The Cure Apothecary

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Part of my wellness journey this past year has been about finding good and natural skincare and beauty products. If I put so much effort in working out, eating clean and being healthy then I realized I should also be putting just as much thought into the products I choose to put on my skin.

A lot of research has shown lately that unfortunately, many products we use on a daily or even weekly basis can be very toxic for our health. A lot of these products are readily available and backed by tons of marketing and advertising dollars. Educating oneself about these products is key because they could be just as toxic if not more than the food we eat or the environment we live in.

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I’m grateful to live in a city where shops like The Cure Apothecary exist. I happen to find this boutique while walking home from work one evening. The super cute shop located on Queen Street West has been open for just over a year now and is the brainchild of Nitasha Goel. She made the switch to natural beauty products 8 years ago and found it difficult to find certain products that she wanted to try in the city. She’s also a big boutique shopper and has always been a fan of the one on one shopping experience. So when came time to open up her shop, she made sure that she would carry that experience over to The Cure Apothecary.

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Anyone that has been to the shop before, knows that Nitasha is incredibly knowledgeable, approachable and helpful. She’ll let clients touch, feel, smell and trial products before purchasing them. Though people are becoming more and more aware of what they’re putting onto their skin, Nitasha still feels that the transition has been slow towards adopting more natural skin and beauty products “A lot of people started changing their food and eating habits but that light bulb never really went off that what you’re putting topically is being absorbed. So it’s counteractive if you’re eating really healthy and then putting all this garbage on your skin,” she says.

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When she opened the store, Nitasha wanted to make sure that the boutique was both for men and women, that all walks of life felt comfortable there and wanted her shop to be a really easy transition place for those who were new to natural products yet also providing different products for early adopters or veterans.

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Nitasha tries to source newness to Toronto and the area and wants to make sure she only carries the best products available. She makes sure that each product line that she carries comes from the cleanest source. “A lot of essential oils and coconut oil are widely available on the market but you have to do your research. You have to know where that coconut oil is coming from. All of these brands have done that research for you. Even though it may say organic, you don’t know if the farm beside it is using pesticides. So even though it may be an organic farm, pesticides will affect the ingredients, it’s just like our food. All of these brands are using local farms if they can or their own farming facilities so they know what is happening there. They are doing that legwork for you and producing a good product,” explains Nitasha.

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Don’t stick with one brand, find what’s working for you in each brand. The beauty of organic brands is that you don’t have to buy A, B and C to get one result. You can mix and match and make the formula that works for you,” she adds.

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People who tend to compare prices between natural products to generic pharmacy products are usually concerned with the sometimes hefty price tag that these products have but Nitasha points out that these are products that will last up to 6 months whereas the generic products tend to only last 1-2 months. She tells all of her customers that less is more when comes to applying these natural products.

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The whole skincare and food thing goes hand in hand. You want to eat local, know that our food is being treated in a certain way and the employees are being treated well so you would want the same thing for skincare,” she says.

Nitasha’s 5 product recommendations for those leading an active lifestyle:

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Oils – “They are such a big thing. There’s a misconception that if you have oily skin, that the oils are going to make you oily. Oil really balances out your skin. I carry a good amount of oils because I think it’s the best way to hydrate. With moisturizers, people just keep adding, adding and adding and not getting the result. Whereas a little bit of oil will give you the best result. Evanhealy‘s rosehip oil and hydrosoul tonic spray creates a beautiful formula that is great for hydrating.”

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CV Skinlabs – “They use turmeric, ginger, aloe and mushroom extract. Being in the elements, your skin’s going to get dry (especially if you already suffer from eczema, it’s going to get irritated) so this is going to help heal your skin. It comes in 4 formulas but the spray is great for someone that goes outside a lot, especially in the summer. The spray helps repair the skin. Their balm is also perfect for wind burn and for your lips.”

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Kypris moisturizer – “For dark spots, when you’re in the sun or outside, you need vitamin C. This moisturizer has Vitamin C Ester, so it’s very gentle but effective.

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Skin Essence Mask – “Being outdoors, you have to be careful and you have to know what you’re doing to your skin. Any sort of hydrating mask is good for your skin. We do all invest in masks and it’s hard to get through them because they sometimes turn. So 90% of my masks are in clay form. All you have to do is mix it with water or toner or honey and you apply it. It won’t turn so it saves your product a little bit more.”

