Category Archives: Toronto

Big Deal Toronto 2014

Big Deal 2014 Bloggers
Big Deal 2014 Bloggers

Are you going to the amazing fashion smorgasboard Big Deal Toronto this weekend?

Because I sure am!

Once again I will be opening my closet up to the general public and selling some great gently-used pieces from my collection. Other bloggers will be in attendance and I can tell you, it’s a fantastic event!

Last year was a blast. It’s a great way to pick up lovely clothes for such good prices (most of us only wear our stuff once… eep!) meet some plus size fashion bloggers and have a generally good time.

Raegan & I selling our frocks with smiles!

Tips to get the most out of your shopping trip

There are a few things I’d suggest to make sure you get the most out of Big Deal Toronto 2014.

1. Get the VIP ticket
La crème de la crème goes quickly at this event. For your best chance of scoring something truly fabulous, you’ll want to be there first. The tickets sell at a premium price but it’s worth it. The best selection and only 50 shoppers makes it a much more pleasant experience. You’ll have more space to move around and try things on.

2. Dress comfy
You’re going to be standing, shuffling and generally moving about with a sea of other plus size women. Wear clothes and shoes that are easy to get on and off, and allow your body to breathe. It gets hot in there!

3. Wear your Spanx if you’re into that!
There will be both private and communal change rooms this year. If you wear Spanx to make your outfits look nicer, wear them and your good bras to this event so you’ll know how things fit.

4. CASH ONLY
The event will have a few Square readers to take Visa and Mastercard, but the 3% processing fee will be passed onto you, so bring cash to avoid this.

5. Plan to spend lunch there
3030 serves up some great nosh and drinks, so do them a solid and enjoy their menu for lunch. The little tapas plates are a great way to snack or try something new, and the craft beer selection is aces. 3030 is providing this space free of cost to us bloggers, so we need to thank them by driving sales. Otherwise there might not be a next time!

6. Leave the hubby/child/stroller at home
Big Deal gets pretty crowded, hot and loud and is not a good environment for male partners (other than those rare gems who like shopping with their partners), children or anyone else that can’t deal with environments like that. Plus, it’s common courtesy not to bring your giant stroller into a cramped space. Don’t be that woman.

7. Don’t be a jerk
This means you should be polite and friendly to other shoppers, bloggers and volunteers. Don’t steal please, because you’re literally taking our personal belongings from us. From me. We are people and it hurts.

I know it can get exciting/stressful but try to keep cool and have fun! Come mentally prepared for the melee and you’ll do great. Your patience will be rewarded!

SexyPlus Clothing Review

Kiss Kiss! All the bloggers at the Fall Preview
Kiss Kiss! All the bloggers at the Fall Preview

A few weeks back I was invited to a plus size fashion blogger event at SexyPlus Clothing’s new location in Mississauga.

I was excited to attend because it meant I could

  1. See all my fatshionable friends
  2. Check out the store & selection (I’d never been to SPC prior to this)
  3. Try on lots of fun stuff!

And it didn’t disappoint. Owner Stephanie Augusteijn has created a lovely, plus-friendly

Robes in the changerooms are so convenient!
Robes in the changerooms are so convenient!

boutique complete with spacious changing rooms with robes & shoes (amazing forethought!) chairs for resting (or putting your man on to wait for you while you shop) and of course a nice selection of clothes.

I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. I never actually made it out to the previous location on Yonge St. partially because of scheduling and also because the name

Tierra doing some shopping
Tierra doing some shopping

SexyPlus Clothing made me think of slinky, cheap clubwear like Voluptuous and that just isn’t my style. The new location was also a little daunting as it is out literally in the middle of nowhere at the end of a long row of industrial units.

Despite the location, you could call it an oasis of fatshion! Stephanie had a great selection of upmarket brands like Igigi, Kiyonna and Joseph Ribkoff. I love Joseph Ribkoff stuff! And in a nod to the “sexy” part of SexyPlus there was a nice section of lingerie and other risque underthings that I was happy to see. Oftentimes you  just see them online and can’t try them on which is sooo frustrating. I liked that I could touch them for myself here.

