles LCP specializes in male models. Do you think WMCFW has a good balance of opportunities for male and female models? L: We all know that WMCFW are more focused on female collections and a minority of designers feature male clothes. The industry is dominated with female designs but the industry is changing. Of course we hope WMCFW will feature more male collections but we are glad there are other venues showcasing male collections like Toronto Mens Fashion Week (TOM). SMJ: As an agency, what did you appreciate the most and what can you suggest to WMCFW to support models and designers in the future? L: WMCFW gave us the opportunity for our models to experience and be part of one of the world’s great runway shows. For young agencies like us, it is important to have the right venue and events for our models. It prepares our models to be involved in bigger fashion shows on a more regular basis. Events on this level are very well organized and very professional. The media coverage was immense and we are glad for the exposure our models received from different newspapers, magazines and blogs. We can’t ask for more, except of course to have more male collections. It may come one day. For booking our male models: Like us on FB: ModelesLCP Follow us on Instagram & Twitter: @modeleslcp



Walking A By Andrew Terry Pasieka

For a few days in October, Toronto played host to a high wire act that didn’t originate with the circus. World MasterCard Fashion Week Toronto created a host of high wire tensions. Designers who are frantically pinning up that last garment before going on the runway, or reworking vintage fabrics into modern cuts. Others, going retro with style while going nouveau with colors and patterns anticipated for the 2016 spring and summer seasons. All, hoping against hope that their creative blends would resonate with both the buyers and the public. Designers walk the wire of trying to impress large retailers that the intricate detail of their one-off piece would make a buyer’s short list for mass production, while at the same time dreaming of a rich socialite in the audience that might make an offer on that one-off as a custom piece. Brian Lang, president of MasterCard Canada, says that “World MasterCard Fashion Week brings together essential and uniquely Canadian elements of style, fashion, and creativity.” It was estimated that by the end of the week, 30,000 people would have mingled with and been awed by VIPs from various


Different Kind of Tightrope spectres of the entertainment industry, designers from around the globe, supermodels, and supermodels-in-waiting. Walking around under the big tent at David Pecaut Square, it is interesting to note the various ‘audiences ‘ in attendance. First are the ‘runway devotees,’ those fanatics who try to make every runway presentation, standing in line after line waiting to get in. Then there are the ‘photo obsesses,’ who are constantly taking selfies, candids, and stepping into any booth where photos are offered. Straddling both groups (because they are found in both) as well as on their own are the ‘statement fashionistas,’men, women, and all lifestyles (and genders) in between, whose primary purpose was to be seen in their daring and outlandish garb. In the minority but standing out regardless are the ‘never-say-die networkers,’ who seem determined to discuss possible deals over a din of noise that one would think would make any such exercise fruitless. In the end, it was all about the clothes. To this observer, spring and summer 2016 will feature a lot of throwback to the 1990s. Bling galore, beading and lots of floral, both in embroidery and patterns. Baggy pants and skirts, even formal. Necklines to be generally modest.

Amidst all the hype, World MasterCard Fashion Week Toronto is more than just a world class event in a world class city. It is a statement of an industry whose public is always in speculation of what its stars will design and always in anticipation of what designs the stars of the world will wear.

Perhaps Shakespeare unknowingly predicted this human condition when he wrote in King Lear “the stars above us govern our conditions.” “ Are we really that starstruck? How much like them do we want to be, or do we just want to dress like them? That might be the ultimate tightrope.








Hamilton Fashion Week (HFW) took place from November 4th to 7th 2015, and was filled with talented local fashion designers from and other Ontario cities. Each day showcases were held at various locations, from the very popular Spice Factory to Christ Church Cathedral, whose breathtaking architectures made the fashions come more alive! I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to sit down with the Founders of Hamilton Fashion Week, Krystal Biehler and Ken Biehler.

Hamilton Fashion Week FOUNDERS: Krystal Biehler & Ken Biehler By Michelle Moore

They spend at least 23 hours a day together being business partners and partners in the journey of life. During the interview I can see how in tune this team is; whether it’s by either of them finishing each others sentences to seemingly having secret conversations with each other without even speaking a word. Love was working right in front of my eyes coupled with the love of fashion! This couple truly has a “Team Vision” and work together to make their vision a reality.

I asked the founders if they could share their top three lessons learned.

During our interview the founders revealed their original vision for HFW and where they would like to see it grow into in the years to come. Ken began by giving me insight on how it all began. It started back in January 2014 when he and Krystal realized that there was hardly any fashion events happening within the city of Hamilton. They made the decision right then and there by declaring to each other “Let’s do this!” Their mission was simple and encompassed the following parameters: grow the Hamilton fashion scene, have fun and be entertaining, and get recognition for the models.

Growing the fashion scene wasn’t going to be easy. They both knew that they would have to promote themselves, but having no budget, they realized that they would need to get the community involved. They used the concept of having “Fashion Stake Holders” such as photographers, models, hair/makeup artists, fashion designers and social media using the a type of a barter system.



“Keep on plugging! Figure out what you need to do then make a plan and do it. Putting a plan into action is the biggest challenge and can be intimidating but we have learned that by doing things to work towards our goals we can actually achieve them.“ “Keep positive. Often the best intentions can be derailed by negativity. It is important that as leaders of a group to keep a positive attitude and environment for everybody’s best interest.” “Empower the team. We have the luxury to be associated with some talented people. It is a mistake to try to over manage but we need to provide an environment for people to excel. They work even harder and better when they feel like they are a part of things and you trust in their abilities. You will be pleasantly surprised in what people offer.”

A month after the event I reconnected with Krystal and Ken and asked them for an update.. “HFW is still new; the biggest challenge that we have experienced is getting the initial recognition of the event in the area. The local fashion industry remains in the infant stage and up to now has not been part of local popular culture. Fortunately, with lots of hard work and dedication we have been able to make great strides. The local fashion talent is really world class.” As a proud Hamiltonian, I can’t wait to see what Kystal & Ken Biehler have in store for 2016!


