Author

Sasha

Browsing

My Art & Sole Custom Shoemaking Experience with Buick

Cars to me is what clothes are to most people. A way to make a statement without having to say a word. This sentiment is also shared by the design team at Buick who has put a considerable amount of time to help reposition the brand and create a vehicle that represents the highest quality of Buick luxury to date. The new Enclave Avenir has single handedly changed the way the way the world, myself included, will view Buick going forward. I know some of your perceptions have already changed just from reading my blog posts and following along on my IG stories. This brand transition has been successful because Buick has been taking cues from other industries that have a high regard for craftsmanship. The design team has used interior design, fashion and beauty trends as their main source of inspiration with one simple goal in mind. To create a vehicle that would be an expression of a discerning, fashion forward and conscious consumer.

BuickStyle Art & Sole Academy Event - So Sasha

BuickStyle Art & Sole Academy Event - So Sasha

BuickStyle Art & Sole Academy Event - So Sasha

Buick Style Art & Sole Academy Event - So Sasha

To celebrate this new direction and their successes with the new premium Avenir trim line found on the Enclave and Lacrosse, I was treated to an intimate evening with the Buick team and some friends at the Art & Sole Academy; the first shoemaking school in Canada that offers workshops and classes in the art of custom shoemaking. I was chauffeured to the event in a white Enclave that has the same Avenir trim as my own and it was pretty nice actually to be able to to relax and enjoy the ridiculous amounts of legroom that’s available in the middle row. Learning the ins and outs of the shoemaking process from Art & Sole’s owner Jennifer Allison was amazing but what blew all of our minds was that we all got to design a custom pair of leather driving shoes for ourselves that night. Not just any old leather either may I add. We got to choose from the same leather options that are available in the 2018 Buick Enclaves. Now  that should say something about the quality materials used inside these vehicles. We each traced and measured our the bottom of our feet and instep and then went on to choose the base style, colour of leather, leather type, uppers, lace and trim details. So fun, yes, but the plethora of options made it pretty stressful, not going to lie. Then we went on to learn a basic stitching technique for leather fabrications from Jennifer. This was definitely not my strong suit but I will soon have a custom shoe to match the interior of my Buick and that’s pretty damn cool. Before heading home, we even had personalized keychains made by the lovely chap below with our initials on it.

BuickStyle Art & Sole Academy Event - So Sasha

BuickStyle Art & Sole Academy Event

 

Members of the GM and Buick design team were on hand and it is really inspiring to see a group of women behind this dynamic team. Over the past couple years, I have gotten to know Catherine Black, Buick Colour and Trim Design Manager who in my opinion has the coolest job ever. Black is in charge of developing concepts, colours and shapes that reflect Buick’s customer alongside the marketing, engineering, and manufacturing departments. She is also the face of the design team often called upon to brief media on some of the trends they have forecasted several years prior to vehicles hitting the auto show circuit. I actually got to chat extensively with her about the design details for the Enclave Avenir over a year ago during it’s reveal in NYC at NAIAS and she has this to say about about where the Buick teams are today,

The whole synergy and interaction between the designers, clay and digital sculptors, engineering and colour & trim is extraordinary. Together we are charged with evolving the brand and the portfolio with the timeless qualities we value most – beautiful, premium, comfortable, effortless and intelligent.”

BuickStyle Event - So Sasha
Photos by Pamela Lau for Buick Canada

My custom shoes, fingers crossed, should be arriving in the next few weeks and I can’t wait to show you guys what I designed. Even more excited  to own my very first driving shoe that will not only look great but be functional too. Want in on customizing your own pair of leather driving shoes from Buick? Starting May 15th, you can express your own personal style by customizing and designing your own, which is pretty major. They will be available in very limited quantities, but on the upside, they will be made available on www.artandsoleacademy.com/buickstyle for only $189, when trust me, they are probably worth a lot more. Head to Buick.ca to find more information on the Enclave Avenir and full portfolio of Buick’s 2018 vehicles.

This post was created in partnership with Buick Canada however all thoughts and opinions are my own

6 Ways To Improve Back Pain Post Pregnancy

I could talk (write) for hours about all the different things women experience postpartum but back pain seems to rank high on the list for new mom’s. Not really surprising at all when you think about all the demanding tasks in a mama’s day that requires bending, carrying, lifting and feeding; usually with a baby in hand, causing back muscles to work in overtime.  I experienced some back pain towards the end of my pregnancy that made sleeping at night damn near impossible by the time I reached 34 weeks. Carrying around that amount of weight for 9 months can take a toll on the body, especially the abdominal muscles, which need to stretch to make room for the delivery.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to help with postpartum back pain. As soon as I was cleared by my healthcare practitioners , I made chiropractic care and functional training a priority to help with my postnatal recovery. With the help of my chiro Darcy Worthylake, I have recently introduced these 6 spine exercises to improve my back health.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you could actually make working on back health a fun activity at home with you and your bub. Even though she’s only 7 months, I integrate Maxwell into some of my exercises at home and not only does it make it more fun for me, but it’s also a great way for us to bond. In her mind, she’s having the time of her life playing with mama while I’m benefiting by improving my core and back health.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

It is surprising how by just adding a few exercises to your day can make a world of a difference giving you more support while carrying, lifting and holding your baby; whom only gets heavier as each week passes. If you’re a new mom and experiencing some discomfort due to your day-to-day tasks for your baby, there are four simple exercises you can do at home to help for post partum back pain:

Tips On How Improve Your New Mom Back Pain With Your Bub

Pelvic Bridges

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground.
  • Place your baby on your pelvis with their back against your thighs.
  • While holding your baby in place, slowly push your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Keep your abdominals tight to avoid sagging your lower back. Inhale as you slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Plank

  • Lay your baby on the ground; face up, while kneeling in front of them.
  • Place your forearms on either side of your baby and lift your body off the ground.
  • Keep your back in neutral spine position and engage your core by contracting your abdominal muscles. Avoid letting your hips fall or stick up in the air.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Stabilizer

  • Lying on your back, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet in the air.
  • Stabilize your baby so they are resting on your shins and hold onto their hands.
  • Engage your core and hold this position for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Arm & Leg Extensions

  • Get down on all fours with your baby lying on their back and parallel to your chest.
  • Engage your core and slowly lift and extend your left arm and right leg at the same time while maintaining a neutral spine position.
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds, then lower your limbs and give your baby’s belly a tickle as you return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, lifting right arm and left leg.
  • Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Ontario Chiropractic Association - So Sasha

Before you begin working on back mobility or any kind of exercise, consult your postnatal practitioner and get cleared to return to exercise. For the safety of your little one, you will want to make sure that your newborn can hold their head up on their own if you’re going to include them in any of these exercises. If you experience any discomfort or pain in your back while performing any of these exercises or persist after trying them, visit your chiropractor to develop a treatment plan for your recovery.

