Saturday, July 11, 2020

My friend, Bobbie Yoshihara, a life long Sewer/Crafter, has now joined the Richmond Branch of The GoGos. and is continuing to share her creative skills to fund raise for Grandmothers in Africa, who are raising their orphaned grandchildren who have lost parents to HIV/Aids. A fabulous quilter, she also makes a myriad of other projects, including masks, the proceeds of which she donated to the Gogos. Here is Bobby below and some of her creations.

I asked Darcy Bilinkoff and  Barbara Halparin to tell me more about the Gogos and what they are doing across Canada. It is clear that these Grandmothers motivate each other to move forward during COVID 19.

Thanks to Marilyn Wilson for the Covid 19 Interview inspiration.

Interview with Barbara Halparin

In 2006 the Stephen Lewis Foundation launched the Grandmothers Campaign in response to the HIV AIDS pandemic ravaging Africa. Millions of grandmothers, many afflicted with the disease themselves, and mourning the loss of their children, stepped up to raise their orphaned grandchildren. Since then the Stephen Lewis Foundation has partnered with more than 325 community-based organizations in fifteen African nations to support the grandmothers’ fundamental needs for housing, education, medical care, support groups, business skills, LGBTIQ awareness and much more. The principles of social justice, equality and partnership guide our process. 

There are over two hundred Gogos groups (gogos is a Zulu word for grandmother) across Canada dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the Grandmothers Campaign. Greater Van Gogos acts as an umbrella organization to support more than twenty groups in the Lower Mainland. We have two co-chairs, a steering committee, and representatives from six geographic “neighbourhoods.” We also have a regional communications team and a speakers’ roster, and we provide speakers’ training upon request.  

All of our groups are autonomous, each choosing its own meeting format and fundraising initiatives. Many of these involve attractive quality craft items such as jewelry, aprons, scarves, umbrellas, notecards and a variety of bags. Our handcrafted tote bags have become a recognizable signature product.  

Groups have also undertaken other types of fundraising events such as art auctions, African dinners, and concerts. Our latest area-wide endeavours include an annual 50 or 100-kilometer Solidarity Cycle, and the For Love of Grandmothers Fitness Challenge. 

The Coronavirus pandemic has challenged us to adapt and grow, and we have responded with enthusiasm and creativity. Many groups had already embraced technology by creating websites, and now continue to hold chapter meetings by Zoom. On-line events are springing up, with one group hosting virtual cocktail crafting workshops.  

With craft fairs on hold for the foreseeable future, one group is holding a ”craft crawl” in four limited venues.  Instead of tote bags we are making masks, allowing us to give back to the communities that supported us while continuing to join hands and hearts with our African partners. 

Our annual fitness challenge has morphed into an event called Gogos Go to Joburg, a virtual walk of 17,000 km through the fifteen countries in which the Stephen Lewis Foundation has partners. Participants engage sponsors, and gain 5 virtual km for every hour of physical activity performed. 

Our fourth annual Solidarity Cycle will take place, also with modifications. If we are not able to hold a group event, our sponsored cyclists will dedicate Grandparents Day, Sunday September 13, 2020, to individually completing their 50 or 100 km ride. 

What keeps us going with such love and determination? It helps to think about the many millions of African women who inspire us with their intrepid ability to rise to the multiple challenges of not just one, but now two pandemics: HIV AIDS and COVID 19. They are the best people to teach us what the needs are, and how best to respond to adversity with self-awareness, generosity, and empathy. It helps to track the incredible advancements that have been made in turning the tide of HIV AIDS since 2006. 

But the mantra that has kept us focused and committed from the very beginning is the one we think about when we are exhausted from only a few hours with our grandchildren:  

“We will not rest until they can rest.” 

Check us out at: 
Last year’s For Love of Grandmothers Fitness Challenge wrap up luncheon.

Inaugural Solidarity Cycle, September 10, 2017.

Tikun Olam Gogos: Paddles for Africa, an online art auction of mahogany dragon boat paddles painted by local BC artists 

Tikun Olam Gogos (my group): Totes and Masks

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Myriam Laroche organized many ECO Fashion Weeks, here in Vancouver! All beautiful, and all showing how we can change environmentally disastrous fast fashion making and buying practises, how we can recycle, repurpose and upcycle materials, and how we have a responsibility to make change happen. I was so impressed by her collaborations: with Designers and Science/Technology, with the Vancouver Aquarium, with Value Village and with Businesses, to discuss and plan common strategies for educating and making policy changes. In the many fashion events, I attend, I see much greater emphasis on ECO, especially on vintage and thrift and highlighting slow, hand crafted techniques to the runway. I loved how she often wore thrifted outfits and talked about their origins. Here she is just a while ago. The message continues. I thank you, Myriam for your leadership and for your thoughtful responses. Thanks, too to Marilyn R Wilson, for the COVID 19 series idea.

Here are a few articles where we have covered Myriam and her events:

ZERO WASTE and the TEXTILE INDUSTRY - Metro Vancouver In Collaboration with Vancouver Eco Fashion Week 2015

The #IGIVEASHIRT Installation and Partnership: ECO Fashion Week, Aquarium and Savers Value Village

ECO Fashion Week - Seminar: Rethinking Second-Hand by Myriam Laroche and Anny Leclerc - Value Village

ECO FASHION WEEK: 10 Seasons of Old and New: Press Preview 2016

Photo credit: Audet Photo

I reached out to her in Montreal and here are her thoughts about moving forward during COVID 19

1) Please tell us about your work, length of time, goals, audience, etc.