As for the event, it was smashing! There was yummy food and a gorgeous cake by Cake Star

Stephanie with the yummy cake!
Stephanie with the yummy cake!

Sweet Boutique and Ms. Tierra Sedgemore of  Size Sexy Clothing line herself was there! Tierra led a size sexy self esteem activity at the event that got us all talking about what makes us “size sexy”. It’s great to see such positivity and support in our community.

I think all the ladies can agree that we had loads of fun shopping, modelling and socializing that night. I got to hang out with lots of great people, and meet some new ones. Here’s a list of the blogs represented that night:

Candi Apple Couture
Petite Plus, Meow
Curvy Canadian
Cloud 14+
Erica Exposed 
Big Hips, Red Lips
Clothes and Shit

Gorgeous!
Gorgeous!

 

Rebecca Northcott of Rebecca Northcott Photography was there to capture the night on film for us. She’s a great photographer! Maryanne Walczak of My Beaded Designs was also there displaying her beautiful creations. We even got a pair of earrings, how nice! I love mine.

 

Of course no blogger shopping night is complete without me coming home with something… *sigh* here’s what I picked up at the event:

Perfect for all my client meetings
I wore this one out for my anniversary with the bf
I wore this one out for my anniversary with the bf, with some spanx underneath

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Pre-Opening Sneak Peek at Tatyana’s new Boutique in Toronto!!!

As a member of the Toronto Vintage Society I obviously love vintage, but as a plus size woman it can be hard to find the real deal. Enter reproductions and rockabilly style. Most of my wardrobe is made up of this stuff, but it’s still difficult to find even in Toronto. Much needs to be purchased online and the measurements and sizing never seems to be right!

All Vintage-y for my birthday this year
All Vintage-y for my birthday this year

That’s why I’m super-glad a bricks & mortar location of Tatyana is opening up right here in Toronto! I am looking forward to being able to paw through the racks and actually try stuff on before shelling out bundles of cash. Yeah!

My friend Jacquie got a chance to get a sneak peek at the new boutique and wrote up this great article about it, which I am sharing here. I’m particularly excited about the discount and goodie bags, I’ll be there with bells on!

 

Mmmm! I’d love to try this one on!

It’s opening up in the old Fashion Crimes spot at 322 Queen St West in downtown Toronto.

Are you a fan of the vintage look? Where are your favourite places to shop?

 

 

The Second Annual BIG Deal Toronto Blogger Closet Sale!!!

Come on out to the second annual BIG Deal Toronto bloggers’ closet sale! We’re hosting it at 3030 bar and lounge in Toronto this year, so there’ll be plenty of space for browsing and socializing, and we’ve got a great cocktail menu lined up!

I’ll be selling some of my wardrobe goodies and giving a sneak peek at my new image consulting services, for free! Come meet me and rifle through my stuff, you know you wanna!

Follow us on Twitter here

What it’s like: Running a B&B from your home

I have been hosting/renting out my extra space online for about 2 years so far. I guess I’m like a cross between and upscale hostel and B&B and a great hotel alternative! (Even though I’m a B&B I don’t actually offer breakfast… LOL)

Business is booming and after a move to a larger location and many more guests, I’ve had a bit of an education on what it’s like to do this sort of thing! I’m planning on teaching a Skillshare class on how to do all of this effectively for yourself, but here’s a little taste anyway.

Here is what I’ve learned.

1. Use multiple services to fill your space

I am signed up on several different sites, but so far the ones to produce the most for me have been Airbnb.com and Wimdu.com. While I get most of my bookings through Airbnb, I’ll get a few good ones through the competitors as well. Full disclosure here: I work for Airbnb. But as a host, I believe in having a diverse portfolio so I use other sites as well. But Airbnb is still the leader in terms of money-making potential for me.

2. Keep your calendars up to date

I sync all of my calendars to my personal Google calendar. Not only do I need to keep track of which guest booked which room for how long, I also need to know when people are arriving and checking out. I need to have enough time to turn over (clean up) the rooms and get the rest of the apartment up to snuff. I also need to be home when new guests arrive, so that means I can’t schedule a yoga class or girl’s night at that time.

