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The Glow Up at Hillcrest

Shopping used to be my number one favourite pastime. That is, until Maxwell came into the picture. I know some mamas love passing the time there with their hub but the thought of fighting for one of two designated family parking spots, struggling to find somewhere to breastfeed or warm up a bottle and don’t get me started on changing diaper full of poo in a busy washroom with no privacy. Yeah, no thank you!

I had been hearing rumours about a mall mecca for mommies that promises to make the shopping experience with a baby on board not only manageable and actually convenient. I was intrigued. So much so, I was willing to compromise Max’s nap schedule to make the trek 35 minutes outside of the city to Richmond Hill to see this with my own eyes. Quite a few of you mamas that happen to live in the area have told me after seeing my IG stories that Hillcrest has been around for an eternity and had no idea about this major renovation they recently went through. Guys, the glow up is REAL! This project includes a refresh of both interior/exterior with a whole new north wing, tons of new retailers and yes some very much needed conveniences for the whole family, specifically mommy shoppers.

West Coast Kids - So Sasha
West Coast Kids has a gigantic section for baby accessories and the Bugaboo shop in shop is the perfect place to find your dream stroller. Love this updated version of the Buggaboo Bee.

West Coast Kids Hillcrest - So Sasha

Wondering if Hillcrest should be destination for your next family shopping haul? Here’s the lowdown on how it measures up based on our experience:

Location. If you live Newmarket, Markham, Thornhill or Richmond Hill, this is basically a stone’s throw away for you and I am a bit jealous of your proximity. For you downtown folk that consider anything north of Bloor St unchartered territory, if you’re are located close to one of the major highway arteries in the city, the drive to Hillcrest can be surprisingly easy as it’s a straight shot up the 404 north. Your best bet is to strategically plan to travel outside of high traffic times. I left the city around 10:20am and comfortably made it there at 11am. We left to head back to the city around 3pm (and yes we actually stayed that long) and missed most of the afternoon traffic. It isn’t located close to the highway exit and is about a 9-minute drive for the DVP still once you exit so in rush hour it could add on to your transit time.

Parking. SO. MUCH. FAMILY. PARKING. I was actually really impressed. Where you normally see anywhere from 1-4 spots allocated for family designated parking total. Hillcrest is setting the bar damn high with several…and I mean several at each of their main entrances.

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Shopping Experience/Retailers. Hillcrest doesn’t claim to be anything they are not so if you’re looking for solely high end shopping across the board, this is not the place for you. However, if you’re looking for a collection of retailers to appease the everyday shopping needs for everyone in your family, you will not be disappointed. They have the all the regular mall retailers everyone knows and loves; The Gap, H&M, Mendocino, Hudson’s Bay, SportChek, Aldo, Old Navy, Aritzia, Sephora and Indigo (opening here soon) but I think people will want to go for the stores they can’t find just anywhere like SportingLife, Miniso – a really cool Japanese specialty store that I’ve never seen before, Okaïdi, West Coast Kids and their newly opened HomeSense/Marshalls. I am always looking for decor items for the house and can never go wrong with that store. The HomeSense at Hillcrest is actually incredible. So is Marshalls. Kid you not, I spent over an hour in there picking up stuff for Max and other miscellaneous stuff that I have convinced Réjean we absolutely need. Do you remember Maxwell in this unicorn suit from my stories? I don’t know if it’s for Halloween or for everyday wear but she looked irresistible in it. If she wanted to wear just that every single day, I would totally let her.

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha
French kiddie brand Okaïdi has a European vibe, great quality and amazing price points

I spent the rest of my time powering shopping. I passed through Artizia like a Tornado and copped a super cute skirt and classic tee that I plan to wear next week to an event with Maxwell. There was a quick stop in at Sephora to quickly stock up on some Tatcha products and I was even able to find some great pieces to create a couple fall looks for Réj at SportingLife before dedicating the rest of my time to all things baby.

HillcrestGlowUp - So Sasha
Just 1/4 of the West Coast Kids location at Hillcrest. It truly is your one-stop shop for all things baby and kids with the best collections and unique products

West Coast Kids

West Coast Kids - So Sasha

West Coast Kids Hillcrest - So Sasha

West Coast Kids Hillcrest - So Sasha

West Coast Kids - So Sasha
Love, Love, LOVE these books especially the ones specific to Toronto!

We also found a super cool store named Okaïdi. It’s a French brand that has recently landed here in Canada, with only a couple locations to date. The baby girl collection is quite adorable and super affordable so Maxie got to take home some new outerwear and dresses to take her through the season. The newborn and baby collections remind me of clothing that I found in boutiques when we were in Barcelona but the prices are more aligned with Zara Kids and H&M. But truthfully friends, the mall’s piéce de resistance is West Coast Kids. I think there is one other location, but it pales in comparison to the one you will find at Hillcrest. Hands down the best and largest collection of merchandise for kiddos from newborn to teens. Every square inch of the of the space has speciality items ranging from books and apparel inspired by our city of Toronto, super fun accessories, high end outerwear – Mackage parka’s for toddlers if you can believe, tees inspired by hip hop, the cutest footwear to keep your mini in style through all of Canada’s seasons, the coolest strollers and nursery items that will have you rethinking your decorating choices. I wanted everything in the store for Max. EVERYTHING. And tried to justify she needed it all too, plus a new nursery LOL. I did exercise some restraint and left with a couple of cute dresses, some new books for her reading collection and the YYZ sweatshirt you guys have seen her rocking on my stories from Canadian brand Posh & Cozy.

