DJ Culture & Music, events, Music, promoters, theshineprjct, Toronto

LUXELIFE SOUND Touches Toronto

A few minutes before I arrive at a Downtown Café last Fall, she sends a quick text identifying herself as the one with the big curly hair! Walked up to the glass doors and yes, she had the massive hair and the warmest bubbly smile. We just dived right in! Cleo Ellis, one half of LUXELIFE SOUND broke down for me how the business came about, and like most of the conversations I’ve had with shineprjct interviewees, it was soooo organic!!!!

With the strong ongoing 2018 theme of women-lifting-women up and the pride I can hear in her voice, this story  is definitely a huge accomplishment. She didn’t expect it to take the direction it did ‘it kinda just happened’ Ellis said.

Originally from Edmonton, she  moved to Toronto from Vancouver  in 2014  to pursue her Masters Degree in Professional Communication and almost immediately started a  volunteer position with Canadian PR Powerhouse Natasha Koifman of (NKPR) during their TIFF IT Lounge. That was also how she met her now business partner, DJ Lissa Monet — and unbeknownst to them both, that was the beginning of Toronto’s first all-female boutique DJ booking agency — LUXELIFE SOUND. JUST.LIKE.THAT.

Cleo Ellis – Partner
Photo: @djpplus

Anyone following Monet on Twitter will notice that she drops needles of wisdom navigating the industry as a tenured DJ and as a woman. She’s one of Toronto’s most well known DJs and has pioneered the way for a host of other DJs in the city, particularly female DJs.

DJ Lissa Monet – Partner

Even further ‘Our DJs are more than just a playlist. They actually have the skill needed to live-spin to the needs of the crowd’. LUXELIFE SOUND’s goal is to set a luxury standard of service for their clients, but also to ensure each and every DJ on their roster is paid their worth and treated fairly — the DJ industry, particularly in the club sector is notorious for these issues.  Cleo takes the time to educate each client on the expectations of hiring a DJ, while making the process seamless and simple on both ends. . One of the most engaging parts of our exchange was her communal ideology. ‘In our world, everyone gets a bag and everyone shines’ (Yeah, baby EVERYONE).

For years she was on the club circuit  and transitioned to corporate events , all while keeping a keen eye on other up and coming  lady DJs in the space. Many of whom  I’ve seen and heard at various events all over the city. The grouping of what is now LUXELIFE’S  roster includes a few definitive selectas from all over Canada. Cleo explains ‘we lucked out in that every DJ on the roster is so different; if the client requires a certain style, WE DELIVER and that is our strength’

Although business is flowing in from all over Canada they are not yet ready to expand nationwide but would like to continue reaching clients from coast-to-coast. “One day we hope to replicate this model on a larger scale in other cities, and maybe even expand to the US — but slow and steady wins the race. We want to be able to have the infrastructure to support a move like that”.

If you’re looking for more LUXELIFE SOUND has a dope SoundCloud channel  right now. Keep your ears open for the ladies at the next private party, it might be yours! Wishing LUXELIFE SOUND amazing success in 2019!

Follow ‘em IG: @luxelifesound

Follow ‘em on Facebook: @Luxelifesound

Beauty, events, Health & Wellness, Holistic Health, Reflections, supply, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

Lift & Co’s Expo & Legalization in Canada

As of October 17, 2018 Canada is one of the first countries in the world to legalize non-medical pot at the federal level. That day put Canada on the map as being the first G7 country in the world to legalize non-medical pot federally.

After walking around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on both days during the Expo, I was surrounded by anything BUT a bunch of smokers (they weren’t allowed in the building anyway!) I was introduced to topics surrounding Cannabis use as related to medicare, food, body pain and  CBD oil based products for pets and beauty! All panel discussions talked candidly about how to normalize public engagement and all leaders within the industry spoke on their perspectives.

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One of the first questions I asked was…..Soooo what about Jamaica? One of the major questions I asked Lift and Co’s CMO about the country with the strongest advocacy for cannabis’ medicinal and health benefits (for many generations.) An official announcement was released late May 2018 after theshineprjct.com’s interview confirming that Jamaica will be the sole exporter of Marijuana to Canada.

As of May 27 of this year, JMCC has just announced agreements to provide medical cannabis to Canadian LPs, pending Health Canada’s approval. JMCC operates a collective in Jamaica that is owned 51% by local farmers and 49% by JMCC Canada.(Jamaican Medical Cannabis Collective)

CEO Diane Scott and Jamaican Minister for Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Andrew Wheatley gave a joint presentation entitled “When Countries Collaborate” on the final days at the LIFT Conference shedding some light on this decision.

Other things to note:

  • JMCC is well on track to produce volumes equivalent to the large Canadian producers.
  • JMCC is already under contract to provide Jamaican cannabis to three Canadian LPs, pending Health Canada approval.
  • It has signed a three-way supply agreement with a developer of cutting-edge medical and health cannabis products, and an LP that remains confidential.
  • It has received signed letters of intent to purchase from another seven LPs, and is in discussions with another half-dozen in Canada and Europe.

The Jamaican government is focusing on Canada as a major market for its legal medical cannabis and has been very supportive of the industry. Furthermore, it fully supports JMCC. 

Folks,meet Kerri-Lynn McAllister (Chief Marketing Officer, Lift & Co) She describes the trepidation she had after being vetted by Lift and Co as their now Chief Marketing Officer! ‘I was head hunted from a tech space. I wasn’t too keen on working in the weed business at first but once I saw it’s potential and investigated some more-I found my role was exciting. IT was an opportunity to shape an industry’.