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One Love Organics Konjac Sponge – “It’s a plant-based product from Japan. You soak it for a couple of seconds to puff up. You can apply your cleanser directly to the sponge, you can also remove your makeup and cleanse your face while using the sponge to buffer your skin. You can also use it just with water. If you aren’t going to invest into a good scrub, it’s good to at least buffer your skin and get your cleanser right into your pores. If you suffer from blackheads, this is amazing.”

For more info on The Cure Apothecary or to check out their online shop, go here. You can also drop by the shop and say hi to Nitasha at 719 Queen St. West, Toronto.

5 Questions With: Cyrielle Christiaens of KURE

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Photo provided by KURE

I have yet to post many shop or business interviews on my blog so I thought that profiling the rad Belgian luxe shop that I love called KURE would be a perfect addition to my #5QuestionsWith series. I first heard of KURE through Instagram and have been following the shop for the past year. KURE is a boutique in Brussels and also an online shop. I was drawn to KURE (even if I have yet to visit the shop in person) because of how amazingly well curated their collections are. Cyrielle Christiaens is the shop’s Artistic Director and takes care of acquiring these amazing styles from around the world. She and I are both very fond of Anine Bing. I love Cyrielle’s minimalistic style and how she puts together her daily outfits using the store’s collections. I look forward to the day I can finally drop by the shop in person! Here are my 5 Questions With Cyrielle Christiaens of KURE:

1) Can you talk to us about your store KURE and the concept behind it? Why did you want to open it?

KURE is the concept store I created with my fiancee 1 year ago. We wanted to create something together and as we are complementary people, we knew that the best team we could ever have was the team of him and I. KURE is a 200 sq. meter multi-brand concept store located on the high-end/artistic/avant-garde street of Brussels : Rue Antoine Dansaert.

We have brands like BLK DNM, Carin Wester, Dagmar, D. EFFECT, Margaux Lonnberg, Iro, ATHE Vanessa Bruno, Toga Pulla, Won Hundred, American Retro, Kalda, Anine Bing, Hudson Jeans, … 40+ brands from Scandinavian countries, to Japan, to Los Angeles, to Australia, to France… From all around the world.

I was always attracted to Scandinavian brands, for the pure, simple lines of their cuts. The nice quality of the clothes is one of their value. And I always liked to mix Scandinavian brands with something more « rock n’ roll » such as a French brand. I also wanted this « Paris cool-attitude » so we have some perfect brands from Paris too. We also developed the jewelry part of the store with brands from Belgium, France and Lebanon. 

We also sell vintage furniture and art and plan to open a restaurant.

2) Who are your style icons?

Miranda Kerr, Kate Bosworth, the Olsen twins.

3) What are some of your favorite designers and/or brands?

Margaux Lonnberg, Won Hundred, Anine Bing, Carin Wester, Alexander Wang.

4) What are your summer must-haves?

A silk white oversized shirt + leather shorts + Birkenstocks + my Alexander Wang Rockie bag.

5) Do you feel that there’s a good fashion scene in Belgium right now?

Right now and before too! Belgium is an amazing fashion scene with some big name designers like Dries Van Noten, Olivier Theyskens, Cedric Charlier, Cedric Jacquemyn. Belgian people have an eclectic fashion sense. You can see really different styles and ways to wear clothes from city to city. 

Hair Flip #DailyOutfit

Really getting excited for the my School Of Style weekend in NYC in a couple of weeks. I’ve heard lot’s about them so I can’t wait to find out more about styling, fashion and blogging at their conference.

In the meantime, trying to keep warm (yes, still…) by layering sweaters and vests together. Some may feel that camo and red may look to “Christmas-y” but I kind of like the pop of color with the military jacket. I’m also really excited about this DIY necklace I made last week in California. I took a cool key I found at HOME shop in Encinitas and then added a cute surfer girl charm to it and put it together on a gold brass chain at Beads, Crystals & More. I used to love making jewelry as a teenager, I had thousands of beads, threads, etc. Though I’ve been out of commission these past couple of years, I’m thinking it’s something I may want to get back into in the near future, especially with platforms like Etsy, that make crafting so easy to share and sell. To be continued… maybe 😉

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Zara bejeweled camo vest (similar one here)

Target v-neck red sweater (similar one here)

H&M distressed boyfriend jeans

H&M narrow grey belt (similar one here)

Guess sporty gold watch (get it here)

Weekend Getaway in Williamsburg

A few weeks ago, I took Offner for a weekend birthday trip to Williamsburg. Though we’ve both been going to NYC quite a bit lately, we tried checking out a bunch of new places on this trip.

