Saturday, April 17, 2021

Written by Colleen Tsoukalas

The sixth book in this series by R.M. Greenaway is one that may make you disappear for awhile as you read the first five: Cold Girl, Undertow, Creep, Flights and Falls, and River of Lies. These local crime investigations, based in North Vancouver, feature the dark forests, stormy weather, and the criminal possibilities that shadow even a collection of whirly gigs along a neighbor's fence, and a kids' carnival. The 'uh oh, what if' feeling is what draws me to reconnect with RCMP Constables, JD Temple, Cal Dion and Dave Leith. Both Temple and Leith know something about the murder in Dion's past, one that is giving him recurring nightmares, now. Will it be friendship over career for Temple and Leith? And how about for Dion, the guy who gets himself into many do or die situations while managing to survive, leather jacket and ongoing bouts with conscience intact. He is a great tortured but kind hero, fixing and returning necklaces, repairing hot water tanks and vacuum cleaners and teaching survival cooking to that beautiful gal who needs to learn to survive without servants. 

Disappearing, in this story, takes on many shapes and forms. Make yourself a new identity and rent a place, in a far away neighborhood, retreat from society by building a cabin and becoming a hermit, lose your cellphone so your kids or your parents can't track you, be a terrible artist and be killed for it, become a clown and get murdered, become a murder victim and someone else takes your identity, and then there is the tiniest possibility that as should you decide to take a new upwardly mobile job, (Leith) find a different direction or love interest (JD) or confess and face jail,(Dion) that this dynamic team might be dissolved and disappear. Possibilities are endless. Most disappearances are solved, though; people reappear unless they are dead, and then the race is on to see who was the killer and all of the crime details.

All of the characters, good and bad, are complex humans. All of the motives for murder are there. All of the possibilities for choosing another direction, another partner, another way forward are there, too. There is cruelty and kindness, strength and weakness, relationship and alienation. There are death scenes: "He watched the salesman twitch and claw and turn purple." "The red spray was fast and startling." A surprise in each chapter beginning with the first fast murder in Whirlwind to the final one in Day's End, "Just say I did it." And will Dion tell? This sentence leads me to believe that there might be more to this story and for this great Canadian team. "The world was coming to an end, and it was just beginning and how could that be?"

Thanks R.M. Greenaway for a brilliant read during dark times.

Dundurn Press, BC Blues, 2021
Purchase via Amazon
This picture is taken looking at North Vancouver, where this book is set

Written by Colleen Tsoukalas

Thanks to Vishal Prasad and Sarah Bailey, Career Services Advisors at VCAD, I was invited to watch the 2021 Grad Portfolios. Since they shared the names and video links, you can watch them, too. VCAD offers such an array of career training possibilities: Game Design, Graphic Arts, Visual Effects. 3D Modeler, Interior Design, Fashion Design and more. I have attended the Porfolio shows before, at the downtown campus and have been fortunate to meet Fashion Illustrators/Designers who have demonstrated their talents at Vancouver Fashion Week in 2019 and International Fashion Festival (see 2019 shows here and here). This is the first virtual show and I am so impressed with the students' enthusiasm and multiple talents. Here are some of the best fashion presentations ever! 

Image via VCAD 

Fashion Design and Marketing & Marketing Portfolio Presentations

Fashion Design - Vancouver

Marketing & Merchandising for Fashion - Calgary

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Written by Colleen Tsoukalas

In her 16th novel, All The Devils Are Here, Canadian Order of Canada Writer, Louise Penny, moves Chief Inspector, and former head of the Surete du Quebec, Armand Gamache, from his home in the small village of Three Pines, to Paris. And isn't Paris, city of light, just the place we need right now? I can't think of Paris without thinking of Fashion, and I wondered if Gamache's style would work there, and how it might be found in men's clothing ads promoted today. We can always visualize the gardens, the cafes, the Eiffel Tower, symbols of Paris life. Similarly, when we meet a strong, evolving character like Gamache, especially over 16 novels, (17th coming August 2021) we might visualize him and look for him, closer to home.

