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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

Welcome to the Family Buick Envision

Bringing a new life into the world can be both exciting and terrifying for new parents. Even though you may have months to prepare for the arrival, the unknown and the what-if’s to come can be unnerving. As one might imagine, I spent most of my pregnancy researching and acquiring all the baby products I felt we needed for Maxwell in her first few months of life and quickly realized at the end of the summer that I may need a new vehicle to match my new lifestyle as an “Urban Mum”.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter

I have had my license for 20 years ( and you can stop trying to calculate my age right now!) and consider myself to be a great driver but let me tell you something, nothing scared me more than the thought of being behind the wheel of a car with a newborn baby. Most of my anxiety came from not trusting the other drivers out there. I literally became fixated on finding a car that came with as much safety technology as possible to protect us on the road. I also realized quite quickly that this new vehicle would have to be adequate in size to accommodate all the new (and mandatory) things I now needed every time I left the house. Not to mention, one with cool-air ventilated front seats to help me get me through the end of summer and fall because I’ve been a sweaty mess for months thanks to my hormones. And if I can be completely honest with you, I needed a car that also just looked pretty damn cool. The “Mum” title can immediately put you into a category of un-coolness, especially when it comes to vehicles. What I wanted was something sleek enough for my city events, roomy enough to handle long road trips plus all the extra crap that comes with having a baby, next level safety features and tech savvy to handle my work needs on-the-go because a traditional maternity leave doesn’t quite exist for me. That seems like a tall order I know, but the 2017 Buick Envision miraculously ticked all the boxes, making it the perfect addition to the family just before Maxwell’s arrival.

So many of you commented and private messaged me on social media about the Envision. Some of you surprised. Most of you intrigued. Just like the old adage, “you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover” the same can ring true about Buick’s latest fleet of vehicles. They are far from the Buick’s of the past but I know for many, it’s hard to call them a luxury brand since it occupies something of a middle ground between mainstream and high-end. Turns out, the Envision easily competes with other cross-overs in it’s class like the Lexus RX, Lincoln MKC, Audi Q5 and it’s natural rival the Acura RDX, providing more value for money in my personal opinion. Here’s what has me hooked on the 2017 Buick Envision during our first month with the vehicle so far – making it worth a look if you’re in the market for something new, safe and stylish as a new mom or mom-to-be.

Heavy on Safety and Tech Features

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The Envision has more features than you could possibly imagine. I kid you not, even the base model at $35k has a rear camera, OnStar telematics, 4G WiFi hotspot, active noise cancellation, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, 4 USB jacks and an 8-inch LCD center stack, XM Satellite radio, just to name a few. With my newly acquired anxiety about vehicle and driving safety with my baby, it was a no brainer to go with the Premium II version, which comes in around $50K, that literally comes with every single alert and assist feature possible available on a vehicle in today’s market:

  • Forward Collision Alert (FCA) System to help avoid front-end crashes by alerting the driver with flashing alerts and a pulsing seat if you’re approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly.
  • Forward Automatic Braking designed to automatically engage the brake system if the car detects you may crash into a vehicle ahead of you.
  • Lane Keep Assist helps to avoid crashes due to unintentional lane shifting/departures and just like a guardian angel will assist by gently turning the steering wheel to keep you in your intended lane, if it detects your drifting towards another lane without using a turn signal in that direction.
  • Plus, surround vision cameras which gives you a 360 view around the vehicle and comes with the car’s Driver Confidence Package.

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

What has me hooked…

I will never stop singing my praises for wifi connectivity in Buick’s. I have raved about this feature many times driving media fleet vehicles from GM Canada but now that Maxie is here, I am able utilize our wifi access to play lullaby’s for the her via Spotify and YouTube. We’re currently obsessed with “Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay”. The front camera has come in pretty clutch too, and helping me navigate into tight parallel parking spots downtown that I would previously never attempt. Oh, and by simply pressing the blue On-Star button, I get access to a 24 hour operator who can do everything from suggest the best Italian restaurants within 10 kms, send turn by turn directions to the car if I am lost and even acts as emergency roadside assistance.

Size & Design

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

The SUV market has something for everything I believe in terms of size. For my current needs, I was looking for something compact but still roomy. I also preferred a more comfortable ride over sporty handling for obvious reasons. Nestled perfectly between the brand’s subcompact Encore and the larger three row Enclave is where I found the Envision. During my final weeks of pregnancy I was patting myself on the back for not choosing a full size SUV knowing I would have struggled climbing into the driver’s side. The Envision’s height made it easy for me to get in and out of the car, even a week past my due date. It also turned out to be the perfect height for my pup and little nephew to climb in on their own as well.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision Buick Style - So Sasha
Left rear bench is reclined back to reveal the option of additional space for back seat passengers

2017 Buick Envision - So Sasha

2017 Buick Envision
A hidden storage compartment makes it easy to store vehicle and personal items

A compact crossover it may be but rear seat passengers will find the extra few inches desirable in the back as the rear bench slides back and reclines to allow more leg room; a feature we will no doubt enjoy on upcoming road trips. As for the trunk space…quite impressive for a compact crossover. More than adequate for our little family now with 27 cubic feet available, although I have only tested out the space with our Bugaboo stroller chassis. The trunk easily converts to 57 cubic feet when one of the rear seats is folded down into a 60/40 split. I am sure over the coming months I will have plenty of opportunities to test out the different space configurations. To ensure I have optimal storage space back there for larger items like the stroller, there is a hidden compartment underneath the floor of the trunk perfect for storing personal items. It’s actually also a brilliant way to hide any valuables in the car that you wouldn’t want seen and potentially stolen. When it comes to small(er) SUV’s, it’s not uncommon to find small sunroofs…one of my pet peeves. A panoramic moonroof extends into the car’s rear cabin making the interior bright and airy even with my dark leather appointed interior.

2017 Buick Envision

2017 Buick Envision

What has me hooked…

While warm days with sunlight streaming through the windows and moonroof is great for most passengers, it’s not always the most ideal for teeny tiny babies confined to their car seats in the back. However, the size of the Envision’s moonroof allows me to close the moonroof cover half way to provide shade for Maxi in the rear but to still allow ample sunlight in the front cabin. My hidden storage compartment in the trunk is one of the best things since sliced bread. I have used these compartments in recent weeks for extra diapers, wipes and drop sheets for Maxie instead of stuffing more than necessary into her diaper bag. I have even left clothes, extra shoes to change into if my feet start getting sore on the road and even my laptop between meetings.

More Bang For Your Buck

I know this all sounds amazing but the question on everyone’s mind is always the pricing; and rightfully so. The base model starts in and around $35k with freight while there is four other trim line’s (Preferred, Essence, Premium and Premium II) ranging from $36-50K. With the base model coming in so strong with all it’s features, it’s actually a better choice and more bang for your buck over the Preferred trim line which only offers a dozen or so additional minor features . But if music, enhanced safety, and heated (front and rear)/ventilated seats are your thing, then the top two tier trim lines would definitely be for you.

2017 Buick Envision - Sasha Exeter
Photography by Elaine Fancy

We no doubt have tons of adventures ahead in the Envision and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to start creating our first family moments and share them with you guys. For more information on the all new Envision or other vehicles within the Buick line-up head to Buick.ca.

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