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How has the discussion about Cannabis changed since she joined Lift and Co? In six months she reports that plenty of people want to come out of the woodwork to talk about stocks/investments or how it’s helped them or family members. She was not aware of the discussions people were having prior to joining the organization. So it’s been interesting to see who was or wasn’t interested in the topic. It also shows that there is still some hesitancy to discuss topics on how to change public perception.

Do you see a difference in the getting this together-organizing it, running it? The size and scale in Vancouver is smaller but the vibe is incredible. Our events team is on the ball and have created an amazing event. Vancouver was a little more challenging to set up the event. There’s only one venue. January is the only time we were offered and January isn’t the best time for an Expo but we still have very successful attendance. From the dispensary perspective and the prevalence of cannabis businesses in the recreational market it seems Vancouver is more progressive but Toronto is way more open.

This year’s expo seems heavily focused on every avenue of the cannabis industry-it seems as though there’s an opportunity everywhere where does it start? End? Many insulary services and external products for women and particularly exciting beauty products. She noticed that Sephora was starting to carry CBD products. It’s a huge market. Food, Machinery,Textiles is all here. We don’t allow you to sell anything while exhibiting. Everything has to be above-board. We welcome various segments of the industry. We feel that there are so many auxiliary products that can serve the industry. The real focus at this Expo are the licensed producers and the niche companies.

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Canada as the Cannabis leader: Setting World standards How? So the Netherlands now gets mentioned for the first time in the whole discussion. Cannabis isn’t legal there but the by-law is re-translated to include all substances. So Canada would be the first country behind Uruguay to legalize it. And second, the first UN country to legalize it for recreational use at the Federal level. Canada is also considered a pioneer of medical cannabis use. Germany and Australia are nations observing Canada’s process in order to monitor recreational use over there!

A thought: As Canada is attempting to build a profitable Cannabis industry,one would hope that foundations like Lift and Co could join in the fight to remove charges and laws protecting those accused of profiting from Cannabis illegally. McAllister agrees that it’s not fair. We both agreed that it is a topic to be re-visited once details are ironed out from the retail point of view. Many aren’t talking about how to connect lawmakers and big businesses about deep changes that must be made to criminal legislation at a local and federal level. No organizations have come forward to discuss…..So many issues that were called into question spur a whole new set of questions. What does it look like for other provinces? What does it look like internationally? How will the cannabis industry look come October 2019?

Am I staunch Cannabis supporter? Yes and No

Do I recommend it to minors? NOPE.

Do I recommend it to treat ailments and diseases that pharmaceuticals should not be treating? Yes! 

Personally, I have vastly changed my opinion on the matter. After seeing my best friend’s Mom fight the battle of her life for almost five years with vicious stage three abdominal/cervical cancer. Seeing one of the strongest women I know lose weight and strength…..I was alarmed with how much medication was administered to her. Her condition, her overall body pain and deteriorating health after each aggressive chemotherapy session was heartbreaking. THC and Cannabis oils were not considered an option so late in her treatment but I do often think about how much it might have alleviated her pain.

Marketing Cannabis: Challenges and Opportunities

Although there were many restrictions imposed on marijuana industries on how information should be disseminated it didn’t dampen many companies/brands from reaching the public. All organizations ran into snags but found very specific techniques wildly successful. By employing savvier techniques to promote higher distribution of info and less visible imagery (lending more to the pothead stereotype), it’s made them more advanced than other industries which is one of the most difficult images to shake-off; especially in society or groups that still see weed that way. (As a drug)

In many cases it seems like a generational roadblock combined with a competitive push (to compete) with massive pharmaceutical brands.

What happens when all standard pharmaceutical cocktails fail terminally ill patients and/or chronic pain survivors? See Pain Warriors Movie 

In many cases pharma drugs are overwhelming to the system. Hurdles to overcome post-operative and/or incurable pain- includes insufficient funding, unwillingness to collaborate with Marijuana organizations from tactics like stonewalling, to the rejection of advertising and/or co-collaboration, lack of legal support, limited staff, little or no funding for startups, no bookkeeping and/or accounting services, restraints on public (social media) platforms about what can/can’t be mentioned (wording) online. The list goes on……

So where does that leave a rapidly growing and slightly forbidden industry in 2019?

One of the key answers to this ‘blazing’ question: Find the organizations that will. Cannabis organizations are savvier, they find the best in their respective lanes/industries and the right UN-biased yet open-minded companies who would like to grow with the industry. Find the companies courageous enough to overlook the stigma and see how far the movement can go. (The movement has gone so far that legislation has currently been approved at the House of Commons, and awaiting final approval) McAllister strongly suggests ‘If you’re paying attention to the space and you’re a professional services business-you’re ignoring Cannabis to your own detriment. You’re letting your political views get in the way of growing business’. (Are you?)

How Does The Growing Industry Work Around The Social Stigma? These are some VERY excellent marketing and promotional take-aways that have worked well for the industry. 

  • In short-harmless but necessary features such as clean & clear, unbiased branding, well-emphasized key mission statements (CULTURE, HEALTH/WELLNESS and COMMUNITY for example) emblazoned all over venues and promotional material (and actively creating those environments for the public to focus on.
  • Tactile and sensory marketing to convert socially doubtful and biased (opinion) to genuinely embrace items containing secondary marijuana products with an openness that might not have been possible 10 years ago. i.e. taste,test,smell

Many online platforms (Twitter, FB, IG) have rules and regulations for promoting ‘illegal substances’ online. Certain photos, commentary and suggestive language cannot be used. Marijuana businesses often align themselves in terms of community-building, health/wellness/awareness and/or industry building. All cannabis industries ran into snags but found very specific techniques to achieve success. By employing savvier techniques (strong digital and traditional marketing) was used to promote usage and/or distribution; it’s made this sector more advanced and in many cases they have more of an advantage because they’ve created a stronger movement like what we’re seeing now. Aurora Cannabis has done a fine example of clearing away the ‘pothead’ image-which is one of the most difficult images to erase pre-legalization. i.e. Collaboration with NXNE

What are some of the opinions for and against Marijuana?