Hamilton Fashion Week DESIGNERS LIDIJA FOR THE LUXURIOUS WOMAN My first encounter with Fashion Designer Lidija started in Toronto at the “Cocktail Crawl Social Club” on a Friday in November and continued the next night in at Hamilton Fashion Week. All she had wanted to be was a fashion designer. Her first inkling that this might be her calling came to at the age of ten when she started sketching different dresses. Lidija graciously shared some of the struggles and victories she has encountered along the way in making her dreams reality: “My number one struggle was getting here. I had my dream and so many plans, but I when no one believed in me, I wasn’t strong enough to fight for them at that young age. My life took a different path. I met my husband, got married and had kids. I tried putting my kids in daycare when they were not even two, so I could go back to school at Seneca for the fashion arts program, but my heart would break when I would pick up my son and he would be crying and asking me where I was.” She eventually signed up for night school classes at Seneca, and finally graduated in 2013. Lidija openly confesses that it took her 27 years, and that her biggest victory is just in getting here. Her designs are stunning and stand out from the rest! If you are in the Whitby, she has a boutique on Mary Street. She is currently organizing the very first Durham Region Fashion Week, for sometime in 2016. She not only loves working as a designer but she wants to help other artists in the industry that are starting out. Check out her clothing line on her website

QUIANA DELCEIA I had the pleasure of meeting Fashion Designer Quiana Delceia and was given insight to where her hunger for fashion started. Quiana was inspired when she was working at her first retail job, seeing all those clothes that looked so simply made but cost a fortune. She made her very first evening dress. It was red, long sleeve and floor length and got great feedback when she posted it on social media ! Quiana feels she has been blessed in many ways,”being able to keep up with my clients and their needs. I am so thankful for all of their love and support in purchasing a QD design!” In the next 5 years she will have completed her certificate at George Brown College studying Fashion Techniques and Design. She is determined to open up her “QD Boutique” where she will continue to make custom made clothes for clients and continue to specialize in bridal and evening wear. She would also love to give back to the community by teaching youth classes. She left me with this quote that she has been living by for the past few years. “Give thanks for what you are now and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow.”

Check out Quiana on her Instagram page: @QDcollection Her email is:

By Michelle Moore

RACHEL WARNER There was no doubt I was meeting a bright young star in the making when I encountered fashion designer Rachel Warner! Rachel started making clothes when she was six years old. Her mother decided to buy her a sewing machine for Christmas that year to see what would happen. She says, “The rest is history!” Rachel was inspired to start... “by taking a quilting class to learn how to use my new machine, and then later asked the designer who made the costumes for my dance studio to teach me what she knew. A few years later I decided that I wanted to branch out from costumes, and I put on my first fashion collection consisting of 13 outfits, using my friends and family as models. I was inspired by beautiful fabrics and reading about the lives of past fashion designers including Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Elsa Schiaparelli.” Some of her biggest struggles are completing outfits for an upcoming show while balancing school work, and getting her name known, especially coming from a small town such as Caledonia. She enthuses, “My most recent victory is being interviewed for SMJ Magazine!” One lesson she has learned is that mistakes are not a bad thing; some of her favorite outfits have come from mistakes. Another is not to take things personally; not everyone is going to like every outfit.

As to what advice she would offer to a young girl aspiring to become a fashion designer, Rachel says, “My advice to any young designer is to believe in yourself. Write down your ideas, and sketch your designs. If you can draw it then you can make it. Don’t give up, remember practice makes perfect!” Readers can contact Rachel through her website




Fascinating Founder of Cocktail Crawl Social Club By Michelle Moore

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing for the first time one of Toronto’s newest social networking/fashion show events, Cocktail Crawl Social Club Autumn Fashion Show! I had previously attended two of founder Natasha Semone’s elite networking events. Who is the powerful force guiding this new social club? Who is this lady who is bringing class and elegance to networking? Imagine sitting back with a glass of wine and enjoying her insightful responses to these questions. SMJ: Natasha, can you tell us what inspired you to start the Cocktail Crawl Social Club?

SMJ: What is your vision for Cocktail Crawl Social Club within the next 5 years?

NS:“I was inspired by seeing the aperitivo lifestyle after living in Europe for three years. In Italy when people finish work they don’t head straight home but go to restaurant and bars and have aperitivo. People would purchase a drink and eat a full buffet of food at no additional cost. I saw this great way to meet and network with people.”

NS: “To host events across Canada, then in Italy and, Germany.”

SMJ: What was the purpose of Cocktail Crawl? Has your original vision remained true as it grows in popularity? NS: “Cocktail Crawl Social Club is Canada’s premier social networking event. We provide elite invitation-only for the lifestyle connoisseur, urban professional and new immigrant entrepreneur. Our members come from a wide variety of industries who like to connect with other leading career individuals. We host networking events in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Our events are themed to enjoy the very best over a cocktail in a social networking setting.” SMJ: As a visual minority and professional woman within the entertainment industry, what struggles and victories can you share with our readers? NS:“The struggle I face is to be taken seriously in a business sense. My guests, suppliers and supporters of my event are surprised by what I can deliver.” SMJ: Has owning your own Production Company helped you reach out to young professionals and spreading the “word”? Have you felt the support of your fellow creative colleagues?



NS: “Coming from a film and media background, instability and job security is part of the business... creative colleagues support each other in many ways. Joining groups and associations in your industry is a great way to get the professional and emotional support when you are trying to strive for your dreams.”


SMJ: Did you ever have a “fork in the road” professionally that ultimately led you to the path that you are now?

NS: “Since my return to Canada it has been very challenging for me both professionally and personally. The work culture of Toronto has changed drastically. Companies have changed the hiring structure and it is more based on if you fit the company culture and less if you really are qualified for the position. It’s an employer’s market. It’s hard to sell one self when you’re not in the environment of a work culture where you don’t know the dynamics and politics. The best person to hire you is YOU.” SMJ: What advice would you offer to young professional women who would like to make it in the entertainment / social networking scene?

NS: “Living in Europe has shown me more than anything that as a woman I should be celebrated for just simply being a woman. Don’t be afraid to be feminine. Let people know who you are; don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. I tend to hire people on my team who simply offered their services to me or let me know who they are. Show me that you are professional by having a good and clean website. Show me that you care about your branding and you have the portfolio of work to prove it. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk!”