This post is in partnership with the Ontario Chiropractic Association but all views and opinions are my own.

My Wellness Experience at Le Monastère des Augustines with Buick Canada

I have been going non-stop since I had Maxwell. I took two short weeks off but after that it was pretty much back to my regularly scheduled programming. Truthfully, I haven’t been feeling my best and my body has slowly been giving me signs that it’s time to slow down a bit. I’ve been craving some breathing room and a reset to figure out what my next steps were going to be to help find balance during this time of transition as a working new mom. The idea for my mindfulness getaway to Quebec City’s actually came while driving Max inside my new car. I had made the decision to upgrade to the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir in January. The extra space and safety features were definitely a catalyst for the change but I also loved the fact it has it’s own ionizing clean air filter that eliminates dust, bacteria and pollen in a car I spend a lot of time driving my daughter around in. It is a genius idea. Then I started thinking, as blessed as I am to be able to have things like this to help enhance the quality of my family’s life, nothing will trump how my energy and well-being will affect them at the end of the day. After my short stay at Le Monastère des Augustines, I implemented five small but important things that have made significant changes in my daily life. More on this later, but first let me share with you what this magical place is all about.

Le Monastere de Augustines- So Sasha

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

So with that realization, I was on the hunt for a truly unique wellness experience and discovered a real gem about eight hours drive from Toronto. Le Monastère des Augustines is a little wellness haven found in the heart of Old Quebec (Quebec City). Occupying the restored wings of the former Hôtel-Dieu de Queébec monastery, one of Quebec’s most significant historic sites, the hotel is for those who are on or looking for a true path to holistic health. The property opened it’s doors back in 2015 after three years of rehabilitation and renovations that had to meet extremely strict historical guidelines and a carefully curated team of historians and architects spent an enormous amount of time researching every square inch of the the property; to ensure it was restored respectfully to the way it was 400 years ago. Inside you’ll find:

  • A boutique with teas, wellness products, books, healthy grab & go food options and meditation accessories.
  • A museum and archives with 1 linear km of documents and rare ancient books. It houses a permanent exhibition illustrating the social and spiritual involvement in the first hospital on the continent north of Mexico and the development of Quebec’s health system as we know it today. It also has the original pharmaceutical and medical objects, works of arts and artefacts that the sisters held on to for years and donated to the monastery. There are guided tours that recreate the experience of a 17th century cloister
  • The vault, located basically underground, is where many of the movement classes take place. It’s where I did my morning sessions and it has such great energy in there. Fun fact, this room was only a quarter of the height it is now. The original floor was removed and the ground was dug out to create this large space. The hallway leading toward the vault (found below) gives you an indication of how low the ceilings are in the original building.
  • A church where the nuns still congregate daily at 5pm for mass and to sing with the choir. Guests are welcome to meditate or practice yoga on there own outside of mass hours.
  • The spa where guests can receive personalized holistic and nutrition consultation services or indulge in facials, lymphatic drainage or their preferred choice of massage therapy in 30, 60 or 90 minute durations

Le Monastère des Augustines is also a non-profit organization. When you think of a wellness retreat, dollars signs is usually the first thing that pop into your head because let’s be honest, most are grossly overpriced. All funds and donations to the monastery are actually used to protect and enhance the heritage of the Augustinian Sisters, to help with Le Monastère’s mission to promote the wellbeing of individuals and society and to make it’s services affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.

Le Monastere de Augustines - Sasha Exeter

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

I feel somewhat inclined to clarify just in case it was not clear during my stay. If you’re for a luxurious getaway with Michelin star dining with a couple of cute yoga classes sprinkled in throughout your stay, this is not the place for you.  Taking inspiration from the Augustinian Sisters, who founded the monastery nearly four centuries ago, Le Monastère des Augustines, main goal is to take care of their guests mind, body and soul through meditation, food and a specific movement series. The design, programming, and food is all about simplicity and created with distinct purpose. The rooms are without clocks, TV or docking stations for iPhone/iPods to ensure that you have zero distractions in a space that should be reserved solely for sleep. However, they do have wifi throughout the property but they encourage guests to decompress and take a tech detox during their stay. The programming for the movement series, oddly not described in much detail on their website, are all scheduled before each meal and trust me there is good reasoning behind it. I promise, more on this later. As for the food; the restaurant’s approach is based on the principles of conscious nutrition using mostly organic, local and seasonal products.

The Accommodations

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Guys, the room’s at the monastery are probably one of the coolest aspects of the hotel and are the perfect design juxtaposition between old and new. There’s a total  of 65 rooms split almost evenly between authentic rooms restored in the spirit of monasticism and contemporary rooms with modern design and amenities. After my hotel tour on IG stories, people seemed to be fascinated by the character and charm of the authentic rooms. The teeny tiny doorways are an indication of just how small the sisters of Augustine were back then and it’s just so cool to be able to see exact replica’s of what their rooms were like dating back to 1639. For reference check out Marie-Eve standing in front of an authentic suite and she is only 5’2″. The majority of the furniture in these rooms are original, historic pieces with the exception of the beds, mattresses and sink – and have all been manufactured right in Quebec, which is really cool. However, these rooms do not have their own bathrooms so guests must use communal washrooms and shower rooms during their stay.

Here’s a peek inside one of the monastery’s authentic rooms

After a quick poll on my stories, most said they loved the idea of the authentic rooms but were not thrilled about the shared washroom facilities. To be honest, the communal facilities are actually quite nice but there’s nothing like having your own with a bathroom with a deep tub for pre bedtime soaks. My contemporary room came with the just bare necessities but really well appointed. There were lavender beads in my closet giving my clothes the most beautiful scent during my stay. The wool Hudson’s Bay blankets at the bottom of the beds in this wing is a sweet added touch. And even though Le Monastère claims that luxury is not what they are about, their plush white bathrobes say otherwise.

