Monday, December 11, 2017

Airplane Woes - Dizzy and Struggling

After getting dizzy several times and finally passing out
on longplane flights it was time to find an answer.
Coming from humble beginnings, traveling by plane was something I had no experience with. Our family had no money for that kind of luxury.  If we couldn't drive, we didn't go.

As I moved out of the house and far north, there was the occasional short trip of no more than 3 hours. Then once the kids were grown, a few more that ranged further and further, but always in North America.

Finally my husband and I were in a place we could roam further.  First was a trip to Cozumel, Mexico, and then one to Norway.  I had an interesting problem arise on these longer flights though. I would have dizzy spells come on randomly.  A few minutes in the toilet scooched down with my feet above my head or stretched out by a bulkhead seemed to do the trick, so I assumed it was just circulation.

Then on our trip back from Budapest it became worse. The few minutes stretching out didn't make any difference and I ended up very sick in the bathroom.  After that it seemed to pass. I was concerned but not willing to stay home as all check ups with my doctor came out fine.  Oh well, must just be a glitch.

This was me late at night after they finished serving and shut the lights down - walking up and down for 2-3 laps

When we headed to Perth, Australia, in November 2017, I was a little concerned, but assumed if a problem arose my normal routine would handle it. Not so. There was a serious escalation this time.  I woke up from dozing to find myself extremely dizzy, sweating profusely and in seconds passed out completely - eyes wide open. I remember nothing.  They moved the person sitting with us so I could stretch out and put ice packs on me once I woke up.

I improved slowly from there and had no problem on the next shorter flight. Thankfully the flight crew didn't report me as I could have been banned from the next flight until I had a check up.

The special meal was bland, but great for digestion.
When it came time to return home from Perth I was obviously anxious. I didn't want to pass out again and even more importantly, I didn't want our future travels to be limited. I was determined to figure out what was going on during those longer flights.  Again, I had full checkup before I flew so the answer wasn't obvious.

In thinking back, these episodes on super long flights always seemed to happen after a meal, especially the second one served.  It was time to make some changes in eating and movement to see if that would make a difference. We were staying in a house full of people in Perth, so several also kindly gave me input on their routine and I embraced most.

Here is the final list of changes - 
  1. I switched to a special diet meal - low cholesterol/low fat.  Sometimes it was tasty, sometimes it was boring, but it kept the meal simple in terms of digestion. I also passed up the meat completely or only ate a bite and just ate the other parts of the meal.  
  2. My friend gave me her charcoal pills and instructed me to take one 30 minutes before each meal.  These pills help get rid of bloating and gas - a common problem on long plane flights because of the altitude and lack of movement after eating.  
  3. I chose specific times to get up and walk whether I felt like it or not.  Somewhere within 30 - 40 minutes of eating to help with digestion (this had to be when they finished serving and before they started picking up trays) and roughly an hour after that.  I often find I burped a bit during these walks so well worth it.
  4. Absolutely no alcohol. I love having one glass of wine with my dinner as I find it relaxing which is nice on a long plane flight. However, I felt it might be one of the issues, so stuck with water, juice and club soda.  

Magic!  For the first time ever on one of these type of flights I didn't have a single moment of feeling off or dizzy.  Do I really need to embrace all 4 changes or was it just one that made the difference? Who knows and I really don't care. The fact that this combination worked means I most likely won't mess with it.

The world opens up for me again as I can embrace those super long flights without worry.  Nine plus hour journeys on a plane are still brutal for me in terms of sitting that long in an upright position and trying to sleep, but well worth it when I reach an amazing and inspiring destination.

If you're having an issue like this, note where the problem occurs and every detail leading up to it. As my dizzy spells only happened on those super long plane flights, the answer didn't come overnight. It took four episodes before I had enough information to sort it out. I had to think through every single detail of each trip carefully and then listen to how others travelled to come up with the list above that worked for me.

Whatever problems you face, if there is no obvious medical reason, it's important you take personal charge of the experience instead of just saying I can't do that any more. Not true. You can find answers.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Story Behind Go On, a New Single by Jody Quine

Guest Article By Jody Quine

In the fall of 2014 I went through a depression. At the darkest silence, heavy and feeling so alone, I sat at the piano. It was in that moment this song came through me.

Having faced some other dark times, and also being somebody who meditates, I knew that in this space, I could also make choices about who I wanted to be as I healed. I decided I wouldn’t fake anything and be open to what brought me any sense of joy. I knew one thing and that was I needed be able to make music. Everything else was empty.

