DIY: How To Customize Your Denim Jacket With Pins

 

Unlike Christian Grey, no one has ever referred to my interests as “singular.” I love Tupac Shakur, The Muppets, Ta-Nehisi Coates and 80’s kitsch in equal measure. I’m fairly well read. I can quote Foucault and the movie Wayne’s World – sometimes in the same sentence. My dream Jeopardy category would be “obscure R&B groups from the 90’s” and I’ve read a shocking number of Eric Jerome Dickey novels, considering I’m a white lady.

My interests have definitely confused some of the people I’ve dated. I can’t count how many times a dude has said, “huh, I just don’t really get you.” I used to feel insecure about all of this, but as I got older I realized that there’s no glory in hiding from the world who you really are. My dating philosophy is now “take me as I am” – Joe the Intern, 90’s hip hop references, incessant quoting of Mike Myers & Liz Lemon and all.

A few years ago I promised myself that I would ‘do more of what makes me awesome,’ so lately I’ve been looking for ways to embrace my diverse interests. That’s how I ended up falling into the offbeat accessory vortex that is pin-culture.

It started with a plain vintage denim jacket and a single Prince pin that I purchased a year ago from Georgia Perry (after seeing a bunch of her pins in LA.) After receiving that first pin, I quickly discovered a whole online community of independent artists and pin-makers. My love for pins has since blossomed into a full-on obsession.

You guys, there’s a pin for everything! From 90’s hip hop and tacos to politics and feminism, I’ve finally found a way to wear my interests. Plus, I love that my pin obsession allows me to support small businesses, artists and social justice causes. Along with making gorgeous, timely pins, companies like Radical Dreams donate a portion of their sales to community organizations.

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Here’s what’s currently on my jacket (clockwise)

1. Madonna (vintage – Ebay) – Although I’m not really into current Madonna, 80’s and 90’s Madonna has been my jam since childhood. This vintage pin I found on Ebay looks like the kind of thing middle-school aged Simone would have envied on older, cooler teenagers.

2. Prince (Georgia Perry) – My very first pin! I love, love, love Georgia Perry’s playful artwork.

3. TacoBelle (Hannah Nance for Yesterdays) – Well, this is just fitting.

4.  Please Adopt! Cat Pin (Studio Coup via Vancouver Cat Cafe) – Black cats are the least likely to be adopted. As a black cat owner, this makes me sad because they’re great. Let’s change this.

5. Mars Investigations (Good Good Pins) – Who’s a huge Veronica Mars fangirl? *Waves Hand*

6. Leopard Pin (Charlotte Farmer) – I love Farmer’s illustrations & this cat-centric pin charmed me.

7. Selena (Mi Vida) – I discovered Selena Quintanilla-Pérez while listening the radio during my first trip to California as a teen & was hooked instantly. I thought this pin was such a great tribute to her. RIP.

8. Prince (Pin Jong Ill) – Fun fact: I bought my Mom a matching pin for her leather jacket.

9. Princess Carolyn (Alleycat Graphics) – A huge BoJack Horseman fan, I was tickled pink when I discovered a pin of my cartoon alter ego. This one is perfect for those days when you need a pep talk.

10. Double Double (Fair Goods) – Canadians get this one. The “double double” at Tim Hortons isn’t just a coffee order, it’s a way of life.

11. Peeno Noir (Lady No Brow) – Are you a fan of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Me too. Pinot Noir Caviar, Myanmar, Mid-sized car. 

12. Horsey pin (Lisa Hanawalt for Big Bud Press) – Lisa Hanawalt is the lead art director of BoJack Horseman and she designed this pin.

11. Wayne & Garth (Fair Goods) – See above. This feels… essential.

12. Madonna (vintage) – This is actually a pin I bought & wore as a tween/teen. I’m so glad I kept it!

13. Black Lives Matter (Radical Dreams) – Because the world needs a reminder.

14. Sade (Pintrill x Deerdana) – I adore Sade. She’s one of my all time favourites. This artist collaboration pin is gorgeous.

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Here’s some of the pins I’m hoping to add to my collection in the near future:

1. “None of my business” Kermit – My favourite amphibian and my favourite meme…together at last!