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

The Daily Movement Program

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Le Monastère is designed in a way to ensure that all ages and fitness levels are able to participate and benefit from what’s being offered. There are no high intensity workouts in sight and the programming is based on the practice of yoga, pilates and Qing Gong. You won’t find any difficult yoga flows or reformer machines. Each of the movement classes are primarily meditation based where breathing is the main focus with gentle movements from each practice incorporated into the 45 or 90 minute classes. Personally, not exactly what I am used to as I prefer something more challenging, however it forced me to slow down and focus on opening my body through my breathe. Turns out, I actually loved it and my body responded to it really well. I followed my midday practice one day with a massage and I was surprised my legs allowed me to walk back to my room. I was complete mush and so relaxed. The series is works well for those who are just getting into meditation, amazing for older guests who require more low-key activity and I even met one woman from the east coast that was there as part of her injury rehab program prescribed and suggested by her physician.

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

The classes are strategically scheduled at the exact same times each day before meals are served in the restaurant at 7am, noon and 5:30pm. Reason being, having food in the digestive system can interrupt with the rhythm of the body while going through these movements. While practicing yoga, pilates or Qing Gong (Tai Chi), the goal should be to have your energy be centralized towards the movement and poses, instead of going towards managing the process of digestion. Practicing on an empty stomach provides the chance to efficiently harvest the energy from the energy reserves of our body such as muscles, liver and body fat – encouraging the body to efficiently burn extra calories Not to mention, twists and turns with food in your stomach can also cause issues in the digestive tract.

The Food

Le Monastere de Augustines

“Le Restaurant” as it’s simply called is where I dined during my stay with the exception of one dinner I had off site at Chez Boulay because I was told by just about everyone I met there that I had to go. Chef Christophe Perny approach to creating the menu each day is fully aligned with Le Monastère’s holistic health principles. All meals are done buffet style with the exception of lunch and there are options for everything offering vegetarian, fish and meat dishes.

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Le Monastere de Augustines - So Sasha

Done in complete silence, post yoga breakfast consists of homemade yogurts, chia seed pudding, fresh fruits, artisan breads, jams, tea and coffee. Fresh juices and smoothies are also available. The sisters ate all of their meals in silence . Doing things with a mindful intention was very important to them, even when it came to nourishing their bodies. Not talking also meant that they took their time while eating, chewed more and had better digestion. The hotel thought observing silence for all three seatings would be a bit too severe for guests so it is only mandatory for the first meal of the day. It sounds a bit dramatic but I must say, starting the day off with the awakening series followed by a quiet and nourishing breakfast, can be just the thing you need to change the trajectory of your entire day.

Lunch is hands down the best meal served in their resto and also the largest. It is a three course meal beginning with an elaborate salad bar with two soups to also choose from. Your choice of main (vegetarian, fish or meat option), ending with a guilt free dessert. The kitchen actually doesn’t contain any processed or refined sugars whatsoever. As I ploughed through my second course of lunch, our tour guide/Monastery PR Manager, Marie-Eve, shared with us the reasoning behind this decision. Eating a larger lunch, gives way to a lighter dinner that has been proven to help with digestion. This has also been linked to better sleep.

Dinner did not blow me away as much as the lunch but it met it’s purpose. Similar to the breakfast, it was buffet style with a full salad bar, soup options and mains to choose from for vegetarian, fish and meat eaters. This too was followed by dessert. The items were all of easily digestible foods and I must say, I slept so much better the first night we dined in the monastery restaurant than the following when I devoured a steak at Chez Boulay.

My Le Monastère de Augustines Take-Aways

I think a lot of people leave wellness retreats with grandiose ideas of making huge life changes when they return home and within a day they get swept right back into their old routine. While their intentions may be there, sometimes the changes are so dramatic, it’s just not feasible to see it through in the real world when you have work commitments, kids, family and friends pulling you in a million directions. So here’s what I’ve implemented since I have returned home:

Meditation. 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. I had to be honest with myself, anything longer than that with Maxwell around, just won’t get done. I make it even easier for myself and do it right in the comfort of my bed. While 15 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, believe it is torture for those who are used to going non-stop. This is my starting point but I am hoping to make it up to an hour by summer.

A Mindfull Approach. Slowly down. Taking my time. Being more mindful with everything I do. Taking the time to enjoy every bite of food I put into my mouth and concentrating while I chew. Taking in my surroundings during my runs and walks with Maxwell. Giving my daughter my undivided attention and not being distracted by the television, cell or laptop. I mean, there will always be times where I have to check my email, answer calls or respond to a text while Maxie is around but I am doing my best to keep some special time for just me and my girl.

Le Monastere de AugustinesSilence. As much as possible. When you live with a partner and a baby it is challenging to do this but I am no longer driving with music playing while I’m alone. I’ve chosen quiet over the radio unless I have a guest riding with me. On our way back from the monastery, Jess and I listened to the spa channel on my XM satellite radio

Le Monastere de Augustines
Photography by Jess Baumung and Le Monastère

Large(er) Lunches & Lighter Dinners. Not really a hard one to implement if I’m honest but I have trimmed down my dinner portions and now opt for heavier meats for lunch sticking with fish and veggies for dinner.

More Baths Before Bed. This requires no further elaboration. One of the reason we got our place is because of the bathtub in what is now Maxie’s bathroom. Bath time done right with low lighting and lavender scented epsom salts, always leads to a great night sleep.

For more information on Le Monastère des Augustines or to book your very own unique wellness experience in the heart of Quebec City, head to www.monastere.ca. 

This post was sponsored and in partnership with Buick Canada, however all views and opinions are my own!

How I’ve Overcome Obstacles To Forge My Own Path

How do you do it?” – a question that seems to find it’s way into my email inbox and DM’s every single day. There has been so much interest lately around how I balance work with life as a new mum and how I continue to battle two chronic illnesses. But what majority of you seems to be most interested in, is how I’ve managed to create a personal brand, monetize it and strategically secure long-term partnerships with top tier brands; without having 100,000+ followers. If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know the answers to these questions, but I know over the last year throughout my pregnancy and sharing my motherhood journey, I’ve gained a new audience that are not familiar with my backstory.

 

The inspiration for this post came a few weeks ago after getting a sneak peek of upcoming Tomb Raider movie. Yes people, Lara Croft is back and the film is out in theatres tomorrow! You’re not going to get any major spoiler alerts from me – SORRY, but what I will say is this; she is one badass woman who has the confidence to forge her own path and the storyline is inspiring AF.