The first thing that brought me a sense of any smile was my daughter running towards me when I was picking her up at school 3 days later. While I knew as a mother, my children were my my purpose, it was also important to absolutely trust my spirit to guide me through this difficult time. That’s the moment I decided that if a choice or opportunity wasn’t about those two things - music, my children and therefore my family - it wasn’t worth my energy or my worry. 

I lived that way for over a year and rebuilt my strength and spirit from that moment. Now whenever things get heavy or hard, I remember to slow down and listen to my internal guidance system, my spirit, and ask myself; is this about my family or music? and if not, then I let it go.

Every step in our lives, every struggle, is an opportunity to love ourselves a little more and listen to what it is that might truly bring us enough joy to Go On.

Music Video Directed and Edited by DC Lessoway ( North Vancouver, November 15, 2017

Join Jody's mailing list to receive free digital downloads and other exclusives! LYRICS Go On My heart is aching I feel so alone All my dreams are breaking I don’t know how to go on Go on and on go on on. It’s a new day rising, leaving me laying behind I can’t seem to find my wings I don’t know how to fly to go on and on go on on And my mother said this too shall pass this will pass And light will shine again into your days and then your nights These things can just take time so trust yourself and you will find your light you’ll shine. You must go on. And a new day rises I can almost hear her say you’ve just got to get on up you can face the day and go on and on go on on. And my mother said this too shall pass this will pass And light will shine again into your days and then your nights These things can just take time so trust yourself and you will find your light you’ll shine. You must go on Go on and on You must go on I will go on.

Don't Let Fear Paralyze You!: A Guide To Your Own Personal Freedom by Michael Challenger

Have you ever felt weakened by fear? Do you sometimes feel misunderstood and wonder what steps you could take to meet life’s challenges head on and regain control your life?

Synopsis - 

If you’re ready to embrace change with an enlightened courage and discover your unlimited potential and ultimate freedom, this powerful and inspiring book has been written just for you. With candor and keen introspective, author Michael Challenger offers a glimpse behind the curtain into a world where his version of paralysis was as real as it gets. 

Don’t Let Fear Paralyze You! is a bold and unique perspective of a journey into self-realization. Each chapter offers strategies, discovery and interactive inner guidance to live boldly and let go of fear-based behaviors that are holding you back. Begin the healing process today and step into your true and authentic self. By sharing his personal path to victory even when he faced his darkest days, Michael will help you uncover the many disguises of fear and embark on a step-by-step transformational journey of hope, self-discovery, and appreciation as you dare yourself to do the things that once felt impossible.

Review - 

In Don't Let Fear Paralyze You!: A Guide To Your Own Personal Freedom, Michael Challenger offers wisdom one small chapter bite at a time on how to move from a place of holding back to one of freedom.  He wants everyone to reach for their dreams instead of allowing doubt, fear and negativity from other to hold them back.

While this is laid out in a traditional book format, it really is a combination book and workbook. Don't let the smaller page count fool you. In 20 chapters he covers a broad range of topics that ask the reader to look within.  Trust, courage, doubt, self-sabotage, responsibility, authenticity, truth and one I feel strongly about and have also asked people to consider - "What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?" - are discussed.  Each chapter looks at just one piece of the puzzle with the focus of finding the answer by looking within. The author doesn't give THE answer as it will be different for every single person. He works to lead readers to discover the truth that is right for them.

At the end of every chapter, and sometimes in the middle, there are workbook style questions asking you to reflect and turn inward followed by a space to write your answers.  There is something powerful about putting pen to paper. It helps bring the message home. Be prepared to take your time with this book. You want to delve into each chapter and then take time to process what you learned to and allow it to sink in.  

Buy The Book: -

Meet The Author - 

A successful career as a singer, dancer, choreographer, producer and director, led him to believe he was at the top of his game. This idea came crashing to a halt by incidents he witnessed during the four years he spent in Los Angeles attending the New York Film Academy to garner his BFA in 2012.

This was a time fraught with negativity from all avenues and directions. It literally paralyzed
him, until he realized he could control the situation and in acknowledging that fact was able to analyze the process and ultimately he created solutions that can be utilized by anyone.

Montreal-born and world-traveled, Michael Challenger is now in a position to challenge you
to overcome your fears and live the best life possible. He is a peaceful warrior with a passionate curiosity and zest for life. Through spirituality, yoga, healthy eating and physical training, this “Challenger” becomes more centered and grounded every day. Michael is an award-winning director-producer who has built his career through high energy, business savvy and goal-driven habits with a natural talent for innovative, unique creative ideas and artistic concepts. He’s a triple-threat professional performer with expansive professional credits including theatre, dance, film and television. 

Connect with the Author:  Website - Facebook - Instagram 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pad Thai (Vegan/Vegetarian option)

Non-meat option from
I made a Spaghetti Squash bowl before and really loved it. When another Spaghetti Squash 4 Ways video appeared on Facebook the other day - one over several out there - I decided to give the Pad Thai version a try. The original recipe is on a site called and this recipe lived up to that description. It was tasty.

While most of the recipe I used as is, there were a few minor changes to suit our family. My husband and youngest son are serious meat eaters, so I added some shredded chicken to the mix.  I didn't feel it needed both raw green onion and regular onion, so just went with the green onion. I used shredded carrots instead of sliced. As they are not cooked I felt this would be easier to eat.  And last but not least I cut back the Sriracha Sauce slightly as my husband doesn't like things too spicy. All those changes are reflected in the recipe below. You can view the original recipe HERE.

The only thing I want to address when I try this in the future was I found it a little soupy, which made it a little messy to eat. Not sure exactly why, but I suspect the hot spaghetti squash on the raw vegetables drew out some moisture. I may try less sauce next time or  may cut out the water in the sauce.  It can always be added back in.

For anyone interested, here is the original video with all 4 ideas at the bottom.

= = = =

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pad Thai (Vegan/Vegetarian option)
Serves 2 (double for 4)


1 spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Filling - 
½          English cucumber, skin on and cut into bite-size pieces
1 C       Carrot, Shredded
1 C       Red Bell pepper, diced
½ C      Green onion, chopped
¼ C      Fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 lb   Shredded or chopped cooked chicken (my addition - leave out for Vegan/Vegetarian)

Peanut Sauce -
¼ C       Warm water (may reduce or omit next time)
3 T        Soy sauce
1 T        Sesame oil
2 T        Honey, or agave
2 T        Fresh lime juice
2 T        Sriracha (I cut this down slightly for my family, but it's really not hot).
½ C       Creamy peanut butter
1 ½ T    Fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 T        Garlic, minced

Sprinkle on top (Optional) - 
Chopped or crushed peanuts and additional cilantro.


Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

With a sharp knife, slice the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds, brush with oil, and sprinkle with salt, and pepper. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the skin. Mine took longer so I finished off with a couple minutes in the microwave on high. You don't want it mush though, so err on the crunchy side.

While they are cooking, combine water, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, lime juice, Sriracha, peanut butter, ginger, and garlic in a bowl, stirring to combine. I found this hard to mix in, so you may need to warm the mixture in the microwave or in a sink full of hot water.  Once the peanut butter is warm, it's easier to combine.

In a bowl mix together the cucumber, carrots, peppers, green onions, onions, peanuts, cilantro, and sauce.

Remove squash from the oven, with a fork pull at the edges to produce that stringy “spaghetti” quality.  Add the spaghetti squash to your bowl of vegetables and drizzle with the sauce. Mix well.
Serve in the squash shell garnished with cilantro and peanuts.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Interview with EFWA Upcycling Designer Sara Armstrong

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

I was always into “design," but never really expected to be a “fashion designer”. I was in university for a bachelor of fine arts, I began my degree in painting, then moved my focus to sculpture and new media. I was doing woodworking, welding, trying all mediums and making public sculpture. Our school didn’t have a textiles department so once I finished I thought my next journey would be into textiles.  I went to a fashion design school which also didn’t really focus on creating textiles.... so out of class time, I took all the workshops I could find on felting, spinning, dyeing, screen printing etc. 

Image by Diana Klonek
I ended up really enjoying pattern drafting and draping. It has such strong parallels to my previous interests and education. Fashion design stuck: the materials are easily available and people often can “understand” its purpose so I felt it was more accessible for me to create an audience. Once I finished my design diploma I did go back into carpentry for a few years, while building my label on the side. I believe construction is construction and if we can understand the way something is built, anything is possible. I may not make “clothes” forever but I will always be in the world of design.

