I absolutely love natural beauty products so I was excited when I was gifted a little pocket farmacy from a client the day before I departed on a long haul flight to Ireland to spend Christmas and New Year with my family. I had been using a Saje Pain Release spray for a couple of months after my daily yoga practice to deal with any tight muscles and had found it amazing so I was really chuffed when I was given this wallet filled with products. The Saje Pocket Farmacy is revitalizing, supportive, and soothing, as well as incredibly convenient.
I decided to pack the little kit of miracle oils in my backpack to accompany me on the long journey, which included a layover at Chicago O’Hare before flying on to Dublin. I should mention that I’m usually left with about 2-3 days severe bloating after a long flight which makes flying a very unpleasant experience for me. One of the oils is called ‘Eater’s Digest‘ and I figured I’d give it a go to see if it would help with the bloating. The ingredients include Fennel, Chamomile, and Peppermint. Fennel and Peppermint are known to help relieve gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea and Chamomile is known for its relaxation and calming effects.
I applied the oil to my stomach about 4 times throughout the flight, which when applied starts to tingle and almost numb the stomach. It’s actually a really pleasant sensation. I’m happy to report I didn’t feel bloated at all on any flight, or afterward. I haven’t stopped talking about this oil for 3 weeks, I’m amazed I didn’t find it earlier.
The kit also includes the popular Peppermint Halo, a headache remedy containing Peppermint, Lavender and Rosemary. I relied on this oil while traveling to fight off any pressure headaches and to revitalize myself when I landed. Goodbye Jet-Lag!
Another favorite of mine is the Immune oil, used to relieve symptoms of flu such as colds and coughs. Don’t you just hate it when people are coughing and spluttering in the confined space of an aircraft? I do. Thanks to Immune, I was able to get through the flight with no side effects. This magic oil contains Cinnamon, Eucalyptus (amazing!) & Tea Tree.
Also included in the kit is Stress Release and Pain Release, two other oils that I use on a daily basis. The convenience of this kit is absolutely wonderful and I’m really impressed with the results. Thank you Saje!
New Year, New Me. I’ve spent the past four months immersing myself in self-growth. Yoga, meditation, and all that powerful stuff. Welcome back to another installment of Gas & Gander.
It’s exactly three years since I made that incredibly random and rash decision to pack up a suitcase and fly to Northern India. I wasn’t getting what I needed from life in the West. In fact I didn’t really know what I needed. I was going full speed on the highway to a mental breakdown. Thanks to Liz Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love, I stumbled upon a three month intense yoga & meditation course at an institute buried away in the Himalayan Mountains in a spiritual place called Rishikesh. Here’s the thing about me, when I get a notion of doing something, I’ll do just about everything to make it happen. It was only about 3 weeks after India first came into my head that I boarded a flight to Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi. I didn’t know it at the time but this trip was to change everything for me.
Rewind to February 2014, it’s 1am and I’ve just arrived to Delhi. There must be about 10,000 people in the arrivals terminal, each of them holding name cards. I’m flustered, jet lagged, and incredibly anxious. It takes about 45 minutes until I finally locate my driver in the outside carpark, which also appears to be home to several cows. Once I find him he tells me he’s been patiently waiting 12 hours for my arrival. We drive to a nearby hotel to pick up a connection of mine who is also taking part in the course in Rishikesh. Emma and I bond over masala chai and lots of laughs on a slightly terrifying trip to Rishikesh. We’re inseparable for the next three months.
Arriving to the Association of Yoga & Meditation, we unpack, explore, and within a few days we’re living like the locals. It’s exactly what I hoped it would be. Our days start with meditation in the wee hours of the morning which is then followed by the Ashtanga Primary Series. I can’t even touch my toes when I arrive in India and have absolutely no prior experience with yoga. I look around in envy as my fellow students bend themselves into shapes I can only dream of. I thought I was preparing by doing daily spin classes at my local gym back home… huge no no I later found out. However, what I later learned, yoga is not just about asana. Asana (posture) is just one limb of an eight limbed system in Ashtanga.