I love my Google calendar so much. It’s synced with my iphone and color-coded too to help me stay organized. Here’s what it looked like last month:

What a "calm" month looks like

 

3. Make a cleaning kit & plan

Most of your time will be spent cleaning and getting things ready for new guests. Set up little stations, or have a bucket with all of your supplies handy as you go around tidying up. Remember to “start from the top!” by dusting, etc. first, then finishing with the floors. Keep a stack of extra towels, sheets, pillows, etc. hidden somewhere in case they’re needed.

I have multiple sets of sheets for each bed so that I can just swap out new ones immediately. I don’t always have the time to wash the sheets right away (I have a small machine and also air-dry) so this is helpful for me. I try to do everything I can to make things easy for me, and as quick as possible in case I get last-minute guests.

4. Schedule some time for yourself

This line of work can be exhausting. Because I live in my “B&B” I am always on, always working. I need to be available to my guests for anything because it’s part of why they stay with me instead of at a hotel. Customer service is very important, but living it all the time wears you out.

So every once in a while I will block off a weekend, or week and keep the place just to myself. It gives me a break and helps me refresh myself. I can also get any major work done around the house that I’ve been putting off for a while.

5. Keep track of your finances & set goals

I keep a Google spreadsheet of all the bookings I get. Names, room booked, nights spent, nightly cost and total cost. I have a goal every month on how much I need to make. Pick something reasonable. For me, it’s making enough money to bring my personal rent down to $500 or less. Most months I am able to surpass this and it feels great!

Something I need to work on more is keeping track of expenses. My hydro bill is higher than a regular tenant’s and so are my costs for cleaning supplies, the free coffee & tea I offer and toilet paper. Plus any unforeseen costs such as replacing towels or sheets that may come up.

Once I get the hang of things with this particular set up, I hope to have a separate bank account to keep track of the flow in and out of cash from the business. Eventually I will need to register as a business and run it…well, even more like a business!

Come to my class

I have a ton more tips & tricks to share on this subject. It’s actually my “real job” too! If you’re in the Toronto area and would like to really get some in-depth information and customized recommendations you can sign up for my Skillshare class (I’m only charging to cover the cost of the room rental).

You can also just sound off in here and we’ll get a conversation started :)

If you’re interested in signing up for Airbnb as either a host or a traveler, I’ve got some cool deals for you!

If you want to host, you can get $50 in travel credit for joining up by going here and entering my referral code: 8CTNCM

If you want to travel OR host you can get $25 in travel credit by going here.

 

 

Long Weekend Wrap-up

 

Just so you don’t think I’m all about the negative stuff (see my last post), this weekend I also had two instances of excellent service.

1. The Outer Layer

This is one of my favourite shops and is one of my inspirations for my own business I’m launching (more details soon!). The place is jam-packed with just plain old awesome stuff. I can get bacon band-aids there, spiffy water bottles, hard-to-find boutique skin care lines, funny greeting cards and all kinds of awesome. I used to work in the area and would go there almost every day at lunch to shop & look around (Hi, Jett!).

I stopped in this weekend while out with a gal pal and met some of their new sales staff. Maggie was really great and helped me pick out a new business card case. She didn’t pressure me to buy anything and actually spoke to me like a person rather than just a “customer”. I felt like I had a great shopping experience and I’m glad it lived up to my past experiences with the store. It’s all about consistency!

You can follow The Outer Layer on Twitter @theouterlayer or visit their site here.

2. Starbucks @ Yonge & Shuter St.

On my way home from seeing Bridesmaids with some friends I popped in for a latte. The gal there was totally pleasant and explained the differences between a couple of drinks to me. I ended up ordering one and she gave it to me for free! She said that “it was an experiment” for me, so no charge. Totally awesome. I thought I was just getting a free flavour shot, not the whole drink!

A very nice end to the weekend. There is still hope that good service exists out there!

 

Have you had any great or horrible service lately?

Just say NO to MoRoCo

Just came back from a lovely night with fellow bloggers Krystal and The Asian Pear. We started in Yorkville with dinner at Ginza which had good service, followed by MoRoCo Chocolat which had terrible service.

Let me share my experience with you so you can decide where to spend your money next time you’re in Yorkville. Hopefully it won’t be at Moroco.

I’ve been to Moroco numerous times. It’s a little expensive, but I love the atmosphere and the chocolate is pretty good too. It’s a real fun experience for a date or girl’s night out. It’s also great for an office Christmas party. Oh yes. I got my office to have their party there this year and it was awesome! We had everything on the chocolate menu and unlimited champagne and lattes. Go big or go home, I say.

Every time the staff was attentive, the food delicious and presented nicely.

But not this time.

Tonight we stopped by for a few tasty treats including macarons, frozen hot chocolate and French sipping chocolate. Our bill was near $50 for the 3 of us.

We seated ourselves on the half-full patio and ordered our items. We had no problems getting our food, but afterwards, oh my! It was atrocious!

As we were finishing up, gabbing away and enjoying ourselves (it was a lounge, after all) the downward spiral began. Let me illustrate it via a list of strikes against Moroco.

 

Strike #1

Normally when I order the sipping chocolat, I swap out the truffle for a macaron. In the past this has never been an issue, but this time the waitress said it was not possible at all (not even if I paid more) and I was stuck with a truffle. I don’t really like them and was surprised that she was so brusque about it.

Strike #2

The waitress cleared our dishes away before asking if we were done or if we wanted anything else. Had she asked, I would have actually ordered some more macarons.

Strike #3

The bill was dumped on our table far too soon, and we felt like we were being pushed out. We ignored it for a while while we were enjoying our remaining drinks, but the waitress kept coming back and huffing every time she saw there was no money sitting with the bill. Finally she came back and told us that there was a 30 minute limit for sitting on the patio if you’re only ordering drinks. She said this was written on the menu and that there were other reservations coming in.

There are several problems with this.

  1. It’s a LOUNGE. People go there to LOUNGE while they eat and drink. Why is there such a short time limit for this? Why wasn’t this actually printed on the menu? Here’s a screenshot from their site:
    Notice how they refer to themselves as a lounge & tout the MoRoCo experience


    If we just wanted a cheap & quick coffee drink we would have gone to Tim Horton’s! Why would we pay $50 to be rushed out??

  2. The patio was nearly empty, and there were other patrons having nothing but drinks who were there far longer than we were. Why was our small party singled out? We weren’t being loud or unruly, and we were dressed well.
  3. I didn’t order a drink at all, but one of their specialties from the menu. Even if there was some kind of rule, I would have been exempt on that technicality. It also wasn’t nearly as good as last time.
  4. If they really did have a reservation, they could have politely asked us to move to another table. We would have obliged, but this was never brought up. We were rudely told to leave, instead.

Strike #4

The final strike was like salt in the wound. We looked at the bill to find that we were charged the group gratuity rate of 18.5% on our order. Outrageous! We weren’t even a group or large party, there were only 3 of us!

According to their own menu, there is a gratuity charge, but only for groups of 6 or more. When did 3 become 6??

From their own menu, only groups of 6 or more will be charged the gratuity

At that point we were livid. We went out for a good time and some luxurious treats and instead were treated like we were scum. I was SO embarrassed since I had recommended this place! What a great impression of Toronto/Yorkville to give Krystal on her first visit to the area.

We decided not to pay the stupid automatic gratuity (and why the hell was it so high!?!?) and just paid the bill plus a small tip since we’re not misers. I also left a note on the bill explaining that it was unacceptable to charge us the tip in advance AND kick us out after only 30 minutes. After that we high-tailed it out of there, afraid that the waitress would come chasing after us when she saw the small tip. (Did I mention that the money hadn’t been on the table for more than a minute before she swooped in like a vulture and scooped it up???)

 

I am really disappointed by this whole experience. I really want to like Moroco, I really do! But if this is the way they are treating their loyal customers these days, then I guess my romance with fancy chocolate is over.

I just can’t get over our treatment. Here we are being snubbed by a waitress at a fancy establishment. HELLO. OBVIOUSLY WE CAN AFFORD TO BE HERE since, ya know, we ARE here.

Think about it, dear readers. Is this a place that YOU would like to visit??