 

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We flew with Porter Airlines, which is always the most convenient when coming from downtown Toronto. There is never a line up at customs when you arrive in Newark and it’s conveniently located by a train station that brings you directly to Penn Station. For $13, you can get from the airport to downtown NYC using the free terminal airlink train and NJ Transit. The train comes every 15 minutes and even more often if traveling during rush hour. It’s only a three-stop ride. By using the train, you will avoid all traffic and paying tolls to get into the city.

 

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From Penn Station, we took the J train all the way to Williamsburg where we were staying for this trip. I had rented a cosy little apartment on South 8th Street through airbnb. Not only was the place super well located, the apartment was very affordable, more than any hotel we could have gotten in the area. So far, I’ve only had really positive experiences with airbnb and it’s really changed the way I travel. Though we didn’t make use of it on this trip, having a kitchen or even a patio is always fun when you’re staying somewhere for a longer period of time!

 

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We spent lot’s of time walking around Williamsburg during the weekend. Here are a few of our discoveries:

 

East River Ferry: this is a super fun way to get from Williamsburg to Manhattan. The ferry comes approximately each half an hour and can take you to midtown or downtown. Not only is it pretty quick, it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful skyline and sights of Manhattan, Williamsburg bridge, Brooklyn, etc. A one-way ticket is $4 and a day pass is $12.

 

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Free outdoor shows: while strolling around Williamsburg, we found a super huge outdoor stage right by the water and at the Williamsburg park. Though the concert series is over for the rest of the year, there’s no doubt that it will be back next spring. So many amazing acts were playing this year including: The Shins, Odd Future, New Order, HIM & a ton more! This wasn’t the only free show going on that weekend, there was also a free metal and beer festival happening by the waterfront and a Noisey/VICE Bonfire Session show.

 

Kristophe: on Saturday morning we were looking for a place to have brunch and like we sometimes do, we walked around to find a spot that looked cool. We found Kristophe, which had a super neat interior – looked like an old wine cave and a very cute back patio. Being out there, you couldn’t imagine that you’re just a few minutes from Manhattan because it was so quiet and luscious. They started by offering us a complimentary mimosa glass. They had a varied menu with gluten free and vegetarian options. I opted for one of their crepes that was filled with fresh market cheese and homemade jam. The atmosphere was quaint and the food was super filling. The perfect way to start the day!

 

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Williamsburg Antique Mall: we found this great antique flea shop in what looked like an old garage while on our morning stroll. Though the place is a total mess, they had so many neat vintage pieces. We brought back two American collector jars at $3 a pop – one with Apollo 14 (as a kid, i met Edgar Mitchell, one of the astronauts on Apollo 14!) and the other of John F Kennedy.

 

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Patrizia’s Pizza & Pasta: for our last meal of the weekend, we found a family-run Italian restaurant that served the biggest pasta and pizza plates I’ve ever seen. The restaurant was loud and festive, packed with families, just as you’d imagine a family dinner at your nona’s house would be. The thing that stood out from the restaurant was that everyone seemed to be having the best time! I opted for a house salad and homemade pizza and Offner got some shrimp. The food was very comforting and tasty.

 

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We also spent some time in Manhattan. We went to visit his cousin at Spin, the ultra-hip ping pong club located on East 23rd Street, a club that is partly owned by Susan Sarandon. As expected the place was packed and they were holding their usual Friday night tournaments, which are always fun to watch.

 

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Though we didn’t have nearly as much time as we wanted to walk around everywhere, here are some of our favorite things from the island:

 

Gallow Green: I took Offner there as part of his gift for his birthday. I chose the spot because it was rated the most romantic restaurant in the city. The restaurant is located on the beautiful McKittrick Hotel rooftop on the west side. The rooftop is decorated with many plants, flowers, flag and little lights. All the staff is dressed as if they’re working on farms back in the day. The night we went, they also had a jazz band playing. We got there a little early so we took at custom drink at the bar. The bar menu was really delicious and original. We then were given a table right in front of the jazz band. The menu consisted in a whole bunch of fresh, organic and delectable plates to share. I opted for a cheese platter, marinated vegetables and a quiche while Offner had a plate of different meats. The food was absolute perfection and surprisingly not as costly as I had imagined.