Gamache is steady and strong. We know justice will be served. We know friendships will be deep and long lasting. We know family will be at the heart of each story. The fireplace will be warm and the food delicious. And to protect all of this, to ensure that all are safe, is Chief Inspector Gamache. Cambridge educated, he is bilingual and was raised with a knowledge of History and Art, via his billionaire Godfather and Industrialist, Stephen Horowitz, a lifelong mentor/father-figure/friend/life shaper, key especially when Gamache, at age 9, loses his parents. Stephen introduces and reinforces the importance of choices: the cruel or the kind, the unfairness or the wonderful, impatience or patience, choices and focus. "Your life will be decided by that choice." The decisions he makes are reflected in the lines on his face, and a deep scar but also laugh lines. He can see both sides: the dark and the light. He is reflective, decisive and confident, unafraid to say, " I don't know". and "I need help" and you know he will always learn and that because of his great leadership abilities, others will follow and help solve the problems.

Armand Gamache is a warrior, searching out the devils, despite not always knowing who or where they are. He is 6' with a sturdy build, hair, once dark, and now greying. In his late fifties, he wears reading glasses, and as you would expect, is up on the latest technology and has endless energy. Here is a hotel manager's impression of Gamache: "Middle-aged. Distinguished. In a good suit, tie. Shoes polished. Well groomed. He, too, looked like he belonged here." Other cues to his appearance: "Good cut to his clothes", "Good coat, classic cut, crisp white shirt, well tailored jacket beneath his overcoat". This is a man, who takes pride in his appearance, dresses the part, and even when travelling to Paris to await the birth of his fourth grandchild and to visit with family, including Stephen, would bring the clothes that would take him to the best hotels and restaurants as well as to board meetings with wealthy financiers, bankers, politicians and yes, devils. Oh and did I mention that he wears Sandalwood cologne and is acutely aware of different colognes and perfumes, especially at a crime scene?

I think, navy or black, wool, classic cut for suit and overcoat, with lots of room for extra pockets and a gun, handmade shirts, cotton handkerchiefs, a couple of handmade silk ties, maybe dark blue, leather shoes, a warm wool scarf, functional more than decorative. I asked my friend Myriam Laroche, who knows Fashion and is Montreal based, for some Canadian Menswear Makers. Here are two: Arthur Montreal Bespoke and Made to Measure Suits and Giovanni Clothes - Hand Tailored Fashion For men both, of which, have lots that would look great on Gamache. Some other Canadian options for ready made suits are IndochinoHarry Rosen, a Canadian company featuring a variety of International brands, and Simons. When a character is great, like this one, he comes to life. I would think that careful research, a few well timed fittings (probably between work adventures) and patience, patience, patience, would be strategies in the pursuit of a suit. 

To know more about Louise Penny and her 16th Gamache novel, ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE, 2020, have a look at her interview with Hillary Clinton here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Written by Colleen Tsoukalas

Photos by George Pimentel

From 3:30 - 5:30 October 25th, 9 Designers' Collections were shown via individual videos. Once was not enough to absorb the clothing, the background, the music, the story, and so each was repeated at least 3 times to get the complete picture. Even then, we wanted more. 

You can also watch the shows here!

Star attractions included: Carleton Jones (USA), Dnezil Mapfumo (UK), Diana Rikasari (Indonesia),  Feelomena (Italy), Glaze Kohl (Japan), Hamon (Jaan), Lola Faturotiloves (USA), Ozlana (Australia_ and Rebeca Rebeca (Norway).

It is really worthwhile to look everyone up and see the array of talent and accomplishment on the International scene. You can also connect up to follow and/or to purchase what you might not find in local stores. I have chosen to highlight the 3 videos/collections that are my favourites. As you do your own research of the 9, make your choices and shout them out on social media and on their sites. Everyone deserves to be in the spotlight! More at: and Vanfashionweek Instagram  and Van Fashion Week Facebook.