2. Laughing Obama – On the outside I’m laughing Obama, on the inside I’m crying.

3. Aaliyah (& her 4 page letter) –  another one of my high school favourites immortalized in pin form.

4. Amy Winehouse – Yes, I have a lot of pins of dead celebrities. No, I’m not sorry.

5. Taco Truck – This one also seems self-explanatory.

6. 2 Pac – #NECCESSARY

7. Liz Lemon – It’s true, Liz Lemon really is my spirit animal. There’s also an adorable Mindy Kaling pin.

8. Jem – Before my Madonna obsession, there was Jem.

9. “Pancakes” – Yes, that’s Dave Chapelle as Prince. This pin combines two of my favourite famous dudes in a hilarious ode to one of my favourite Chapelle show sketches.

10. Living Single – I was obsessed with this show in high school. It stared Queen Latifah & was like Friends but better. Considering I’m actually living single, it seems more relevant than ever.

11. George Michael – My family are also big George Michael fans. I’m really saddened that I’ll never be able to take my Mom to one of his concerts.

12. The Golden Girls – I have a theory that if they keep making Sex & The City movies, it will eventually just turn into The Golden Girls, but not as good. Hashtag Squad Goals.

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13. The cast of The Wire – Because, reasons. Sadly, Omar is not included in this set.

 

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14. Yo! MTV Raps – the perfect accessory to my Yo! MTV Raps collector cards.

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15. Bluth Banana Stand –  There’s always money in the banana stand.

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16. Because having two Prince pins is not enough & this pin is epic.

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My goal is to get to the point where I can just point to my jacket whenever someone I’m on a date with asks,”so, tell me about yourself.” That’s the dream, my friends. I think we’re almost there. 

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PS. If anyone ever buys me one of these, my heart will be theirs forever.

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For more Pin-spiration, make sure to check out my Pinterest board devoted to pins and follow me on Pinterest.

7 Things I Regret Spending Money On (& what I don’t)

 

Looking back on the past year, I definitely spent more than I saved. It was a year of travel, putting money back into my business and of course, buying lots of art. (FYI: reducing your alcohol intake doesn’t save money if you channel it all into a growing art addiction.)

As I mentioned in my last post, frugality is something I’m embracing this year. But man, it’s hard – especially when you’ve got really bougie taste like I do and are a self-identified yo-yo budgeter. I can be very frugal for months at a time, but then once the floodgates open, my spending becomes the financial equivalent of pouring an entire sleeve of Oreos down my gullet in one sweep. My spending habits aren’t great, but I’m trying to get better. 

A few months ago, I saw a piece on Refinery29 where editors recapped their purchases for the year: what they bought and what they regret buying. It was fascinating – especially the purchases that people regretted and the reasoning behind them. So, I thought I’d do a list of my own.

To kick things off on a positive note…

What I’m glad I splurged on in 2016.

Daily disposable contacts.

I upgraded my bi-weekly disposable contacts to dailies and it’s changed my life. I no longer have to spend inordinate amounts of time in the bathroom trying to clean my contacts and/or deal with gummed up, uncomfortable lenses because now I can put in a fresh pair everyday. My sanity has benefited and my eyes feel amazing.

A membership to a gym I adore.

I’ve always shied away from fancy gyms, preferring instead to go to the YMCA or no-frills style places where I can access the equipment on the cheap. Then, I found my gym and fell in love. The space is beautiful (chandeliers! reclaimed wood furniture! sheepskin throws!), the classes are awesome and there’s always citrus infused water that you can help yourself to before, during and after class (served in mason jars of course). It’s the definition of bougie, but I love it. Also, since it’s mostly women there are no creepy muscle-dude-bros to contend with.

Alterations.

I had a handful of high end denim that I never wore because the length or fit wasn’t right. The lesson here: if you know you like a skinny ankle jean, don’t buy a full length straight leg pant thinking you’ll “get used to it.” Thank god for tailors. I took three pairs to a tailor and had them altered slightly. For $45 I now I have three pairs of pants I adore and wear all the time.

Lingerie drawer overhaul.