Other academic activities included learning Sanskrit, mantras, philosophy, biology, and yoga therapy. We spent our free time exploring the town, running from monkeys, and tasting the food at almost every restaurant. Eating at the restaurants is a great experience, until it’s not, and you find yourself stuck in your room for 24 hours. Saying no more on that subject.
The time in Rishikesh flies by and before I know it I’m hugging goodbye to some truly incredible people and boarding a flight back to Northern Ireland. I feel changed from the inside out and I’m so grateful to my parents for supporting what seemed like an absurd idea three months prior.
Fast forward to August last year, I haven’t been to a yoga class in almost two years. I feel spiritually and mentally lost. I have no idea what direction my life is taking. My experience of India has stuck with me almost everyday since I left however I wasn’t prepared to return to a chaotic work schedule and had other priorities when I moved to Toronto & I somehow lost my passion for spirituality. It took me some time after moving to Vancouver in 2016 to ground myself, but I’m luckily in a position now where I can devote more time to myself.
I initially was inspired to return to my practice after reading a story by Paige Williams on Oprah. Paige devoted herself to 60 classes of Bikram yoga in 60 days. After reading about her experience, and many others who have undergone transformations with a 60 day bikram challenge, I decided to sign up for classes at Bikram Yoga Commerical Drive. Once I set my mind to something, especially a challenge, I’m determined to see it through. I figured it would be difficult with my work schedule, however I made it work. At the end of 60 days, I felt like a new person. I had quit smoking, I didn’t drink alcohol, I was eating a much healthier diet, and my body had been transformed. I felt stronger, more flexible, happier, and more grounded. I didn’t miss one class throughout the entire challenge, no matter how I felt, I saw it through, and I’m pretty damn proud of myself.
After my Bikram challenge, I wanted to keep going to class, however I found that the practice wasn’t taking me where I wanted to go. I felt I couldn’t progress past where I was after 60 days, I couldn’t go deeper with my pranayama practice (breathing) and meditation. Physically, the practice was everything I wanted but mentally, it wasn’t.
It was just a few days after completing my challenge that I found Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver. I called Fiona Stang, certified Ashtanga teacher, and owner of the AYV shala that I now practice at six days a week. I’ve been at AYV for just over two months now and find I’ve gone deeper in my practice than I ever could have imagined. This practice has again transformed me from the inside out. I’ve started making more conscious decisions and feel like an entirely new person. I feel devoted and determined. Ashtanga is a life long practice, and one I hope to be doing for many years. Finally, I feel as though I’ve found my Guru, the teacher who is taking me from darkness to light.
Everything in my life now revolves around my yoga practice. I’ve made it my number one priority, and in ways I’m lucky that I have no other main responsibilities aside from an incredible and enjoyable job. My passion for this practice takes me to new places everyday and I’m never really prepared for what will happen. I’m sucking up every single bit of information that I possibly can surrounding this practice and spirituality. I’ve recently transitioned to vegetarian, I’m still off cigarettes, I don’t enjoy drinking alcohol, I avoid drugs, and I’m happy to say that I haven’t been sick or run down since beginning my practice again. I’m in the best place I’ve been mentally in a long time. What I’ve learnt is that it’s ok to fall out of practice for a while, and it may take some time, but you’ll find your way back to your mat again. I’m also learning that showing up on my mat everyday is all it takes to deepen my practice, I may be less flexible than I was yesterday, I may feel weaker, I may be in pain, but I’m doing my practice. I’m not getting discouraged by how I perform the asana everyday because I know that by just showing up every morning at 5:30am is good enough and that I’m transforming myself each and everyday regardless. I feel blessed.
I’ve also been reading some incredible books lately which I’ll share in another post.
Looking back on the past eight years at some of the amazing shoots I’ve been a part of. Credits to those I’ve had the pleasure of working with; Vogue Paris, American Vogue, Vogue Russia, Vogue Italy, L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Hommes, GQ, Elle Korea, Elle USA, LUI, Purple Magazine, Paper Magazine, Dior, Maison Kitsuné, The Coveteur, Costume National, Louis Vuitton, Catherine Malandrino & Sophie Theallet, to name just a few of my favourites.
