Staying Cozy in the Nike Tech Pack Butterfly Fleece

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Nike Tech Butterfly

Since it’s launch 2007, the Nike Tech Pack collection has expertly blended both fashion and function together and last year the brand stepped it up with the release of the Nike Tech Fleece. The Tech Fleece collection quickly became a staple for athletes and those fashion savvy individuals who similar to myself, like to incorporate sportswear into their everyday street style.

Nike Tech Butterfly

Nike Tech Butterfly

When the promo video for the collection dropped late August (which includes my fave tennis players; Serena Williams and Genie Bouchard), I was immediately drawn to the focal piece of the women’s line, the Nike Tech Butterfly hoodie. I own a couple and I’ve had them in HIGH rotation as of late.  It’s thermal construction combined with the comfiest cotton blend makes it perfect for this time of the year. Thanks to Vanessa Borovicka, Nike Women’s Global Apparel Designer known specifically for her tech pack and tech fleece creations, this sweater can take you from the gym, to dinner and everywhere in between.

Nike Tech Butterfly

Nike Zoom Agility

Nike Tech Butterfly

The cross crossed detail in the back along with the dolman sleeves makes this topper both flattering and functional, plus the asymmetrical front zip and colour contrast zip is sure to make you stand out in a crowd. Here, I’ve paired the infamous “Butterfly” with a pair of printed leggings from Nike’s sportswear collection and the latest cross training shoe called the Zoom Agility. For additional information on Nike’s cult fave Tech Pack collection, head to Nike.com/TechPack

Nike Tech ButterflyPhotography by Nathalia Allan AMillionMinds.ca (@amillionminds)

What I’m Wearing: Tech Butterfly Women’s Hoodie  also available in 5 other colours // Printed Leggings  // Zoom Agility Training Shoes  // Pro Classic Sports Bra (old) similar here // Nike+ Sportswatch with GPS 

Posted on by Sasha in FASHION, FITNESS Leave a comment

Yorkdale Celebrates Black Friday + Shopping Gift Card Giveaway

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Yorkdale Black Friday Giveaway

For many years Yorkdale has been my one-stop destination for shopping – even before the shopping centre’s two luxury expansions. With the recent additions such as; Versace, Vince Camuto, Jimmy Choo, Montcler, Salvatore Ferragamo, newly renovated Holt Renfrew and Michael Kors in addition to Bulgari, Nordstrom and more arriving in 2016, it is by far the premier shopping mall in Canada and the perfect place to buy gifts for all your loved ones this holiday season.

Previously only celebrated by Americans and US retailers, Black Friday has gained popularity north of the border here in Canada and signifies the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Due to the increase in Canadian shoppers taking advantage of Black Friday sales in the last two years, the team at Yorkdale is offering a full suite of services to cater to you during this busy time of the year.

EXTENDED BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING HOURS

On Black Friday (November 28th) Yorkdale will be open from as early as 7:00am and will stay open until 9:30pm. For those of you who are early birds, the first 100 guests will receive a $50 gift card that can be used at a select list of retailers and restaurants, which can be found here .

DINE ON 3 RESTOS & RESERVATIONS

Dine on 3

Part of the appeal of shopping at Yorkdale is the amazing food experiences found in their specialty food locations, restaurants and Dine on 3, which features 19 options (4 with liquor licences) to satisfy even the pickiest shopper’s palette. My go-to’s are Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, Espressamente Illy, Glow Express and Amaya Express.  Also featured on the third level during this period, complimentary fruit-infused water and your fave glossy mags to help keep you hydrated and entertained between burning calories shopping the expansive mall.

RBC AVION HOLIDAY BOUTIQUE AND LOUNGE

Last year the RBC Avoin Lounge was a big hit and will return this season fully equipped with a parcel/coat check , concierge service and a VIP Lounge and Cafe, promising to enhance the shopper’s experience throughout the holidays. On Black Friday, shoppers will receive free gift wrapping for up to three packages. During the remainder of the holidays, the RBC Avion Lounge and Boutqiue services will be available to all RBC Avion cardholders for free and available to the general public for a charity donation.

RBC Avion Lounge at Yorkdale

With the help of my friends at Yorkdale, we want to give you a jump start on your holiday shopping by giving away a $50 gift card via social media. To be eligible to win, you must be following me on Twitter and tweet “I want a jump start on my holiday shopping with a @YorkdaleStyle gift card #SoSashaxYorkdale”. Contest begins Monday November 17th, 2014 at 9am EST and ends Sunday November 23rd at 9pm EST and open to Canadian residents only. The winner will be announced on Monday November 24th at 10am EST via Twitter. Best of luck!

For more information on Yorkdale and to stay up to date on upcoming store openings directory, holiday hours, valet, parking information and more, head to Yorkdale.com.

Posted on by Sasha in CONTESTS, FASHION, SHOPPING Leave a comment

Breton Stripes Are Making a Comeback

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424 Fifth "Amour" Bretton Stripe Shirt

The fashion industry is notoriously known for being cyclical and revisiting the past for inspiration. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to fashion history so when an oldie but goodie resurrects itself as a current “Must-Have”, I tend to get a bit excited. This fall one of my go-to American brands for affordable luxury, 424 Fifth, has brought back the classic Breton stripped shirt, which just so happens to match new newly dip dyed blue locks.

424 Fifth Breton Striped Amour Shirt

Nella Bella DUKE cluth

Horizontal stripes are feared by many, but I actually think this piece looks great on anybody and 424 Fifth gives several reasons as to why you should own one this season; it’s easy to wear, well priced, casual and versatile.

424 Fifth Breton Striped Amour Shirt

A little history on the Breton stripe…most make the assumption it derives from the U.S. and associate it with the “American Chic” aesthetic, however it actually originated in a French province that occupies the peninsula between the English Channel and Bay of Bicay, which explains it’s nautical affiliation. This long sleeved shirt traditionally has stripes that begins around the breast bone and has a boat neck.

424 Fifth Breton Stripe Amour Shirt

Although this trend has appeared in runway collections by Jean Paul Gaultier and Balmain in previous years, I have more of an affinity to the pared-down take on this classic. For a casual yet chic afternoon look last weekend, I pushed up my sleeves on this slightly oversized Breton shirt with the French word for “love” in sequins across the front, paired it with the brand’s wool knitted flare skirt and seasonally appropriate heels. I was in a flirtatious mood on Sunday and decided to roll the top of the skirt to reveal more leg but when worn the way it’s intended, it’s actually several inches longer making it perfect for the office. My watch has a very special story and not only does it look good but it does good as well. This particular 1 Face Watch style raises money to help alleviate hunger and eradicate poverty around the world and one watch equals food for 16 people.

Vince Camuto Sarmienta Heels

424 Fifth Breton Stripe Amour ShirtPhotography by Nathalia Allen AMillionMinds.ca (@AMillionMinds)

What I’m Wearing: “Amour” Pleated Back Top (also comes in red & white here) c/o 424 Fifth // Knitted Wool Flare Skirt c/o 424 Fifth // Heels c/o Vince Camuto // Sunglasses by RayBan // Watch c/o 1 Face Watch  // Clutch c/o Nella Bella Brand

424 Fifth can be found exclusively in stores at Hudson’s Bay in Canada and Lord & Taylor in the US and can be purchased online on both retailer’s websites. For my inspiration and style tips, make sure to follow the brand on Instagram.

Posted on by Sasha in UNCATEGORIZED Leave a comment

2014 Nike Women Innovation Summit in NYC

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Nike Women Summit

It’s official…2015 marks the Year of the Woman. Well according to Nike anyways and for the record, I am totally ok with this. In my opinion it should be the Year of the Woman ever year! Two weeks ago I was one of the few lucky women in media from Canada to go attend a two day international summit put on my Nike to give a behind the scenes look at their latest technologies, innovations and a sneak peek at their new women’s SS/15 collection. Thankfully I got to fly straight from San Francisco to New York after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, which gave me a couple days to relax but it also gave me too much time to try and anticipate what I was going to be witnessing later that week. Having not received an itinerary (the Nike team can really be secretive and elusive when they have big things up their sleeves), I did however get a delivery to my hotel room at the Trump Soho the evening before the summit commenced which included a beautiful flower and an accompanying note stating, “Be prepared to move and be moved.” I had considered myself warned!

Nike Women Summit Mark Parker

Taking place at Spring Studios, a select group of women (and a sprinkle of men from publications such as Hypebeast and HighSnobiety) gathered into a room with a runway set up, that no doubt had all in attendance squealing on the inside, knowing we were about to experience something amazing. Although we were grouped by geographical region and media type (print and digital/influencer), I did mange to spy Giovanna Battaglia, Aurielle Sayeh, Susie Bubble and Adrianne Ho before the lights when down. Nike President and CEO Mark Parker opened up the summit bringing us up to date on some startling facts about women in fitness. “Sport and fitness are powering a new lifestyle shift for women around the world,” Parker said. “Our relationship with our digital community of 65 million women, coupled with great product innovation, is driving our momentum, and we expect to add another $2 billion in revenue to reach $7 billion by 2017″. With this in mind, the brand has been inspired by women and has used said inspiration to create their most comprehensive and innovative women’s collection to date. Mark Parker left the audience with one final statement before departing the stage, “I’ve been designing for Nike for over 30 years and I have never been more excited.” And just like that he was gone and we were introduced to 27 of the world’s top female athletes including; pro basketball star Skylar Diggins, two time tennis grand slam winner Li Na, Olympic gold medalists Shelly-Ann Frasher-Pryce, Allyson Felix, Sonya Richards-Ross, Adelina Sotnikova and more, who strutted down the runway in the latest Nike apparel. And if that wasn’t enough, Supermodels Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls made cameo runway appearances to show off the company’s design collabo with Pedro Lourenco…you can check out my Instagram video here.

Nike Women Runway Show

Nike Women Summit Michelle Beadle of ESPN interviewing Kerri Hoyt-Pack and Stefan Olander of Nike

With companies such as Lululemon, Sweaty Betty, Under Armour and others on the rise in fashionable and functional fitness clothing, Nike’s goal is to dominate the female athletic apparel category by expertly combining production innovation, social media strategies and athletic sponsorship. This tactic is clearly working. Some of the brand’s sponsored athletes took to the stage in a panel discussion hosted by sprinter Allyson Felix, who chatted with Skylar, marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson, tennis player Li Na, Paralympic triathlete Sarah Reinersteen and pro surfer Carissa Moore, who discussed how the brand has contributed to their success and the growth of women in their individual sports.

Nike World Summit Panel

Nike World Summit Nike is ahead of their competition by always looking for ways to incorporate sustainability with the development of their products. The Roshe Flyknit design team saw unused materials as an opportunity, not only to make an exciting new design but one with a purpose, as strong as the it’s woven make-up. Each these pairs are truly one of a kind and were made available for sale on October 4th, 2014.

Nike’s SS’15 collection features beautiful performance looks and fabulous designer capsule collections with product offerings in Nike training, sportswear and running categories. The highlights being in high performance tights and flyknit footwear technology. The reason the company is so successful in this area is because not only does the design team listen to feedback from athletes at every level, they also travel the globe to get better acquainted with those within the Nike Women community to understand their specific training needs:

“We rely on relentless commitment to design and innovation to create solutions for athletes,” says July Igarashi, VP of Global Design for Nike Women’s Training. “…sport and fitness is a lifestyle shift that is here to stay. And because it is now so ingrained in what women do and who they are, fitness footwear and apparel have become seamless extensions of her everyday wardrobe. To serve her modern lifestyle of movement, we focus on a unique blend of performance and style. We won’t compromise one element for another, which means we equip the athlete for whatever workout she chooses and wherever she chooses to go before or after.”

What can you expect to see from the forthcoming collections? Visually appealing apparel in terms of bright new colour ways, flattering cuts and design technology like in the legendary Lava Tight and in addition to advancements in both Dryfit and Flyknit Zoom technology featured below. Not to be outdone by Pedro Lourenco’s sexy collection and high end technical garments from Johanna Schneider, formerly from  “Acronymn” and Stone Island.

Nike Women Summit

Nike Legendary Lava Tight

Nike Flyknit Zoom Agaility 2015

Nike Women Summit

Nike Women Summit

Nike Women Summit

And really, what would a Nike event be without a workout? On day one of the media extravaganza, we were all invited to have one-on-ones with Nike Master Trainers from across North America to discuss our current fitness regime and preferred type of workouts. By providing that information, the Master Trainers put together a bespoke training program together for each person on an iPad, which was immediately sent to us via email and upon returning back to our hotel rooms that evening, we came home to several looks from the new collection that we could wear to participate in two insane workouts. The first evening 300 women (both media and consumers) arrived at Cipriani’s NYC for the most epic NTC+ Live session ever. It was amazing to see one of the city’s most prestigious restaurant’s transformed into an enormous workout studio. A 16 foot cube stage, which is rumoured to be the same one JayZ and Kanye used on the Watch the Throne tour, 15 Master Trainers and one intense workout, where we were led by my good friend Eva Redpath and fellow MT Traci Copeland.

NTC+ Live Cipriani

On day two, after another busy day of previewing collections, this time a look at the Holiday collection, we rounded out the summit with an exclusive workout with Model Fit Founder Justin Gelband. This was my first time hearing of this new cult fave workout in NYC. I had my reservations at first, as the first few exercises during the class did not seem very difficult, but this 40 minute class that was a mixture of precise and minimal Yoga, pilates, motion, balance stability, and functional training movements, totally kicked my butt. Justin is actually the man behind Karlie Kloss’ tight little bod and has been busy training the Victoria Secret Angels before the big runway show, which will be filmed in just a couple weeks from now. Check out some of my fave moments captured on my iphone during the 2014 Nike Women Summit…

The last several months have been nothing short of gruelling and all my hard work really paid off. Attending the Nike Women Summit got me really excited to immediately set new goals for myself now that I’ve completed my first half marathon. Looking good while working out is half the battle and by the looks of what’s to come in 2015, I will be crushing my newly set goals in style!

Posted on by Sasha in EVENTS, FASHION, FITNESS Leave a comment

So Sasha Spotlight | George Sully of Sully Wong

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George Sully - Sully Wong

I am always drawn to people who do not necessarily have a direct road to success, most likely because my own life and destiny has had several twists and turns. A few years ago I was introduced to George Sully, one half of the Sully Wong brand, a name that seemed to be on the lips of everyone in Toronto this past summer. After being connected by a mutual friend in fashion, our love for apparel and brand marketing brought us closer together and a special bond was developed. During our initial encounter I was immediately captivated by Sully’s passion, drive, magnetic energy, and not to mention hustler’s mentality. Through his words alone, he can lure people into the “Sully Wong Parallel Universe” and have you talking fashion and marketing for hours on end. I often go to his showroom and promise myself that I am only staying for 10 minutes and end up being there for 3 hours.

George Sully - Sully WongOn Sasha: SWJ NYLO Hi III Girl  // On George: SWJ NYLO III in Vader Black

On a recent visit to Sully Wong HQ, I fell in love with a pair of their high top sneaks, the SJW NLYO III’s. I have been incorporating more fitness apparel and running shoes into my everyday street style so high tops like these just seemed like a natural progression for me.  By no means would I consider myself a female sneakerhead, but the aesthetic, craftsmanship, design and quality materials used in the shoe made me realize that the sneaker game is no different than any other covetable luxury accessory. Right then and there I had a new found appreciation for the world of sneakers. Then to find out this shoe had a story made them even better. Now in it’s third instalment, the original design was actually inspired by Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World and the most prolific boxer of his generation.

George Sully - Sully Wong

If you’re familiar with George Sully’s name, then you probably already know about his involvement with the quarterly published lifestyle mag TCHAD (pronounced Chad), his successful launch with the OnexOne foundation on the Hope Sneaker Limited Edition Collaboration and his various philanthropic endeavours via The George Sully Project. The latter he describes not as a foundation but rather a hub for himself and like minded friends to embark on different initiatives to help communities both locally and abroad. But only very few know that this visionary was not always in fashion, but really got his start honing his creative skills in the music industry; producing and doing his own branding. Turns out music wasn’t going to be Sully’s final destination and he took his newly developed skill set and found a way to fuse fashion and music in the nineties. George used  Sean P.Diddy Combs as a template and created his first clothing line called LIMB. The line had some wins, it was distributed in Athlete’s World locations, but there was still a piece missing to Sully’s business model. After a fateful meeting a decade ago at a trade show, he met Henry Wong. A successful business partnership in my opinion works like a successful marriage. Each person must bring something different to the table, which is exactly what these gents did. With George bringing the creative elements and Henry’s expertise in business development, production and order fulfillment, a solid foundation was created for the brand to flourish.

George Sully - Sully  Wong

George Sully - Sully Wong

A couple of weeks ago I hooked up with George in the showroom for a long overdue catch up. I live for these brief hangouts as I usually learn a bit more about my dear friend and almost always walk away with something that motivates me and pushes me to keep going.

SE: You have been collaborating with your partner Henry for about 10 years now so you guys are definitely not new to the game, however it seems as though the brand’s awareness and sales have spiked dramatically over the last year. What do you think is the catalyst behind all this change?

GS: It’s simple…we were finally in a position to take large size orders. Product was never a problem, we just couldn’t deliver enough product to supply the demand. Having the proper financing in place gave us the opportunity to take in large size orders and process them as efficiently as any other major brand in our business. A sure way for a brand to kill itself is to invest in the marketing cycle, receive an order of a lifetime and come to the realize you don’t have the offshore size production capacity or the funds necessary to meet the demand. For example, we filled a large size order for Little Burgundy, we delivered 1000+ units, all the while fulfilling hundreds of units across a multitude of stores simultaneously. Just this alone creates perfect conditions for ample brand recognition and to welcomes sales quickly.

SE: Ok…let’s be for real; shoes and sneakers are your life. You live, eat, breathe and sleep footwear design which makes you the ultimate “sneakerhead”…I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on female sneakerheads and have you found that a lot of women have gravitated towards your shoes, although they are particularly designed for men?

GS: Well, women have been on the high top kick for a minute, it’s not even new, though it comes and goes in mainstream waves. Traditionally high tops have always more or less been a male SKU, but there is always something to be said about a girl rocking dope high tops.

SW x ALK SWALK1

SE: Agreed. To be honest, in the last two months I can’t even tell you how many men stop me when I’m wearing the Sully Wong SWJ NYLO III’s. I guess guys really do love the Tomboy-Chic vibe. I am going to assume the “Chicks in Kicks” look may have lead to the idea to create a shoe with Amanda Lew Kee. It was the first time for both parties to create a female shoe. What was it like collaborating with a designer who has never designed footwear before on the SW x ALK (SWALK 1)?

GS: It was a pretty simple process. Henry and I  had the bones of an original design that we though would translate really well with Amanda’s trademark accents and the rest is what you would call history.

SE: Do you plan on doing anymore collaborations in the near future? If so, who would be the top 3 individuals or brands that you would like to create with?

GS: We have six major collaborations to which I can’t divulge at the moment that will be spread out into 2016. This doesn’t include our own house collection, and this past season has undoubtedly been my favourite so far. 

SE: What is the best advice you have ever been given?

GS: Stay humble

SE: What’s next for the Sully Wong brand?

GS: Strengthening market share throughout Europe.

George Sully - Sully WongPhotography by Robert Okine RobertOkine.com (@RobertOkine)

With the success within footwear, Sully Wong has expanded into designing and creating super dope accessories; bags (which are seriously giving the shoes a run for their money) and headwear that’s geared towards men but still chic enough for us women to rock. To find out what stores near you carry Sully Wong click here. For more information on the brand or to purchase online head to SullyWong.com

Posted on by Sasha in FASHION Leave a comment

Designer Greens | The Kale Lagerfeld Salad

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Kale Lagerfeld Salad

If you eat salads as much as I do, you understand that it’s easy to get bored having them several times a week. I rotate between spinach, kale, swiss chard, red cabbage, mescaline greens, and even regular Boston lettuce as a base and in terms of add on’s, trust me…I’ve tried everything. Or so I thought. I am determined to try creating and investigating new delicious recipes to help me stay on my path of clean eating this winter season and I will be sharing my fave ones with you. With a touch of champagne vinegar in the dressing, which I discovered on epicurious.com, crispy pears and pecans, this chic salad is so damn good, I had to give it a designer name; the Kale Lagerfeld Salad - a play on this dark leafy green and one of my favourite designers.

What You’ll Need

  • 2 bunches of kale, stems removed
  • 2 medium pears, cored and cut into slices (preferably asian pears)
  • 1/2 cup of pecans, rough chopped
  • 1/2 of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
  • 1 large clove of crushed garlic
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt and black cracked pepper

In a small mixing bowl, combine champagne vinegar, olive oil, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, honey or maple syrup and sea salt. Use some coconut oil to lightly coat a sauce pan. Cook the kale in batches over low medium heat until it turns bright green and gets a bit soft. Pile the kale onto the desired serving plate, top with sliced pears and pecans. Dress to your perfection, then sprinkle with sea salt and fresh paper to taste. Serve immediately.

Kale Lagerfeld Salad

Posted on by Sasha in FOOD Leave a comment

Garnier Colour Styler | Intense Colours, No Strings Attached

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Garnier Colour Styler

Ombre made it’s trend setting debut a few years ago and since then I have heard terms like “chambre”, “sombre” and “bombre” used to describe the severity, or subtleness if you will, of the transitional hair colour. What may come as a surprise to most of you, I have never had another colour other than my own natural dark brown/black. To be completely honest, I have always worried that dyeing would damage my hair, feared that the colours I loved on other people wouldn’t match my skin tone, and was petrified of the long term commitment. 2014 has been a year of many firsts for me, so I thought it was finally time to try something new and bold with my hair.

Thanks to Garnier, I have been able to add dramatic colour to my locks with “Color Styler“, an easy to use, intense wash-out colour treatment. I did have my reservations at first, wondering if this product would work on “Black/African American” textured hair.  However, I did my research and discovered this innovative colorant is equipped with a special colour-coat technology that covers each strand of hair with in a thin coat, without actually penetrating the hair fiber. This enables the colour to be easily washed out without causing any unnecessary damage to the hair. Armed with this knowledge, I was ready to have some fun and experiment with one of the industry’s latest trends.

Kylie Jenner Blue Dip Dye

The inspiration for my hair makeover was Kylie Jenner. Yes…surprising I know, but there is something about her blue dip-dyed locks that I love. Also, I was sure that my new hair would be sure to stand out amongst a crowd as most women are leaning more towards darker tones for the fall and winter months. Using Color Styler was incredibly easy and probably only took me 25 minutes to complete the entire process. The product is meant to be used on dry hair and requires no waiting or rinsing – ummmm bonus! I literally just sectioned pieces of my hair and applied the “Blue Burst” colour cream with my fingertips using only half the bottle’s contents. Once I had penetrated the entire desired area, I used a blow dryer to to expedite the drying process, combed through, added a tiny drop of hair serum, then flat ironed my hair to give it a sleek look.

Garnier Color Styler

In addition to being damage and commitment free (Color Styler has an average hold of 2 shampoos but can have a longer wear depending on hair type and quantity applied), I was really surprised to discover that the colour doesn’t rub off or stain clothes. I had fully anticipated my pillow case would be blue when I woke up the next morning. Needless to say, I was pleased that my Frette linen remained crispy white throughout the night. Here’s my big hair reveal last night at the Thom Browne event at The Room inside Hudson’s Bay:

Garnier Color Styler

Garnier Color Styler is available in 5 shades; Pink Pop, Blue Burst, Purple Mania, Red Temptation and Bronze Attitude and can be currently found in drugstores and most mass market retailers across Canada for only $10.49 CDN. I’m so obsessed with my hair right now I want to give two lucky followers a chance to win my Color Styler by Garnier contest. Entering is easy, all you need to do is tweet “@SashaExeter I want to try a bold new hair colour with @GarnierCan’s #ColorStyler” or comment under the post on my Facebook page here to enter. Contest begins Wednesday November 5th and ends Wednesday November 12th at 10pm EST. The winner of the contest will be announced on November 13th at 10am EST via Twitter and Facebook. *Contest open to Canadian residents only* – Good Luck!!!!!

Posted on by Sasha in BEAUTY Leave a comment

Active Recovery at Misfit Studio’s Yoga & Pilates Sanctuary

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Misfit Studio

Roughly 7 weeks into my training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, I injured my IT Band on my left leg, which is a very common overuse injury for runners and cyclists. It affects the tissue that runs from the side of your hip all the way down past your knee. The inflammation manifests itself as a deep pain in the outer thigh and a piercing sharp pain on the outside of the knee. The extremist that I am got so caught up in running a few months before the race, I had stopped doing any active recovery workouts like yoga and Pilates . I was advised by my trainer Eva Redpath and physiotherapist to cut down the number of days I was running and bring Pilates back into my workout schedule immediately. Pilates strengthens the smaller muscles that sometimes get overlooked when running, making it a great element to add to your training, especially when prepping for a race.

Misfit Studios

Misfit Studio

Misfit Studio

I turned to a beautiful movement studio in downtown Toronto that specializes in Pilates, yoga and dance; to stretch and lean out before the race with instructor Michelle Jobin. If you’re in the city you may already be familiar with Misfit Studio, who has recently moved into a new location not far from where they were once located. They can be now found on the 3rd floor of a converted church on Queen St West. Created in 1864, the space has huge stain glass windows allowing for beautiful light to flow into the practice rooms. With exposed brick, antique details and juxtaposed with modern design, Misfit is unlike any other studio in the city.

Amber Joilat

Founder Amber Joliat (above) uses her background in ballet and modern movement to enhance her Pilates and yoga style and leads a collective group of forward thinking instructors that each have their own individual approach to teaching who can help clients connect on a deeper level and achieve their goals. I’ve been asked by many of you via email and social media about my preference between Pilates and yoga and I really do equally love both forms of practice.; however when I do yoga it is usually in the form of Bikram (hot yoga).  At Misfit, my go-to would be one of the reformer classes. Once intimidated by the reformer machine, I’ve come to appreciate how it helps perfect my form ensuring that I am getting the most out of each exercise. Adding tension to the machine allows me to push myself harder than I would solely using my body weight in a mat Pilates class.

Misfit Studio

Nike Studio Wrap

Nike Studio Wrap

When practicing any of the above noted activities, I prefer to be in light minimal clothing often opting for a tank and training shorts/tights and I’m never without my trusted studio wraps on my feet. Designed to take you from the studio to the street, this innovative three-part system has been updated and gives a barefoot feel without sacrificing support, style and traction.  The ribbon, which is optional, customizes support when wrapped under the arch and around the ankle.  It comes with a mesh bag to protect the wraps when washing and it also accompanied by a flat shoe that conveniently slips on over the wrap to avoid me from having to bring an extra pair of shoes to the studio for my workout.

Misfit Studio

What I’m Wearing: Studio Wraps c/o Nike // G87 Tank c/o Nike // Pro Core 3″ Compression Shorts c/o Nike 

Misfit StudioPhotography by Nathalia Allen  – AMillionMinds.ca (@amillionminds)

From now until the end of November, Misfit Studio has set up a discount code (Misfit Studio x So Sasha) for $5 off for either a mat or reformer class in the studio. For more information on classes, rates and location head to MISFITSTUDIO.com. If you have any questions regarding my yoga/pilates practice, concerns or would like to share your Misfit experience with me, shoot me an email at info@sosasha.com or tweet me @sashaexeter.

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS, HEALTH & WELLNESS Leave a comment

Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco Race Report

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Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

It’s been a little over a week since I finished my first half marathon and to be honest, it’s taken me this long to fully digest the experience. For me, this was more than just a half marathon race, which should be monumental enough, but it was much bigger to me than you may anticipate. Unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, with the exception of family and extremely close friends, I’ve been silently suffering from a rare kidney disease for years that was diagnosed 14 years ago. To make matters worse, in 2009 I was shockingly diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain illness that can be extremely debilitating. For roughly two years after my Fibro diagnosis, I was pretty much out of commission. I was in and out of hospitals, bed rest for most of the time and 25 lbs larger than my current weight. I was seeing some of the best renal and pain specialists in the city and they all unanimously concluded the same thing…that I would not be able to enjoy the active life I once lived and that they would just do what they could to keep me as comfortable as possible aka fill my body with so my pharmaceutical meds that I felt like I was in a coma.  I spent majority of my life playing tennis at an international level, therefore being in excruciating pain everyday and hearing that my quality of life would never be the same, lead to a depression. Cue more meds from the docs. It was a mess. In a brief moment of clarity one day, I mustered up the energy to turn on my laptop in bed and started doing some research on how I could treat my condition in a way that was less taxing physically and emotionally than traditional medicine. After a few weeks it was clear it was going to come down to the following; 1) exercise/movement 2) alternative medicine 3) physical and mental therapy and 4) diet change. At this point, exercise felt like an outrageous goal…I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without being in tears, but I read over and over again that doing at least 30 mins a day would not only stabilize the pain but also release endorphins which would ultimately help with the depression.

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

This was the birth of my running journey. Running was never something I previous enjoyed. I did it only when it was forced upon me by my tennis coaches and it was never long distances. You are probably wondering why the heck I would pick up distance running then. To be honest, it was easily accessible. I didn’t need a ton of gear to participate, it was something I could do by myself, I could just roll out the door and literally hit the ground running and it got me outside breathing fresh air. I began in June 2012 with humble beginnings – and I mean humble. I am actually crying as I write this. I could not even run around my block, but not once did I let this get me down. My first goal was to run 2K without stopping and once I tackled that I aimed for 5k. By the end of that summer I had gained the stamina and strength to run 10K without stopping. I was shocked and I think my family was too.  With them and the help of an amazing well balanced medical team consisting of a Naturopath, Acupuncturist, Osteopath, Chiropractor, Nutritionist, Reiki Specialist, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, and Pain Specialists, I was starting to feel better than I’ve felt in years. Not only that…I was now hooked to running. Oddly enough I told myself that one day I will be strong enough to run a half marathon but never said it to anyone, a tiny bit afraid people would think I am crazy. Fast forward to July 2014, after taking my training and running to a new level, I was given the opportunity to run in my first half marathon. A Nike Women’s Half Marathon at that…in San Francisco, legit probably just as difficult as running a full marathon because of hilly terrain.

Nike Team Canada

Nike Women's Half MarathonMoments to never forget; pre-race with my tribe and our team making the Run Nike Women banner on the website and #WeRunSF mobile app

I had been running consistently before my #WeRunSF training officially started but I also utilized the amazing support provided by Nike Canada for myself and three other team members; Karen Kwan – Freelance Writer, Marathoner and Founder of Health and Swellness, Justine Iaboni – Features Editor for Kenton Magazine and Founder of Jetset Justine, and Melissa Greer – Digital Editor of Best Health Magazinewhich consisted of special runs with Nike pacers, private NTC workouts with Master Trainer Eva Redpath, hydration and nutrition sessions at Greenhouse Juice Co, and I also used the Nike Women’s We Run SF training app that the brand developed specifically for the race. Up until the end of August, I was in a great place in my training until Labour Day weekend when I started to get a piercing sharp pain in my knee on my Saturday long run. Two weeks later I discovered that I developed an IT band injury that also resulted in lateral runner’s knee. The WORST! Thanks to Eva Redpath, I was hooked up with an awesome therapist who understood that not running the race wasn’t an option and between physio, acupuncture, massage, plenty of ice, a foam roller and reducing my runs from six to three days a week allowed me to get to that race in one piece. At this point my only goal should have been to cross that finish line but with my competitive nature, I of course internally set a time for myself to beat that I refused to share with anyone else. My Dad, knowing exactly how I am, sent me about 5 text messages from the night before the race until it was time for me to leave the hotel the next morning, reminding me that this is NOT the Olympics and to just take it easy on myself.

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

On race day I realized I made a rookie mistake…with all the excitement in the city, sight seeing with Karen, media team meals, time spent in Union Square at the Nike Women’s Expo Tent and our 3 mile shake out run by the Golden Gate Bridge, we had no time to drive through the route. I knew from the map and the time lapsed video on the Run Nike Women Facebook page that it was going to be primarily uphill but had no idea how ridiculously steep they were going to be. On a positive note though, we couldn’t have asked for better run weather. It was 16 degrees (celcius), extremely foggy for over half of the race, which sucked because I couldn’t take in the scenery but at least the sun wasn’t blazing down on me and a few km’s into the race a cool mist started to fall on the runners. I swear, it was like having a personal assistant spraying me with Evian Facial Spray. Even with these ideal circumstances, it didn’t make up for the hills we were facing. Please take note that none of these photos are actually taken on hills – probably because the photogs themselves didn’t want to make the trek. I was blessed to have my running bestie Karen beside me the entire way. For my first race, it was kind of awesome to have a seasoned marathoner to help keep my pace and guide me through the thousands of runners. This lady knows what she’s doing…although she did run this race after running a full marathon in Chicago a week before, which made her sanity questionable. Karen convinced me that this run was just for fun for her and that she had not studied the course either and mid race she pulled out a sheet of paper that appeared to be a crib sheet of some sort with scribbled handwriting. For the remainder of the race I was convinced she had a route cheat sheet that she was hiding from me…turned out it was just her pace band to help her run a personal best, so our friendship has remained in tact and all was forgiven ;-)

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

I had no pace band for myself and had not gone through the course beforehand but I did have the Nike+ Running app, Nike+ SportsWatch GPS, Karen, plus the bands, cheerleaders and fans along the way for motivation. However, when I got to mile 10 I didn’t think I could go any further. I swear that hill was almost a mile long. My left leg was falling apart by that time, I was really fatigued and possibly was hitting a wall. It hurt. A lot. Climbing mountains; emotionally, mentally and physically was exhausting. I wanted to stop. I wanted the pain to go away…it didn’t but somehow I kept going. I thought of everything it took for me to get to this point. All of the pain, suffering and hardship I endured over the last 14 years. I thought of all of YOU. The kind words of encouragement each of you have said to me. The belief all of you had in me. Believe me when I say it took me up that final hill. When I crossed that finish line and was asked, “How do you feel?” all I could them the finish line crew was that I was thankful.  I immediately checked the time on my app, which I knew was not entirely accurate but I was pleased to know that I had beat my goal time. My goal was to finish in two hours and I completed my first hilly half in 1:52:31 minutes. In out of 25,000 runners I came in 1,165 and placed in the top 4% in my age division. That was good enough for me but to be then rewarded with a gorgeous piece of jewellery from Tiffany & Co to commemorate the achievement was just the cherry on top of an already amazing sundae. My eyes still water and I get goosebumps when I think of it. This sport has played a role in saving me and has brought so much joy into my life. I have met so many phenomenal people through this journey from all over the world and developed a strong bond with the three ladies I shared this half marathon experience with. I hope by opening up about my health issues, it will motivate some of you to lace up and start running. If I could overcome my challenges, you can too. It was a tough road and only those who were along for the ride could marginally understand but some how I persevered…hence why I have the word “perseverance” tattooed on the inside of my right wrist. As a constant reminder of how far I have come. In the next few months I will continue to share more about my path to good health as I am sure it will be beneficial to you whether you’re faced with an illness or not. Reinvention is real. Start today. Own the pen to the story you’re writing!

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco

Nike Women's Half Marathon San FranciscoPhotography courtesy of Nike US, Alexander Liang of Kenton Magazine and my Instagram account 

I would like to say a special thank you to the Nike Canada team; Claire Rankine, Danielle Gibson, Josh Graham for this opportunity, Eva Redpath, Nike NYC Running Coach Chris Bennett, all the Pacers, my boys from the Queen West Run Club who always push me to keep up with them, the supportive people at Vitamin Water and my medical team – you all have played an integral role in my training. Last but not least, my friends, family and strangers who have been my personal cheer squad every step of the way. One half marathon down…and plenty more to go!

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS, HEALTH & WELLNESS Leave a comment

EVENT ALERT: Motif “Art of Expression” Exhibit & Reception

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Motif Art of Expression

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an art aficionado by any means but I can certainly appreciate great work when I see it and like most others in my age demographic, pop and abstract art are the genres I tend to gravitate to the most. Most likely because of the use of identifiable imagery drawn from either mass media and pop culture which was part of an international phenomenon started by the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Motif Art of Expression

Prior to making my first purchase, I had been under the assumption that purchasing beautiful pieces for my home would require a large financial investment, but learned over the past couple years that’s not necessarily true. And since discovering that, I’m always looking for dope new artists and work to add to my growing collection. I recently stumbled upon two young and exceptionally gifted artists who hail from Habana, Cuba and immediately fell in love. Jean Pierre, a self trained portrait artist who paints the “dance of faces” and Jorge Arriaza Gonzalez, an abstract painter inspired by his newly found freedom who describes his work as “an expression of spontaneity“.

Motif Art of Expression

Motif Art of Expression

Motif Art of Expression

Motif Art of Expression

With popularity of Cuban art quickly gaining in Europe, the trend is beginning to filter into Canada. After successfully showing here in Toronto earlier this year, Pierre and Gonzalez will be showing their work once again for one day only this weekend at the MOTIF “Art of Expression” exhibit and reception. These truly unique pieces will be on display and available for sale; prices will range between $150-$1,000. In the market for something personalized? Attendees can commission custom pieces based on any photos, colour schemes based on personal style and landscapes, while enjoying live music and refreshments. A portion of the proceeds will go to help support “Move to Learn Therapy” an organization that helps transform the lives of children with special needs through physiotherapy.

Motif Art of Expression

Posted on by Sasha in ART & DESIGN, EVENTS Leave a comment
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