Diana Rikasari, from Indonesia put together 13 looks, so colourful, so visual, so streetwear and so unique! During COVID 19, she was at home and recycled everything there to make her designs. She is a Writer, Blogger, Public Speaker, Designer and a top Fashion Influencer. She wants you to look beneath perceptions. For example, maybe the number 13 is bad luck, but she made 13 beautiful pieces, so finds the good in as much as she can and encourages everyone to do the same. Loved the green coat with pink collar and lapels, in fact I am a fan of her shorts, jackets, coats and dress/coat combinations. Marilyn R.Wilson has an extensive write up and interview with Diana here and you can find Diana on Instagram here.

Glaze Kohl by Designer, Michiko Ueda from Japan, is a beautifully detailed, vintage to modern collection. Stripes, silky fabrics, layers, complexity of design, SUGOI! Elegant fit, perfect accessories: seamed stockings, subtle but sparkling earrings, bracelets, belts, and yes, vintage shoes! There was black and white, deep blue, pops of yellow, but the whole presentation was a statement of the best of the past brought to now. I loved the delicate blouses, each with different sleeves....striped shorts were flattering, as was every other outfit. Fabrics are made in Japan and Michiko has many years as a Buyer and Vintage Store Owner, both of which are reflected here. Glaze Kohl was launched in 2018 but it is that Classic that you have seen over many years. WOW. Once again, please read Marilyn's interview at here Find Glaze Kohl on Instagram here.

Lola Faturoti of Lola Faturotiloves came to the USA via Nigeria, and London and finally landed in NYC. She left home early to follow her dreams and to be free and is now teaching other women to do the same through her Lola Love Cargo Brand. Of African heritage, she designed a dress to celebrate Obama's election. The design was based on Kente Cloth Designs from the Ashante Tribe in Ghana. Her collection is so full of vibrant colours. As she says, "Colour is how the soul knows it's in the presence of beauty." Her video featured outfits in a series of 3, each shot, and all against a fabulous mural. Dare to be different; dare to be bold. See it all on her website here and instagram here.

I missed my camera and being near the runway watching and sharing reactions to the collections. These videos, though, are so professional and most get you dancing! Technology, GRR but GREAT!

Thanks again to Kate Mullen, Public Relations and Media Manager

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Written by Colleen Tsoukalas

Photos by George Pimentel

This season, we watched Vancouver Fashion Week, online, October 24th and 25th, from 3:30-5:30. We knew it was coming, and after lots of street fashion photography heads up, the schedule was up! The introduction featured a behind the scenes look at hair and make-up and runway previews. Catchy and quick, it invited watchers directly into an efficient schedule of seven designers: Marisa P. Clark, FAUN, Jordan Kendrick, JK Designs, Libere, Naked, Sabina Low: Sabina Low Official, Jae Smane; Jaesmane, John Pfaff; Skip Floa. Designers presented a video and then their runway collection, with a 15 minute interval between shows. 

I found the Vancouver Fashion Week Designer write-ups informative and the videos showed the range of each collection. Without these, the runways would only be part of the whole story of the inspiration, cultural background, training and focus of Designers and their work. Even more background for the shows, is provided by writer, Marilyn R. Wilson as she interviewed many. I look forward, too, to the analyses of Andrew Jackson. Both of them, as Media, attended the taping of the shows, Oct. 24th, in an almost empty, carefully socially distanced space. So thanks to them for always being there. I miss their voices and all of the other conversations that happen during Fashion Week as we knew it over so many seasons.

Here are my impressions of the shows. I encourage you to look at the websites and instagram for more details and purchase information. I saw a lot of red and orange and can see myself in one of each. Lots of interesting jackets, tees and hoodies. Braids, studs, cutouts, patches, straps, streetwear, workwear, informal and formal. Colour and energy, what more?

First up was Faun Studio by Calgary based Marisa P. Clark. Fresh, sunny yellows and bright whites, masks matched the outfits, silky material made casual, ready to wear, look luxurious. A variety of pants and a stunning jumpsuit were favourites. Loved the fit and elegance of this collection. Marissa's mom, a seamstress in Viet Nam, taught her to sew early. She retains her connection to Viet Nam by partnering with a Production Company there, to ensure sustainable fabric and practice. 