By Andrew Terry Pasieka


In our Fall Issue, we interviewed Farah Mitha, and talked about the different aspects to this multi-faceted singer/songwriter we coined “High Performance Farahri” (SMJ ISSUE NO. 9, pp. 22-25) We interviewed her just as she was putting the finishing touches to her debut LP No Fear Just Play. We reported on a young and upcoming artist with a diverse ethnic background who performs in several musical genres. However, her first album is sung entirely in English, with only a hint of her other linguistic abilities. What comes across instead are Farahri’s distinctive styles, as she sings about love, relationships, and all its attended forms. One can hear the shaping of the next possible Canadian female pop diva in the first track “Tug of War” and the lead single “What She Said.” The second track “Perfect Shadow” conjures up an edgy crooner delivering a wistful message at a late night club. The techno hiphop chic takes over in the third and final tracks, dealing interestingly enough with the divergent themes of ‘work’ and ‘play.’ Back-to-back tracks “Love Insomniac” and “Lil Good Girl” are offered up with a funky and naughty lyrical polish reminiscent of Shania Twain.

ALL HER SIDES However, if a record is to break through the logjam of musical content being constantly released, it must contain a ‘high haunt’ or a ‘shiver spectacular’ moment. Farahri manages not one but two such moments. A last minute, late-evening-to-earlymorning studio session in early October produced two musical gems. “Exhale” and “Take Me As I Am” are sparse and toned down pieces compared to the backing on the rest of the tracks, but they catch Farahri at her most passionate and personal. One is a sultry serenade, the other a melodic mission. Together, they leave lots of space for a powerhouse vocal. The songs fit into the realms of a single spotlight concert climax and a cascading candlelight encore epic. If anything on this record signifies Farahri as the real deal, it is these two tracks. And if Farahri winds up leaving an indelible mark on the music industry, it is because a single session may have resulted in two signature songs for all time.




By Akua Hinds, Shelley Jarrett and Andrew Terry Pasieka

Introducing AFF At a networking event this past year, we met someone who struck a responsive chord with us. We found out she runs an inter-racial dating site, and since we are an inter-racial couple, we became intrigued. However, when we found out she is also responsible for Christian and rich singles dating sites, our interest was piqued. We visualized a regular feature in SMJ Magazine that would capture the interest of you, our valued readers and followers. The January 1st, 2016 edition of the Toronto Star carried a story about the love of a spouse being most responsible for happiness, confirmation that we are on the right track with Affairs of the Heart. In this issue we have a three-way discussion with the feature’s writer, Akua Hinds. We begin with the start of any affair of the heart: the meeting. (The Editor-in-Chief)

You do not have to be looking for a relationship but you have to be open to have one find you. AH: When you want something you need to prepare yourself to be aware. Someone you interact with could lead you to someone else. That’s why we need to be more approachable.

ATP: There are jokes about servicemen…(Laughter) SJ: As fate would have it, I met this guy in a line up at a local bank. ATP: Actually, I saw her first in the parking lot, but what selfrespecting man approaches a strange woman in a parking lot on a busy Friday afternoon? AH: You said you had a list of qualities you wanted in a man… When you met Andrew, did you immediately think to yourself that he was the one? Lots of times you are just drawn into the relationship and you don’t know why. SJ: Yes, that’s the way it was for me. I think it was about a month into the relationship that I realized, yes, this is what I want. I wrote him a letter, and told him he met all the qualities I wanted in a man.

Start the way you want to finish: don’t say anything about yourself in a profile, a phone call, or a first meeting that you will later regret. AH: There have been many articles written about the way one should write profiles, or conduct a first conversation. One thing you shouldn’t do is tell your whole life story, and especially all the negative relationships…that scares people off…Anyone who talks about their exs is a sign to me that they’re just not ready. SJ: Uh, oh, what did you do? (laughter)


SJ: That is so true. I am an example of this statement. When I met Andrew, I was not looking for anyone. I always had it in the back of my mind that I would like to find someone…You know, some of us make a list of qualities that we want in a spouse…I had this list in my mind but I didn’t do anything more than that because I didn’t know where to start looking.

ATP: At our first meeting, I told Shelley my life history, and at our second meeting, she told me hers. For the most part though, we left our exs out of it.

AH: Yes, it could come from anywhere, it could be someone who comes to fix your sink…

AH: On the surface, I am not against ‘clubbing,’ because you never know where the right person is going to be found…


SJ: He still doesn’t know anything about my ex-husband.

Be wary of the pitfalls of blind dating or ‘clubbing’.


FAIRS of the heart as for blind dating, I would be more wary…Sometimes our friends or family mean well, but they don’t really know the right person for us…Back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, men and women met each other at dances or socials that were arranged. In modern times, we are exactly opposite of the way it used to be. We are not at our best. I like that, because I have eliminated people right from the beginning that I may have wasted my time on had I met them somewhere else. ATP: I want to go back to two things you said. Regarding dances and socials centuries ago vs. clubbing today, what are the comparable decibel levels of then vs. now? Centuries ago, those dances and socials were set up to promote interaction and conversation. Can you conduct any kind of conversation in a bar or club today without shouting at the top of your voice? Where is the intimacy you need in an encounter with someone for the first time?...I like what you said about friends and family. If you haven’t told them your life history, they have no business trying to find you a life partner. SJ: I don’t know if I would appreciate a blind date. I am a very private person and I don’t think anyone knows me well enough to set something like that up…I would rather use a dating site, because I am the one putting up my profile. I would feel a lot safer with that.

Why are dating sites a better and safer bet in the world today.

AH: Today we communicate in a myriad of ways, and we meet people from literally all over the world. There are fewer arranged marriages than ever before. I own three dating sites and I am very happy they each deal with a niche population. I have found people who know that they are attracted to other ethnic groups, that faith is an absolute must, and that they must have a certain…(upwardly mobile)…lifestyle.