I’ve barely bought any new underwear in the past five years because I receive so much of it for free through the blog. Consequently, a lot of my lingerie looks like it came from an adult store (because it did!) and isn’t all that comfortable or practical. So, in November I purged my lingerie drawer, donated the unworn stuff to a women’s shelter and invested in some new high-quality underwear I actually like. I splurged on brands like BTempted by Wacoal & Cosabella and discovered THE MOST COMFORTABLE THONG UNDERWEAR EVER (they make briefs too.) Now that I know that I can be extremely comfortable and feel sexy, I can’t go back to the scratchy thongs of yore.

Professional development.

I took an excellent course from Writers.com and hired a professional editor to edit my manuscript & book proposal – both things I don’t regret in the slightest.

Shoes that fit my lifestyle.

My black platform espadrilles and black Nike Airmax Thea seemed like huge splurges at the time, but they’ve turned out to be the most practical shoes I purchased this year. Depending on the weather, I’ve worn one or the other almost everyday. They’re both ridiculously comfortable & unlike my closet full of heels & stilettos, they work with my lifestyle.

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What I regret spending money on in 2016.

Drugstore lipsticks.

There’s nothing wrong with drugstore makeup, but I got into a bad habit of impulse buying new colours whenever I needed a pick-me-up. The thinking was, “oh well, it’s only $10. It will make me feel better!” but then I’d get home and realize I already had a colour really similar and/or something I liked more. If I add up all of those $10 purchases up I could have bought one lipstick that I was totally, completely in love with or replaced an old standby like my beloved NARS Red Lizard.

Selfie stick/tripod.

I rarely ever take selfies. Why the hell did I think I needed a selfie stick and/or tripod? This is sitting in my desk drawer, unopened in it’s original packaging. It’s basically this situation all over again:

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Things that could have been avoided if I’d been better organized.

Like cabs and convenience foods when I was running late and/or lazy. Along with not being able to resist the sheen & sparkle of instant gratification, this is an on-going theme when it comes to my regrettable spending.

Hiring a PR firm.

I’ve enjoyed doing quite a few media spots in the past 5-6 years (radio interviews, print interviews, podcasts) so I decided to hire a PR firm to help me get more of these kinds of opportunities. However, once the opportunities started to roll in, I found that I was once again being asked to talk about all the things I no longer really am excited to talk about. The problem wasn’t my PR firm, it was that I hired them without having a crystal clear idea of what I wanted out of the experience. The work they sent my way reflected this lack of clarity.

A website for my book proposal.

I invested time & money into a website to accompany my book proposal, but since I’ve changed the format & title of the book it’s no longer relevant. Like the PR firm, this was another example of putting the cart before the horse.

Flared jeans.

I bought a pair of flared, high-waisted jeans because I thought they’d look cool & boho (like they do on some of my fave fashion bloggers) but when I put them on I just felt like I was stepping back into my wardrobe from the early 2000’s. I never wore them out of the house & ended up donating them because when I tried to consign them, it turns out no one else wants to wear flared jeans either. Nope. Nope. Nope.

What I wish I’d bought in 2016. 

This print by George Byrne, which is now sold out.  I saw it in LA, but didn’t buy it was because I thought it would be “financially irresponsible” to spend more money on art. The irony isn’t lost on me.

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What was your best/worst purchase of 2016? Share in the comments!

2016: My Year of Work Hard, Play Hard & Tacos

Years ago, I had this pervy boss who’d always say that his life philosophy was “work hard, play hard.” While this dude was definitely a super creep, his motto actually describes my 2016 quite well. While it goes without saying that 2016 was a flaming dumpster fire for the world as a whole, it was a good year for me personally. I spent a lot of time hunched over my laptop writing, but I also managed to find time to have fun – even if a lot of the time it was in small, quiet ways. I was intentional about my leisure time and spent more time travelling, seeing live music and chilling by the pool than partying my face off (thank god.)  Also, for the first year since I started Skinny Dip, a lot of my favourite moments from the year played out on Instagram in lieu of the blog.

For the record though, here are my favourite posts from 2016:

2016, let’s recap some of the most memorable moments we spent together. 

In January, I kicked off the month by  investing lots of money in books and art work. This would be an on-going trend for the year. I also acquired my very first real human intern, Kaitlyn and she wrote about what to expect from your first boudoir shoot.  I shared how drinking a smoothie every morning has changed my life and wrote a post about body acceptance where shared bathing suit photos (Ahhh!)