JK Designs by Jordan Kenrick was prefaced with a fantastic video. Lively, fast paced and great music! The jewel tones, especially dark pink colours were favourites. I liked the jumpsuit and a white, off the shoulder dress. This is a made to measure collection and the fit of each piece attests to that. Pacific Northwest Luxury, imagine. Much needed during this time of at home casual. More at 

Jae Esmane of Jaesmane is from the Philippines but Vancouver based, now and a Grad of VCAD, here, 2017. A classically trained pattern drafter, he is interested in shape and form. But he takes his inspiration from everything: Art, Architecture, History, Techno Culture and more. Designing for men and women, his matched shirt and short sets are cool as are his dresses and scarves. Loved the asymmetric dress with cutout detail and the orange vinyl ruffle dress. Great colour and style. 

Vancouver based Designer Rain Secil Turhan is the Designer of Naked, a collection reflecting the search for inner balance and acceptance and the push for self expression. It is a statement collection with its black studs and vinyl. Though the videos music was quiet, this is not a quiet collection with its strong blacks, transparent vinyl and powerful reds. It is layers: masked, skin and blood, protected but pulsing. I liked the reds, best. This is a collection of hand made sustainable pieces that come directly from her to you. Rain grew up in Turkey and Canada, which brings language and journey, fitting in yet expressing creative individuality, all to the common mix that is Fashion. 

Sabina Low is a 17 year old Vancouver Designer who showed her first public collection. Designed and produced here, this collection is colourful and young. I loved the orange sundress with belts as straps. The fabrics are silky and luxurious looking. I like the white, off the shoulder dress as well as a long, hooded blue one. For next Spring and Summer, you will want this line.

Libere Official features street style clothing for men and women. I liked the hoodies, cargo pants with straps, and the wide variety of jackets. Arty T-shirts catch the eye. The brand inspiration: LIBERE =REBORN (LOTUS) in black and white pattern on tops and pants, was really different. Saw some bags and would have liked to have seen a group of them on the runway to be picked up and carried on the walk back. 

John Pfaff''s Collection, Skip Floa has a wonderful variety of jackets, especially! I liked the black with coloured panels and a longer one, worn over pants. Many of the outfits featured patches of different colours. Skip means, literally to skip along, like kids do, and the models seemed to impart this feeling as they walked the runway. Floa means love of animals and John supports many charities for them. Miss Teen Canada 2020, Keena Klee and Miss Canada 2020, Bremiella de Gusman looked fantastic in their dresses, one an orange dress with floral panels and the other in orange and yellow. Bri Lina Shuang Zheng and Myriam Callot also brought the designs to life. Sunshine and new looks for these times.

Thanks again Vancouver Fashion Week for bringing the shows back, safely and with lots of  Design! Thanks Kate Mullen, Public Relations and Media Manager, VFW!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Written by Treasure Seeker Colleen

My days during COVID 19, seem to revolve around escape; I escaped to events like Art Vancouver, Art Downtown, and Vancouver Mural Fest, this summer, and now. As I visit a friend in South Granville, I walk to Granville Island to the new bookstore, Upstart & Crow, where I bought two books. whose titles: "The Midnight Library" and "The Glass Hotel" are places I have enjoyed escaping into. Imagine visiting a library where you could choose books that take you to lives you might have lived. And, if I were visiting the remote, rainy dark forests of Vancouver Island, especially around Port Hardy, I would be very intrigued by a sparkling Glass Hotel, accessible by boat only, and a destination for the rich. I know you are going to ask me where Fashion comes into my reading. I always imagine what the characters look like and what they are wearing. Because Vancouver Fashion Week has provided so many opportunities to see the work of local and international Designers, I remember the sets and runway shows and imagine how these might bring a book to a stage or movie. Having been so fortunate to bring Student Designers/Illustrators to Vancouver Fashion Week, keeps me thinking about new fashion perspectives for now and for the future. Here are Student Illustrators at VFW, not so long ago here.