I know there is a saying that opposites attract, but I say they attract for only so long. For a long term relationship, you need somebody who shares the same values. ATP: Shelley and I don’t have much in common, but we are compatible. We approach things the same way, and I think that is why we can work so well together. SJ: It takes me back to our first two dates; I spent almost two hours listening to his story and then I spent over an hour telling mine. We listened and empathized. I don’t know, but maybe there was a certain maturity surrounding it and that’s why it worked. AH: I am realizing this more and more, when people are compatible, they never run out of things to say…when they are not, that’s when the silence takes over…

• The belief in fate, circumstance, and divine intervention. AH: It’s amazing to me how God places people or events in our lives. He asks certain people to speak things into our lives. SJ: The day Andrew and I met, I wasn’t supposed to be at the bank. I was in a very bad situation. I had to sell my house and find a place right away because I had nowhere to stay. It was very emotional. ATP: Out of your mess came a message. I left her a telephone message the day of our first meeting promising her a future in the arts. Years later, here we are, owning our own businesses in media arts. SJ: You spoke it into existence, and there was divine intervention. AH: It’s such a wonderful message. It puts a big smile on my face. SJ: Yet a man was the furthest thing from my mind. AH: Still, you had your list.




SJ: But it was not on my radar…he just popped out of nowhere!

We must look for beauty on the inside as well as the outside. ATP: I guess I had two lists…the first one was about all those things in earlier relationships that I didn’t want to repeat…my second list was a checklist of internal qualities and external features...I had fallen in love with a woman who matched up on both sides…but the woman did not look like the women I was with before. AH: I still think most children are raised to believe their ideal mate should look like mom or dad. When we choose someone different, the first reaction from our family is often, ‘well, what’s wrong with us?’ SJ: We are really soul mates. It’s like, ‘where have you been all this time? Why did I have to go through so much?’ AH: Getting ready for each other. That’s one of the reasons I started the inter-racial dating site. I knew I was open. My dad’s grandfather was Caucasian. He moved to Barbados and married my great-grandmother, who was black.

Keeping eye contact at the first meeting.

AH: Oh yes, keeping eye contact with someone means I’m listening…I’m interested. SJ: That sounds sexy. We did that. I just sat and listened to Andrew. Somehow, we really connected. AH: It’s about staying natural…in a comfortable pose. ATP: We were not leaning in, invading personal territory, nor were we leaning back, disinterested.

How far you should go at the first meeting.

AH: There’s something in your mind that says, ‘I’m going to see this person again,’ because of the way the first meeting has gone. ATP: I’m going to put Shelley on the spot. How was it for you? SJ: You talked about your business, and you included me in it. I was open to try something new. ATP: And then there was that message I left on your phone! SJ: Can you imagine getting a message like that? I didn’t know him yet, but it was so inviting. Look at where we are today.



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The story of how Anu Vittal came to be sitting in the Executive Director’s chair of the Mississauga Arts Council is an interesting one. She is one year and three weeks into her term as we sit down in her office one afternoon. About eighteen months ago, Vittal was CEO of AVC inc., a company she founded whose primary task was to promote and work with organizations from India to assist them in finding markets in North America. Having an equal understanding of both cultures helped her successfully bridge that gap. The company was two years old when the opportunity at MAC presented itself. Her first thought: creating a legacy was important. You see, Anu Vittal had already been a visual artist for ten years. (She calls herself an ‘abstrsact expressionalist.’) She understood the dynamics that needed to take place in order for artists to grow and develop. She also was able to visualize an artist’s gift like a piece of stock or inventory, and the marketing of that stock was as important as the making of it. Vittal was one of 50 applicants for the position, and after an initial meeting and screening, found herself facing a 90-minute interview as one of the finalists. Her consulting and artistry skills convinced the hiring committee that she had, as she surmised, “the right brain/left brain combination” which was required. Her first task as Executive Director was as she succinctly put it, “like being pushed off a cliff into deep water and being commanded to swim!” She had been hired just in time to apply for the various City grants for MAC’s 2015 budget and there was no time to lose.

AnuVittal: Determined To Re-Invigorate The Arts and Her City By Andrew Terry Pasieka




Long days turned into longer nights, but Vittal was able to call on her intestinal fortitude that helped create 36 hour days out of 24. She marvels at her own multi-tasking marathon hour abilities. “I really don’t know how I learned that technique.” One source could have been her parents, who when she was a child, allowed her to express herself in paintings. Indeed, once she put together a special book for them that had the painting on one side and a matching poem on the other. Vittal’s first year at MAC has been a time of renewal of the brand and revitalization of the staff. “That actually has been my biggest challenge: to run a not-for-profit organization efficiently and optimize all the resources at our disposal.” And what did she have at her disposal? Only 33 years of history and intellectual storage of the MAC story and expertise, and a desire to repackage this as an investment opportunity for both art and business. It starts in the neighbourhoods of Mississauga. “We need to enable artists to co-create with the public in a communal studio setting, in places like schools, colleges, and universities, hospitals, and seniors’ residences.” She is proud of a program called Conversations, which involve artists working with people of disability and also with ethnic diverse groups. This activity is crucial in gaining favor when applying for federal and provincial grants. Another program launching shortly at the annual Cranberry Cocktail & Market is Artepreneur (see sidebar story). To talk of the arts in a city-wide sense starts with the MARTY Awards. The 21st annual show, held last May, had one addition from previous years with the introduction of the first Arts in Community conference. It included a pre-determined artist showcase competition. Vittal wants more for the 2016 awards, a dream of hers she has termed, ‘create, connect, and celebrate.’ She sees the MARTYS eventually becoming a three-day event to explore more of the creative process of the artist and not just give a trophy to the finished product. There should be time for a business executive and an artist to connect, or for that matter two artists, so that executive can gain a new appreciation of business as an art, and an artist can gain a new perspective of how to approach their art as a business. There would be a connection between the artistic and corporate communities which transcends the celebration of the awards.

that businesses are integral to the success of this strategy, but that any sponsorship or investment by business into the arts has to come with a plan of a return on those dollars. She then describes the model of success as a triangle with arts as the base connector, business and communities as the two joining arms, and MAC in the middle of this triangle as the facilitator to maintain the connections. A good example of this model is the annual Arts Beat Gala. This year the theme was ‘Around the World in Art,’ and featured MAC members of all sorts auctioning off 200 pieces of products and services to the corporate community and the public.