In honour of Valentine’s Day, in February I shared some of my favourite things to wear, watch, listen to and read and reviewed some lingerie that seriously made me want to stay in bed all day. I went to Vancouver for a weekend where I met the lovely Valorie (!!!) and met up with my best friend & her husband. I also wrote a post about how revisiting the past is one of my bad habits.

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I kicked March off with an awesome psychic reading. I did a fun photo shoot feature with Folkalpoint magazine and shared some tips on how to style your bedroom when it’s also your office.

In April, I met a new writer friend, Danila and wrote a review of her book Too Much on the Inside where I reminisced about my time in Toronto. In April I finally booked my first solo trip to Los Angeles. But my excitement for the trip was made bitter sweet with the passing of Prince, which, let’s face it guys, hit me really hard.

May was all about Los Angeles! I went to see Gavin Turek (twice), saw Big Freedia in concert and watched Purple Rain on the big screen for the first time. I explored Downtown LA, hung out in Hollywood, walked the streets of Silverlake and fell deeper in love with Echo Park. I also spent a few days in Venice and Santa Monica soaking up the beach vibes. I went on a Latin American food tour of East L.A where I ate delicious things and visited a tortilla factory. I spent lots of days lounging by various pools and hanging out on the roof tops of West Hollywood. I hung out with Almie, Dorota, Jennifer and Kendra. I ate as many of LA’s best tacos as possible. It was truly magical and while I was there for almost 3 weeks, it still didn’t feel like enough time in the city!

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Still processing Prince’s passing, in June I wrote about the 10 dating lessons we can learn from Purple Rain and shared what happens when your life becomes an Alanis Morissette song (two of my favourite posts of the year.) I also delved deep into the world of decor books. The highlight of June? Seeing Lauryn Hill live in Vancouver (!!!) – another bucket list concert crossed off the list.

In July I shared some of my favourite books, music & podcasts. I saw Gregory Porter live at Jazz Fest with my Mom, had a wonderful visit with my friend Trevor (aka one of my favourite people) and spent a lot of time poolside, because #summer.

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In August I wrote about how I’ve cut back on drinking and started buying art instead and shared my experience watching feminist porn (I liked it!) One of the highlights of the month was going to the Queer Film Festival in Vancouver with my sister where we watched a screening of Strike a Pose and met Jose Xtravaganza, one of Madonna’s original back-up dancers, who was super nice & sweet.

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September was my birthday month and I turned 36! I wrote about the 10 guys that I’d like to meet. I created the perfect reading nook in my bedroom/office and celebrated my birthday in style with a trip to Nanaimo for a spa day with my best friend, followed by cocktails with friends. I went to the Rifflandia music festival and shared some of the things I’d tell my 20-year old self.

October was all about staying busy to distract myself from the “fall bummers” (or seasonal depression as the rest of the world calls it.) I confronted the ghosts of boyfriends past, hung out at the Vintage Fair and tried the Unbound Box. My biggest accomplishment: creating this “Katy Purry” costume from scratch.

November. Ugh. I shared some of my tips for surviving the Trumpocalypse, but let’s be real – for most of us this month was a major bummer.

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Which brings us to December! I didn’t really blog much this month, choosing instead to focus on work deadlines and holiday prep, but I did manage to make it over to Vancouver for a show. I stayed at The Burrarda retro hotel after my own heart. I saw Andra Day live (she’s a goddess!) and then bumped into her while makeup shopping the next day. She was lovely & gracious. We talked about music, the Trumpocalypse and she gave me a big hug. It felt, well, very magical.  I fell in love with the movie Moonlight and saw it twice in the theatre. I finished off the year with a quiet Christmas with my family & a decadent dinner at the Fairmont Empress.

What was your favourite (good) memory from 2016? 

16 Unique Last Minute Gifts for Women from UncommonGoods

Anyone who’s ever shopped with me knows that I’m a sucker for a great gift store. The more quirky, handmade goods, the better. The Secret Agent learned this when we travelled to California last year, and I dragged him into every cute looking gift store from Venice to Palm Springs.