Matt Haig, an award winning British author, introduces Nora Seed, who has great potential but has realized none of it and now, contemplating the end to a life of regret and unfulfilling routines, has a chance to look at how paths she now regrets not taking, might not have worked out as perfectly as she imagined. Although she wants her guide, a librarian from her high school days, to help her choose the book of her best life, she has to make the choice to make the life she really wants. For me, this was a longer read, one that took the same kind of persistence that watching the movie "Groundhog Day", took. I can easily envision Fashion Program students at any one of our wonderful fashion schools, taking on illustrations and outfits for each of Nora's incarnations: Olympic Swimmer, lead singer in a rock band, and many other ideal lives, none of which are her ideal until she chooses her own way to live her best life. I can imagine how they would bring fresh ideas to dressing the librarian, too, being mindful of stereotyping the job of librarian and her age. Our iconic Vancouver Public Library main branch would be the perfect setting for magic and transformation. I think Carolyn Bruce could easily design some symbolic book jackets and book marks and her steampunk/skull jewelry, especially brooches, and necklaces might enhance the magic and mystery of the characters and the setting. Here is Carolyn Bruce's staging and jewelry on stage.  Matt Haig's writing takes readers to new places.  So the subtitle on the cover page: One library. Infinite Lives, sums this one up, nicely. In 2020, there is a way out. More at

Emily St. John is Canadian and her latest, The Glass Hotel, is situated on Vancouver Island, and also in Toronto,  and NYC, although the lead character, a wealthy New York Investment Businessman and hotel owner, Jonathan Alkaitis, works and has multiple residences all over the world. He is a confident, charmer, who offers Vincent, a beautiful bartender, a chance to join him in a life free of ever worrying about money, again. But there are hints of trouble from the beginning. Vincent, whose favourite quote, etched by her into a window of her high school, is: "Sweep me up!" And she is swept into Jonathan's Gatsby like world, where he never takes responsibility for the financial destruction of everyone's lives. A second quote, sketched by her older brother, another lost soul,  on the lobby window of the hotel, "Why don't you swallow broken glass", is intended for Jonathan, but of course, he doesn't see it and avoids the threat. As St. John describes: "He carried himself with the tedious confidence of all people with money, that breezy assumption that no serious harm could come to him." So this is a story of being vulnerable, for many reasons: death of a parent, divorce, abandonment, poverty, to list a few reasons, and consequently being swept up and into addiction, ambition, greed, irresponsibility, and poor choices. One story becomes many lives that go well for a while and then end in catastrophe. And not only that, but there are ghosts and the dead are always there. They appear on the dance floor, on a ship, in a jail cell, a dreadful reminder of bad deeds done. In the end, the hotel is still there, empty except for the caretaker who will never trust another human again, and just wants to look after the glass hotel. This is another complex read, one that made me ask if there was any hope for any of the characters.  However, there is retribution and that counts for something. Great writing and I would visit that hotel; imagine a glass and cedar monument to brighten, "...the forest outside (that) seemed mostly dark, the shadows dense and freighted with menace." We have so many special, local Designers who could easily dress and stage a show of "The Glass Hotel". As I was reading, I thought of Shelley Klassen and her store, Blushing Boutique, as a setting for Vincent's shopping on 5th Avenue, NYC. Giovanna Ricci's elegant designs would be great for Vincent's work at the exclusive hotel, and for her daily shopping expeditions with other rich friends, and Sam Stringer's evening dresses, maybe some green/blue translucent fabrics for that sea (swept away) connection or gold, for the story of money. For the ghosts, well, Evan Clayton could certainly create vivid, dynamic designs and sets that would compel one to look and remember and be afraid, be very afraid. After all, ghosts do haunt for a reason. 

Two award winners and days of escape from here to there! A reminder that Fashion is the vision that brings story to life.

Monday, September 7, 2020

I met Tracy at VALT, a few years ago at Vancouver's VALT 2016 and was delighted to reconnect with her, through Fashion Splash at the beginning of 2020. Dianna and I went to Victoria to follow the steps in creating this show, and shared the initial photography sessions on Clothes Line Finds. Tracy is a creative and unique Designer. I have to thank Marilyn R Wilson for her leadership in the COVID 19 Interviews and highlighting the ongoing accomplishments of our creative community. Thanks to Tracy Yerrell for her wonderful, thoughtful contribution.

1. Please tell us about your art/design/business, length of time, goals...

I’m Tracy Yerrell, founder, owner, and operator of Bat Fish Studio since its beginnings in 2011.