Rather than a traditional post I thought I’d share some of my favourite jobs with you. Life as a fashion assistant for three incredibly inspiring Editors in New York & Paris over the years. An invaluable experience and one I’ll never forget. Some advice to my fellow fashion industry assistants – stick it out and enjoy the ride.
Remain one step ahead at all times and always arrive on set prepared and positive regardless of what disasters may arise. You’ll likely spend hours unpacking suitcases, steaming, dressing models, undressing models, repacking suitcases, receiving samples and returning samples but despite the hard work involved, it’s entirely worth it. You may even end up guarding tens of millions of dollars of diamonds surrounded by an entourage of five security guards. Yes, that was pretty cool. You may love it at times & you may hate it at times but one thing you’ll always do is appreciate it.
This post is dedicated to Celine & Delphine Danhier, Azza Yousif & Adele Cany, thanks for sharing your incredible talent with me.
Where: Dior Headquarters, Paris Who: Lucie de la Falaise For: The Coveteur
Where: Paris, France Wearing: Valentino For: Vogue Russia Editor: Azza Yousif
Wearing: Roberto Cavalli, La Perla & Harry Winston
Dior sneaker release Shot in Paris with Azza Yousif
Where:Dior Show, Paris Fashion Week Editor: Azza Yousif
Where: Paris, France For: Dior Japan Editor: Azza Yousif
Who: Supermodel Natalia Vodianova For: Etam
Where: St Tropez Who: Sara Sampaio For: Lui Magazine
Campaign: Maison Kitsuné Styled by: Azza Yousif
Who: Caroline de Maigret Wearing: Chanel For: American Vogue September Issue Editor: Azza Yousif
Centrally located on Sunset Boulevard, The Jeremy Hotel is a mid-century modern oasis and an escape from the outside world. I arrive to the hotel on Wednesday morning just a few days after the grand opening. Staying here for five nights is an absolute pleasure and I plan to indulge and enjoy every moment appreciating the true beauty surrounding me.
It’s not often that I find myself focusing on the interior design while reviewing a hotel, I mostly focus on the stay itself, the environment, and the food. However, at West Hollywood’s newest hotspot, The Jeremy Hotel, I’ve found myself inspired by the stunning surroundings and elegant design. Understated luxury and a step back in time, at the Jeremy I’m surrounded by the great influence of Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen, Alvar Aalto, and Florence Knoll.
Hidden in the lower basement level lies one of the most stunning hotel lobbies I’ve ever set eyes on, it’s a sneak peak into what the rest of the property holds and I’m overcome with excitement to explore. The attention to detail is simply breathtaking, I feel as though I’m on location for Architectural Digest.
Futuristic, incredibly well designed, and with an airy upbeat vibe. A modern day playlist loops throughout the property while a consistent curated fragrance surrounds me. A hotel unlike any other I’ve frequented, the atmosphere at The Jeremy Hotel is cozy and entirely unique.
Saarinen coffee tables are complimented by Aalto lounge chairs and brass bookcases which are lined with coffee table books, cacti, modern day accents and one of a kind handmade ceramics. Colorful art is carefully curated on the concrete walls bringing this wildly beautiful hotel to life.
Chic, understated, and welcoming, the hotel lobby boasts several seating areas, a swanky tech lounge, and a cool cafe serving up a variety of freshly squeezed juices, sandwiches, pastries, and other healthy snacks. The Etcho Cafe is open for breakfast 7-10:30am, lunch from 11-4pm, and dinner from 5-10pm. Takeaway is also available between 7am-10pm. I recommend the in-house pop tart stuffed with fig and topped with brown sugar.
It’s not long before I elevate up to my Sunset King Room on the eighth floor which has an incredible view of the city and the pool below. The beauty of the room keeps up with the spectacular design standards of the rest of the hotel. It includes a separate seating area and gorgeous marble bathroom. I could very happily move in and never leave.
It’s been a long day and I decide to take an afternoon nap, which let’s be real should only last 15-20 minutes but actually goes on for more than an hour and I finally come out of my deep coma feeling revitalized. In other words, the bed is incredibly comfortable.