 

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The Highline: We walked on the Highline to get to Gallow Green. It was my first time taking a walk on this beautiful structure. What a great idea to put a passageway above the city and fill it with plants and trees. I loved the architecture of it, the idea of putting benches and grass around everywhere. The view of the city was spectacular! Though we only did it at night, I’m sure the view is just as fascinating during the day.

 

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VEDA: They’re a really small boutique company from New York City that make all sorts of rad leather products. They recently collaborated with Pamela Love on a series of colorful and unique leather jackets. They also have some of the best leather pants. VEDA just opened up their first shop on Mercer St. in Soho. Their shop is small but super quaint.

 

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Modern Vice: the first day we got to NYC, we stopped by the Modern Vice factory to meet the brand’s founder Jordan and his girlfriend, blogger/model Natalie Suarez (check out her super cool fashion blog here) and to also get a pair of Modern Vice’s dreamy boots. They graciously took the time to show us around their factory. So impressive to see everyone working so hard, making handmade boots. I had never really seen that before. The phone kept ringing every few seconds but Jordan and Natalie made sure we were well taken care of! So excited to have gotten a pair of Camo Jetts. Can’t wait to receive them!!

 

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Apotheke: Located in a small nook in Chinatown, this super trendy basement bar definitely has the coolest concept. Apparently the place used to be an old pharmacy so they retained that concept and serve “prescriptions” instead of drinks while wearing white lab coats. All of their “prescriptions” are made from local, organic produce picked from local markets or straight from their rooftop herb garden. Their drink menu is perfection! Every drink was so creative and uber tasty! (photo credit: Apotheke’s website)

 

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We had a super early flight back at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. If it hadn’t been so early we would have opted for the train route but we decided to see how long it would take by cab. The disadvantage of staying in Williamsburg and flying out of Newark is that it is far. A closer airport would have definitely been LaGuardia but because everything else is so convenient when flying with Porter, we still thought it was worth it in end. The money we saved by not taking a cab to and from Pearson Airport, we were able to get a cab from Williamsburg at 4am. Note that the cab ride from Williamsburg to EWR should cost you around $72 US. I recommend calling in advance and making sure you have a fixed price and calling a Williamsburg-based cab company. The cab drivers also prefer cash.

 

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Another fun weekend getaway in the books! We’re thinking of doing a museum-themed weekend next time we go. There are just so many different museums to see and we always get caught up in other things so we never actually make the time to go. Can’t wait to go back! 🙂

Pomp & Pageantry

In December I attended a really fun jewelry swap at The Black Box Boutique in Yorkville with my friend Crystal Gibson.  Shellie, the super sweet Pomp & Pageantry boutique owner was at the event holding a dress giveaway contest. I guess it was my lucky day because I ended up winning the contest and winning a beautiful dress from her store.  Due to the holidays and my recent travels for work, I only got around to picking up the dress last night.

I stopped by the shop after work and absolutely loved it! Shellie was kind enough to give me a tour around the boutique, offered me some delicious peaches & cream tea and gave me a few styling tips.  I loved her attention to detail with the decoration in the store, her little tea stand, the lovely lamps and the overall vibe to her shop.  Pomp & Pageantry opened up last August on Scollard Street in Yorkville.  The store had been a dream of hers ever since she was a little girl.  What is great is that it holds lot’s of classic pieces that fit not only the young professional but also the mom and even a more mature woman. She carefully selects which brands and designers she chooses for her shop.  I like the fact that you can find a lot of unique pieces and lot’s of items from up and coming Canadian designers.  She also has her own line of blouses and cufflinks and is working on new stuff for the spring/summer. Shellie is also probably one of the nicest and most outgoing shop owners I’ve met in a while. She just seems so passionate about what she’s doing, it’s really refreshing to see!

So if you’re looking for a dress for an event, some classic pieces to add to your wardrobe or just want to go browse and meet Shellie, I highly recommend paying the shop a visit!

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Thanks for the lovely dress Shellie!! xo

 

PS. Pomp & Pageantry is hosting a special event this Saturday with SAVVY Toronto called A Night of Pomp & Pageantry. It’ll be a night of fashion and beauty + it’s open bar.  For all the deets, go here: http://www.savvyto.ca/#!upcoming-events/c1mjj