Our time has come to an end, but we give Vittal two quotes to comment on from her first annual report: “the dream of a public arts festival…free to the public…mirroring the multidisciplinary arts of…the community at large,” and that “arts…helps us expand our horizons beyond cultures… on the same global platform.” Anu Vittal has experienced the world, growing up in India, living for ten years in Dubai, and now the past eleven years in Canada. Her response is her own personal goal for MAC: to develop a legacy of artists so that Mississauga can have a legacy of art. And for her? “Every single day I crave to be a better version of myself.”

That brings our discussion to the subject of professional artists and their need to exist and thrive and in Canada’s sixth largest city. Vittal’s response is




LINKING EVENTS AT MAC’S CRANBERRY COCKTAIL & MARKET By Andrew Terry Pasieka Vendors showing off their crafts. Four musical artists showing off their talent. Mississauga Arts Council recently held their 35th annual Cranberry Cocktail & Market. As old as MAC itself, this event brought together a cross-section of MAC members and Board of Directors, politicians such as Mayor Bonnie Crombie, VIPs, and the general public. Executive Director Anu Vittal made use of the occasion by by presenting fifteen men and women with an award in recognition of their community leadership service in the arts for MAC in 2015. She also announced the commencement of the MAC Artepreneur program. The goal is to educate artists on the tools and tactics they will need to turn their art into a successful business enterprise, and hopefully, into a life-long career.

Vittal comments, “One of the key findings from the strategic plan is the need for artists to see their art as products and services, their work as small business, and the need to help them further that goal.” There are a number of elements in the program. The first is an online directory for artists to advertise themselves. The second are ’lunch and learn’ seminars run by local corporate partners, teaching artists marketing, sales, and other business skills. Finally, artists who have already developed entrepreneurial skills will be paid to pass these along. The hoped for result is an enabled and independent artistic community who can start charging market rates for their skills. MAC will benefit by being able to charge a service fee for their role as a liaison between the artists and corporate base. In the end, MAC wants to gives the next generation the opportunity to, as Vittal so succinctly put it, “convert their passion into a profession.”







ZIA ZAMORA: HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING By Shelley Jarrett and Andrew Terry Pasieka

Bola and Segun Oladimeji have been friends forever. Married for fourteen years, living the first seven with Bola in Canada and Segun primarily in Africa, they have waited a long time to commence their dream of fashion designing. They both have influences from back home. Segun and his siblings helped their mother who was a sewing mistress with some little things after school. Bola, or Billy, as she is known, has a family filled with designers. She has sisters who are designers and a mother who went to a school for fashion. And yet…there is little or no African influence in their external styling, only in their internal passion. And the name of their line, Zia Zamora, does not have any African roots. As Segun explains, it is derived from Greek and Arabic words which both mean “Light” and “Splendor.” Light and splendor is certainly a good description of their line. The words elegance, chic, and dashing also come to mind. They themselves added the words glamorous, modest, and trend-setting. When we delved into it further, we came up with the phrase: new classic. If this sounds like a mature line and not avant garde or experimental or on the edge, you are quite right, because the couple behind Zia Zamora are mature. Not quite middle aged but not twenty something either. They planned their coming out meticulously, traveling abroad to select the right fabrics for their line. The women’s line basically comes from Austria and Turkey; the men’s fabrics




come from Italy and Turkey. At the same time they were observing designers, learning the North American culture, what is being done with evening wear, the area where they wanted to focus their styles. All the time they were asking questions like: how can we be different? How can we be unique?

Incredible as it seems, they have only been open to the public for five months, yet they have been featured in multiple shows already, and were SMJ’s designers-of-choice at the recent Glass Achievement Awards. How do they feel about their explosive coming out? Segun says, “It is very difficult to explain. We were bringing so much together, our collection, people. It has been a very interesting learning experience”. Billy remarked, “It has been a roller-coaster ride. We are happy with what we have accomplished so far.” Did they know they were ready when they made their public debut this past July? Segun remarked, “I think you can never be ready,” and Billy added, “When that door opens, you have to be ready to step into it.” They both agreed that there was never a false start; they just kept up with their research and planning, knowing they were always getting closer to that moment. They have a number of accessories to their line; specifically purses, handbags, shoes, pocket-squares and ties. It was a deliberate plan to always have something extra to present to the public in case they were between major alterations or adjustments to their main clothing line. In 2016, they plan to have a major show tied up around Zia Zamora’s first anniversary in July. They are considering other shows but want to keep all their options open. They are still planning with care, not rushing, just as they did in preparing for their opening. And what is their ultimate goal? Segun: “To get that smile on the face of our client. That is what gives us joy.” Billy: “to be the best that we can be.”

Spoken like a committed couple. Spoken like true friends.

Wrap Up Created by Malia Indigo

Something else you should know about Malia. She is a designer by inspiration. An example is this photo. In her own words, “I used two identical scarfs to create this style. One scarf was used to ‘wrap up’ my head by rolling it around. I twisted the ends of the second scarf and placed them over my shoulders. The inner part covered my chest.”




You are going start reading this and say, another sermon about how losing weight is better for you, and leads to a healthier and longer life. We live in a world where celebrityowned gourmet hamburger chains have become all the rage. The convenience of reheating frozen food accommodates our hectic lifestyles. Giving in we tell ourselves is not giving up, but what can we do when we have deadlines to meet and responsibilities up to our...well, you get it! Sure, we are adults and we know we should do better. Our spouses tell us this, our doctors tell us this, but we say I’m up against it, I’m behind time.... 32