Usually I buy my gifts in brick and mortar stores, so my curiosity was peaked when UncommonGoods contacted me about their products. UncommonGoods is an online store that carries creatively designed products from emerging designers, seasoned artists and artisans working collaboratively in a low income countries. The result is an online community chock full of fun, quirky and beautiful made products that each come with their own story. A quick peruse of the site and I found everything from unique Home Decor  and Personalized Wedding Gifts to gorgeous handmade jewelry.

UncommonGoods is also a socially responsible company that sells sustainable, ethical and cruelty free products – something that’s very important to me. They founded the Better to Give Program in 2001, which allows you to select a non-profit organization to receive a $1 donation at checkout. They’re also a founding member of B Corporation, an organization created to help customers understand the social and environmental impact of their purchases. You can read more about their story here.

If you’re still looking for the perfect last minute gift, here are some of my favorite gifts for women (or men!) from the store. 
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For the friend who’s always instagramming tacos.

  • Mismatched Taco and Hot Sauce Earrings: Does your BFF hashtag everything with #tacosarelife? Do you want to let them know that you think you guys go together like Carne Asada and a bottle of Tapatio hot sauce? These adorable taco & hot sauce earrings should do the trick.
  • Break the Bank Piñata: Help your taco-obsessed buddy save up for more tacos with this handy piñata piggy bank. Because #financialresponsibility and stuff.
  • Tacosaurus Knee High Socks: If you have someone in your life who writes or reads a lot…or maybe just really, really loves tacos (me!), these cozy socks are perfect for keeping warm.
  • DIY Tamale Kit:  Fun story: I love tacos (duh) and I love Tamales. One of the things I miss most about Toronto is the Nicaraguan restaurant near my old house that made amazing jumbo sized Tamales. I’d eat them at least once a week. Sadly though, it’s next to impossible to find a good tamale in my hometown. Enter the Tamale making kit! This is perfect for your friend who loves Latin American comfort food or is a total foodie (or both!)

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For the woman who loves reading in bed  and a night of cocktails in equal measure.

  • Bedside Essentials Pocket: I love to read and binge watch shows to my heart’s content, but I hate it when I misplace my remote, headphones or e-reader. This elegant grey felt much helps keep all of your bedside or couch-cuddling essentials handy. Slide the sturdy flap between your mattress and foundation or under your couch cushion, and the soft, open pocket holds everything from books to remote controls.
  • Pineapple Tumbler: Perfect for the hostess with the mostess, this gold pineapple shaped tumbler screams tropical inspired glamour.
  • Simple Sun Studs: I adore these gorgeous gold earrings. They’re incredibly minimal, but I can’t help but think of the Great Gatsby whenever I see them.
  • Simple Sun Necklace: Annnnnd….there’s a necklace too! Both of these pieces are perfect for anyone who loves a touch of understated glamour.

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For that special lady friend who enjoys meaningful, handmade items.

  • Rough Diamond Solitaire Ring: If I was to buy myself a diamond ring, it would look something like this. I adore the combination of organic, imperfect lines and a sparkling stone.
  • Serotonin Necklace: This modern sterling silver pendant is a sophisticated interpretation of our “happiness” molecule, serotonin. As someone who is serotonin deficient, this pendant seems extra special to me and serves as the perfect reminder to be kind to myself when it comes to my mental health. Run your fingers over the braille whenever you need reassurance that everything is going to be OK.
  • “She Believed She Could” Sterling Silver Ring. I love, love, love jewelry that comes with extra meaning. This handcrafted silver ring that’s engraved with the words “she believed she could, so she did” is a wearable reminder to chase your dreams.
  • Floral Batik Kimono Robe. I love me a good robe. Wrap yourself in a bouquet of lush lilacs, blushing hydrangeas, and fuchsia orchids with this gorgeous abstracted robe handmade by artisans in Indonesia.

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For the quirky home decor junkie.

  • Handwoven Friendship Basket: Hand-woven by craftswomen using traditional techniques, these cathedral-shaped “friendship” baskets are the signature vessel of Rwanda and add a beautiful, unique touch to any room.  While you’re at it, check out some of the other gorgeous handmade baskets available.
  • Neon State Art: Let your love for a beloved state shine with this neon wall art. The iconic silhouettes of your choice of New York, Florida, or California are rendered in radiant neon tubing accented with an illuminated heart. I’m biased to the California one, natch.
  • Hand Embroidered State Pillow: I saw these vintage inspired embroidered State pillows at a store in Santa Monica and have been obsessed ever since.
  • Black Cat Pillow: a cat lady at heart, I couldn’t resist this pillow that looks just like my Matilda. The pillow is knit from 100% baby alpaca wool by a self-managed collective of women in Bolivia. Production of these pillows provides a living wage that helps bring health care and education to their families.