I know you trained at Blanche Macdonald. Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion design. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

Having just finished a Bachelors in Fine Arts less than a year before my move into fashion school, the transition was seamless. I had the knowledge and skill in forming full concepts and executing them in a variety of different mediums. The challenge I faced was in becoming a master in accuracy for just one medium – textiles. I found this restricting at first.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

I design concept collections as well as non-seasonal, gender inclusive separates. My aesthetic is often changing, but I think the themes I bring forward are in the large shapes I often am gravitate toward. I do wholesale in small batches, but I often prefer custom, because I know the piece is going to a wearer immediately.

From left to right - images by Marchel Creative, Megan Toriglia, Peter Jensen & From Website

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before?  If so, how?

When I first began design, I only upcycled and had a strong eco-focus for many seasons. My graduate collection was all made of recycled wedding dresses, and the shoes were made from repurposed furniture. I often re-use fabrics and make them my own. I do have an eco-focus in the fabrics I choose and that the pieces can withstand wear and become transformable for the wearer’s lifestyle, making longevity a key moral of my design brand.

Images Left by @lizDunate -Image Centre by Matthew Burditt -  Image Right by Diana Klonek
Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

I have made a menswear look with a twist on the feminine form. I have recycled some of my own past pieces to create the shorts. 

Links - 

Monday, October 30, 2017

First Crush, Last Love by Elizabeth McKenna

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

​Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening again. Ten years ago, despite her best efforts, Lee Archer wanted to be just friends. Now, he wants more, but Jessie's still recovering from a psycho ex-husband. Can she learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

​Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

Review - 

First Crush, Last Love offer the classic romance storyline - lost opportunity and the journey back to see if it can ever be captured. Within that category this book falls under the list without sexual content warnings which is my preference. I like my romance book with just a hint of sexual tension rather that having it all laid out in great detail.

Here you have Jessie who is madly enamored of a high school male friend - Lee. While he seems to enjoy her company as a friend, his romantic endeavors are focused on a high-maintenance, mean girl classmate. Finally a new boyfriend comes into her life and she revels in being wanted. This romance leads to marriage, but the relationship is unhealthy and in the long run doomed.

The story line through the book follows 2 paths - that of Jessie and that of her high school crush, Lee, as they move through separate lives that do not offer perfection.  When they finally both end up back in their home town - he has returned to live and work, she is only there for their high school reunion - Jessie finds those strong feelings for Lee long buried again rising to torment her.

And here it is that the classic romance story dilemma comes into play. Does Lee now hare the same romantic feelings as Jessie or is he still just interested in friendship? Will they find love this time around or is romance just not in the cards for this pair?

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Createspace ~ Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author - 

Fab Author Interview HERE!

Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write Cera's Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her site She hopes you will enjoy her first contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, as much as others have enjoyed her historical romances.

​Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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Interview With Elizabeth McKenna, Author of First Crush, Last Love

Please share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author including why you chose to write in this genre. 

I’ve always loved to read and write, but when the time came for a career choice, I went the journalism/technical writing route because I had bills to pay. Around 2008, when my children were small, they asked me if I liked my job. I said, I’d rather be writing fiction. They said, why don’t you? So, to be a role model for never giving up on your dreams, I started writing fiction in my spare time. I chose Romance, because I love (and need) a happy ending.

How has your experience as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company influenced your career as a romance author? 

Well, I write more concise than most authors. The first editor who reviewed Venice in the Moonlight said the story had to be A LOT longer. I disagreed. As a reader, I often get frustrated with the “padding” of a story just to make it a certain length. The constant repetition of a theme or feeling sometimes makes me stop reading.

Where did the inspiration for the storyline in First Crush, Last Love come from? For the characters you included?

First Crush started out as a fictional memoir. I thought some of the things I had experienced over the years would make a good story. Over time, the plot evolved away from me, but there still is a large chunk of my life in it, including me marrying my first crush. Some of the characters are a combination of people I have known, and some are true to life. For example, my brother was gay, he did try to commit suicide in his teens, and he did die from AIDS.
Review HERE

As an author - what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore? 

I like escaping into another world and spending time with my characters. Trying to find readers is becoming a bigger and bigger chore. The book market seems to be overly saturated compared to when I first published years ago. Also, with the explosion of social media, people seem to have less time to read books.

This is your third title? What changes have come about as you gained more experience? Does it get harder or easier to come up with new story lines and characters? 