I am an apparel and textile sustainability strategist. That’s what I have been focusing on since the end of Eco Fashion Week in 2018. I guide and support apparel and textile brands in starting their sustainability initiatives, based on what they are already doing, and I give them tools to pursue their eco-fashion mission, grow and improve every season.

2) How has social isolation COVID 19 affected you and your work, colleagues,...

Daily wise, the COVID19 confinement did not really affect me. I work from home so that part stayed the same. But I work with retailers, and they all had to pause their activities. So did I. Not to sound insensitive, but I kind of have been waiting for an exceptional situation like this for people to start listening and understanding that how we make and consume clothes can’t continue this way. It has been a blessing in disguise for what I want to accomplish in the fashion industry.

3) How did you reach your audience before COVID 19? 

I did a soft launch of my website (  ) right before confinement in March. I wanted to officially promote it in April, Earth Month. But with everything that was happening it did not feel right. And it was a good thing. It made me rethink the way I want to work with retailers and see where they will need my help the most. The narrative is changing !

4) What are strategies to reach them now? 

I am working on creating easy and clear packages for fashion businesses. A lot of them think that they absolutely need a degree in sustainability or to hire a big agency to develop an eco or transparency strategy. But I do not agree. If you know how clothes are designed, made, market and sold, you mostly need a tool box to start developing your eco-recipe. I believe that brands already have things in place to where they can start in a cost efficient way and build from there. It’s about doing things well and improving every season.

5) Do you have a motto, mantra, mentor, role model, book? Something or someone that moves your forward during this time?  

Beyond COVID-19 , the Black Lives Matter movement has been the biggest wake up call and inspiration to do better and acknowledge my white privilege and the reality of systemic racism, very present in Fashion.  There is a part of me that was always feeling something was missing in the eco fashion movement I was trying to lead. I was focusing on ethical labor and bad conditions (which are super important topics) but it’s about humanity every step of the way: factories, head offices, stores…  I never wanted to listen as much as I want to listen now and see my faults. I can’t be an authentic leader if I don’t own the privileges I have as a white woman. Transparency starts with me. I can create the greenest products but if I am not an ally, it means nothing.

How to find Myriam:

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Last February, I attended the fabulous VCC Fundraiser Gala, FLOURISH. This is an annual event for which the top Culinary Alumni cater and all of the programs are there, with students showing off their  expertise to bring in the money that keeps the College, flourishing, growing and really providing an oasis of services at both campuses. The theme colour is green and attendees wear it. When I go to visit VCC, I am usually there about Spa, Jewellery, Food and Fashion. I am in awe of the vast array of services and courses, and often do interviews, before events, especially for Vancouver Fashion Week. Of course I did meet Sarah Murray, Fashion Program Coordinator and Continuing Studies Marketing Liaison, at FLOURISH, and she showed me the Illustration Competition. In keeping with the theme, Flourish, students were invited to draw an illustration around the words green and circle. The illustrations were sold in sets of gorgeous cards as well as being sold individually in the Silent Auction. Long time attendees are determined and know exactly when to bid to win, but I managed to land Shadi's beautiful illustration, which I call 'Lady of the Flowers'. It is framed and is on a wall that I look at every day. I love the life in this illustration: the windblown hair is so natural and the colours, particularly those royal purples and brilliant gold yellows of the dress and flowers, over the green background, draw me closer. I contacted Shadi for an email interview and, because she is working during this time of social isolation, she was happy to send along her reflections and her extraordinary illustrations. Thank you, Shadi for bringing light and inspiration to our readers. Thank you also, to Marilyn R Wilson who began her COVID Series on her blog: Olio by Marilyn. One more, a big one to Nancy Nesbitt, Interim Executive Director, VCC Foundation and Co-Chair of the FLOURISH GALA, who made sure Shadi's illustration was delivered right to my hands. She was there to thank me, too. Excellence and commitment from everyone! By the way, Nancy designed her own red carpet ready gorgeous green dress and also did an illustration for it. VCC-the place to be. Fundraising for students: the benefits are obvious! Shine on, Shadi Arasteh Manesh.

Please Tell us about your work, school, Art, how long have you been doing this? 

I am Shadi Arastehmanesh a start up fashion designer based in Vancouver and originally from Iran. I remember when I was child, I made a game related to fashion design. I drew different pieces of garments such as skirt, top, pants, dress etc, and I asked my family and friends to pick one of each and make a new look and I drew the new style for them again. I’ve been always connected to art and design and started my academic education in Graphic Design field when I was 14. I entered to university of art when I was 17 and I’ve received my associate degree in Persian Painting and bachelor’s degree in graphic design in Iran. After I finished university, I opened my gallery specialized in making relief and patina. I moved to Canada on December 2017 and I decided to continue my study in fashion field since I’ve been always passionate about it. I took fashion design and production diploma program at Vancouver Community College and now I’m about to pass my practicum and get my diploma. Illustration is my favourite part in fashion, and I know several techniques since I got my associate degree in Persian painting. I love hand drawing even though I am comfortable with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Who is your audience and how did you reach out to them before COVID19? 