I like to believe that where I am today is because I’ve done the same. Not allowing adversity in get in the way of what I want. I have overcome two chronic illnesses. A rare genetic kidney disease and fibromyalgia – a chronic pain related disorder. Even after doctor’s said at the age of 28, I would never have the quality of life I once had. I was identified as someone destined to move ahead quickly within my company by the leadership team and had much success as a Trade Marketing Manager, but was forced to put my full time career on hold in order to get better. Actually, in order to save my life.  I had hit rock bottom but I wasn’t ready to quit. Did not want to throw in the towel and spend the rest of my life on meds lying around like a vegetable. I wasn’t even 30 yet. I believed I still had time to turn my life around. What did that look like? Two years of working my butt off with a team of pain specialists, the best kidney doctor in the country, a naturopath, nutritionist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, a team of pain specialists, cognitive behavioral therapy to help me mentally deal with all the physical trauma, an insane diet change, medicinal marijuana and a progressive exercise program I created for myself that got me back to being a functional human after being on bed rest for the better part of a year.

Photography by Jess Baumung & Video by Shawn Pinnock

Being able to beat all odds and fight my way back to health gave me the confidence to forge my own path in other areas of my life too. I left a toxic relationship and ended my engagement just months before my wedding. I also created something that I have been able to turn into a full-time job today. Contrary to what people may think; I did not up and leave my full time job to launch my blog. Nor was I making money right away when it first launched. This website started off as a fun little project with the intention to be therapeutic while I got healthy again. It was a creative outlet, not something that I wanted to get into for free stuff or because it “appeared” to be an easy way to make money. The money making part took time. To be honest, once I was well enough to return to work, I kept my job for as long as possible to help ends meet and so I could invest in SoSasha.com. In the beginning I was just creating unsponsored content. There were no big brand partnerships and daily deliveries from PR companies during the first year. And I was totally fine with that. I knew I had to put in the work, get my name out there and create a portfolio that would allow me to one day pick and choose who I got to partner with. However, not having those things didn’t stop me from creating quality work. I knew the value of investing in a professional photography and didn’t cut corners when it came to my visual content. When I started employ the same strategies on my own brand as I used with the corporate brands I spent years building, things started to get moving. I started building solid relationships and working on sponsored content with companies. Some of those brands I still work with today. This year actually marks the fourth year I have worked with General Motors/Buick. I learned quickly what brands looked for in content creation, then began pitching my own campaigns that allowed me to organically share whatever was going on in my life linked to brands I partner with.

That being said, I wanted to share a few things that have helped make me successful in this space. You don’t need to have 100k followers to make this a career but you do need to have good work ethic, drive, creativity and be able to handle the word “no” because you may hear it more than you would like to along the way. Brands and agencies are becoming more aware that having a large following doesn’t necessarily mean someone has a lot of influence.

5 Tips On Creating A Successful Personal Brand in the Digital Space

  1. Know Your Why. Have a clear understanding as to what you want to create and why you are doing it. Wanting free product or a quick and easy way to make money is not going to cut it. Knowing this will not only help give your brand an identity but will help you make the right decisions about the kind of projects you take on.
  2. Invest in Yourself. If you don’t, nobody else will! Having sleek website design, strong photo content and/or quality videos will be worth your time and money in the end, trust me!
  3. Actually be AUTHENTIC. Stay away from taking on projects where you are not 100% into what the company is about. At this point, I think people can tell when something is inauthentic. Before saying yes to working with a brand ask yourself, “if this product or service wasn’t given to me as part of a campaign, would I actually spend my own money on it?“. I live by this barometer. If the answer is yes, I know that its a safe bet to align with the brand. To be honest, a lot of the brands I work with are with products/services we have already been using and loving.
  4. Create Stories and Experiences. It doesn’t really matter what the nature of your content is, I think if you’re able to create an experience or tell a story to your followers you will have a devout audience. If street style content is your thing; once in a while try to incorporate a backstory to the outfit; for example highlight if the outfit is made from sustainable materials or perhaps the designer of your look has a special story that connects you to the brand. If you’re into food content, it may be a good idea to explain why food is important to you – have you developed food sensitivities that force you to create gluten free or vegan recipes? Do you love food so much that it’s the inspiration for your travel that allows you to share culinary wanderlust adventures? Just some food for thought – no pun intended.
  5. Blog > Instagram. This is a very common mistake I see made over and over again. With Instagram being the preferred social channel for the last few years, so many people have been putting all their eggs in one basket.  I will admit, it’s kind of hard not too. It’s fun to create a visually appealing grid, it’s much easier than creating blog content and we are love the instant gratification of receiving likes. Creating a huge profile on that one platform is short sighted. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that nobody owns their own content on IG…Instagram does. Also, when Instagram fizzles out and we move on to another new social platform, where will that leave the ones that are not content creating on other platforms. The real value of your brand relies on where all your content lives and to be frank, your earning potential working with brands is larger when you have more to offer than just a pretty Instagram account.

    This post is in partnership with Warner Bros. Canada for the release of the new Tomb Raider movie, which hits theatres everywhere March 16th. All views and opinions in this post are my own. 

 

5 Easy Ways to Prevent Diaper Rash

As a mother (new or seasoned veteran) we do whatever we can to keep our littles happy and healthy by any means necessary. The idea of our child being in any discomfort disturbs mom’s so much that we often find ourselves seeking out preventative measures for common conditions amongst babies in hopes we never have to encounter them. Funny enough, just when you think all the bases are covered, you can be hit with a little unexpected surprise leading you to spend countless hours reading comment boards and researching online.

We have been pretty lucky with Maxwell so far. I had worried a bit after she started sleeping through the night that being in the same diaper for 12 hours could cause some issues but we have been free and clear. No major concerns or issues however early on we saw the early signs of skin irritation in between her bum one day during a diaper change. My baby’s skin was nearly flawless, so to see this colour of crimson down there literally freaked me out. Terrified she was in any kind of discomfort and to be honest, worried it would soon turn into full blown diaper rash. My mother laughed when I called her on the verge of a diaper rash induced breakdown and quickly assured me that it’s a common condition that can be cleared up within a week once I incorporate a few extra steps into our diapering routine.

So, you’re probably thinking, “what are the causes of diaper rash and how do we prevent it?”  With newborns extra sensitive skin, special care needs be taken to ensure that the area stays as dry as possible and moisture down there is a major culprit. It’s also common amongst babies between the ages of 9-12 months when their bowel movements start to change due to the introduction of solid foods. However, allergic reactions to soap and laundry detergent are not to be overlooked. In order to determine the cause of Maxie’s irritation, I immediately changed her laundry detergent and only used olive oil on her skin until the redness cleared up completely. Once it disappeared, I was able to re-introduce products like gentle wipes. We love using Huggies Natural Care wipes because they are safe for baby’s sensitive skin. They are made with 99% water and filtered 3 times, so we don’t have to worry about putting it on her skin. They are also hypoallergenic, fragrance and alcohol free, with the healing properties of both aloe and vitamin E.