Seems to fall into 3 camps:

  1. Post-operative terminal illness survivors who try to live day-to-day while searching for holistic topical methods to combat pain. In most cases Dr. prescribed pharmaceuticals numb pain and makes all tasks slightly bearable. (On the fence.)
  2. Those who do not tolerate use as an alternative choice under any circumstances (Is that societal, cultural, generational, institutional?)
  3. And those who use it recreationally and accept it.

In Ontario a private retail model is set to go public April 1st this year-What this means for Ontarians is that recreational marijuana is currently sold online for recreational use and will be sold by licensed re-sellers to the public. Will this make business better? Will it change the way other countries and societies at-large view Cannabis? Only time will tell.

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, events, House Music, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

DJ Heather – Apollo Records – (APT) Chicago’s – International – House Music – Summer Series 2018 – (Chicago) Pt.1

With DJ Colette doing a sound check, I sat with DJ Heather instead: Instead, Heather and I had a REAL good chat.We talked about soooo much- from coming of age,to transitioning into motherhood and remaining artistically inspired. I’m glad the interview was split,we had more of a ‘let’s meet for drinks’ kinda chat.She took control of the energy and convo as I’d expected from a DJ and we journeyed through each topic pretty much like her set later on that night at Second City Sessions. Her energy and style are undeniable.

At 20 years in-she’s reflective and is now finally feeling that she is progressing,thriving,comfortable and starting to feel good….she said ‘as an artist you do have moments where you ebb and flow continuously’ So where does this endless motivation come from? ‘There’s an engine inside of you that continues to drive and regardless of what people think about age,gender-all those social mores fall to the wayside’

On coming of age and being a DJ she says one of her greatest moves forward is when she started focusing on herself and all the other chatter just disappeared- it didn’t matter anymore. The people who usually bring up the age or gender thing are those wondering how long its gonna take to achieve a certain status OR they feel that you’re not inspiring as much as you think you are. But along with that-there’s a clichéd phrase that ‘if you’re not inspired you should retire…..’I don’t really feel like I’m at that stage now to do that and there’s been many times through my life as I’ve DJ ‘ed and I remembered that making music hadn’t really been a thing that I grew up with-I never said I’m going to be a DJ, it kinda just happened’

What role has music played for you? Music was always been something that ran parallel with what I was doing with my life. Working for record labels, I was still always in the music industry but not truly focused on the art of DJ’ing. And over time I really enjoyed the element of DJ’ing because of the ability to TRAVEL. There were numerous friends I met and even still today I continue to meet more people and still enjoy what I do. It can be a struggle at times now because I have an added family element to it (just ask Colette) but it still gives me life, it still gives me enjoyment-the literal act of playing music for people is so satisfying but it becomes more of a difficult thing trying to make a living from your art…and I think that doesn’t matter what age you are-whether in your 20s,30s,40s,50s,60s-whatever 70; but in my personal experience I’m a big fan of artists regardless of the medium they choose.

I admire the fact that she has continued with what she does cause you know, it ain’t a regular job. She explains as an artist that ‘the ones who continue to create probably do it because it’s an ever-present thing like a scratch’ and in this case she has to itch……..lol

We are very aware that in accordance to society, even with modernization and some changing values-regardless of what they do,women often take pause from their paths,careers or jobs. Heather re-iterates ‘we do struggle with stuff and even I took time off after he (her son) was born. I was off for five months give or take, maybe three months?…..And my first gig was New Years Eve the following year!’

About how IT (pregnancy) went: I played up until my seventh month- so yeah, I was at the club and my husband was leading me through the venue and I was playing and literally he helped me up onto this stool. But it was a part of my life that I wanted to experience. Being in a relationship with a person (knowing this is the person I’d love to have a child with) and with this  addition it made me change the way I operate in terms of the flexibility of working when I wanted to (that was gone.) Being regimented,being scheduled and disciplined came back-it was like being in college again. (In a strange way.) You still have all this time but you have to learn again how to make that time work for you because you don’t have a lot of it- and between trying to compartmentalize the childcare with everything else, it kind of dampened. I’ve come out of that little ‘baby-ness’ stage. He’s got his own schedule now-he’s got his own feet. He’s in school so that gives me the opportunity to drop him off and I can work as much as I can during the time that he’s at school.

Do you travel with your son yet? He’s yet to come with me on a trip but he’s seen me play at street festivals and stuff. So he feels at home.

Have you noticed his musicality? I see it- but it translates into the fact that he thinks the DJ stuff is cool and he likes to dance. He’s still kind of figuring out what he likes. He’ll pretend to play…We’re just letting him pursue what he wants to pursue and just kinda find his feet. He’s in the studio sometimes, other times he doesn’t want to be in there. Yesterday he came on his own and gave her a sticker installation with labels to be there for her in the room and she put it on a speaker. He left a piece of himself there with her.