Personally, it was not so long ago (this past summer, to be exact) that I had all the arguments, all the excuses. I was aware of my poor diet and the weight I was putting on, but was too apathetic to do anything about it. My wife used logic and reasoned why I should lose the weight, but it only drew fights between us. You want to know the true root of all evil? Stubbornness. I have to admit, I was not pleased with my pot-belly when I looked at myself in the mirror. Something had to change. But the change had to come from within. The change had to come from me. I had a talk with myself and determined what I am really living for. My family of course. To see my children, and one day, I hope, grandchildren, was a meaningful reason to wish to keep myself around. I knew what my wife was telling me was indisputable. I had to wheel back my obstinacy. It was mental preparation; “mind over matter”. But how to prepare? In my case, it was a family vacation in Myrtle Beach; a week of enjoying the sun and sand, and eating all things not good for me. But during that week I knew what was waiting for me as soon as we returned home. I took on a 21 Day Challenge. Three weeks of a disciplined weight loss program: the first week being a detox; the last two dedicated to fat shredding. I started out at 187.5 lbs, and dropped 8 lbs in my first week alone. By the time I completed my challenge I was down to 175lbs. After 10 weeks, living a “continued commitment” lifestyle choice, I am now down to 171lbs! Thanks to my detox, I no longer crave sweets or salty snacks, and have kicked my daily routine of 6 cups of coffee and 2 cans of diet soda. I


only have taste for water now. I have lessened the amount of red meat I take in, but still eat three quality meals a day, and have snacks. I have more energy, and a tremendous amount of self-esteem. I feel great about myself and my wife thinks me sexier. (Not a bad perk.) I cannot stop telling people about my journey. My success strategies, you ask? Monitoring and documenting, by making daily journal entries. Hopping on my bathroom scale, same time each day, and writing down what I ate kept me accountable of my eating habits. Do something for three weeks, and it becomes a habit. People do not want to do something that has no end in sight. Giving yourself a target, and an end date to meet it, on the other hand, keeps you accountable for

meeting it. Even better, working with a partner (be it a friend a sibling, a spouse) or finding a coach is equally helpful, because it gives you someone to lean on in the weaker moments. Lifestyle. Choices. Accountability. All are means to an end which brings you to wellness. Nothing can guarantee a long life, but by trimming down and eating healthier, I think it is safe to say that you will be happier and your quality of life will be dramatically improved. And that is as a good a reason as any for not just finding your “why”, but achieving it! Edenbrook Wellness – Weight Solutions and Holistic Wellness




A Positive Look At

Mental illness: 5 Part Series by Shelley Jarrett

Black Women&Mental Illness Part Four:

Are we as black women moody and angry most of the time? Is this just a selfdefense mechanism? These are questions that have troubled me for some time now. Recently, I have seen many commentaries on this topic. One I discovered on social media was by Annika R. “Mental health is such a layered topic and many people especially in the black community still do not take it as seriously as they should.



I remember being so low in my mental care at one point that I thought EVERYONE was against me! I thought everyone was speaking negatively of me, and assumed every Facebook post was directed to me. I pushed friends, family, lovers and loved ones away because of the internal battle in my mind. I can’t say that I am “perfect” but I am healing day by day. I am sharing this as a little bit of a wake up call to anyone who might be experiencing extreme levels of depression, mood changes, paranoid thoughts, etc. Do not isolate yourself the way I did many moons ago. Talk to someone get the support you need to break free of the prison in your mind. And if you know someone suffering from mental health or at the very least exhibiting signs DO NOT let them suffer in silence!” Reading about Annika caused me to remember Cleoni Crawford, an extremely talented fashion designer. I had the opportunity to interview her and got more perspective on this issue. SMJ: Can you explain what your diagnosis is? CC: I have been diagnosed with Bipolar I and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. However, I believe I show symptoms of PTSD. SMJ: What are some of the triggers that affect you? CC: One of the main triggers that affects me is the death of my sister. Numbers or things related to her accident sometimes trigger an episode. Also, lack of sleep.


SMJ: Can you explain what happens when you experience an episode or breakdown? CC: When I experience a manic episode or breakdown, I first start to obsess over things like numbers, colors, or theology. I become very irritable and start to believe that everyone is out to get me. I start to talk rapidly and move from subject to subject. I am able to tackle many things and require little sleep. Furthermore, I start to spend money I do not have and always feel like I need to be on the run. However, my mood soon changes and I become very dark. I start to view myself as a failure and choose not to cook, clean or take care of myself. I usually find myself very tired and sleep and watch television all day. I avoid calls and then start to fantasize about committing suicide, which I have actually attempted.

CC: As a black woman with this illness, being told shaming words like crazy or mad make it difficult for one to reach out for help. No one wants to be viewed as crazy. Also, I really think there needs to be more support groups for women with mental health challenges. And people need to be more empathetic to the challenges one faces while living with mental illness. When someone is going through an episode, continue to show them love and support. This is not the time to avoid them but the time to make them feel loved. Finally, pray for them and let them know you are praying for them. Disclaimer: We realize that we have only touched on the issues of this disease. But SMJ Magazine wants to allow people to see the warning signs and to stay on the sunny side of life. ( The Publisher)

SMJ: You are involved and support a lot of mental health initiatives and awareness projects. How are some of those projects coming along? CC: I am currently in the process of starting a talk show that raises awareness for mental illness, featuring professionals and consumers. I have spoken at a few churches and will educate youth about mental illness.

Cleoni Crawford

SMJ: Are there appropriate resources available to help someone like yourself who is an entrepreneur? CC: Currently, there is a program called RISE. RISE is a program in collaboration with the University of Toronto Rotman School for Management and CAMH for individuals with a mental health or addiction challenge. The purpose of the program is to help entrepreneurs create business plans and provide mentoring support for a year. I just graduated from this program. SMJ: In your opinion do people eventually get healed from mental breakdowns? CC: Most people do not get healed from mental breakdowns but with work and medication and proper supports, mental breakdowns can become less frequent and more manageable. However, as a Christian, I do believe that Jesus can heal mental illness but I am not ignorant of the fact that He may choose to allow some people to keep their mental illness and may simply help them live episode free. SMJ: What can the community do to help women like yourself make life a little more manageable?




Your HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH By Dr. Lisa Ramsackal

The holiday season is an occasion to celebrate and spend time with your loved ones. However you spend holiday time, it’s important that you spend them healthy and happy! First and foremost, you should take care of YOU, so you can take care of everyone else. Here are a few tips to keep your holiday and winter health in check. Plan ahead. Plan your shopping ahead of time. Scheduling time for shopping can help to keep you on track and avoid long and exhausting trips. Avoid backtracking as prolonged walking can create strain on your feet, legs, knees and back. Dress appropriately when shopping. Be sure to wear comfortable and supportive shoes when shopping to avoid strain and pain on your feet, knees and back. Take off those heavy coats during a long shopping trip as over time your neck and shoulder muscles may become tense leading to neck pain or headaches. Stay hydrated. No matter the time of year, our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water. Your brain needs water to function optimally and so do your muscles. Muscles that are dehydrated will be tighter and more painful. Drink water throughout the day to keep your brain focused and body pains at bay. Avoid prolonged standing. Standing for long periods of time creates strain on the foot and legs and hard surfaces can create pressure leading to pain. Keep

your feet comfy with an anti-fatigue mat under your feet while cooking or washing dishes. Wearing home shoes or slippers are also a great way to add support and keep your arches feeling stress free. Resting one foot at a time on a foot stool is a simple way to give your legs a break and reduce back strain with prolonged standing. Take time to stretch those sore and achy muscles. Whether you are slaving over the stove for hours or shoveling snow, you start feeling that pain in your neck or shoulders that just won’t go away. Stretching out those knots will help keep your muscles loose, pain free and more importantly, functioning optimally and injury free. Take time to unwind. After all the long hours, whether inside or outdoors, take some time for your body and mind to unwind. A warm Epsom Salt bath can help those tight and achy muscles relax again. A Yoga or meditation class can help quiet the mind and body. A deep tissue massage can help work out those muscle knots that have been tightening up at the back of your neck or shoulders.

Your health is just as important as the time you spend with your loved ones. Taking steps along the way to keep your mind and body energized will allow you to enjoy time with family and friends and keep you healthy and pain free into 2016!

Dr. Lisa Ramsackal H.BSc., D.C., R.Ac. (Chiropractor & Acupuncturist) Green Health Clinic, 3-265 Queen St South, Mississauga ON, L5M 1L9 T: 905-997-4468 M:647-234-3747 W: E:


LIFE INSURANCE is the biggest tax-free investment in the world! Ask me how... you can put financial protection in place for a fraction of the investment value. When looking to protect your loved ones, assets and your estate; or leaving a lasting legacy to a favourite charity – I can help you build a solid financial plan using low-risk, excellent tax-free returns.





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The perspective that FaithLife Financial brings to the world’s story is linked to people living by Christian financial principles – as the salt of the earth. The Bible mentions salt 40 times. Perhaps the best known reference is Matthew 5:13, when Christ, in His Sermon on the Mount, says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” HISTORY For more than 125 years, fraternal organizations like FaithLife Financial have held a unique place in history – playing vital roles in communities across North America. Many fraternals began as mutual aid organizations, created to serve the needs of immigrants and others struggling to secure financial security for their families. FRATERNALS MAKE A DIFFERENCE Fraternal organizations like FaithLife Financial are a different kind of life insurance provider – built to secure members’ futures through reliable service offerings, while giving back to their local communities through meaningful volunteer activities and through a variety of outreach programs. As early originators of charitable giving, fraternals also impact people beyond their own membership.

FRATERNALS GIVE BACK TO BUILD A BETTER WORLD FaithLife Financial is a different kind of insurance organization, because we use the revenue from our financial services operations to fund projects and to organize volunteer activities that reflect our Members’ shared Christian values. Together, with our Members, we support churches, food banks, shelters, community services and international relief efforts. Our programs enable us to provide benefits to our Members and their churches – supporting fund-raising efforts, and other community-focused initiatives. For the past 43 years, FaithLife Financial has been reinvesting a portion of our profits toward Christian, charitable and social causes in Canada and around the world. Since 1972, FaithLife Financial has given more than $15.9 million to build a better world with a charitable impact of more than $44 million dollars for church and community outreach – supporting organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Canadian Lutheran World Relief and World Vision. FaithLife Financial helps people build solid financial plans that are based on Christian principles to strengthen families, churches and communities. We appreciate our heritage as a Christian fraternal organization. It is a privilege to build upon the common values of people through our Members who serve, encourage, give and show kindness as the salt of the earth just like Jesus! FAITHLIFE FINANCIAL’S MISSION  Protecting your financial future  Living your Christian values  Building a better world Together we are on a journey to apply Christian values to every area of our lives - including financial planning. FaithLife Financial Members blend faith and finances to be wise with money and live generously. About Karen A. Baker, FCSI, FIC, FMA, CLU, CFP A graduate of Ryerson University, Karen continued to pursue her passion for working with families and business owners in the financial services arena. With over 14 years in the financial services industry, she combines her knowledge for estate planning, wealth preservation and cash flow to build solid, holistic financial plans for her clients. She is involved in her community as a board member for United Achievement Community Services and Bibles for Missions. Her membership is in good standing with Advocis and Advisors with Purpose where she blends her faith and financial expertise. Karen is also an Adjunct Professor at Seneca College and Sheridan College. Contact Karen at 905.366.3829 or via e-mail at





comprises seven major components on setting and meeting life goals. In April of this year, McKenzie released The CORE 7 as a virtual soft launch online. Looking back on that constructive criticism, he says, “As a creator, whenever someone speaks down to what you create, it’s very discouraging. Nonetheless, because I am not creating for myself, the opinions of others [with regard to my work] matter because they are the people receiving my creation.” Three additional sections were added for the printed version of the e-book. On October 12, The CORE 7 had its official release. Long-time friend and business partner Lance Constantine was astounded by the overall public support and seeing McKenzie’s initial vision manifest into greatness. “It was phenomenal! As a friend I was proud to see his work came alive, as a mentor I was proud to see his vision come to pass, and as a business partner was I proud to see the system he implemented.” McKenzie commented on the criticism that the 40-page, soft cover book(let) was too short. “The objective wasn’t to write a two hundred-page book. I wanted it to be condensed like a two hour lesson.” Since the release, McKenzie recently partnered with the Black Students’ Association’s high school mentoring program at York University to teach on establishing identity and pursuing dreams. The CORE 7 is the first project under his self-owned business, Dreaming Realities. “When I came up with this name I was facing a time where I was striving to stay true to myself.”

Storing the experiences of a rocky past and refining it into key steps to achieving life goals, Michel McKenzie is dedicated to his gifts of writing, mentoring and leading a generation to greatness. Born and raised in Toronto, and after transitioning from Centennial College, Michel McKenzie decided it was time to use his passion for writing as a way to share his life experiences with the public. McKenzie’s initial vision was to release an online e-book entitled “Aim and Fire,” an idea based on his own life goals. With all of the confidence in the world, he presented a draft to an editor.