It’s been a while since I’ve stayed at a hotel on business and actually felt the eagerness to kick back, relax, and enjoy the luxury amenities surrounding me on my downtime, so after checking in I make my way down to the 2nd floor rooftop pool, whip off my t-shirt and lay back to enjoy the panoramic view of Los Angeles, taking an occasional dip to cool off. Also on the second floor is a state of the art gym and a relaxing lounge serving nibbles all day long.
Wednesday evening at the hotel is spent catching up with my friend Diego at Joao, the lobby bar which is inspired by old Hollywood. We relax on the outside terrace watching the sunset in the distance. It’s a perfect evening and I’m looking forward to the rest of my stay at The Jeremy.
Make the Jeremy Hotel your home on your next trip to the star studded city. With rooms starting at $300 per night, the Jeremy is affordable, central, and an incredible experience.
Haneli barediddu – “what is written on the forehead”
In Western culture we’re born into a life of privilege regardless of our social and economic status. We have the right to food and water, we have the right to freedom, and most importantly, we have the right to an education. Education gives us the opportunity to make a difference in the world, even just the basic life, language, and math skills are enough for us to go on and shape our own future. Something we so often take for granted.
The quote at the beginning of this posts refers to India’s caste system which dates back thousands of years. People were divided into four groups; the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Shudras. Below these groups were the ‘Dalits’, otherwise known as the “untouchables”. Considered inferior and impure, the Dalits are, at birth, considered less than human.
The Dalits are born into a society where education is not a right and they’re deemed to a life of laborious work and unbearable suffering. Carrying and bashing rocks all day in the quarries, cleaning houses, living in a small hut with their families, and surviving on less than $2 per day. Dalits continue face discrimination and segregation throughout India, with many people not wanting to touch them, eat with them, or socialize with them. Our everyday complaints are nothing compared to those people we tend to block out of our minds.
One place that has made a tremendous difference on the futures of the “untouchables” is Shanti Bhavan.
Located on the outskirts of Bangalore, Shanti Bhavan is an Indian boarding institution for the poorest of the poor. A school unlike any other, Shanti Bhavan takes children away from their families at the age of 4 from villages in the three surrounding states. One child from each family is selected to attend the school with the hopes that they’ll go on to make a difference for their entire family. These children come from the lowest caste in India and until Shanti Bhavan it was unheard of that they could be educated and go on to lead a more privileged life. Shanti Bhavan supports the children from their first day of school right through to their first day of work.
Founder Dr Abraham George believes that by helping one child, that one child will then go on to help one hundred more, one thousand more, or maybe even one million more if they go on to become a national leader.
He focuses on good and loving care, bringing up these children as if they’re his own, teaching them good values, offering them excellent education, putting them through good colleges, and watching them succeed. The children at Shanti Bhavan look up to Dr George as if he were their father. An incredibly inspiring man who feeds, clothes and educates the children right through to their young adult years.
Students are sent home to see their families twice a year, which many of them express leaves them feeling as though they’re living double lives; one in their villages surrounded by extreme poverty and one at Shanti Bhavan, the one that continues to give them hope and inspiration for the future.
Despite facing financial problems in the past, Founder Dr George and his son Ajit, who oversees operations between India and New York, have never given up hope for the school or the futures of these children.
I first heard of Shanti Bhavan in Madelaine Grant’s documentary ‘The Backward Class’ which follows the 12th graders right before they undergo their ISC (India School Certificate). The ISC exam will determine whether or not the children will be accepted into college to further their education.
The teenagers, having lived at Shanti Bhavan for most of their young adult lives, feel an immense amount of pressure to succeed as Shanti Bhavan’s first graduating class. Come the end of the documentary, we see them go on to be accepted into the top colleges in India, studying subjects like physics and engineering, and later going on to work at prestigious companies such as Mercedes Benz and Goldman Sachs. They continue to support their families by contributing between 10-50% of their salaries. To watch the 12th graders in this documentary is phenomenal, it’s living proof of the forgotten potential of the rural poor and that being given the opportunity to succeed is priceless.