Cera’s Place was my first book, and I felt pressured to make it steamy because that is what seems to sell. With Venice in the Moonlight and First Crush, I toned it down because one, it was appropriate for the characters, and two, it was appropriate for me. I’m writing the stories I want to tell now. After I finished First Crush, I seriously thought about never writing a story again. I was out of ideas, and my depression was winning the daily battle. But a few days ago, I was watching one of my favorite movies and something clicked. Now, I’m writing scenes in my head and excited to outline a new story.

As an author I always find it hard to decide on the cover art for new books. How do you go about deciding on just the right artwork? 

It’s a struggle, and at least for First Crush, I ended up not being entirely satisfied with the cover. The designer showed me several happy romance covers, but none of them conveyed the emotional roller coaster of the story. I wanted something melancholy and contemplative to reflect the serious parts of the book. I finally gave the designer a file I had bought several years ago and called it a day. I haven’t received any feedback on the cover, so I don’t know if that was a mistake.

What would you most like readers to know about you? 

That I would like to interact with them. I’m shy and don’t talk to many people on a daily basis, but I would love to connect with readers via social media. I guess I’m a little lonely!

Do you have any new titles in development? 

I’m just starting to outline a new project. I wish I could tell you more, but it is too soon in the process.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Interview With Upcycling Designer Charne Esterhuizen of MAAK Clothing

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

Coming from South Africa, I never had the experience of being taught fashion. It wasn't considered an important subject in school curriculums. I was only exposed to fashion when I immigrated to
Australia in 2009. I was in year 10 when fashion was one of my elective subjects. I found it incredibly interesting and exciting to be able to create, construct and deliver something that expresses your creativity and pushes boundaries.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

MAAK Clothing is a small independent label located in Canberra Australia. The label has been operating since 2016. During that time MAAK has had the opportunity in working with extraordinary people - artists like Vera Blue, Hands Like Houses, Boo Seeka and Hayley from the Jezabels, all of which had garments designed and made for their shows.

The label has also had international success through coverage by ABC News, Vogue China, Career Codes magazine and local media like CRUZ MEDIA and Win News, just to name a few.

MAAK is passionate about working with a client's individuality and encourages others to be themselves and express their own identity. MAAK’s diverse ranges and unique styles gives a positive attitude to the wearer making them feel confident in their surroundings.
Our customer clienteles are individuals aged between the ages of 18 to 35.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

Yes I have, I used old damaged leather jackets and upcycled them into new jackets. I altered old garments and changed them into a modern style. I feel that upcycling can add another element to the overall style. In fact I usually purchase second hand clothing and reuse them.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

I love layering, repetition and textures I want to create an outfit that is wearable but still very unique, I want the viewer to look at my outfit and say, " I can definitely see myself wearing that".

This ready-to-wear series is aimed to encourage others to recycle and upcycle their garments and seeing the potential within something you never thought would ever have a second life.

Left Vera Blue - Right BOO SEEKA

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

I only make one of a kind garments and don’t mass produce. I use technology in my design processes where I can and always think of what the future of fashion might be. I look at ways where I can change the way we consume and discard, looking at the possibilities of where we can improve fashion waste through technology.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long-term dreams?

Refining research with future fashion, utilizing 3D printing in sustainable manufacturing processes to prevent future fashion waste.

Vancouver Fashion Week - March 2017
Links - 
Career Codes magazine tear sheet

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Global​ ​Fashion​ ​Collective​ ​Presented​ ​by​ ​Vancouver​ ​Fashion​ ​Week at​ ​Amazon​ ​Fashion​ ​Week​ ​Tokyo

At Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) S/S18, I was intrigued one day to hear VFW founder Jamal Abdourahman announce a young Vancouver designer had won an award. The prize - a trip to Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo, along with the opportunity to showcase her collection there.  The winner was Profanity by Lillzkillz. 

The announcement rang a bell. I had lunch with Jamal a month earlier to catch up before the new season and he had mentioned that VFW was expanding to showcase on the international stage.  As I began to listen to the buzz, I realized more than just one Vancouver area designer would be taking part in this show, so I reached out for more information and a press kit soon came with the details. 

"Global Fashion Collective presented by Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) is proud to announce they will be taking part in Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo on Friday October 20th 2017 at Shibuya Hikarie Hall B, Tokyo, Japan. For the first time GFC will be presenting Canadian and International designers’ Spring / Summer 2018 collections, Global Fashion Collective presented by VFW will be the first international showcase the group has taken part in, and whom have established a global platform while maintaining its support for local talent through VFW."  - VFW Press Release

A handpicked line-up of talent both Canadian and International was chosen to be a part of this show and the mix of aesthetics is wide.  Below you'll find images of the some of the designers' most recent appearances at VFW along with a link to their Newcomer Brand Questionnaire on the Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo website if available. At the bottom you'll find three international designers listed that I don't have images for as well as their questionnaire link if available.


= = = = 

Evan Clayton 
VFW SS18 Evan Clayton || Ed Ng Photography

VFW SS18 Sam Stringer || Ed Ng Photography

This is James by Joanne Kim
VFW FW17 This Is James "Good Boy" by Joanne Kim || Ed Ng Photography

VFW SS18 Alex S. Yu || Ed Ng Photography
Newcomer Brand Questionnaire - NA
VFW SS18 Kristen Ley || Ed Ng Photography

Profanity by Lillzkillz
Newcomer Brand Questionnaire - NA
VFW SS18 LillzKillz || Ed Ng Photography

Other designers in this showcase include -

Newcomer Brand Questionnaire -

SAINT JESUS by Maria Jesus Ponc (Chili)
Newcomer Brand Questionnaire -

Newcomer Brand Questionnaire -

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Interview With EFWA Upcycling Designer Evan Clayton (Vancouver)

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

I've always loved fashion, but it wasn't until later in life that the calling came to me for design. I was very undecided in my teens and I almost didn't go to school for fashion. If I didn't get into Blanche than I would have gone for marine biology. Luckily for me, I did get accepted and I began my travels down the road of design.

I know you trained at Blanche Macdonald. Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion design. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

I loved every moment that I got to spend at Blanche. I came to the school with a definitive art background and little to no sewing experience. I found the technical aspects really challenging at first, but one day it all clicked together and I managed to finish the program. I really thrived in Peggy Morrison's classes, things like Fashion Awareness and Fashion History really excite me.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

I have a very streamlined viewpoint. I like to think of myself as a maximal minimalist in that everything I do is very pared down, but still very extra. I create two seasonal collections a year and do a lot of custom work.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

I once did an upcycling challenge where I had to make a look out of bedsheets inspired by Balmain. I found that very easy because bedsheets are essentially raw materials!

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

I didn't have a firm idea of what I wanted to make when I started thrifting for this challenge. I didn't want to have anything too specific in my head in case I couldn't find the raw goods I needed. With the materials I found you can expect something very country western influenced. I'm a cowgirl at heart.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

I want my international audience to know that I am a strong tailor who sticks to his guts when it comes to inspiration.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

I'll be showing my SS18 collection in Japan on October 20th and continuing the global expansion of EVAN CLAYTON.

Links - 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Interview With EFWA Upcycling Challenge Designer Amber Nifong (New York)

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

My journey in fashion began as far back as I can remember. Ever since I was a small child I wanted to be a fashion designer and an artist. I still remember having sketchbooks from childhood with all my designs in them - complete with design callouts and prices - not bad for an eight year old. I was quite sure at the time $20 for an outfit was quite a lot of money, although things have changed a little since then.

From humble beginnings of sketching and learning to sew as a child, I continued to take fashion design classes, sewing lessons, and did a summer pre-college program for fashion design at RISD, all before I finished high school. Coming from a small southern town where fashion design isn’t exactly a normal profession, I have always been beyond grateful to my family for supporting my dreams, despite the fact we did not live in a major city where the arts tend to be more celebrated. With my family’s support and encouragement over the years, I ended up getting into SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) where I graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design and a minor in Illustration in 2014. 

 Life after college was, and is as with most recent graduates, harder than I expected. I ended up moving to NYC from Savannah, GA, and fought hard for a year to get a full time job in industry. During the time I was looking for a job, I had the pleasure of being able to show my collection at Vancouver Fashion Week, which was a humbling and amazing experience. Since then, I have continued to work in industry - with a recent move to a new private label company - whilst working on my own work on the side, which I hope one day to expand into a full blown business.

I know you trained at Savannah College of Art and Design Fashion. Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion design. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

Savannah College of Art and Design - SCAD - was an extremely rigorous college experience. They really push their students there. My theory behind as to why this is, is that by pushing the kids so hard, they help prepare you for just about anything the industry can throw at you starting out - for which I am grateful. But, studying fashion was not easy there, and was known to be one of the hardest majors at the college. However, some things were easier than others. I had spent a large portion of my life before college learning to sew and construct garments, so the actual garment construction and sewing came easy to me. In addition, there is a lot of drawing/sketching of ideas in fashion, and I had been drawing my entire life by the time I entered college, so I found the fashion illustration classes to be fun and somewhat easy.

However, at the time I did not know much about doing proper fashion illustration, so learning to draw in that particular way was definitely a learning curve for me. For the most part though, SCAD was very difficult but rewarding. It was long hours, lots of work, blood, sweat, and tears, but it was all worth it my Senior year to see my dream collection materialize from my own hand and walk down the runway for our thesis show.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

As a designer, I feel that I connect more with the artistic side of fashion. As lovely as RTW can be, my heart is truly set afire by couture. I prefer to design couture and explore unusual concepts, shapes, ideas, etc that I feel I would otherwise be restricted by in doing RTW. My personal aesthetic is on the darker side, but does not always mean I design in just black - although I have been known to do so. My aesthetic is one of femininity and romance contrasted with structure and edge. I find juxtaposition to be one of the most dynamic ways of designing and I really enjoy playing with that idea. I’m often inspired by unusual or taboo concepts and I try to almost always find inspiration outside of the norm with collections based on ideas such as global warming, embryogenesis, mental disease, inner darkness, etc.

My ideal customer is someone who is looking for something truly unique, beautiful, extravagant, and has the moxy to wear it. My pieces are one-offs due to the nature of couture, so the woman wearing these pieces is someone who is bold and is not afraid to stand out in a crowd, but rather draw attention from it. In terms of seasonal collections, I still have not been releasing them seasonally. All of my current pieces are custom so anything bought would be made to order. I eventually plan to do a diffusion RTW line that I hope to be able to show seasonally in time.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

I was excited for this challenge because I have never used upcycled garments before in my work. It was a new and interesting challenge for me to take something and repurpose it into something new and unique.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

When going about designing this garment, I wanted to embrace the idea of deconstruction, as well as, incorporate menswear touches as a nod to the fact that the dress was made out of repurposed men’s shirts. I normally design more avant garde dresses, so I wanted to stay true to my aesthetic while still incorporating parts of the original shirts, such as collars and sleeves in my design. The audience can expect a unique gown that is high end and interesting, while still incorporating elements of the original shirts throughout the look.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

As a designer, I focus on unusual and taboo inspiration for my work. I like exploring themes in my work that tend to be darker and more complex. Most people shy away from darkness or painful topics, but I like to embrace them, and find beauty within the darkness. As a brand, Amber Nifong offers truly unique, one-off, couture pieces that are both feminine and edgy at the same time. I play a lot with juxtaposition of shapes and silhouettes, and utilize a lot of asymmetry in my work that then forms dynamic designs that push the envelope of what traditional fashion design should look like. I mainly specialize in custom couture garments that can be requested via the email contact section of my website at:

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

What’s next for the Amber Nifong brand is to eventually take it from a brand that I make out of my home on a piece by piece basis, to a fully functioning LLC that will offer both custom couture pieces, as well as, ready to wear that is inspired from the couture collections, but is more affordable to the consumer. My long term dream for the Amber Nifong brand is to continue to grow the brand to a global scale, and to continue to always look forward with the designs and look for unique ways to interpret fashion into art.

VFW runway photographs by Harry Leonard Imagery
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Interview With EFWA Upcycling Designer Lara Ireland (Sydney)

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design-

From an early age I have always been a creative person, my Father was a Painter and I began at an young age drawing, sketching, painting people. I had a fascination with dressing these figures up in outfits - Hair styles, clothing, jewellery, accessories, the whole lot - and I carried that right through from primary to high school. I suppose the decision to study fashion design was a natural one. For me there really was no other alternative, I knew I wanted to be designing and creating clothes from an early age.

I began sewing clothing during high school for myself, family members and friends - and even creating photo shoots of the looks with my tiny digital camera! I loved anything and everything creative! And fell in love with the thrill of seeing my friends and family actually wearing my clothing!

I know you trained at the Academy of Art University, but had also learned a lot on your own before you began this program. Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion design. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

A great deal of my skills as a designer were self taught. I think exploration is a big part of designing and for me in particular, using a lot of non-conventional materials (ie plastic bags, as a part of my graduate showcase) these were not particularly things that could be taught. I think coming from a small country town, resources were limited and so I used whatever I could get my hands on, plastic bags and all!

My 4 years of Study at the University of Technology Sydney were invaluable and my skills as a designer have come so far since beginning all those years ago. In particular, the technical aspects of design from pattern making, to construction, textiles development and sizing/fitting garments have been absolutely invaluable.

A great deal of my skills were picked up fairly easy, as I am a fast learner when I am passionate about what I am learning. I did however struggle with the more technical aspects of pattern making as a great deal of it required a mathematical mind, of which I have never seen as a strong suit of mine. In saying this however, this is perhaps the reason why my collections today are predominantly textile led and then applied directly onto the mannequin. I find that I construct my more successful garments when designed in a more three dimensional way on the body, rather than via a more traditional flat pattern, as I can see the relation of my fabrics directly on the body.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand etc? Do you create a new line each season, create custom work or both?

As it is still early days in my career I feel as though I am still constantly changing as a designer and exploring who it is that I am offering as a creative mind. I would however describe my aesthetic as quite raw and dynamic, with a focus on the tactile nature of my unique fabrications. I like to play upon the juxtaposition of both organic forms and geometric pattern - letting my textiles lead the direction of my collections, I often feel myself drawn to minimal colour palettes if any at all. I love the idea of restrictions within design, often playing with the idea of creating monochrome looks that really explore the texture of my garments rather than the colours.

I am still exploring who my customer is. I do know that they are of a similar mindset to myself, with an attitude for sustainability and a desire for something unique and different. I often look at Fashion as an Art form, and I do feel that my customer would feel the same. As my garments are of a more conceptual nature, and not exactly a ready-to-wear piece, my customer would have a desire for something uniquely their own and one-off.

Having said this, I feel that my Brand centres on a more custom made approach. Often creating unique looks for clients with a certain brief, rather than producing a new line each season.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so how?

During my second year at UNI wee were given an assignment to deconstruct a pair of men's trousers and create an upper body garment out of the salvaged fabric - in other words to upcycled the trousers into a completely new garment.

I remember at first being quite daunted by the challenge as this was my first experience in using a garment to create another. I ended up creating an origami inspired vest that had great success and thinking, wow I completely transformed a boring pair of pants into something incredible, and not to mention cost affective for a UNI student!

I never would have imagined the impact this assignment would have had on myself as a designer - Originally wanting to create ready-to-wear garments for young women, to all of a sudden graduating with a completely upcycled collection of garbage bags! Who would have thought!

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

The approach I took for my runway look was a natural one. For me, my designs are 100% influenced by the fabrication at hand, and the Men's Shirting offered such a wonderful texture once shredded and cut up that I really wanted to highlight the raw nature of the fabric. I found myself fascinated with the way the shirting frayed once torn, and the way the fine threads created this wonderful organic texture, in contrast to the quite plain tailoring of the original garment.

I began by familiarising myself with the shapes of the shirt, playing with the garment directly on my mannequin to see how I could translate this into a garment, what features I wanted to maintain, what features I wanted to change etc.

I then began cutting, fraying and shredding strips of the shirting to weave into a new fabric. Focusing on my signature colour palette of shades of white to grey, I wanted to really transform the shirt into something entirely new, yet still offering glimpses of its original state, a cuff here, a collar there, a few buttons etc.

The audience can definitely expect to be surprised, I feel as though transformation is a big part of upcycling, as is deconstruction, two aspects that are apparent within my design.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

The most important aspect of myself as a designer, and thus my brand is the idea that Fashion Is Art. To me, the most fascinating part of design is the idea that I can use my skills to create garments that provoke though and discourse. Sustainability is an ever more pressing issue in today's society and what better way to use my Passion of Design to shed light on the mass wastage the fashion industry is promoting. Upcycling is such a fantastic way of reducing the impact waste is having, by utilising a discarded item to create something entirely new. I couldn't be more excited to take up the EFWA upcycling challenge, as it is such a fantastic way to make designers, and consumers alike think about the ways in which they produce, consume and dispose of Fashion.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

The next challenge for me is to bridge the gap between my designs and the consumer. I still dream of having my own label, and providing customers with my own designs, yet I believe that a sustainable approach is the key. I would love to open up a market for one off couture pieces that have been created from sustainably sourced materials, for lovers of Eco fashion like myself.

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