When plans and strategy turn dreams into realities – the slogan of Dreaming Realities is his daily reminder that working hard on his vision full time will bear good fruit for the future of his brand. McKenzie is amazed at the transformation of his life compared to five years ago. With a lack of resources, no support team, and countless other obstacles, he did not imagine that he would become a significant, positive and influential voice in the community.

“All I remember her saying is that my idea sucked, but one thing that she liked was these seven important factors I included.”

“Don’t look at adversity as a sign that it is not for you, but as a sign that you are going in the right direction. Adversity strengthens you to push past failure, and evolve.”

It wasn’t until McKenzie took the time to elaborate on this feedback that he realized how big his vision for writing a book had become.

To get your copy of The CORE 7, visit dreamingrealities, or order on Google books.

After two years of many sleepless nights and countless setbacks, he finished The CORE 7: Building and Mastering Your Best You. The book

Twitter: michelmckenzie Facebook: michelmckenzie



A Day in theLi f e... In Conversation with Sandra Dawes

By Sheralyn Roman

Sandra began life on a traditional career path including a degree, a great job and earning an MBA. She worked in the non-profit sector where she “could be fulfilled while also getting paid.” As she rose through the corporate ranks however, Sandra describes being farther and farther removed from that part of her work she most enjoyed – seeing how she made a difference. Losing her father unexpectedly crystallized a strong resolve to change her life. During this painful time she wrote an article for a magazine and received so much positive feedback, she knew it was time to buckle down and write the book that had been in her heart for some time. Embrace Your Destiny is a story about her own journey and about encouraging others to embrace theirs. Focused and intent, the book took less than 6 months to write and publish. Describing it as an inspirational true story, Sandra offers major life lessons on grieving, forgiveness, self-love and ends the book with tips and tools for the reader on how to embrace (and live) their own destiny. From there, public speaking was a natural next step, taking her message on the road, and encouraging others by sharing her story. She doesn’t mince words. “Stop the internal chatter;” “reconnect with your joy.” She wants women to understand that it’s alright to give themselves permission to do what they want and that it isn’t selfish to carve out ‘me’ time.

Embracing her Destiny, One Day at a Time Sandra starts our conversation with a memorable quote: “I was comfortably uncomfortable.” It resonates because we all been in this state at one time or another. Content but not happy, working but not fulfilled. Sandra Dawes is a local inspirational author and public speaker who realized her dream of writing and speaking when she embraced her true destiny and stopped living “to make other people happy.”

Describing herself as a former introvert, Sandra is now living the advice and experiences that she shared in Embrace Your Destiny. She conducts workshops, and recently held a huge career fair for students helping them understand how to monetize their passion. Sandra likens speaking publicly to the opportunity to make connections with many people all at one time…having a conversation with her audience and then creating an ongoing dialogue through her blogs, website, social media and life coaching sessions where she offers both individual and group accountability programs. What’s next? An online radio show beginning early in 2016 with a series of 10 shows which will be heard in the U.S. and Canada. She also recently recorded an audio version of her book. Sandra Dawes is a shining example of how to change your life and embrace your destiny, one day at a time!

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Living With An Artist:

Portrait of a Man and His Brand By Andrew Terry Pasieka

So where was the artist, in a boy growing up an only child of eastern European parents, a sports nut and a hockey fanatic. A first generation Canadian, with no arts background on either side of his parentage. Raised in a micro-culture that viewed artistic skills as outlets for hobbies, but not a real profession.

It wasn’t all bad. I had learned the computer very well, social media somewhat (I only do Facebook and Linked In), and what networking was all about. New relationships were formed in my new surroundings, many fleeting, some substantial, and one permanent. A second wife when I always thought I would stop at one.

Something resembling an interest emerged in my teens, but was the music my gift?

With the relationships came new ventures. More writing and now editing, first, as the head of Seventh House Publishing Arts, formed in March 2013, and then as Editor-in-Chief of SMJ Magazine, created in June 2013. The next step will be an expansion from print media to multimedia, with the creation of SMJ Live!, a telejournal/ TV version of the magazine. Numerous additional opportunities.

They say true love never dies, and if this was my gift, it got buried under the weight of post-secondary education (three degrees). They kept me focused on business. Despite it all, I still had the propensity to get a certificate for journalism. You see, I had been told by more than one teacher while growing up that I was a natural writer. That fire was never quenched. They also say that life begins at forty, and it was in the 1990s that the artist was finally awakened. I fully immersed myself in semi-professional theater and in writing. By 2001, I had been part of about 90 productions as an actor, director and/or producer, wrote a dozen original scripts, and wrote 44 freelance articles in the field of arts and entertainment. Prominent among the publishers were Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe & Mail, and Canada’s national music trade magazine during that decade, The Record. With the turn of a new century here I was, a middleaged starving artist. Even though I wanted to lose the downtrodden cover over my old self it was impossible. Consequently, I left Toronto and moved to Mississauga in 2002, more to repackage myself than anything else. I moved into the area of education, a interest I inherited from my mother. After a hiatus of seven years, I went back into theater and into writing. Cautiously at first, planning meticulously (I am organized to a fault!), then recklessly (still holding on to a dream I had in Toronto, but which was now fifteen years in the rear view mirror). Another seven productions over five years, but still no fortune.



So should I be filled with regret? Coming to the crossroads this late in life? It is to jest. My motto is to fear no man, only my Maker. The highs of inspiration and creation, matched by the lows of procrastination and rejection, are emotions that every artist experiences. I have the advantage, being the ‘new’ age forty, of imparting my lessons to all those aspiring artists, or all those people who have ever had a dream, whether they be twenty, thirty, or the ‘old’ forty. It is worth pursuing that gift; it makes sense to hold on to that dream. Arts can teach business so much about having an unswerving belief in one’s abilities and working constantly in crisis. However, business can teach arts so much about leaving legacies rather than relying on fame and fortune, and that the pursuit of the latter must be monetarily profitable, and not about fans and followers. Where I am now in life is a result of my life experiences. The route I have taken with my gift and talents was the journey I was supposed to have.


Photo by Lubin Tasevski Jacket by Zia Zamora Makeup by Wright Artistry HOLIDAY/WINTER 2016 IMAGE 43

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