Which gift is your favourite?

*This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods. All views are my own because that’s how I roll. Thanks for supporting the branded posts that support this blog. 

Shoe Addicts: Meet the Shoes.com Store in Toronto

When people ask me what I miss most about Toronto, I usually mention the shopping. During the time I lived in the city I was extremely spoiled when it came to my retail options. I never shopped online because if I needed something, I could literally step out of my door and find it. My office was located a stones throw away from stores like Zara, H&M and Holt Renfrew (Canada’s answer to Neiman Marcus or Saks.) If I wanted to browse Chanel and Prada on my lunch break, I could. Even when I started working from home, I could easily walk down to Queen St West or take a short subway ride to a bunch of different shopping areas.

While shopping in Victoria, BC isn’t terrible – we have a decent selection of vintage stores and indie boutiques – when it comes to name-brand items (like finding that sought after pair of Nikes that you’ve been jones-ing for), the selection often leaves a bit to be desired. Since moving back to the West Coast, I find that I do way more shopping online.

Since Zappos no longer ships to Canada and buying from the States can involve hefty duty fees and/or ridiculously pricey shipping, I do a lot of my shoe shopping via SHOEMe.ca – a Canadian online retailer based out of Vancouver. So, I was really excited to find out that that ShoeMe.ca had recently opened a brick and mortar Shoes.com store on Queen West (my old stomping grounds!) Since I wasn’t able to be there in person, their lovely PR manager gave me a tour of the new space via FaceTime.

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The 3000 square foot space, designed by Canadian architecture and interior design firm, Dialog, originally opened as a pop-up shop in November 2015 and has since become a permanent store.

It probably seems counterintuitive that a company would open a physical store after achieving online success (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?!) but Shoeme.ca wanted to bring the digital experience to life for their customers.  By the sounds of it, they’ve done just that.

The front space of the Toronto store is named the ‘Home Room’ and reflects the products and messaging of the Homepage on SHOEme.ca. The mirrors in the Home Room create an optical illusion of an endless selection of shoes, just like the online experience.

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The middle of the store is called the ‘Dressing Room’. This space host 5-6 new brands every two months with the goal of allowing customers to discover the styles, stories and the people behind new brands, while rediscovering brands they know and love.

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However, my favourite part of the space has to be the ‘Editors Room’ which is located at the back of the store. Designed as a community space for workshops, speaker sessions and/or taking a break from shopping over a coffee with friends, the Editor Room also displays curated collections of local handmade products by well-known Toronto makers.

Coffee + Shoes = Swoon.

Behold this South Western themed curated vignette that makes my West Coast girl spidey-senses tingle.

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Also located at the back of the store are computer stations where you can access the Smart Shopper tool. Instead of browsing through 1000’s of shoes, Smart Shopper is an AI-powered shopping experience that uses visual intelligence technology to show right product, to the right consumer, at the right time. As you click on product images, Smart Shopper rapidly learns your unique style preferences. The tool identifies and draws connections between hundreds of shoe attributes, creating a deep understanding of the individual’s personal style preferences.

To fuel my shoe addiction and so I could test out the Smart Shopper tool for myself, the lovely team at Shoeme.ca sent me a gift certificate. A few minutes and clicks later, I was lead to the Steve Madden Nilunda sandals – a gorgeous pair of shoes that I didn’t even know I needed.

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About a week later, my shoes arrived and I was able to wear them out for drinks with friends to celebrate my 36th birthday. Made of real suede, the leather is super soft and the heel is the perfect height. These are honestly some of the most comfortable heels I own.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my SHOEme.ca shopping experience (both virtually and online.) I try to always support Canadian retailers, so that my money stays in Canada. So, while I probably won’t be able to stop by the brick & mortar Shoes.com store anytime soon, it’s great to see companies pushing the envelope when it comes to creating new and better shopping experiences for Canadians.

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