I have been a professional designer for all of my working life, with my first big job working on Expo '86 and designing the visuals for the Vintage car Show in BC Place. I had my own design business in Vancouver where my clients included UBC Alumni and Burnaby Arts Council. Inspiria Design Group was very involved with raising money for the 'Shadbolt Centre for the Arts' designing many of the events and auctions used to raise awareness. I also branded the Vancouver Maritime Museum with the logo that they use to date. Relocating to Vancouver Island for family reasons, I was hired by the Victoria Conservatory of Music to rebrand them and take care of their marketing, I then ended up as the Marketing Specialist at Saanich City Hall overseeing all advertising and marketing for four community centers. But I was frustrated in my efforts to do something that really made a difference. I left my last job seeking something more and when inspired by the birth of my new granddaughter, I created a line of children's clothing called Baby Boss Rules in 2011.

While selling at local markets on and around Vancouver Island, I had repeated requests to create a adult line of clothing using the same edgy, steampunk inspired aesthetics. But now with this new member of the family it seemed all the more important to go on to create a line of clothing and products that would address the way we deal with our textile waste. When I realized that over 85 pounds per person, per year, ends up in a landfill, I was horrified. This sparked a commitment and determination to make a difference.

I knew if individuals nurtured a connection with pieces in their wardrobe, they would be less likely to just cast them aside. I wanted to challenge people's perception of how fabrics can be used and reused. Just because it was created as a pair of curtains doesn't mean it can't be re-envisioned into a beautiful summer dress. Those incredible hand embroidered tablecloths our grandmothers took hours to complete, can now live on as stunning boho gypsy tops. I wanted to think outside the box by creating sustainable products but also by inspiring individuals to think about the clothes they choose to wear. Clothes are an extension of who we are and what we believe. Additionally, I included my original artwork by using the silk screened images as a way of altering existing outfits, creating an emotional connection, resulting in giving the garment a whole new lease on life.

So it has become my goal as an eco designer to create sustainable fashion by working with up-cycled, repurposed and reclaimed textiles. By using innovative design, unconventional materials such as bicycle tires and inner tubes, found objects, upholstery fabrics, seat-belts, and of course reclaimed textiles, the products go on to become wearable art.

Over time, I’ve developed 6 lines using waste as a creative source:

Bat-Fish Originals – These are pieces of clothing that are made from scratch using reclaimed textiles and repurposed fabrics i.e., bed linen, table clothes, curtains, dead stock, tapestry over cuts, fabric used in set design of local theatre productions or movie sets. They are cut from pattern pieces and sewn together to create a finished garment, and they even contain my screened artwork.

The Fused Line – These pieces are made by using already existing garments that have been altered or edited including my silk screened images and/or other forms of embellishment to create a new envisioned piece, giving it a whole new lease on life.

Molly Lee Vintage – Sourced vintage pieces, laundered, repaired, and restored to the original state. Rediscovering and wearing vintage clothing is a great way to keep them from ending up in the landfill. This line is named after my late mother who was a fashion designer in London in the late 1940's and early 1950's

Bat-Fish Accessories – This is a line of pieces that have be made from reclaimed and repurposed textiles and include belts, backpacks, fascinators, small silk screened drawstring bags, toques, and eye masks.

Tube*Bella - (beautiful tube in Italian) – This is a line of jewellery that is made from the inner tubes of bicycles tires and found objects. It includes earrings, pendants and green goddess chokers (statement pieces).

Baby Boss Rules – My first line of clothing for children and babies. I have been focusing on the adult lines over the past years, but I really want to revive this label and have it available from Bat-Fish Studio soon. Stay tuned.

2. How did you reach people before Covid19

Before Covid19, Bat-Fish Studio was a regular fixture at local Vancouver Island markets and events. I was a designer involved in taking part in fashion shows; I presented information sessions on up-cycling and repurposing textiles. I also conducted workshops and instigated and participated in regular pop up shops around Victoria.