Following these ABCDE’s of diapering can help you prevent diaper rash on your bub’s bum:

Air:

  • Diaper-free time once a day was one of the best thing’s I could have done for Maxie early on and we continue to do it until this day. I typically like to let her air dry in the morning when she is well rested and fed for at least 5 minutes. I find when she is cranky she doesn’t like to lay around without clothes on.
  • I’ve also started having her spend this time inside her activity play centre where the colours and hanging toys keep her preoccupied, allowing her to kick around sans nappies for an extra 5-10 minutes which works wonders.
  • If you have a newborn, chances are you have no time for a blow-out, but you can always use your blow-dryer on a cool, low setting to help expedite the drying process if there is no time for a diaper-free session.

Barrier:

  • Adding a barrier between the diaper and urine (or stool) until the irritation heals is something my doula recommended quite early on. We opted for EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). It’s natural and literally found in everyone’s kitchen pantry. I know some mother’s use zinc-oxide diaper cream or petroleum jelly and have had great success with those too.
  • I applied it during every diaper change during her flare-up but now only use it at nighttime or when I think she may be in her diaper a bit longer than usual (i.e. a long car ride or during travel).
  • Cornstarch powder. Baby powder is apparently a no-no these days as they have been proven to be harmful to baby’s skin and lungs, however cornstarch powder is still widely used amongst mother’s, myself included. I put a bit of this powder on the infected area (I also use it in her neck folds where moisture builds up from sweat, saliva and milk residue) 2-3 times a day. Pro Tip – always put cornstarch powder onto your own hands first and then apply on baby’s skin to avoid powder dust getting into the air and your baby’s lungs.

Cleanse:

  • How you clean the area is extremely important. Always wipe gently and pat dry when tackling this area as rubbing can cause extra irritation. When Maxwell was a newborn, we found that putting her bottom under warm running water then using  Huggies Natural Care Wipes was the best way to clean after a bowel movement.

Diaper:

  • Your baby’s diaper is one of the most important elements to this prevention equation. There has been so many advances in protection technology in disposable diapers that choosing Huggies Little Snugglers for Maxwell was a no brainer. They’re designed to feel like a hug and let your baby’s skin breathe, so it helps protect their delicate skin.

Education:

  • Paying attention to your baby’s patterns is one of the first things my midwives told me after giving birth and it applies to everything – even skin health. Take note of how and when your bub gets any skin irritation down there and if you find it continues or worsens, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider.

To help you find the right diapers and wipes for your baby, visit https://www.huggies.com/en-ca/diapers.

This post has been sponsored by Huggies, however all views and opinions are my own!

A Look Into My 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir

LIFE UPDATE: Life seems to be moving at warp speed lately. Maxwell turned six months last week.  How this child has just celebrated half a year in the world is beyond me. Work has been busier than ever and feeling truly blessed to be able to have a career that allows me to work and spend as much time with the baby as I do. I actually have some cool new projects in the works that I can’t wait to share with all of you. I’m also back in the gym working my butt off to reach the goals I’ve set for myself post baby. Sold my first investment property a couple weeks ago and pleasantly happy with the outcome (profit). I’m now working on developing a plan to expand my real estate portfolio. Oh, and I also upgraded my car and said goodbye to my 2017 Envision earlier this month because the new 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir is on a whole other level when it comes to luxury, functionality and convenience.

 

Can you imagine being able to remote start your car, locate it in a packed parking lot or check how much fuel you have before you leave the house from an app?  What about not having to fumble with your keys to lock/unlock to the doors or get access to the truck? Wouldn’t you love to be able to charge your smartphone without needing a charger? Have you ever wanted full 360 visual access to the exterior of your car for safety or to helping you look like a boss when you’re trying to parallel park in the downtown core?  How awesome would it be to only have the cleanest air running through the cabin of your car at all times keeping your family safe from germs and viruses? If you think this sounds like the future, you’re wrong. This is what you can get in a 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir, plus SO. MUCH. MORE.

I got a sneak peek of the vehicle at its unveiling during the New York International Auto Show last spring, but the presentation barely scratched the surface when it came to all the features unique to Buick’s new range topping Avenir sub-brand. So what exactly makes the Avenir different from the rest of the 2018 Enclave models? The name, signifies an elevated trim design that can be equated to the Denali trim available in GMC vehicles, and is the Enclave’s most prestigious model offering available with unique interior and exterior treatments. The new exterior design is far sleeker and 2 inches longer than its predecessor, but I believe its the luxe design treatment inside that takes people by surprise. The contoured dashboard, woodgrain details, leather wrapped steering wheel, 8 inch colour display in the centre cluster, the Avenir logo etched into the headrests, floor mats and sill plates are all proof of the continued hard work Buick is doing to reposition the brand.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

I’ve never thought of any car I’ve owned in the past as just something that gets me from point A to B. All my vehicles in the past have reflected my personal style and I was proud to say I was the owner of a ______. However, this is the very first time I have truly been in love with a car and can’t stop talking about it to basically anyone who will listen.  Actually, anyone who has gotten a chance to ride in it with me gets out in disbelief, refusing to believe its a Buick. Some of the features have been highlighted on my Instagram stories but I literally have to hold myself back from raving about it every day in fear I will come across as inauthentic.

In less than a month, this my Enclave has become a critical part of my life and helps make even my craziest of days like today more bearable. With my hands perpetually full juggling everything under the sun for both myself and the baby, I’ve come to love the conveniences of some features like the Enclave’s Foot Activated Lift Gate that allows me to open and close the trunk by hovering my foot over the Buick logo that illuminates the ground below the hidden sensor. I also no longer stand outside in a cold parking lot, digging through my bag for my keys to unlock my doors. I think its pretty amazing l that I can simply press the unlock button on the door handle or use the MyBuick app (available for both Apple and Android), which also allows me to start the engine ensuring the temperature is perfect for Maxie before we even get in the car. I use this at least once a day usually before leaving the house in the morning or after wrapping up a meal or meetings. And let me tell you something, I’m not trying to ever go back to that cold car commute life.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

Working on the go has never been easier. The wifi hotspot literally turns the car into a mobile office, not only for myself but my passengers as well. Six USB ports throughout the vehicle, two per row, makes sure nobody is fighting for over who gets to charge their tech devices first, which sometimes happens when you have a creative team rolling with you on shoot day. Plus, I no longer have to worry about transferring that one iPhone charger I have back and forth between home and the car, thanks to the wireless charging station that is compatible with the iPhone 8.