We live in Technology era and Social media makes communication easier in most parts of the world. Since I am still new in the country and I was studying full-time and working part-time I didn’t have too much chances to make a local network but definitely participating in events, exhibitions, contests, fashion shows provided me the chance of making more audiences which due to COVID19 I missed those events. I have been always in touch with my audience through Instagram account, so in this case I had more free time to promote my profile, upload more pictures from my design and spend more time with my followers who are interested to know more about me and my artworks. In addition one of my favourite brands Alexander McQueen have been creating challenge every week and designers can participate, share their design( could be illustration, handcraft, design idea, actual garment) and use hashtag AlexanderMcQueen and Mcqueencreators to get more followers on Instagram and people can reach out to our profile through their channel.

How has social isolation affected you? 

The first thing I was totally upset about was postponing Vancouver Fashion Week from March 2020 to October 2020 which I was supposed to showcase my graduation collection on that, and it was like a dream comes true for me. Due to postponing VFW I missed work opportunities and connection with people in fashion field, it caused delay for starting my career also trend changes when season changes. In addition I should have finished my practicum course by end of April, but because many businesses were closed I couldn’t finish my program yet even though I have time, I believe to finish my job at the right time to avoid any delay in my plan in the future. With consideration of this fact that COVID19 is an issue for many people all around the world and it is out of my control I tried to take advantage of my free time due to pandemic and made new projects. I participated in some contests and I’m honored to be recipient of Circle Craft Award of excellence during this slow time and showcase my handcraft piece in Circle Craft Gallery in Granville Island.

What strategies are you using to reach people now? What projects are inspiriting you to move ahead? 

First of all, I encourage all my friends, family and audiences to improve their health care plans and not be strict about themselves when they are not too much productive. Think about what they wanted to do in their busy time, and they didn’t do it because they didn’t have time for it. Now it is a perfect time to start and do whatever you want. There are too many free channels, courses, tutorial, workshops you can learn from. Be creative and positive and believe this situation will end soon and you will be back into your busy life. I try to reach out to people through Instagram. Share my stories and projects I have done before. Nature is my inspiration currently. Since I have been staying home for couple months, I feel the need of sunshine, fresh air, and beauty of nature to share with my audience and inspire them.

Do you have a mantra, motto, role model, favourite illustration that moves you forward? 

Being creative is my motto everyday in my life. No matter what you do, just do it right and make best out of it. Whenever I do artwork, time flies for me. There are some illustrators and fashion designers I am always inspired by and admire their creativities. Also, thanks to my amazing instructors in fashion program at Vancouver Community College who encouraged me to participate in some contests during this time. I have been always inspired by ancient architecture and my country heritage (IRAN) as you can see in my illustrations, but there was a movement for me when I drew flourish illustration. When I was drawing this portrait of mine, my hometown (IRAN) wasn't in a proper political situation and I was worried about my family and friends!  During that time, there were too many tragic stories happening in my hometown, but I just want to tell you no matter where you are, how you feel, just take advantage of every single moment you live! float among colourful flowers and enjoy. You live once!

See my Instagram page here

A photo of the illustration I bought from Shadi

Sunday, May 31, 2020

I have long been a fan of  VCC Jewellery and was pleased to meet Christine Dibble, recent Grad of the program. Also a Music Therapist, Christine's beautiful designs reflect her total immersion in the Arts.

Interview with Christine Dibble

Hi folks! My name is Christine Dibble, creator and designer of Bodacious Butterflies, and I am a recent graduate of the Jewellery Art And Design program at Vancouver Community College, 2020.  

I started hand making Bodacious Beads woven beaded jewelry in 2011, in a search for alternative forms of creative self-expression after moving back to BC from completing my Masters in Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. Bodacious Butterflies came to be in 2012 after I was inspired by butterfly wing art I saw in several galleries in the Nayarit province of Mexico. I attended a stained glass art workshop from Sunlight Art Glass in Surrey BC, to explore ways of presenting these beautiful specimens as wearable art. In 2016, I began silversmithing through workshops at the Working Silver Studio in New Westminster BC, to further pursue my love, passion, and craft of jewelry making and design.  

I create not only as a means of giving voice to my inner world, but also as an instrument of self-exploration. I find motivation to design wearable pieces through the joy the act of constructing brings, as well as its inherent therapeutic components. I consider art, like music, as therapy: it brings a sense of calm, peace, and purpose. Making gives my life meaning: to devise elegant pieces that people can wear to reflect their inner individuality, and appreciate for their aesthetic appeal and uniqueness is the aspiration of my art. 

Since I have been a full time student for the past two years at VCC, I have not had much time to continue growing Bodacious Butterflies within the community of the Lower Mainland. I had, up until the start of my studies, been very active in the artisanal craft show circuit, meeting with current and potential clients, making contacts for custom designs, and growing my professional circle. Since the lockdown following the COVID 19 Pandemic, I am continuing to focus on my online presence, growing my brand globally. It has been difficult, as several shops that sell my work in Vancouver have also closed down, and online sales have seen a definite decline. I often worry about the relevance of my work during these strange days, where other human necessities are far more important. However, art is therapy! As artists, we still need to create, to grow, to build, despite the financial uncertainties. I create for catharsis, not for financial gain, and this will not change regardless of the state of the world.  