3. How has Covid19 affected you and your staff/fellow artists

When Covid 19 first hit home at the beginning of March I stared in disbelief at my Facebook feed and email as all the markets I had booked into throughout 2020 were cancelled. At first, I really thought it was something temporary and we would be back to 'normal' perhaps by July? August? Those are some of my best months for summer markets. But as time passed and it became more and more clear that this was a long term situation that would affect every aspect of how I do business.

My interaction with customers is a fairly personal one with them trying on clothing and jewellery in a fairly small changing room, while I talk to them about fast fashion, textile waste etc, etc. With the cancellation of planned events and the resulting isolation Covid19 created, there were no more public venues to meet and interact with people and form connections. Without these personal relationships, there was not an opportunity to share the concept or products that Bat-Fish Studio produces.

As a result, Covid 19 has caused me to completely rethink about how to communicate and reach my market as well as to further hone in on what I want to achieve.

I’ve had to rely more upon the written word instead of conversations with people in the community. Opportunities have presented themselves to reach more people via the internet as well as the opportunity to provide personal shopping with a very customer oriented approach.

4. What strategies are you using to reach people now? new projects... websites....

I had to dig deep and take the time to rethink and reevaluate how I could keep my business going. I have been busy developing a lot of new strategies. I’m especially excited for my studio redesign. Instead of a working studio, I’m also incorporating space for personal shopping (including a nice changing room) as well as an improved space for hosting small workshops.

It has forced me to focus on having my website as a hub, for all things Bat-Fish. I had been thinking of taking it to a brick and mortar store at one point, after all, the pop up shops had always done well. But this is all about getting everything online in one place and sharing all sides of what Bat-Fish Studio does. By the end of the year, I plan to have a wonderful new website. It’s taking a bit of time, but I want to ensure that it tells the whole story, while profiling the wide variety of sustainable fashion created using reclaimed materials. But it's also important to include the ideology that is Bat-Fish Studio. And further down the road I plan to write a sustainable fashion blog. I’m also using Facebook to create more of a connection with clients by sharing works in progress, last week I demonstrated me silk screening.

So I'm taking this opportunity to really put time and thought into how to connect with my customers but also to educate myself on what is going on throughout the world in the Fashion Industry. I took a 6 week online course, 'Fashions’ Future and the Sustainable Development Goals created by Fashion Revolution. It was a great chance to add to my knowledge; connect with like-minded people, and be inspired.

5. Do you have a favourite quote, book, work of art, mentor, role model that moves you forward.

Hm, I love quotes. I’m always finding quotes that speak to me and inspire me. These are a few of my favourites:

C.S. Lewis - “you are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream”.

I love the simplicity and truth of this.

Scott Belsky - “nothing extraordinary is achieved by ordinary means”.

In order to make change in our society, we have to encourage individuals to think outside the box and to see textiles in a new light. To see the possibilities of a couch cushion as a purse; or a tablecloth as a dress, with fabrics having a sustainable future instead of being a disposable single-use item. Textiles can morph into many creations which are both useful and beautiful instead of ending up in the landfill.

“Magic is that little extra special quality in all of us that comes out when we just challenge ourselves a little more.” - Dan Scanlon

This reminds me that society's behaviour with fast fashion can be changed to create a better world by believing that if everyone takes small actions, together we can effect big change. And, isn’t that magic!

There is a slew of designers I find inspiring: Alexander McQueen, Betsy Johnson, Christian Siriano; environmentalist Greta Thunberg; scientist David Suzuki; ethical fashion designer and co-founder of Fashion Revolution, Orsola de Castro; podcaster of Wardrobe Crisis, and former Vogue sustainability editor, Claire Press; as well as Daniel Silverstein of Zero Waste Daniel, a designer from New York who uses offcuts from the fashion industry.

I find inspiration in so many places: blogs, podcasts, books, architecture, other designers, environmentalists, the textures in nature, and in the wide variety of fabrics and textiles that exist.

My mother, also a designer, has always been a role model, not only as an artist but in following your heart by being true to yourself. In addition she encouraged my creativity as a child as I brought home endless scraps and found objects of so called garbage that I thought were treasure and I would set about to transforming them into new creations! I have always been profoundly inspired by unconventional found objects and the potential to use them in unorthodox ways.