For more information on Shanti Bhavan, tune into Vanessa Roth’s much anticipated NETFLIX documentary Daughters of Destiny, a four part series that premiered worldwide on Friday evening. Roth films the students of Shanti Bhavan over a period of seven years and perfectly captures the beauty of the school and the pure ambition and strength of its students. Watch the children as they grow, listen to their dreams, their worries, their hopes, and their obstacles.
Over the past 20 years, The Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project has produced a generation of engineers, lawyers, scientists, and journalists. There are many ways to get involved either by donating or volunteering at the school. Shanti Bhavan are currently fundraising to open their second boarding school in India, one that will help hundreds more children break the poverty cycle and finally put an end to the caste system.
Walking into an Aesop store is like walking into a museum of impeccably curated beauty and personal care products. A store unlike any other, simply unique and timeless. I’ve visited Aesop stores all over the world and each one, although staying true to their brand DNA, is entirely different. Each store encapsulates the surrounding beauty of the location in which its placed. Store design and the story behind each Aesop brick & mortar is something we’ll explore together more in my next post.
Aesop (pronounced e-sop, not a-sop) is an Australian cosmetics brand that was founded in Melbourne in 1987 by hairdresser Dennis Paphitis. Aesop, unlike any other beauty brand on the market, invests an enormous amount of time and effort into their product offering. We don’t see a new ‘miracle product’ hit the store floor every month. Everything, although it appears effortless, takes an incredible amount of research and energy. Referring to an SPF15 Moisturizer that launched back in 2012, it took ten years to perfect before it hit the market.
For the first time, Aesop has introduced a trio of stunning Aromatique Room Sprays into their permanent collection. The range offers up three distinctive new scents to the brand. Dr Kate Forbes, Aesop’s General Manager of Products said “The Room Sprays were created to revive the senses and redefine your living or working environment with uplifting, calming aromas. Each Room Spray features botanical extracts of the finest quality to provide an enduring scent to transform your space, and subtly dissipate over time.”
Cythera, one of the three scents, celebrates its Hellenic namesake’s history and herculean spirit of resilience with a robust blend of Neroli, Geranium and Patchouli. The formulation combined with Ambrette and Myrrh results in a warm, woody and stirring aroma.
Istros is a uplifting blend of Pink Pepper, Lavender and Mimosa layered with warm undertones of Cedar and Sandalwood. A hint of Tobacco remains to ground its refined character. Istros was named after an ancient Greek port town on the Black Sea.
The final room spray in the collection is Olous, a scent created to honor a city long lost to the Mediterranean seabed, this scent offers a melody of Bergamot and Jasmine, matched delicately with Galbanum (a gum resin with a pleasant odor obtained from certain Asian plants of the genus Ferula, typically used in incense) and Cardamom, Cedar and Incense.
Aesop developed the Aromatique Room Sprays over two years, refining the individual aromas with care. Dr Forbes continues “Aesop is synonymous with scent so it felt like a natural evolution for us to introduce Aromatique Room Sprays as a permanent addition to our range. Our desire was to create three considered scents to offer discrete choice and stimulate the senses, so we combined unorthodox and evocative ingredients to develop the new Room Spray collection.
As an additional offering, Aesop has collaborated with celebrated American composer, musician, instrumentalist, and activist Jesse Paris Smith to create three original tracks inspired by the aromas. Jesse’s tracks are available for complimentary download at aesop.com. Each track is designed to enhance the olfactory experience of the Room Sprays.
“I enjoyed the process of creating music for the fragrances: spraying them in the recording studio, in whatever room the music was being created in, making sure it was considered during each step of the process” said Smith. “You cannot necessarily translate a Room Spray directly into a musical composition, but you can wait for the scent to transform the room and those in it, then use music and sound intentionally to express that feeling.”
As well as Aesop, Jesse’s work has been commissioned by Director Steven Spielberg and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and other companies and by other filmmakers. Jessie is also the Co-Founder of ‘Pathway to Paris’, a collection of artists, activists, musicians, politicians, and innovators, working together to fight for climate justice.
Aesop’s Aromatique Room Sprays released on July 3rd and are available at all Canadian signature Aesop stores and counters, as well as at aesop.com. The 100ml amber glass spray bottles retail at $75 each.