My plans, now that I am finished my studies and my music therapy work has been put on hold due to COVID-19, are to advance my technical jewelry making skills through online workshops and revamp my website into an online portfolio instead of an online store. I would also like to start a YouTube channel that focuses on jewelry making techniques and how-to videos. I want to expand my audience not only to current and potential clients, but other jewelers as well. I want to use online platforms to connect, communicate, and share art.  

I think what sustains me in continuing to move forward with my work is my passion for creating. I want to know more, gain more skill, learn, grow, and branch out. I have always had a herculean drive in all my artistic endeavours, and the present is no different. Though currently we may have had to alter how we connect, I see it as an opportunity to continue reaching personal goals and milestones creatively and artistically.  

COVID-19 has currently put a kibosh on our first and second year students year-end show, however we have found alternative means of sharing our work. The VCC Jewellery facebook page is featuring our work online through photo postings, and the BC Craft Council gallery on Granville Island is hosting a window display for socially distant viewing of our work. Opening night at the Craft Council is May 28th from 6-9pm, with both the online and window displays being featured until June 11th 2020. 

Click here for more information: 

We hope to see you there, from afar, and I look forward to what these new horizons have to offer.  

~ C 

VCC Jewellery Program's Grad Shows, Student Exhibitions and Sales are truly wonderful.

Recently, VCC Jewellery Grad Show has gone online and can be seen on Facebook and at CCBC store on Granville Island.

Thanks so much Christine! Thanks also to Marilyn R. Wilson who led the way by featuring her own COVID Series Olio by Marilyn.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

It is author, Marilyn R. Wilson, who inspired me to write about COVID 19 and how Designers, Artists, Writers and Students, are moving forward. Marilyn, introduced me to Stevie Crowne, just a few years ago and we have kept in touch. At a Fashion Event, featuring the work of Carolyn Bruce, we all wore her jewellery. Stevie was one to watch then, as he is now. We, in Vancouver, continue to see his name in lights, in Toronto and Montreal.

Interview with Stevie Crowne

1. Please tell us about your Art/Business: length of time, goals, audience, etc. 

I have been Reimagining, reinventing, and  reworking vintage clothing since 2010. What began as a self motivated fashion discovery over the last 10 years became an independent and internationally involved brand that stayed true to its humble roots. Predominantly because of my bold influences, I have designed customwear and accessories for musicians, artists, singers, and performers but have also offered ready to wear styles and limited edition collaborations for main stream demographics in stores across Canada.

I have produced fashion shows and sold designs in my hometown, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan since I was 16, before moving to Vancouver, British Columbia when I was 18, moving to Toronto, Ontario when I was 21, and most recently testing out the market in Montreal, Quebec since I was 23, all the while shipping worldwide and being fortunate enough to collaborate and dress people I could have never imagined.

2. How has social isolation affected you and the people you work with? 

When the lockdown first happened and my SS2020 ZENITH EUNOIA collection at Fashion Art Toronto was cancelled, there was plenty of uncertainty pertaining to the future of sustainable and locally made fashion in Canada. Mind you that the Fashion industry in Canada especially has been suffering for years now.

Naturally, I spent my first week on lockdown really trying to find a reason to continue producing my SS20 ZENITH EUNOIA collection and releasing it on its original presentation schedule. COVID19  came as an entire shock and nobody can deny that we as a system were unforgiving with the deadlines, expectations, and efficiency that we bestowed upon ourselves a long time ago as a global industry.  Personally, I am waiting on three more shipments of materials to come in before I can finish my collection and I estimate a late June or early July release/online roll-out.

In terms of my client to business relations, I am really grateful for those who early in the lock down still ordered clothing and masks from me and were extremely supportive of the future that we will share together in the new world that awaits us.

3. How did you work with people during COVID 19? Has that changed?

Predominantly, my clientele for years now have always contacted me through social media platforms, email, as well as word of mouth to purchase clothing and place orders. So in that perspective, nothing has changed.

In terms of runway production, it was a major blow when I realized I wouldn’t be able to do fittings with my models as usual, talk to the hair and make up stylists about the vision for the show, to design the runway graphics, pick the soundtrack, choose the lighting sequence, and so on. I consider myself an introvert, but there is something so special and uniquely divine about producing a fashion show that can be remembered and an extension of where my vision stems from. It is always an ethereal moment for me.

As of right now I have chosen to move forward and am looking to produce a digital look book with the models that I had in mind for the runway show. I can Photoshop the new seasons’ offering onto their bodies when the collection is ready.

4. How are you moving forward during this time? 

I have been taking strides to take care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually throughout the lockdown. I’ve chosen on a personal level to take this time to not dwell on the things that are holding me back but to look at the great things that will come out of this and that are coming out of it.  I have always been a person to take the worst out of a situation and in my own way make it into a positive thing. I’m really happy that before this collection has even really been fully shown or any online rollout marketing has happened, that select looks of already presold.

I am also really proud of a client in particular who now lives in Vancouver, Canadian Drag Queen Scarlett BoBo, Who will be in the first ever Canada‘s Drag Race, debuting on CRAVE July 2nd, 2020. I have worked with Scarlett since my Toronto days and I couldn’t be more happier to know that she will be representing Canada on a national platform and television network.

5. Do you have a fav.motto, mantra, mentor, Illustration, something that inspires you to keep going?

Nothing lasts forever,  is a phrase I have tattooed on my rib cage. I got it when I was 18 years old and was discovering myself living my first year in Vancouver on my own.

The meaning behind it is that whatever emotion that may be driving me to do great things or whatever habit may holding me back, it’s that it’s not gonna last forever.

Meaning if I’m having a really positive outburst of inspiration, I have to thank God and be grateful for it and really reap the moment for the benefit it has and show gratitude to those around me authentically who have assisted me.

If I’m going through a really rough time, I have to remember that it’s not gonna last forever and it’s only meant to drive me forward.  I love my family and my close friends as well as my clients and my entire network who supports me. They all know that I’ve already had a pretty wild past. A lot of ups and downs on the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship in fashion prepared me for what’s happening right now in the world, and it’s keeping me in a really calm and happy place in isolation.

Social links:

Instagram: @StevieCrowne
YouTube: Stevie Crowne

For our Spring-Summer 2020 collection, I aspire to bring forward an elegant, sophisticated, and classic approach to edgy high streetwear. Over the years, I’ve seen the importance of creating a sustainable fashion brand that transcends into different categories and genres of style. The goal with the Zenith Eunoia collection is to reimagine, reinvent, and repurpose a mix between modern-vintage streetwear with luxurious finishings; inspired by haute couture techniques. You can expect this collection to have strong features like rhinestone embellishing, swarovski crystals, beaded fabrics, embroidery, and pearls. Mixing opposite ends of the spectrum undoubtedly has a mature and glamorous appeal while remaining true to my youthful design aesthetic. My goal as an artist is to grow. I hope my clients, audience, and spectators can grow and learn with me too as time goes on.

the time at which something is most powerful

It comes from the Greek word εὔνοια, meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking.”

This is also the SS2020 Collection biography and a preview of Zentith Eunoia

Stevie, now, wearing one of his own designs

Stevie Crowne, then, wearing his own jacket and a necklace by Carolyn Bruce at one of the many 
Vancouver fashion events that we miss so dearly!

Stevie with Marilyn R. Wilson and her partner Glen

Saturday, May 23, 2020

I know Ines Ortner as a Costume Designer, Museum Curator, Set Designer, Artist and Store Owner. Ines did a fantastic workshop for SMOC, just a few years ago, it seems. We went over to see her at the Bowen Island Museum and had a tour and then she told us about her new store. Ines has popped up at so many events I love: ECO Fashion Week, Tomoe Arts, SMOC, and at theatres  and museums, that I thought she should pop up here and tell how she is moving forward through COVID 19. Thank you Ines! Thanks also to Marilyn R Wilson, who began the COVID 19 Interview process. Community Builders, here!

The Real Rapunzel 

1) Please tell us about your business, work, length of time, audience, goals..  

Not even a couple of years ago I scaled down my costume design business to re-focus on smaller custom design projects and opened the store The Real Rapunzel here on Bowen Island. On offer are corky, unique and fun gifts and souvenirs, fashion accessories and soft furnishings with a Bowen Island centric focus, made in house, and we also love to present the wonderful works from Bowens artisans, from BC or further away. My favourite part is when customers come with their ideas for cool custom products, and of course once a while I still make dresses or costume bits and pieces on order. 

2) How did you work with people before COVID 19?  

The concept of my store is all about the personal touch, about sharing the fun and joy of the products I am making or find for resale. It is by definition a playground for grown ups, however some of my best customers are very young in age too, so sometimes my tiny store is buzzing like a family event. It is always about the people and I get to know so many interesting travelers from everywhere in the world… I always think we just should add a coffee and cake bar as well J . 

3) How has social isolation affected you and the people you work with?  

Well, the store came to a complete standstill, and I missed the personal interaction with my customers right away. However, it is interesting to me how this complete stop is imposing on us to look at our personal and communal essence, so I did a lot of thinking and considering how things could look afterwards. I also started to make music again, which I hadn’t done for quite some time, wrote a silly ‘Corona Lisa’ song and practice learning a new instrument, the melodeon (punk shanties are on the list) and just enjoyed the incredible rare free time I had at home. 

4) What are some strategies for keeping your Art and work going during this time? Stores are closed, but you keep going. I keep seeing your posts and they make me look at what you have done and want to know more about now. 

It did not take long before some approached me with some custom designs for backpacks and of course face masks. I started making them with fabric I had actually earmarked for a cosmetic bags collection this year. They have spiders, flamingos, otters, beetles or sushi on them and my customers love them. We also make some black ones, and fancy ones for special occasion.  

Supplies become a challenge, more than ever, but then again I prefer to do small quantities since I don’t like to bore my customers nor myself. 

I also make now aprons and ovenmitt sets for kids and they will be exclusively available on my new online store, which will hopefully be open in August.  

Beside our brand this store will also features some amazing local artisans.  