6. Next steps

I think I’ve already mentioned the changes I’m working on. Otherwise, I just hope to inspire more people to rethink how they can reuse textiles in their life and to create a better world through sustainable fashion.



Monday, August 31, 2020

 Jennifer Angers Daerendinger is a Gallery Owner and Artist, previously based in Vancouver, but now based in Sarnia, Ontario. Not only did she have a gallery in Vancouver,  but she took her Art to many charity events including Little Black Dress Gala. I first met Jennifer at ROAM Gallery, in Vancouver and then met her again at the Little Black Dress Gala and Art Vancouver. Jennifer is featured in our 2017 Little Black Dress Gala post here and the last Art Vancouver event here

In addition to her fantastic gallery in Sarnia and contributions to traveling art exhibitions, Jennifer also features new Artists with daily horoscopes as a way to draw intention to Art. I always look forward to these! 

Some of her Artists recently were part of Art Vancouver, Art Downtown, so timing is perfect for an interview! I asked her to tell us more about ROAM and what she is doing to keep her Artists in the spotlight, during COVID 19. She continues to bring Art to us in Vancouver, as well as in Sarnia.

Thanks to Marilyn R. Wilson for the Covid 19 interview idea! 

Jennifer, Colleen, and Keiko

From a 2015 Roam Event in Vancouver

From a 2015 Roam Event in Vancouver

At the recent Art Vancouver event - Roam gallery Artist Roman Rozumnyi

At the recent Art Vancouver event - Roam gallery Artist Iris Mes Low

Please tell us about your business: length of time; audience; main goals?

I opened Roam Gallery in November of 2013 as a brick & mortar gallery in City Square Shopping Centre in Vancouver. At that time I only had a Facebook page and by 2015 I had a website up and running. My audience is everyone who loves art and my clientele includes both artists and art lovers. To be honest, I saw a whole lot of artists who were really very good but who were unable to find a place in galleries alongside the more established artists, so my goal became to bring exposure to these unknown talents by providing a professional environment where they and an art-appreciating public could connect. 

How did you work with people prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?

So because my gallery went online in 2018, when I moved from Vancouver to Sarnia, it’s been pretty much business as usual. The only thing that has been difficult has been the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains and shipping because artists have had challenges getting what they need in order to create. That has slowed sales somewhat but I’m confident that as the country begins to return to a more normal business flow, things will return to the previous more consistent sales model.  Besides which, prior to the pandemic, because Shawn Bergman chose Roam as the official gallery of Canuck the Crow, we had gained a worldwide audience that continues to visit the virtual Canuck exhibition on our site. 

How has social isolation affected your business and you and your staff/artists?

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working remotely from my home office for many years, so isolation is nothing new to me; besides which, technology allows me to be in constant contact with artists and buyers alike and through social media, I have been able to create safe spaces for the artists to show their work. When the world first went into lockdown, I wasn’t going out as much so I had the time to get even more creative with how I promote the artists. That has opened up new avenues for exposing their work to potential buyers, for example, anyone in the Sarnia area can stop-in to Dog Eat Dog in Mitton Village or to Urban Escape Inc. downtown to see original work by some of Roam Gallery’s artists. 

What are some of your strategies to reach your audience at this time?

Maintaining a constant and consistent presence on Instagram and Facebook continues to be integral to keeping the artwork out there for prospective buyers to see. I often get told that FB is passé and Instagram is for the “young and beautiful” so both platforms reach different audiences which alone might not be as affective, but in concert together provides great exposure. Both serve well to direct everyone to our website and because that website is maintained so effectively, there are always new artists and new art to reward the visitors!

Do you have a motto, mantra, role model, mentor, work of art, something that keeps you moving forward during COVID-19?

Life is hard. You have to keep moving through it. I have nothing but empathy for what many people are going through with this pandemic, so the artists and I have worked hard to put something positive out there for others to enjoy and that began with the “Have a Heart” show where all work was priced at $125. The intent was to give others something to smile at that was also more budget-friendly for anyone going through tough times. To coin a phrase - “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

Read more on Jennifer's Facebook page or her website here!

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