While getting people or cargo into the back of a three-row utility vehicle is usually a nuisance, the Enclave Avenir is designed with a second row SmartSlide seat that provides easy access to the rear of the vehicle. Located on the passenger side, the SmartSlide captain seat provides pitch slide functionality to allow access even with a forward facing child seat (without the child of course) or car seat base installed using the LATCH system.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha
All smile after a quick feed and diaper change in the spacious rear cabin

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

When you’re responsible for the well-being of a tiny human being, their wellness and safety on the road becomes very important. The Avenir trim model comes equipped with the  Driver Confidence II package that includes Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Safety Alert Seat, Front and Rear Park Assist, Forward Collision Alert and Following Distance Indicator. And if that wasn’t enough, on the days a full car doesn’t allow me to properly see out the rear windshield because it’s jam packed with stuff for a shoot, I not only have cameras giving me 360 views of the vehicle’s exterior but the rearview mirror also turns into a rear cam with the flick of a switch. But what really blew mind is learning how the vehicle is also a healthy choice for my family. The Enclave Avenir comes equipped with an ionizer. So yeah, it’s own air filtration system folks to ensure the cabin smells fresh and to keep allergies, dust, pollen, viruses at bay, leaving only the cleanest of air for passengers to inhale. Cue the “hands clapping” emoji.

Photography by Jess Baumung

Now it’s impossible for something to not have at least one flaw. Its just simply not possible for a car to be perfect and trust me, Réjean and I have tried our best to find something wrong but we just couldn’t find any holes to punch through. Minus the 3rd row being a  bit too tight in my personal opinion and the prices climbing quickly as you add on features (and starts at $61,000), the Enclave Avenir passes my test with flying colours so far. We thought perhaps the air filter system could possibly end up being a pain in the ass to maintain and service but after digging and reading up online, turns out that it doesn’t require any maintenance at all.

I have an upcoming road trip for a very special wellness experience next month in which I will be able to see how the car does with fuel consumption, comfort on a long haul drive and cargo space but in the meantime, you can head to www.buick.ca to learn more 2018 Enclave and Enclave Avenir.

5 Things You Should Consider When Looking To Hire A Trainer

I am working with a trainer for the second time in my life. The first time was while I was pregnant with Max (because I needed someone to force me to dial down and modify my workouts) and now postpartum. For years my workouts have always been with my team, a personal strength coach during my years playing tennis or workouts I created for myself. Getting back into a groove in the gym post pregnancy has been tough. Well, at least for me it has been. My body just wouldn’t move the way it used to and I was SO DAMN WEAK. I could have easily used my pelvic floor and wrist issues as an excuse to delay the hard work that was waiting for me because I was getting so discouraged but I figured if not now then when? And let’s be honest, when you’ve just had a baby people give you a free pass and tell you that you look great no matter how washed you look. If you’ve had a baby you know what I’m talking about, “Oh girl please, you JUST had a baby like yesterday and you look amazing!” But for my mental health and self confidence I had to get moving again and enlisted the help of a trainer.

There’s been so many of you sliding into my DM’s lately asking for advice on trainers like; how to find one, who is reputable in the city and why I’ve made SWAT my home for training and workouts? For me, the choosing SWAT Health was an easy decision. I needed someone who understood my limitations that came with postpartum fitness. That means, having the knowledge to put me through a Functional Movement Screen before taking a couple weeks to focus solely on creating a solid foundation again. With the plan of eventually progressing to a more intense program. A trainer who could be creative enough to come up with challenging workouts with the proper modifications for my wrist injuries. Not an easy task when it’s impossible to load any weight onto your hands. Most importantly, even though I am retired, I want to still train like an athlete. This meant the person chosen for the task probably needed to have been an athlete at some point too or experience training them, in order to come up dynamic workouts I would enjoy. I couldn’t think of anyone better than SWAT Health’s Co-Founder Kyle Ardill. The SWAT concept is based on a 360 approach to health and wellness incorporating chiropractic, physiotherapy, and massage into their offering. Since my body needs serious rebuilding right now, I am taking advantage of ALL of it. It’s been a crucial component to my journey because Kyle, Darcy (Chiro) and Phil (RMT) can all communicate to ensure they are providing me with the right rehab program within their respective disciplines to get me results. The education of the PT staff at SWAT is so diverse, the team has you covered whether you’re looking to do power lifting, HIIT/cross training, athletic based training, or group class workouts.

Kicked off my training program on January 8th with an FMS – Functional Movement Screen

So how do you find the right personal trainer? Things have gotten a little interesting in the fitness industry because of social media and it has certainly turned into a hot topic. With so much information at people’s fingertips thanks to the   internet and weekend fitness certification courses, becoming a personal trainer has replaced “handbag designer”, and “DJ” as the new fallback career in 2018. But here’s the thing folks, knowledge in personal training is not measured in a  CanFit Pro certification or having a big social media following. I think it’s also important to point out, a person’s physical appearance on Instagram doesn’t necessarily tell the whole picture. Looking fit doesn’t always mean someone has the knowledge base to train clients. There are loads of folks on the internet sharing their transformation before and after photos and using this as marketing tool to get clients and actually charge them money, which is appalling. More often than not, these transformation trainers as I like to call them, usually have leaned out because they stop putting garbage in their mouths, stopped binge drinking and started working out a bit. Not because of any well thought out training program they expertly developed for themselves. Yet, they are selling training to uneducated consumers who think they are getting a deal because their prices are competitive. And nobody should just assume that someone is a fitness expert because they have the word “fit” in their IG handle. I could go on and on but I think the point here is that people need to be informed, know what to look for and expect when hiring a professional in the field of fitness. If you’re thinking about a finding a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals, I applaud you for making this first and very important step in your fitness journey.