To be honest, I can’t wait to open my real world store soon, I am aiming for the beginning of June. Despite or rather because of all distancing, and masks, Plexiglas and hand sanitizer I am more than ready for great deep belly laughs with my customers. 

Connect with Ines and The Real Rapunzel and check for opening hours and updates 

on Facebook: The Real Rapunzel  

The store is 575 Artisan Lane, Artisan Square, Bowen Island 

5) Do you have a motto, mantra, song, book, role model, mentor that keeps you moving forward during COVID 19? Again, thanks in advance. If you can attach a good photo of you and your store, Art, etc. I will post. 

One of my most favorite books ever is “Frederick the Mouse” by Leo Lionni (ok it’s a kids book, but hey, my inner child has a ferocious appetite). In fact I actually build the business plan for my store with this book in mind, since I really think that everybody in society has a role to fulfill. Certain roles don’t seem to be so productive as others, but some people are at their best in the role to encourage, inspire and spread a little happiness. I always saw my store in that role.  

I met Sandra through the HF Met Gala, truly an online explosion of talent! Sandra is an Illustrator and I wanted to know more about her and her profession, since I enjoy taking Fashion Program students to do live illustrations Vancouver Fashion Week and other events. Thank you, Sandra, for your enthusiastic participation and for your advice for emerging Illustrators! Thanks also to Marilyn R Wilson, for her leadership and support for the COVID Interviews Project.

Interview with Sandra Diaz 

1. Please tell us about your Illustration Career: length of time, clients/audience and your main goal.

I’m Sandra Lucia a Digital Fashion Illustrator based in Seattle and originally from Colombia. I have been an illustrator for 12 years and have been able to work with brands like Chanel, Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg, Marciano, Bloomingdales, and many more. I have been an Artist in Residence of Saks Fifth Avenue since 2013, working their private VIP live sketching events. My main goal is to connect with the client as I sketch and listen to their story and make them feel like family to capture their essence during VIP Live Sketching events. During my senior year at Design and Architecture Senior High School, I had the opportunity to show a 10 piece collection at Miami Fashion Week as a part of my thesis. I attended Ringling College of Art and Design and earned a BFA degree in Illustration while also pursuing courses in Graphic Interactive Design. After college, I have worked primarily in the Beauty Industry as a Video Editor, Designer, and Art Director.

Lately, I create most of my work on my iPad Pro. I use the Procreate app to create digital illustrations. I bring them to life using Augmented Reality through Adobe Project Aero app. My goal is to keep focusing on growing as an artist by collaborating with creators and using my creativity to help other young illustrators/artists learn the things I wish I had known earlier in my career.

2. During COVID 19, I've been online more and loved going to @HFMetGala #HFMetGala 2020. What are your observations about this new opportunity?

Participating in challenges like HF Met Gala 2020 is a great way to create an online community and discover like-minded designers. Today it’s easier to access brands because they are in need of good social media content. Rodarte, Marchesa, FIDA have used my fashion illustrations for social media, particularly Instagram. I would even reach out to your favorite designers now that everyone has slowed down and asked them questions about their journey about how they got to where they are now. Many designers like Brandon Maxwell and Alexander Wang are on Instagram live and they are talking about the process and even reaching out to young designers like you to join them on live.  Personally I have had more time to participate in Art Challenges and also to focus on experimenting with my illustrations with Augmented Reality.  What is Augmented Reality? Augmented reality is a direct or the indirect live view of the physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by your smartphone. AR brings my artwork to life in your world and allows you to have fun with art like never before. Create your own challenges with fellow designers! I would love to see what you create.

3. How has social isolation affected you, your work, and your art? Advice for Student Designers/Illustrators?

Connect and reach out to artists that inspire you online; they are human. Never put anyone on the pedestal or be too nervous to ask questions. With Social isolation, I have been able to focus more on t fashion illustration. I urge you to take advantage of this time and think up your dream collection because I promise you this too shall pass. 

As a senior in college, I received feedback that I should only focus on illustration or design, not both. And, was also asked “Why Fashion Illustration? It’s a dead art.” I completely ignored that feedback and kept producing fashion illustrations and took internships in both Illustration and Design fields. At Ringling, I majored in Illustration but would also drop into Design courses that sparked my interest.

I feel strongly that “Passion” will set you apart from the rest. Fashion Design and Illustration have so many different applications in this digital world we now live in, including AR, motion, textile design, and digital publishing. I don’t believe that we have secure jobs anymore like our parents did working 20+ years at a single job. But instead, we can use our diverse experience to promote ourselves and earn the salary we deserve for our illustration and design work. Simply, one must become irreplaceable or forge their own path.

Fashion illustration has had a complete revival, thanks to Social Media. This has brought me clients like CHANEL, Carolina Herrera, and Saks, that I continue to freelance for because of my passion  to produce fashion illustrations. I taught myself how to be a video editor, web designer, and have polished my digital illustration skills because I am passionate about learning new skills, not just to get a job.

Being able to work with many stakeholders from different disciplines is so important— knowing that you are not the center of the universe but more a piece of the puzzle. It’s about what you can bring to the table— talent is great but a willingness to learn and being humble is why I have had great opportunities.

4. What are some new strategies to reach your clients/audience, readers, during this time?

First of all your productivity does not equal your worth; you are allowed to take it easy and rest. This is the first time that most of us are experiencing a Global pandemic so please put self-care on the top of your list of priorities. I would use this time to share your design process via social media, learn new skills through YouTube, or if you bold make your own channel. Also, connect through the hashtags you use, Social Media is all about authentic engagement. Please use this time to build a digital community around the world; some of my greatest teachers have been friends all over the world.  Be sure to tag your favorite brands if you are creating looks inspired by their runway looks. My homework assignment for you is to write a set of goals you want to accomplish in the next five years and write them down in a journal or create a mood board that is visible to you in your workspace. They don't have to be huge goals. They can be small too. The most important thing is that you take a look at them every day.  (If you would like to share them, be sure to tag me on Instagram #fearlessyaya) 

Fashion Documentaries Available in Prime Video:

  • McQueen
  • Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton
  • The drawings of Yvette Saint Laurent
  • Gucci The Director
  • Yohji Yamamoto Dressmaker
  • In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye
  • Halston (Director Cut)
  • Battle of Versailles
  • Oh, Dior
  • Scatter my ashes at Bergdorfs
5) Your motto

Stay humble, work hard, are words that move me forward. My Valentintino Muse Illustration is the first illustration I created after suffering a health crisis. I had a misdiagnosis but then, so fortunately, that was corrected and I got my life back.. I regained hope and began to recognize what was truly important in life my passion for fashion illustration, my health, and the love for my husband. I began to illustrate on the iPad for the first time in many years. I illustrated my muse in this illustration, my symbol of hope. I was so focused and consumed in my career trying to be somebody that I lost myself. The universe gave me this time of reflection and has magical given the tools to become a stronger version of myself. A few months ago I was invited to a Swarovski launch party, it a brand I been dreaming to collaborate on and meet with creative directors. I am slowly putting together a fashion illustration portfolio and exploring my illustration style.

When I am sketching, as an Artist in Residence I feel like I am truly at home working with major fashion brands and illustrating clients, seeing their faces light up when I hand them an illustration.

Forge your own path. These are unprecedented times. Now, more than ever, think about what makes you happy and pursue it fulltime. Start building your portfolio on your own to be ready when opportunity knocks on your door.

I am drawing and posting on Instagram every day. I will be opening my Etsy Shop this Saturday, which I am super excited about.

HFMetGala Illustrations:

Lady Gaga:

Lily Collins:

Met Virtual Runway:

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Deryn's first novel, "Confined Space", shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award, is just the best mystery and, in view of this time of social distancing, the perfect title! Because she lives in Nelson, I do not get to see her often, but feel as if I am talking with her when I read her monthly letter to her readers. As a fan, I have followed her complex writing journey, including a second Bern Fortin mystery, "Open Secret" and segments of work in progress. She has such a busy life: researcher, writer in residence, mentor, writing teacher, mom, community builder and more and yet, she took the time to share her reflections with us. This is a great time to read "Confined Space" and "Open Secret" and to sign up for Deryn's newsletter. Now, more than ever, we need real conversations and journeys beyond our own windows. Thank you, Deryn! More at

Interview with Deryn Collier

1. Please tell us about your work, length of time, audience, main goals  

Fifteen years ago, I reorganized my life so that I could have time to write as a regular part of my day. In that time I’ve written six novels, two of which have been published.  

I write mysteries, so my audience is mostly made up of mystery readers, though I hear from a lot of readers that say they don’t usually like mysteries, but they’ve enjoyed my books! 

I’d say when I first started out, my main goal was to see my books in print, and when that happens it is a huge thrill. However, as time goes on, I find what’s more important, and much more fulfilling, is to find ways to connect with readers through stories.   

2. How did you work with people before COVID 19?  

As a writer, I spend a whole lot of time in my writing space, by myself, only connecting with people by phone, email and social media.  

However, last fall I was Writer in Residence for the Thompson Nicola Regional Library, based in Kamloops. I was meeting writers face to face, teaching workshops in person and traveling to libraries throughout the region to give presentations. I met with 400 people over those three months, and that all seems so strange and far away now! 

I think the biggest impact I’ve seen is with book launches. There are a handful of local authors here in Nelson who’ve had books released in the last two months, and we were all looking forward to attending their launches and cheering them on. Of course I’ve purchased their books and am reading them and telling others about them, but it does not feel the same. 

3. How has social isolation affected your work, business, and yourself?  

This time of staying at home happened to coincide with an intense period of writing for me. I had just received a Canada Council grant days before we started to shelter in place, and so I felt I had a very strong mandate to just stay focused and get my book done, and I’m very grateful for that. I think that, without that vote of confidence, it would have been easy for me to lose focus; to start questioning. Does good writing matter if it doesn’t make it into print? What will this pandemic do to the publishing industry? Will anyone ever read this book?  

I wasn’t allowed to ask any of those questions until my book was done. (I finished it last week though, and now I’m asking all of those questions and more!) 

4. What are some new strategies to reach your audience during this time?  

For the last two years I’ve written a letter to my readers every month. It started out very small - I wanted to stay in touch with the 35 or so readers that I had met at various book events that were not on social media. It’s amazing to me how this list has grown of its own accord, through word of mouth, so that now I’m writing to hundreds of people every month. The monthly letters have really taken on a life of their own. 

I write about my work in progress, which is a historical mystery set in Montreal after World War 2. I write about my research process, how I make decisions about character and plot, how I handle the roller coaster of the publishing world. I’m way more open in those letters than I ever would be on social media. What’s amazing, and so touching to me, is the number of people that write back to me. (Like you, Colleen!)  

During the pandemic, I asked my readers to tell me how they were doing, and I was amazed by the responses from all over! Here I was thinking I knew everyone on my list - they were either a friend of mine, or a friend of my mom’s, or someone I had met at an event. But I heard back from people from all over North America, and a few in Great Britain as well. I was really touched to hear their stories of what it’s like to shelter in place where they are. 

5. Do you have a mantra, motto, mentor, role model, song, that leads you on?  

Good writing matters. 

I am always striving to be a better writer. Not in a competitive way - I don’t want to be better than others, and I’m not aiming to write whatever is selling right now. I simply want to be the best writer I can be. And I have to believe that matters, in some way, even if I can’t see a clear path to the end result. 

In the past, success has meant a book deal in traditional book publishing. What will success look like in the future? I can’t know that. I do know for sure that it will involve connecting with my readers, who are eager for my stories. And so I keep working, and getting better at what I do, so that when the time comes I will be ready. 

Social media: 

If you want to get in on the fun, you can sign up for monthly letters here

Twitter: @deryncollier  -  

Instagram: @DerynCollier -  

Deryn Collier

Studio: I am very fortunate to have a lovely studio space where 
I can go and write everyday. It’s beautiful, sure, but it’s also 
very practical. I have a very analog process -- I love 
ephemera and photos and outlining on paper. I use the 
two, eight-foot long table to spread out my research and 
ideas, which allows me to create a mini version of the 
historical world I am writing about, so I can immerse 
myself in it. 

Work in progress: Getting to down to work on my set-in-
Montreal mystery novel, with a collection of old photos and documents. 
I have know Wendy Van Riesen Dahlia Drive for many years and often wear my Raven wrap, with its red, white and black designs. This is one from a series, Ravens, Eagles and and Polka Dots, on which she collaborated with Haida Artist, Reg Davidson, when she lived on a sailboat in Haida Gwaii for 8 years. Here they are at ECO Fashion Week. I also saw this series Skwachays Lodge Vancouver, for an evening of celebrating Art, Design, Music, Story and accomplishment, especially for the models! See more here.

Wendy has been an Artist and Maker, most of her life. Leonardo Da Vinci, another multifaceted Artist is one she admires. She sews, quilts, dyes, sculpts, paints, acts and is a great story teller.  She has travelled extensively and takes inspiration from her environment, wherever she goes. She is now in Powell River and even though all of the shows and markets are shut during COVID 19, she continues to create. She is currently working on a new style of puffy coat. It is so visual, unlike any puffy coat you see on the streets or on the slopes.  The video she made for this interview is too big to include here, but, I love how she is sitting on a swing, wearing one of her wraps and talking to us about her life and what is important to her as an Artist. She is spending more time in the garden and with family and with herself. She advises: Get to know yourself and what you love; stay with what you love and work hard at it. Use this time. Her mantra is: Wait, Watch and Wonder. This is very much in keeping with her dye process where the final colours are always a delightful surprise. This is from the heart! Enjoy!

Thank you, Wendy Van Riesen! Thanks also to Marilyn R Wilson who has also written a series of COVID 19, interviews and inspired me to follow her lead.

And a few of Wendy's latest sketches! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Written by Dianna Drahanchuk

The covid 19 closure of the two My Sister’s Closet was a significant setback for Battered Women’s Support Services. The stores generate hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for BWSS programs that help women and girls escape violence. At the same time that the stores closed, the BWSS crisis line opened for 24 hours a day. The urgent need for this is underlined by nearly daily news reports of increased violence during this time of covid confinement.

Languishing in the shop are many incredible clothing and accessory items donated by generous patrons. To alleviate the funding crunch and stock backlog, with the Zoom go-ahead approval by BWSS Executive Director Angela Marie McDougall, BWSS Manager of Development and Social Enterprise “Super” Samantha Kearney spearheaded, organized and opened an online shop from scratch within 5 weeks from store closure. BWSS E-Commerce Coordinator Kristina Moser uploads to Shopify information provided by a handful of volunteers, Kim Wong, Lynn Katey, Pauline Watt and professional photographer Christine Ross, collectively they selected, photographed and itemized in detail the first 350 donated clothing and accessory items. Additionally, the MSC online catalogue includes “One Thing” jewelry designed by local artisan Satareh Bateni (contact

My Sister’s Closet shoppers must have really missed the store because the online shop made $1,000 two days before it was officially launched on May 1st, thanks in part to Vancouver is Awesome (link) that scooped the story. Orders came in from everywhere, from Edmonton, Toronto and as far away as New York. Two days later the first shipments were out the door.

Take a look at MSC’s terrific easy-to-use website and see gorgeous photos of the stores smart offerings. My favorite item is the gift certificate option, perfect for special occasion giving. Check the online shop often because over a hundred items are added weekly. Store opening date is yet to be determined.

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