Global backpack and accessories brand Herschel Supply Company officially opened the doors to their ‘Summer of Lemonade’ pop-up shop in North Vancouver’s picturesque Deep Cove neighbourhood.
Located next to popular tourist hangout Honey’s Donuts, Herschel collaborated with Vancouver based cold-pressed juice company The Juice Truck to create four unique lemonades to refresh, rehydrate, and regenerate.
Fun, fruity, and fresh, the first of four flavours is a plain lemonade consisting of a base of cold pressed lemon juice, cane sugar, and filtered water. This is a refreshing classic, perfect for kids and adults to rehydrate after a hike up Quarry Rock on a beautiful summer day. The next flavour is another classic with a twist, a strawberry lemonade with a hint of beetroot.
The Juice Truck have also created two trendy health beneficial premium lemonades for Herschel Supply’s Summer of Lemonade; ‘Charcoal’ and ‘Blue Majic’.
Charcoal lemonade has been a growing trend at juice bars globally. The main benefit of activated charcoal is cleansing. It’s a natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body doesn’t absorb them. The charcoal lemonade is made up of the same base as the plain & strawberry with the addition of activated charcoal. Best to drink for detoxing, to treat food poisoning, or even a hangover. Activated charcoal was my go to for curing any stomach related issues when I was living in India so I’m totally in love with this lemonade.
The thought of drinking charcoal, and the fact the drink is black might seem frightening to some, however the lemonade has the same sweet taste as the other flavours and you can’t even taste the charcoal plus you’ll reap all the cleansing benefits of this juice.
The last, and also another of my favourites at Herschel’s pop up is ‘Blue Majic’, which again is formulated with the same base as the other juices, with the addition of E3 live blue majic.
E3 live blue majic is known to be one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, it’s rich in anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties much like ginger, so it can be used to cure a cold, flu, or even bloating. Blue Majic is a type of blue green algae derived from superfood spirulina, that has more than 22 times more iron than spinach and 6 times more anti-oxidants than blueberries. I’ll be drinking this by the gallon all summer long. Guaranteed.
The four flavours of lemonade are complemented by Herschel’s classic packable daypacks and totes which have been redesigned by the brand to align with the colors of the lemonade.
The packable bags collapse into their own internal pocket for easy storage making them the perfect travel accessory. The lightweight ripstop and versatile totes & daypacks are available in Pink, Yellow, Ivy, and Dark Shadow.
At just 298 square feet, the pop-up space has been completely transformed into a modern rendition of summer days and childhood lemonade stands. The lively pink walls and roof are complimented by hand-painted yellow wallpaper and an incredibly eye-catching custom yellow Bocci light which really bring this space to life.
Showing their love for architecture and design, Herschel’s creative Co-Founder’s Jamie & Lyndon Cormack, both residents of Deep Cove, are “excited to bring a best-in-class retail experience” to their community.
Herschel announced the news of their pop-up with stunning drone footage of Deep Cove via their Instagram on Canada’s 150th Birthday on July 1st. The footage shows a bright pink lemonade cart with a yellow umbrella situated on Quarry Rock. Herschel gave out the first 150 bottles of lemonade on the rock to celebrate Canada Day, and you can expect to see the super cute little Herschel branded cart again as it’s expected to pop up at various locations throughout the summer.
Lemonade ranges from $4-7 per bottle, totes are priced at $20 and backpacks are $30. All styles are exclusive to the Deep Cove pop-up. Proceeds from the store will be donated to ArtStarts, a charitable organization that seeks to expand the role of arts in education for the benefit of British Columbia’s young people. Each year, ArtStarts provides more than 640,000 unique arts experiences for young people in urban, rural, and remote communities across B.C. Even more of a reason for you to check out the Herschel pop-up, treat yourself to a packable and refresh with a unique cold-pressed lemonade.
So who would have thought, Herschel lemonade? An example that this brand can do just about anything they put their minds to. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, the global backpack and accessories company have also dropped their much anticipated apparel collection at www.herschel.com today.
Hours Monday-Sunday: 10AM-6PM
Photos courtesy of Herschel Supply Company #SummerofLemonade