How important is it to have a partner that understands what it takes? Has it been easy? It’s been helpful for sure-I wouldn’t say ideal; but it’s great. We’re in total opposite worlds. He’s in corporate construction and I’m in art and music so we’re not really perpetually talking about the same thing. We appreciate each other and we appreciate what we can offer. He’s more in the tactile side of corporate design so he works with colour and fabrics.He’s more on the art side of his business as well. So we still appreciate art in very different ways.

Mind if I ask how you met? He met me as a DJ, he arrived at my show early and met at the booth. And here we are quite a few years later….. 😉

DJ Heather on relationships: As any relationship goes whether it’s a friendship,marriage or partnership (it is work) but if you both know that your end goal is the same and you don’t want to bail and you’re ready to work through it- that’s half the battle and that’s what’s kept us going and it’s just that awareness. It’s difficult when you’re polar opposites.I wanna be able to do my thing and express myself but I’m also a Mommy and if I weren’t doing this I wouldn’t be the mother I am.Being myself means that I won’t ever have a sense of animosity-so there is a lot of freedom I’m given for sure- and I’m very lucky…..

It’s a powerful conversation to have at this time when women are making bold movements to balance work,purpose,entrepreneurship and identity-This had to have been the highlight of our discussion as the theme running globally is women’s empowerment. There’s no direct path…..I explained my level of concern at this juncture in my own life. She admits ‘I never thought I’d be married, I never thought I’d have a child. And both have happened and I’m still maintaining some sort of career that I’m happy with. I’m still always trying to find out methods that feel organic and natural and very honest. And I’m still trying to maintain that honesty, its very difficult to do. She still feels very fortunate to have people that she can still play records for and can share music with them for this long! And I said surprisingly WHY NOT! Fabric 21 and the House of OM Mix CD were stellar projects-Her insightful breaks from my questions had me looking at her role from many angles.

 

She explained this to me: As a DJ you know that the number of DJs-per-capita has grown. There’s the myth about what a DJ does and what a DJ actually does. Many of those who are discovering the art now are finding that there is no way to kind of ‘break in’ to the scene-unless you have a big record or a ‘team’ or unless you have ‘followers’. Now there are all these other things that you don’t have the luxury of cultivating over time. It’s more instantaneous (Where’s the lie? It’s true-this is one of the industry’s biggest changes!) 

Let’s humanize DJ Heather for a moment: She’s grateful for the opportunity to learn a lot of stuff through trial and error. Hopefully she says,’I’ve built a reputation of being a solid DJ but all the other stuff comes with it. The music stuff is great but hopefully being known as a decent human being and the other stuff falls in line. And of course your relationships should be great. I’ve always tried to make life ‘normal’ and not take it as seriously but only take things as serious because its important to me-this is where I’ve found more balance. It’s about balance. Balance is a good thing.’

It’s about the music: I asked her about new Apollo Records track ‘The Acid’ with Berlin based Detroit producer Lauren Flax (June 8). She’s a great producer,Lauren is one of  her fave persons and can produce her butt off. It dropped June 8th and this ‘Acid’ track Heather describes as raw, to the point and machine based. They collaborated on this track and there are remixes out on her label. (partnered with Dann X and Little Mark) At the time, (May 2018) teasers and promo packs had gone out-the single is now available on Traxsource and the acidity is fresh!

Is there a revival of the Acid sound? There’s a kind of revival but just like Nu Jazz it comes in waves. When people say Deep House is back or Acid Jazz is back-it doesn’t really leave. IT sort of appears in waves of consciousness and you hear these records and they’re kind of throwback but they are also sounds that people really love to hear. There’s warmth,grit and depth.

About Blackcherry Recordings, it says House and Downtempo…….is that something you prefer? Do you like that sound? Yeah, as it pertains to Black Cherry I try to have it perpetuate the Chicago sound-It’s more trackier (polished) stuff as well as Downtempo stuff so it’s a kind of homage to Classic House sounds-let’s say upfront tracky stuff (that’s what I tend to focus on with Blackcherry so I was happy to bring it back with that J-Fader EP and I’ve got something coming out with another artist she’s from Chicago T Mixwell….She’s fantastic and she produces lovely music……the track is currently untitled but its’ coming out before the end of the Summer/early Fall.

For artists on the label are you looking for something specific (sound?feel?) When you receive submissions?You know if I feel something, again-its an honesty thing. It’s like this is right..someone’ll send me a track and a few pieces. I might play it out to see or get a sense of where it could go, if it’s perfect or if I think it’s super hot. I play it and get a response and see the initial feeling about it. That helps me verify in that moment. Its like oh yeah…this is pretty dope. I decide if I’ll make some changes and that kinda thing-I kinda like to test run stuff. I do the same with Apollo Records music as well. I test it out at the club and how a room responds to it spatially. It’s not always in the spirit of House Music. For example Derek Dunbar submitted some stuff and I gave it the nod. It’s nice for people to have it (new stuff) so they can put it out because there’s a market for it.

Do you ever have people approach to ask you to help them out or hook them up? (a leg into the industry) Sometimes,but it’s not that blatant, the help now people are looking for are things like ‘could you say something about my track or could you chart it? could you tweet about it?..but again I do share stuff that I feel connected to. So if someone asks me and its kinda weird, I’m not sure but if I kinda know them and they need a little push I’ll do it, its no problem as I’d want anyone to do the same for me.  In the past I would usually reach out to people and tell them their track was awesome and because they were so enthused, they would literally help me out and PUT ME ON tour and let me open-but there’s plenty of that stuff that clubs don’t wanna do anymore.