Here’s 5 things you should consider when looking to hire a personal trainer:

  1. Certification vs. Experience. This is usually the first mistake many people make when they begin their search for a trainer. Instead of doing their due diligence and finding out how what a trainer’s experience is in terms of diversity in disciplines, they feel satisfied knowing that the person they have chosen to train them is certified. If you’re pregnant or a new mom, the goal should be to find someone who has worked with prenatal and/or postpartum clients. You may want to know if that person has experience training an athlete, has worked with a rehab client, who has the knowledge base to change up a client’s programming on training day if they are stressed or walk into a session injured.  Someone who is passionate about fitness and continues to educate themselves through courses and programs. A trainer who reads and does research, always wanting to learn because things are always evolving. Anyone can get a certification in personal training in 48 hours but not just anyone has the extensive knowledge base to tackle a wide range of training scenarios. You want a trainer that can provide a wide range of results for a wide range of the population.
  2. Authenticity. Yes folks, your trainer should be authentic…in other words living the lifestyle. And guess what? Your trainer should also be fitter than you, not the other way around. Ever. I never could understand how people would spend their hard earned money on a trainer that looks like a bag of milk. Your trainer shouldn’t be eating their weight in chicken wings or drinking energy drinks/soda. You wouldn’t hire a dentist with bad teeth, a lawyer that has never won a case or an accountant that doesn’t have their books straight. You need someone that has some credibility. Someone who is not a contradiction to the system. Someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk.
  3. Results. What is a coach/trainer without results? Results are everything. Take the time and do your research. Ask your potential trainer for “receipts” aka show you results they helped their clients achieved. If they can’t show you results you can applaud and admire, then how can they help you reach your goals?
  4. Good Communication. This person should be an excellent listener and communicator. They have to hear what you’re saying. They can’t simply force you to do what they think you should be doing. It has to be a two way street; where they are providing you information and recommendations based on their experience in similar types of situations and the information you have given them. You both should be working together as a team. Your PT should be open and available to answer your questions and concerns outside of training via phone, email or in person. Last but not least, an excellent trainer will be able to fully explain why they are having you do the exercises in each of your workouts.
  5. Personalized Programming. There are a lot of IG famous people, Insta coaches and a plethora of template programs that people are purchasing online. You cannot pay money for a program that is not personalized. I repeat, you cannot pay for a training program that is not personalized. If that is the route you choose to go, there are tons of free options available online. Your program should be created specifically just for you based on where you are and what you want your end result to be.

The Latest Wellness App That Will Keep You Motivated in 2018!

I think most of us have good intentions when it comes to sticking to our health and fitness goals. That being said, we’re all human so it is not uncommon to get sidetracked along the way. And let’s be honest, staying motivated during the cold winter months can really be a difficult task. I’m personally finding it extremely difficult getting back into shape post baby, not to mention humbling. There’s been countless times I’ve wanted to bail on my early morning workouts so I have been relying heavily on wearable technology and apps to help me stay accountable because this has NOT been a walk in the park.
Carrot Rewards App + So Sasha

Carrot Rewards

You guys have heard me shamelessly express my love for loyalty programs over the years. I decorated Maxie’s entire nursery with items from retailers on Aeroplan’s eStore just so I could earn extra miles to go towards our first family vacay.  Well, a few weeks ago I discovered on a brilliant app called Carrot Rewards available on both Apple and Android. I’ve been using it every day since as a way to help encourage me to make healthier choices and better all-round lifestyle choices, while earning points and miles towards my favourite loyalty programs. Intrigued? Thought you’d would be. Here’s how it works…

Carrot Rewards App - So Sasha

The app is designed to help educate and reward Canadians for making better, healthier choices for themselves, for their families and for the planet. By being active and doing quizzes to learn about healthy living and wellness, Carrot users earn points from their favourite loyalty programs including Aeroplan® Miles, More Rewards® Points, SCENE®Points, Petro- Points, and Drop points and I’m told there are more loyalty reward partners to be added over the next few months.

Honestly, the app’s subtle way of getting users to increase and track their daily steps, become more physically active and make better food choices makes it one of my top fitness trends of 2018. I’ve been personally earning extra Aeroplan miles by opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator and choosing to walk to do some of my errands instead of driving around the city. The app was named Canadian App of the Year in Mobile Syrup’s 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards, and I can see why. With the app’s compatibility with my Apple watch, the steps from my workouts and runs are also accounted for and there are so many chances to earn bonus rewards when I scroll through the app by sharing my own meal prep recipes, taking quizzes on nutrition or inviting friends to join Carrot Rewards.

The “Tip of the Day” also serves as a gentle reminder for things most people may overlook

Many  Canadians fall short on Vitamin D in the winter. Turn to your diet to up your levels. Try salmon, mushrooms, eggs and fortified products like milk, soy and tofu.”

Carrot Rewards App - So Sasha

Carrot Rewards App - So Sasha
Photos by Jess Baumung

For more information, visit Carrot Rewards on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and follow along via #CarrotRewards, #WellnessRewarded and #WalkLearnEarn. Download the app for free on your Apple or Smartphone.

Carrot Rewards - So Sasha

 This post has been sponsored by Carrot Rewards, however all views and opinions are my own!

How To Safely Use hydraSense for Infant Nasal Congestion

Becoming a mother means you will pretty much be wearing your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your life. You will worry constantly about your child. You just can’t help it even if you tried. It’s an innate quality I think women have that is embedded in our DNA. It’s even worse when you are a first time mother desperately trying to learn the ropes of a new role that can be considered the toughest job on earth.

HydraSense for Babies

HydraSense for Babies

Hydrasense for babies

Maxwell has just turned five months and the learnings are endless. Just when you think you have mastered one thing and settled into a groove there is a sudden plot twist and you are back to square one. One of the most surprising discoveries came very early on just days after having Max. She had terrible nasal congestion that made it challenging for her to eat during her first week and putting her to lay down to sleep was nearly impossible. She screamed her head off, especially at night typically when anything gets worse. As new parents by the second night we were so panic stricken we rushed her to the emergency room. I remember the looks on the triage nurses faces as if to say, “We have another overreacting new mother over here thinking her newborn is dying” accompanied by an exaggerated eye roll. Seven hours later and we were told all was fine and that babies just have a lot of mucus post delivery because in the womb they are surrounded by fluid. Fast forward to today, we are still experiencing some nasal congestion to be quite honest and I think at this point it from a combination of a couple things. One, we live in a condo where air circulation and dryness can be much worse than inside a house. Two, the winter months don’t help either as the heating inside makes our place extremely dry. Plus, I am convinced that she is beginning the teething process, which can also create some congestion in the nasal passage.

Hyrasense - So Sasha

After Maxwell’s three month check-up I began using HydraSense products to help with her moderate nasal congestion as recommended by her doctor. We love that it’s a 100% natural source with seawater with more than 70 marine trace elements. They are actually the #1 nasal saline solution brand here in Canada for children and contains no medications, additives or preservatives – making it the #1 choice for Canadian mamas. Combined with our Dyson humidifier that we have set up in our room not far from her bassinet, we have seen quite a significant difference with Max’s mucus levels.

At home we apply HydraSense’s Ultra Gentle Mist twice daily During her morning wipe down and again during her bedtime routine. The nighttime application is critical because she is generally more stuffier at night and the last thing I want is for her sleep to be interrupted because of a congested nose while we are sleep training her. The bottle may  appear  large and what you would expect for an adult product but the tip is ultra soft and specially designed for use in the nostrils of infants.