HillcrestGlowUp- So Sasha

West Coast KIds - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Hillcrest - So Sasha

West Coast Kids - So Sasha

Food. You will find the regular food court restos here and even a Panera Bread location, however it’s not actually connected to the mall. There are some tasty speciality spots like Uncle Tetsu’s for those who are obsessed with the Japanese cheesecakes that people line up for year round at the downtown location, Bake Code and Chatime (hello, my fave!) for the bubble tea aficionados. After all the cardio I did shopping for hours my last stop of the day was actually at Chatime for a Mango bubble tea and a matcha croissant – and yes both were they are insanely delish.

Hillcrest - So Sasha

Mommy/Family Amenities. The extra family designated parking spots are one thing but Hillcrest really knocked it out of park with some of the extra conveniences they thought of for families. The mall is actually all one level so it makes navigating with a stroller and young toddlers simple. Both men’s and women’s washrooms have baby change stations so the dad’s need not worry when they venture to this alone with the kids. For the mamas who are still breastfeeding, you’re going to love this…they have a nursing room so you can feed your bub quietly in private and wait for it, the Guest Experience Kiosk offers complimentary diaper kits plus baby bottle warming. It’s located a bit away from where the nursing room and washrooms, but it’s nice to not have to run around a food court asking for milk to be heated. I actually used the service when we were finished shopping so Max could have a bottle for the ride back home.

Hillcrest - So Sasha

HILLCREST FINAL ROUNDUP

Was it worth the drive to Hillcrest? Yes. Would I return to shop? 100%. I’m already planning our next visit and will probably do it with a few girlfriends and their kids. I am in need of a little refresh on our holiday décor so that is the perfect excuse to go back and the Homesense there is bound to have everything I need. Plus, there are loads of things I still want to get for Maxie at Okaïdi and West Coast Kids.

Intrigued? Head over to HillcrestMall.ca for all the details on the renovation, new store openings, promos, and upcoming events.

This post is in formal partnership with Hillcrest for either monetary compensation or product however all opinions are my own.

Canada Goose Opens First Flagship Store in Toronto

If you live someplace where you must endure freezing cold temps between the months of December and March, you have probably become very well acquainted with Canada Goose. I’ve collected various styles from the Canadian born Arctic luxury apparel brand over the years that has allowed me to survive some of the coldest winters in history and brisk spring weather without sacrificing style.

Canada Goose opens its doors in the city it calls home (CNW Group/Canada Goose)

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Last night Canada Goose opened the doors to it’s first flagship store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto’s premier retail destination, which is getting a ton of press lately for it’s highly anticipated luxury retail expansion. About 10x’s larger than it may have appeared on my Insta and Snapchat stories, the 4,500 sqft space features Canadian design elements that help to bring the brand’s story to life. Canada Goose Canadian roots are clearly on display in the store with bespoke design elements that connect the space to it’s Canadiana roots; like the ridiculously stunning, oversized single piece marble desk, which was commissioned all the way from B.C. Plus the handmade, down filled upholstered furniture from Montreal based company, Montauk Sofa. And there is no shortage of options to choose from inside – trust me! With well over 100 different styles in 40 colour ways, Toronto’s flagship will house the largest variety of product anywhere in the world.

Canada Goose opens its doors in the city it calls home (CNW Group/Canada Goose)

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

And if you’re going to drop upwards of $1000 on a winter jacket, you deserve a first class shopping experience, right? If you’re in the market for premium outerwear this season, you can expect nothing but first class service from the store’s brand ambassadors; who are also more than happy to hold your purchases while you continue to shop the mall and will give you store carry-out to car or ship-to-home service if requested.

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Opening Ceremony for Canada GooseWearing Opening Ceremony for Canada Goose exclusive black Chilliwack bomber

Photos by Jess Baumung

And I’m sure you’re all wondering whether or not special collaborations will be available in store. Everyone has been chatting about the brand’s recent work with Opening Ceremony and star Blue Jay player José Bautista and lucky for us Torontonians, both are expected to be available here in addition to exclusive in-store only styles, prints and colours. Get a glimpse at vintage pieces from the Canada Goose six decade archive and purchase both classic collections and new pieces at the flagship, which is open to the public now!

Yorkdale Celebrates Black Friday + Shopping Gift Card Giveaway

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.

Ani + Wren | Toronto’s Chic Lifestyle and Maternity Boutique

Ani + Wren

This may come across as extremely shallow but the thought of having to wear nothing but Lululemon joggers during a pregnancy makes me more nauseous than first trimester morning sickness. I cannot even count how many girlfriends I have who struggled to maintain their style while being preggers – not to mention the countless designer jeans they cut the tops off of to sew in an elasticized waistband, just to be able to still rock their fave skinny jeans.

Ani + Wren

Thankfully sister-in-laws Lani and Lauren Levy has been so kind as to open a fabulous lifestyle and clothing boutique in the heart of Rosedale with some pretty dope contemporary brand that have been carefully curated so that women can actually wear these pieces before, during and post pregnancy – how brilliant is that? Similar to most genius ideas, this concept was born after Lauren (Wren) struggled to find clothes that reflected her personal style aesthetic with her growing baby bump. With the sissy’s winning combination of Business/Commerce and Apparel Buying backgrounds and superb store location, there is no doubt in my mind that Ani + Wren is going to be a huge success.

Ani + Wren

Ani + Wren

Ani + Wren

What to you can expect to see at Ani + Wren: A stunning, light space with exposed brick and clothing racks made out of plumbing pipes, plush, over-sized change rooms perfect for mom’s toting two toddlers and a Maclaren stroller, cult denim labels, chic evening wear, trendy outerwear, not be be outdone by some MAJOR accessories and lifestyle products. With brands like 360 Sweater, Anniel, DL1961, DVF, Enza Costa, JBrand, Paige, Rebecca Minkoff and Vince (just to name a few), it makes it easy peasy for women in different stages of pregnancy and different styles to shop in the boutique . And let me be frank…I love the idea that I can also find stuff for myself while out shopping with my preggo gal pals.

Ani + Wren is located at 1172 Yonge Street Toronto, ON. 416.944.1260 www.aniandwren.com

CONTEST: Thanks to the beautiful ladies at Ani + Wren, I am able to giveaway a special package of pampering treats from UK company Bloom and Blossom that would be perfect for new/expecting mothers or let’s face it, any beauty obsessed junkie. The package will include an indulgent bath oil, revitalizing leg & foot spray and the brand’s best selling anti-stretch mark cream. Bloom and Blossom is a premium skincare line from the UK for expecting mothers, yummy mummy’s and babies using the minimum number of ingredients to achieve maximum results – with no harmful ingredients or additives.

*Entering the giveaway is simple…you must be following both myself and Ani + Wren on Twitter and tweet me stating the following, “I want to win the Bloom and Blossom beauty package! #AniandWrenGiveaway”. Contest closes on Thursday November 21st at 6PM EST and the lucky winner will be announced on Friday November 22nd at noon EST. Good Luck!!!!

**Contest open to U.S. and Canadian residents ONLY**

You’re Invited: Toast the Town with Elle Magazine + Ann Taylor at Yorkdale Shopping Centre

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It’s going to be a shopping event you won’t want to miss ladies…tomorrow you are all invited to be a guest at the Elle Magazine x Ann Taylor Pop-Up party at the Ann Taylor store inside Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Come in and shop their amazing Pre-Holiday collection (trust me…it’s pretty fab), outerwear and gorge accessories while enjoying some sweet treats and tunes spun by a DJ.

I will be there with my fellow Ann Taylor Brand Ambassador Nelia Belkova to assist with makeovers and styling advice so stop by for an hour…or three for some fun and fashion!!! We hope to see you there…

Ann Taylor, Yorkdale Mall…Thursday November 14th 5-8pm

Kate Hudson for Ann Taylor Summer 2013 Capsule Collection

Ann Taylor_Kate Hudson

My newly adopted fashion family, Ann Taylor, has some very exciting things planned for this Spring/Summer season. The first being the debut of the Kate Hudson for Ann Taylor exclusive capsule collection. I mean, who is more cute and cool than Kate Hudson? Known for their sophisticated and stylish separates, that I have grown to adore, the brand was inspired by Hudson’s love for fashion and red carpet glamour which resulted in a super chic, limited edition collection of white summer pieces and gorge rose gold accessories – that I cannot wait to get my hands on!

“I’m so excited bout the capsule collection and working with Ann Taylor. It was such an honor when they asked me to come back for the campaign and to work on a collection inspired by my personal style. We have a great relationship – it’s really fun! I love how Lisa Axelson, Ann Taylor’s Creative Director, picked up on my personal style and helped turn it into a very chic, incredibly wearable collection!” Hudson said.

What can you expect in the collection? a flowy white maxi skirt, fabulous take on the “Little White Dress” (my fave), stunning platform heels, halter & tanks, statement jewelry, etc from $58-$158. You can view the collection at here and is available both in store and online nationwide on May 22nd and to celebrate Hudson’s first fashion collabo, Ann Taylor is hosting a “White Party” at their retail locations across the country on Wednesday, May 22nd from 6pm-8pm where guests will be invited to shop the collection. Make sure to not miss out and stay tuned for some of my fave looks from this capsule collection…

XO,

S

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