She explains the way being PUT ON works today: They’ll have these tours where the headlining DJ picks their supporting cast…..unless you have a camp like Dirty Bird they’ve created a culture where everyone’s in-house and literally everyone who’s with the label throws their own events and showcases their own artists, that’s a  formula that has worked for them.So from top to bottom all night,you’re gonna see people who’ve put music on the label or down with their crew and it’s worked! And when they’ve put their people on they’ve added a particular flavour. People are trying to replicate that formula-sometimes it works other times it doesn’t. Or you’ve had stages that are set up at one event or big festival….and let’s say  for example you have Green Velvet, he’ll have a stage with people he really likes and it works.

I tried to do that at my Smartbar residency by kinda mixing it up with people who haven’t played at the club before. I want to get them in the rotation-so they can get used to the club setting…..(it helps them build confidence too!) Sometimes the club sees the new DJ’s potential and they might want to put that person on. By doing that-new people bring a network of friends OR FAMILY, that’s what it should be about! She’s passing the torch in a sense…..Having friends & family who come out to her events gave Heather confidence back in the day. In an encouraging way she says ‘they can put these on their resumes,get other gigs or put that flyer aside as part of their archival information’ It’s almost like passing the torch……

Imagine what kind of advice she’s going to offer which such an in-depth interview…..Must read. 

  • Don’t be limited with what you think you should be doing versus what you truly want to do. Take risks when you feel like you should. Even now- She still feels nervous before a show and (the fear factor is good.)
  • Never assume what’s going to happen at a venue-even with a sound check (you may have an idea of what to expect but you never know…..all those things are nice to know, but you won’t always know)
  • Make sure you have all your tools (part of your arsenal) to rock the crowd. There might be people at a club, festival or rave who have no clue who you are….its a reality. Don’t forget that you’re there to entertain, to bait and switch…. sometimes it’s okay to give people something that’s relatable. That’s where the balance is.(Starting out as a primarily HipHop DJ gave her another tool to use-because Hip Hop audiences usually only dance to shit they know (truth lol) and that’s the commercial aspect of it. But she was able to squeeze in stuff during sets back then- she really understood the art of DJ’ing, whether it was with Downtempo or Hip Hop

 

What about the way women connect on an emotional level with what they do musically and artistically (Production/DJ’ing/Music?)  I shared with Heather  recording artist Kelela’s Opinion piece from earlier this year at  Resident Advisor and it  then spurred a whole conversation on how to proceed beyond that context. She clearly has had different experiences but the future is here. She says, ‘All Women, Women of colour,Transwomen and LGBTQ groups- these are the voices in vogue now…how long will this platform be in place? Will it stay a trend? Being in the industry for as long as she has been-she doesn’t really feel that it’s no longer about the ‘shine’ on music or artists that has changed-it’s just something people are used to now. After all IT IS entertainment. But women have always been behind the scenes and contributing for a long time. From management, to artists, to DJ’ing, to production and just now we’re seeing women as par for the course. Her advice with these changes is to take advantage of this platform, the visibility, the people paying attention and to not be afraid to ask questions and speak out-especially within a learning capacity. If people think you’re being ridiculous it’s okay….don’t worry about the boys club. There are plenty of women,spaces and places where you can find help, get questions answered, obtain resources from blogs, online and printed media outlets and even platforms like YouTube tutorials for example to learn production, DJ’ing techniques and still maintain anonymity. Feel free to learn your craft the way you’d like.

Just like any other city in the world Toronto’s tempo has changed and what people enjoy has changed as well. DJ Heather from sister city Chicago is excited to still be able to play from a fresh spectrum and it sounds like that! Second City Sessions is a collaborative project that was born from their (DJ Colette and DJ Heather’s) House of OM CD release back in 2006 when they toured and traveled with Fred Everything and Andy Caldwell. Fans love to hear Colette and Heather spin together and they deliver the synergy that works between them whenever they play. DJ Heather will be playing alongside Gene Farris, Jason Hodges,Teeloo and Mike Gleeson on Saturday July 27, 2018 after the lunar eclipse at Toronto’s CODA-it’s gonna be an electric one!!!

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Beauty, Fashion & Beauty, Food, Health & Wellness, Holistic Health, women & entrepreneurship

Naturals for Naturals: An All Natural Product Marketplace!

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Awesome grassroots brands with amazing stories, make healthy living effortless! Living naturally becomes essential when chemicals and toxicity reach high levels. #naturals4naturals is one of those brands holding this philosophy!

 

FOR NATURALS ONLY: @naturals4naturals launched an all natural marketplace FOR NATURALS ONLY.  That means only products with all natural ingredients. 🌿🌿🌿
Go to www.naturals4naturals.com to shop all natural products for men, women, babies, and pets.  You can also sign up as a vendor. (Link in the bio @naturals4naturals)
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Our Story: 1 daughters and 1 mother were tired of checking the labels of “natural” products and still seeing so many ingredients that were not truly “natural,” so they came together to create Naturals 4 Naturals by IveyDale. We are a team of 3 women collectively known as IveyDale (our last names + mother’s maiden name) who are committed to adding more natural & organic products to our kitchen and medicine cabinets.
Why Naturals 4 Naturals? For me (Amber the oldest daughter), it started when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2012. I could no longer afford to put chemicals into my body and I started changing my diet. Because of my health concerns, I started looking at labels like a hawk. The sad reality, which many of you already know, is that a lot of our food is extremely toxic. If you have a natural, organic, or vegan product line and you would like to partner with them, contact them at http://www.naturals4naturals.com/
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Beauty, Fashion & Beauty, Toronto

Top 5 Hair Products from Back in the Day: What’s in Your Momma’s Vanity Drawer?

I visit my Mom once a month. In the Summer, I usually stop by her place with nothing else except for flip flops, a sundress and shades. If I’m staying over and not rockin’ the braids (some Summers I don’t-) I need products that work as good as what I use at home. (I’m always trying out different curling custards and gels!) I had a look in the cupboards in her bathroom and just like me, she had TONS of product.

I reached in and some of the stuff was laughable. I chuckled because I saw products my Mom used to use on my hair when I was little. The products of my childhood!!! I started checking for dust and grime on the various bottles and containers because they were pushed deep, deep into the back and I opened bottles and jars to smell the contents and look for expiration dates to see if anything had gone bad. This stuff was all new!

The product was purchased a few weeks ago-maybe a few months back……If my Mom is still buying this stuff-not only is it what she is used to, but it’s got to be some stuff worth trying out. Here are the 5 items I found:

let's jam extra hold

SoftSheen-Carson-Let’s Jam-Condition & Shine Gel (Regular Hold)

If I don’t feel like wearing the ‘fro, I do a sleek low bun. I do a centre or side part, get all the edges in from front to bank. It’s sticky enough to get the hair all down, a little wavy and VERY shiny! It’s great-however, depending on how much you put on it can get a little greasy. Actually, more than greasy…..my forehead was shining lol It does a good job,still!

 

Queen Helene Cholesterol

Queen Helene-Cholesterol-Hair Conditioning Cream

With many days of extreme heat and sun…hair can get thirsty. If you’ve got low-porosity hair (What’s your porosity?) a good deep treatment might be what you need. I dumped half the jar on my hair and combed it through from root to tip before a typical co-wash. I put on a plastic cap, wrapped it with a heated towel and was left with some hydrated curl-defined hair! I didn’t think it was going to do anything with this massive amount of hair but glad I tried it out!

 

mane-n-tail-conditioner

The Original-Mane ‘n Tail-Moisturizer-Conditioner

This is great for co-washing. Hair ends up super curly, super moist and dries well for the perfect wash and go! This doesn’t flake or dry-out on you midday. Try the LOC method with this and you’ll see how well it works. The conditioner is not too thick. If you decide to blow out your hair in the Summer, this gives a very smooth and bouncy laid bob!!!

 

world-of-curls-comb-out-cond-8oz-15

World of Curls-Comb-Out Conditioner & Oil Sheen (Moisturizer)

This product made me laugh because this is a ‘Jheri-curl’ product.   I wondered why she’d be using the ‘juice’ without having jheri curls. I sprayed it on with the Mane ‘N Tail as part of the co-washing style process and it gave a very wet and wavy look that dried that way. I checked the ingredients and one of the main ones: GLYCERIN. It’s an excellent humectant for dry hair! (Ease up on how much you use though, it can be a little greasy if it’s not applied to wet or damp hair.

SoftSheen-Carson-Care-Free-Curl-Instant-Moisturizer

SoftSheen-Carson-Care Free Curl-Instant Moisturizer with Glycerine

Of every item I tried in her stash I felt they were just okay. This is the ONE product I took home! It’s perfect! IT goes on smooth, deeply absorbs into the hair and disappears. It leaves the hair with defined, hydrated curls. It helps my thick hair dry faster and you can apply as little or as much as you like! I use this so much now that instead of buying a bottle or two at a time I started purchasing a 946 ml salon-sized bottle which lasts a few months.This product has been carried into the cooler months and still operates the same way in Winter. This product also has glycerine and can be used with a deep conditioner and/or grapeseed,jojoba or olive oil combination it looks the same every single time.

If you have a chance, check your Momma’s stash you’ll be surprised some of that stuff will never go out of style!

 

 

Establishments, Fashion, Fashion & Beauty, Movers & Shakers, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

Studio Fitzroy Dress Rentals in Toronto

I’m proud of these ladies because from a vision they had they created a very savvy business for fashionistas wanting to spruce up their look for multiple occasions. Looking for a few dresses but don’t wanna spend more money? You get to spend more money on makeup, shoes, a handbag and hair! Not just any kind of dress-but very high quality, high fashion on trend pieces.  I walked in there and it looked beautiful. Right away I saw Carrie Bradshaw’s closet. Racks and racks of beautiful dresses.Flowers,velvet,chiffon,silk. Absolutely, Amazing!

 

Studio Fitzroy’s assistant asked me where I was going, when I was going and what my size was. She pulled together two racks of items and offered me some Champagne. On a lazy Sunday afternoon-why not? There were dresses in the pile she gave me that I felt right away I didn’t wanna try AT ALL-but she urged me to try. I tried the ones I didn’t like first. Surprisingly they all looked amazing.The assistance is great! The two dresses I chose: For Love and Lemons Ornate Velvet Mini Dress 100.00 CAD for (4 days) and retailing at $800 and Glamourous UK’s Dynasty Dress at 60.00 CAD for (4 days) retailing at $150! Excellent choices for the holidays!

 

When was Fitzroy established exactly and why a dress rental biz?

Fitzroy is 5 years old, but we’ve only been a rental business for less than a year. We were previously just a regular clothing boutique selling clothing online and at seasonal Pop-Ups several times a year. Our first one was in Yorkville back in September 2011, and since then we’ve been hovering around the Queen West and Ossington area where we’ve established a good following.  Over the years as social media’s influence grew, we noticed women didn’t want to wear the same thing twice anymore, and that they were sick of spending a ton of money on dresses that would just sit in their closet taking up space. So we decided to test out the rental concept and it turned out there was a huge demand.  It’s more fun,more affordable,better for the environment ; just makes more sense for so many reasons, so making the switch seemed like a no-brainer!

How is Fitzroy different from the others in Toronto? (i.e. Rent, Frock, Repeat, Rent The Runway)

We definitely have our own unique style, we call it boho-glam. There are certain brands we carry that have that edgy, cool-girl bohemian vibe for sure, a very Californian / Australian look. We’re also different in that you don’t need an appointment to come in and try on the dresses, just pop in anytime during store hours!

I visited the shop while it was a pop up located on Ossington. Why go from a Pop-Up to a full-fledged shop? (the new shop is beautiful by the way!!!!!!)

We’ve been a Pop-Up for 5 years as I mentioned, trying to figure out what we wanted to do with the brand. Once we landed on the idea of rentals we knew we needed to find a permanent home for the collection and create a welcoming, intimate space where women would feel comfortable coming in to try on the dresses. We wanted to make it feel like you’re at your best friend’s house trying on dresses, and that’s the feedback we get about the space most often – it makes us so happy!

What brands do you carry and how do you choose? Do designers approach you or vice versa?

It works both ways but we are very picky and selective about what brands we carry.They all have to fit in with our unique style/vibe, and each piece needs to be something special and unique, that you wouldn’t necessarily see everywhere.

Who’s your target market? Who did you anticipate that would become your target market-any surprises with the types of customers you’ve attracted?

Our target market is largely the same as when we were a clothing store; 20 and 30 something young professional women with a packed calendar and social schedule and a great sense of style.The Queen West girl essentially. However we’ve also had lots of dresses rented by younger and older women – which we love! Fitzroy is for everyone, and we’ve had clients in their teens up to their 70s!

What kind of events do people rent dresses for?

All kinds! Weddings are the most popular in the summer when everyone has at least a few on the horizon, then there are Birthdays, Bridal Showers, Bachelorette Parties, Engagement Parties, Photo Shoots, Trips, Awards shows, Film Premieres (we were slammed for TIFF), Charity Balls, Galas or just something as simple as an anniversary dinner or date night.

Who are your fave local designers?

We love Marika Brose, we have a ton of her pieces, lots of super fun details like feathers and sequins! Also Narces has some beautiful feminine pieces and Jordan de Reuiter makes the most beautiful tulle dresses – we have a few different styles.

What are your fave fashion pieces? Dresses and fashion accessories? (A must have for you.)

My personal go to is a 70s Kaftan! I have quite the collection that i wear in summer with sneakers and big sunglasses. In terms of the shop, we love really flowy, easy to wear pieces in fun colourful prints. The racks are a rainbow of colour when you walk in, and that’s just how we like it.

What’s in store for Studio Fitzroy for 2017?

We’re working on getting in some new styles, definitely more gowns and dressier pieces and a lot more options for our large and plus size ladies. Stay tuned!

To check out what they’ve got before you go try on what they’ve got visit them over at https://www.shopfitzroy.com/collections/rentals. Follow them on social IG or Twitter @studiofitzroy

Dresses can be booked in advance or same-day, either in the studio, online or over the phone at 416 901 6572.

Studio Fitzroy Dress Rentals is located in Toronto at 1227 Dundas Street West, Upper Floor The SHINE prjct wishes Ang and Jules all the best this year and beyond!

 

Ang and Jules.png

Biography, DJ Culture & Music, Establishments, events, House Music, Knowledge, Movers & Shakers, Music, promoters, Reflections, Social Media, theshineprjct, Toronto, women & entrepreneurship

House Music Series-Local-Installment 8-Ticky Ty & Miz Megs Make an Awesome Team! (Toronto)

No matter where we are there’s always a starting point…..these ladies here revisited memory lane to talk about how they started doing what they’re doing today!

Before the official interview I spoke to Ticky Ty and for some odd reason- I discovered some interesting facts. For those of you who actually know me I’d lived in Japan for a bit and after talking for a bit I learnt that she also lived there! She worked at a local franchise club/bar Sam and Dave’s. They had many locations all across the city and country and I too worked at that same location many years ago. She had lived in Fukuoka/Osaka and I lived in Osaka. Two really happening places in the Kyushu and Kansai areas- this was an awesome surprise!

Cool facts about Miz Megs:

o She met Ticky Ty at Andy Poolhall;she booked her for an all girl DJ line-up

o She just found out about the term ‘New Jack Swing’ this year! She’s loved it long time.

Some cool facts about Ticky Ty:

o Used to listen to Happy Hardcore and Chill out. Did you?

o She started with a 2 channel Stanton Mixer and Battle Mixer Turntables

What struck my interest was the energy they had behind the decks. I wondered what it would be like to talk with them. I’d been to their shows a few times-Li’lys, CODA and Geary Lane. You see, sometimes it’s not so much what they play or how they play…it’s the passion they put into what they do. It shows. They keep the crowd going. I’d seen them spin separately and finally side by side at Love Buzz this past July! They absolutely make a great team. They took a bit of time to chat about how they got started. I’m truly inspired. I asked them what keeps the passion for music going and eventually we talked about how it all started …..

Me: What’s you earliest connection to music?

Megs: I remember being 6 years old, listening to Dance music, pushing the couch aside and watching my reflection in the TV while my parents played cards with their friends. I just loved Pop-you know, Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul. I would turn on the Pirate Radio Sessions (Energy 108) and listen to Chris Sheppard! (I think everyone started with that.) I also danced Ballet from ages 3-16, that was very similar to Ticky Ty!

Ticky Ty: I started dance at Toronto Dance Theatre at 3 years old. All my early music connections were dance-related. ‘I went back to visit almost 24 years later and the same pianist and drummer was still there. Rhythm came naturally to me.

One thing I loved about talking with them is that they followed each others’ cues. You can see how connected they are. It’s then that I understood that these two had one of the foundational pieces that demonstrated a deep interest in music at such an early age.

Me:Which music era speaks to you the most? For me, I really Iike the 70s……

Miz Megs: 90s Euro and New Jack Swing. ‘I never knew there was a term for it until this summer’ I offered Blackstreet as the more well known groups that was known for this style in the 90s. She spent some time on Youtube listening to songs to see more groups. She never knew there was a term for it until this summer.

Ticky Ty: She says ‘Guys don’t laugh at me, but I really love the 20s. She mentioned the movie Chicago. And the truth is the 20s sound has been sampled quite a bit in Dance music. She is hilarious because she adds ‘ I probably wouldn’t do to well in that era or even be alive then. ‘I still really like Jazz and Swing.’

Me:When did you realize you were into House?

Miz Megs: Dancing at home and thinking I was in a club….’I wanted to be a GO-Go dancer’ and Ticky cheers her on and says ‘It’s not too late girl it’s not too late’ This was the interview highlight.lol

Ticky Ty: ‘For me it would be with an old friend of mine, we used to steal her older sister’s Happy Hardcore CDS and pick raspberries in the backyard and zone out.

Me:How did you both meet? Andy Pool Hall! They were both booked for an all girl Dj line up and Flipside/Andy suggested she ask Ticky for that night. Meg booked Ticky. ‘Thanks Flipside!!’

Me: Who do you wanna work with? Any production yet? ‘We’d love to work with Duro. ‘I had a song out with Jerome….We’ve worked with Flipside. Internationally they’d love to work with Chus and Ceballos and Channo.

Me: What kinda music are you both listening to right now?

Ticky Ty:‘Stuff comin out of Brazil… Groove to Light and all that dirty and hard stuff.(Okay!!!???lol) Megs-‘ Luciano is my all-time favourite but lately I have been especially inspired by Loco Dice. I love that hip hop flavor he adds to his sets.

Me:The one thing that comes to mind ladies; in the industry doing your thing spinning- Meeting people at the party, meeting people in and around the scene. What’s it like? You know, doing business?

They break it down to two trains of thought:

You get the ‘Wow, chicks that’s hot… let’s watch it OR ‘Oh mi gawd chicks;they’re probably gonna suck’…’You get a little bit of both. It’s either you don’t get the same sort of initial responses as with a guy. You’re either a chick or you’re a commodity. Or you suck. ‘You have to prove yourself past those barriers. Every. Fucking.Time. Which is fine-because every time we do it-we show what we can do…..’

Me: You ladies take what some would consider very sexy photos…..what’s up with that? They (the pics)look good by the way…

I got in shit for that a few weeks ago…..Meg said ‘someone called them out for showing side boob and abs’ they were told that on TRC….. that no one would be attending their gig because they actively/purposely used their bodies to sexually try to get a gig’. Their comment got destroyed by people defending us because they are just press PHOTOS and anyone who has actually seen us in person knows we usually wear baggy clothes and are so not like that. The guy eventually apologized. <<<interesting, yes.

Me: Wasn’t the gig already got?

Miz Megs/Ticky Ty: Yes! We didn’t make the flyer. A group discussion ensued and one of our fans supporters told the person where to go….fans are awesome that way!

Me: Where can we find you ladies?

Miz Megs/Ticky Ty:Nest, CZ (Comfort Zone) and various parties across Toronto or in cities out-of-town.

What do you both like about Dj’ing? Meg-‘The music and getting to be a part of something that has to do with the music you love….‘Just being there to dance. And creating a new sound with what you love.’

Ticky Ty:‘I love the connection I have with everybody. It’s really intense. You can almost feel the energy of this group of that people or that group of people. As long as you let go you get into a meditative thing. You can just feel it. Everyone moves as one. Not over thinking it. It’s really nice to be the catalyst of something like that. Spurring a movement, its healing for me and so many others.You can go to an underground party and a CEO of Microsoft can be dancing beside someone homeless. And it doesn’t matter. No one cares what you do in the daytime. No one asks.’ What do you do in the daytime?’ Meg says ‘I hate when people ask that’ they both agree. ‘Shut your face we’re dancing right now.’

It’s a challenge for the music/entertainment scene to really delve into current issues and/or politics but very necessary so I asked anyway:

In light of everything that has happened in the last week. (Orlando shooting) How do you feel about it as a musician/artist/House enthusiast?

Ticky Ty:I wanted to take it back to pride month because the House scene did come from the Black Gay Scene. She played the night and remarked at how special it was to spin for so many.’There are no cultural and sexual boundaries. We don’t give a shit about that stuff. We’re blessed to be part of an Underground Community that embraces everything. No cops standing around at the outdoor party. No one is being searched at the door. People are enjoying the music…..it’s such a gift….……The vibe is really connected. You can’t fake it. It’s visceral. You either don’t like it  or you totally enjoy it.And beats is their gift to us.Entertainment people don’t really like to make comments about political shit but they did! So much has happened since then…..

We’re half way through the year what’s in store for 2017? At the same time they answer: Production! That’s the next step, albums will happen once we tour and produce more!!!

Alright ladies, DO YOUR THANGS! You can find them on most social platforms! @DjTickyTy @MizMegs

Thanks so much ladies!! You both rock!