Hydrasense

Hydrasense

hydrasense

To administer the spray, I put her on her back and turn her head to one side and press down on the applicator for 1-2 seconds in the upper nostril. I repeat the process on the other side and generally wait about a minute or so as she sometimes sneezes everything out. If not, I then use a nasal aspirator to remove any mucus debris still obstructing the nasal passage. The HydraSense Nasal Aspirator Kit is perfect to use during those times where there is stubborn mucus that has hardened inside your baby’s nose. It was at the top of my packing list when I was preparing for our trip to Barcelona in December and I even keep a vial or two in the diaper bag in case I need to clean her nose on the go. It comes with hydraSense EasyDose vials and the nasal aspirator has a tube with a mouthpiece and a hygienic filter that allows you to gently suck out any mucus while also prohibiting it from passing through the inhalation tube. Prior to using the aspirator, it’s best to apply 1-2 drops from the EasyDose vial into each nostril (make sure to not re-use a vial after it’s been opened). Then insert the aspirator into entrance of the nose and inhale through the mouthpiece to gently remove the mucus as needed. Once finished, I gently lift her up to allow any remaining mucus to drain out on it’s own. The final step; soak a tissue or cotton ball with hydraSense and wipe around the nose. Max has gotten so accustomed to this routine that I can even sometimes get a giggle out of her when we are use the aspirator.

Hydrasense

Hydrasense
Photography by Jess Baumung

Check out hydrasense.ca for more information on hydraSense products. To make sure this product is suitable for your baby, always read the instructions and follow the label. If your child’s symptoms persist, please contact your healthcare provider.

This post was created in partnership with hydraSense for monetary compensation and/or product however all views and opinions are my own.

New Brows, Who Dis?

Last year was life changing for me. Yes, I gave birth to a baby but that’s actually not what I’m referring to. After four years of deliberating and endless research, I finally mustered up the guts to finally go through with eyebrow microblading. I can completely understand if most of you are thinking that I am being dramatic saying that microblading was a life changing experience, but those of you judging me are also probably those who have yet to do it. That being said, I know there were so many of you out there that were curious and want all the ‘tea’ from my experience based on the hundreds of DM’s I have received since having them done.

The reason why people have so much apprehension about the procedure is because it’s semi permanent. I asked myself a thousand times, “What if shit goes wrong and I don’t like it?” because I will have to look at myself everyday and cringe. On the flip side, I also asked myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have the confidence to walk out of the house without make-up on?”  I was on the fence until I had Maxwell and right after I gave birth I felt like I needed a little pick-me-up. Plastic surgery, botox and fillers aren’t my thing, so microblading was the next best thing!

I put my trust in Nicole from BrowsxBianca. When we chatted over the phone, she explained the process and most importantly informed me that she only creates a shape that is in line with the natural flow of her client’s brows. Well, this put me a bit at ease knowing that I wouldn’t end up with eyebrows that are an entire inch higher than they should be. Also, Nicole had bladed a friend of mine last year and her brows turned out great, so that also built up my confidence. However, this particular friend of mine does not have dark skin like I do. I know all the black women out there are thinking the exact same thing right now. Yes, I thought about whether Nicole could handle working with black skin tones since she is in fact not black. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing the ink colour she would use during my consultation to make sure I was completely comfortable. I also should note, this girl knows a thing or two about lines with a background in architecture and takes the design of brows as serious as she took design work when she was working for a Toronto architecture firm.

Once we were good to go, a numbing cream was applied to my brows for about twenty minutes. This is a very crucial part to the entire process as you can imagine because this is far from painless folks. As the numbing agent did it’s thing on my face, she took that time to use a stencil to create the shape for my new brow. I can’t lie, this was a bit jarring because it’s a dramatization of what the final product would look like. Nicole reassured me she was only going to be filling in within the stencilled lines but when it’s your first time, it’s super hard to envision the end result.

Once you get into it, an actual blade is being used to make micro incisions into your brow line so ink can be placed on top. Hence the name microblading. Nicole bladed each brow three times and the numbing cream was applied before each pass. By the time the third pass came around, I literally felt nothing, thank GOD! Asking me to rate the pain just after having a baby probably isn’t fair because NOTHING trumps the pain of pushing a human out of your body, but if I had to, I would say it is a 6 out of 10. I think the sound of blade against my skin was more irritating than the actual blade itself.

After an hour and a half of not breathing much due to anxiety and impatience, I was finished and was given the mirror to see the final result. Mind f*cking blown. My brows looked effing amazing and immediately transformed my face.  When I was shown the before and after I actually almost passed out. How the hell could I have been walking around Toronto with my brows looking the way they did? (I mean, did you see the dramatic before and after pic above – yikes!) And where were my “so-called” friends pre-microblading to tell me to do something about my sad excuse for eyebrows? The funniest thing is, all this time I was going through life just thinking everyone had better brows than I did but as soon as I posted on IG stories I was having them done, more women than I could count messaged to say they had done it too and it was the best thing they have ever done. Like thaaaaaanks tips! Better late than never I guess, right?!

Photos by Nathalia Allen

The healing process takes about 7-10 days in which my brows started to dry out and get a bit crusty. Seriously, it wasn’t a big deal at all and if that was the only side effect to getting the best brows of my life, I will take it any day. While you heal you have to stay away from facials, exfoliating, tanning and most importantly excessive sweating. The latter is a hard thing for people who work out frequently and this is why I chose to do it shortly after I had Maxie because I was not working out yet. During this time they also appear much darker than they will be in the end. I know a few of you tried to call me out saying the colour looked too aggressive at first but now that the ink has settled, the colour is no different than my natural hair colour and it truly just looks like I was blessed with naturally good brows.  I was given a balm from Nicole to rub over them a couple times a day until they healed, which worked wonders and six weeks later I went in for my touch-up. Everyone MUST have a touch-up within 4-6 weeks after the initial appointment and it’s included in her price. This is just so anything missed during the first appointment can be sorted and cleaned up. I am so thrilled with the result and the best part is, I can say bye to drawing in my brows every morning and don’t have to worry about these bad boys for TWO whole years until it’s time for another touch-up.

Thank you Nicole for helping me get my whole entire life with my new brows. I am super psyched to be able to leave my house make-up free and with confidence may I add, without scaring people on the street. Good brows are a game changer people. For more information or to book an appointment, check out BrowsByBianca.com and if you have any specific questions for me, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below!

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: