Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fallin' For Westdale

I can hardly believe that Westdale has been open for two months already. Where does the time go?  It's been a really amazing experience thus far. The neighbourhood has been so welcoming, and it's so nice to be able to preach the good word of handmade and Canadian design to more of Hamilton. It's truely a breath of fresh air to be able to come into this new space and meet so many new and friendly faces. We hope to be here for many more months to come.

I decided to take some quick photos on this pretty gloomy day, because the blog has been lacking photos of our new space. I thought the rain collecting on the edge of our new awning looked like tiny sparkles. And even though these beautiful garden roses that Bev from I Fiori found for us are on their way out, they still brighten my day when I see them.

You'll find the same artists in Westdale that we carry in James. We've had a couple of customers comment on how the vibe is the exact same here, and that's so great to hear. It's exactly what we wanted, and because we are guided mostly through personal taste, I think it would be more alarming if the two spaces felt completely different.

There may be certain pieces that we only carry at one shop or the other for now, but if you see something online or in person and would like it transferred to the shop that's more convenient for you, don't hesitate to ask! We can always bring things back and forth between shops.

When we did our clothing ordering for F/W earlier this year, the second shop was just a twinkle in our eye. This season may prove to have some growing pains as certain clothing styles are only at either James or Westdale, but we already did our S/S and we made sure to order enough for each store in more styles.

I thought I would share a couple of my favourite pieces right now. Pieces that are perfect to welcome in the fall season (the best season!).

Alpaca/merino/silk Jarvis toques by Good Night Day. Knit in Hamilton. $64. Both locations, various colours.

Middle - ceramic necklace by Lauren Winter $65, both locations in various styles. Outer edges - ceramic necklaces by Sojourn $50-$80, both locations in various styles.

Mittlets by Anna Kari. Knit in Hamilton. $28-$32, both locations in various styles.

Falconwright screen-printed leather pouches. $32-$78. Westdale only, various styles.

Birds of North America Phalarope dress, $209. Westdale and James North.

Eve Gravel Leo dress, $178. Westdale in snowfall print, James North in striped print.

Dagg and Stacey Bramley button-up, $112. Westdale only.

Make sure to stop in if you are ever in the Westdale area! We have all the cute things you love and we have a whole bunch of new lunch recommendations for everyone now!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Grand Opening Party!

We are finally settled into our new Westdale digs enough to host a little party for all of our best buds. Join us in celebrating on Thursday September 25th from 7pm-10pm at 1032 King Street West in beautiful Westdale village. We'll have the best snax, and 10% off everything in the shop! There are so many great new fall arrivals, that we promise we'll post on the blog soon.

 We hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Monastery For the Human Hands

This summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina for two glorious weeks. I had learned about the school last winter and fell in love with their programing, and the dreamy landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains in which they are situated. I've always felt a little pang of regret by attending a practical college program instead of an art school, so I put together an application package and hoped for the best. I ended up receiving a partial scholarship to attend a course in weaving during one of their summer sessions. I was most interested to practice weaving at Penland as it was started as a weaving school in the 1920's, teaching women how to generate an income for themselves through the craft.

I knew a learning vacation would be a lot more intense than hanging out on the dock of a cottage for two weeks, and when I applied the idea of a second White Elephant location was just a twinkle in our eyes, but this was something I had an immense draw to do, and I'm so glad that I did. My experience was nothing short of magical.

I took a propeller plane from Charlotte NC to Asheville NC, where I then traveled an hour by car through the mountains. We climbed up twists and turns to arrive at this beautiful school made up of log cabin buildings, and where the fog hung low in the air. It was remote and private and secluded, but there was an energy that you could feel as soon as you arrived on campus. I was told that the land is believed to be a creativity vortex, much like Sedona, Arizona is thought to be a spiritual vortex. I was so into that line of thought.

My course was an introduction to weaving and was titled "The Language of Weaving". It was taught by Tali Weinberg, the current executive director of the Textile Society of America. I was expecting to be amongst the youngest in the class, but to my surprise I was on the older end of the scale in our class made up of 12 women. And some really extraordinary women at that.

Our classes were held in the historical Lily Loom House, with one of the best views on campus. I foolishly brought some books and knitting that I thought I would use during my "down-time" but quickly found out that all I wanted to do was to spend time in the studio. Most days I spent 10-12 hours at the loom (with breaks for meals) and during crunch time I might have been found in the studio at 3am.

I prepared my loom three separate times during the two weeks, which helped me grasp the fundamentals of weaving really well. My first project was a five yard long sampler of different weaving patterns and techniques, and of different weft materials. For my second project I wound three yards of a striped warp and wove material that I'm intending to make pillowcases out of. My third project was my favourite, making ombre tea-towels out of tencel with a supplementary warp. These were also by far my most frustrating project, almost bringing me to tears and giving me nightmares one night about strings floating in front of my face that I couldn't untangle and get rid of.

In all of my projects I worked with only natural fibres - cotton, linen, wool, and tencel.

Penland offers classes in almost every art concentration you can think of, from charcoal drawing to forging Damascus steel, and they continue to expand and build new buildings. All of the studios are idyllic, and I know I'll be checking the course program every season to see what new classes I can dream about attending. I met so many amazing people during my time there, from all over the world.  It's so remote that there's not much else to do but focus on your craft and to be taken in by the beauty of nature. We all joked about how we couldn't remember our previous lives before coming to Penland. It really felt like we were now weavers who lived in the mountains for the rest of time.

But I eventually had to return to real life on that little propeller plane. I returned home to a lot of work and a lot of responsibility, which made me even more thankful for my little respite where I got to fully work with my hands and with my heart. Thank you Penland, I hope to see you again one day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Westdale Sale

Our sale at James St has been going all month, but now we've also added Westdale to the sale festivities! Starting Monday, most pieces at Westdale will be on sale for 30% off!  Here's just a few of the great deals you'll be able to find:

Valerie Dumaine Corbin Blazer - reg $170, on sale $125.30
Anna Kari Scoop Linen Tee - $100 (not on sale)
Eve Gravel Flying Fish Skirt - reg $162, on sale $113.40
Anna Kari Eyelet Linen Tank - $84 (not on sale)
Twisted Whimsy Necklace - $72.00 (not on sale)
Birds of North America Canard Top - reg $136, on sale $95.20
Valerie Dumaine Emile Shorts - reg $135, on sale $94.50

Birds of North America Rossignol Top - reg $129, on sale $90.30
Dagg and Stacey Camden Skirt - reg $140, on sale $97.99
Birds of North America Manchot Dress - reg $179, on sale $125.31

And that's just a sneak peek! There's lots more on sale, as we prepare for all the fall stock that is making it's way to us right now. The sale begins Monday and will go all week, but pieces tend to go quickly so hurry down.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Minnow Bathers

It may not feel like it today, but August always means swimming time to me. When those heat waves roll in the only place I want to be is in a pool or lake or lazy river, which means I'm always on the hunt for the perfect bathing suit. Well, I think I may have found a few winners:

Tidal Top: $85, Tidal Bottom: $85
Available at James St shop only
Volcano Top: $85, Volcano Bottom: $85
Available at James St shop only 
Tidal Maillot: $170
Available at James St shop only 
Tomb Top: $85, Tomb Bottom: $85
Available at James St shop only 
Minnow Bathers is a Toronto based swimwear company that was the vision of two best friends who decided to start a business together. Maybe that's why Hollie and I love these bathing suits so much, but it also has a lot to do with how absolutely beautiful they are.  We have all the above bathing suits in stock at our James Street shop right now, but they are going quick so hurry in!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Times Two!

Well, we did it!

Photo via Beaux Mondes

White Elephant has officially been open for business in Westdale for just over a week, and it feels great.

Stephanie from Beaux Mondes stopped by on our opening day in Westdale and took some beautiful pictures of the shop. We're so happy with the way it turned out, and the way she captured the shop in her photos. Please check out her blog for more photos and a quick interview with Hollie and I.

Hollie and I are currently working at both shops, along with a great team of fabulous ladies you may see on our Instagram feed from time to time. Please excuse our sometimes slow social media posting as we try to get into a groove of running two businesses, we promise to get better at it soon!

In the meantime, please stop in and visit us at either location.  Our hours are as follows:

James Street: 
Monday: closed
Tuesday: 11-6
Wednesday: 11-6
Thursday: 11-8
Friday: 11-8
Saturday: 11-6
Sunday: 12-4

Monday - Thursday: 10-8
Friday: 10-9
Saturday: 10-6
Sunday: 12-5

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Heart Hamilton

I'm not really sure how to start this post, because I am really so overwhelmed with gratitude that I feel like no matter what I write, it will never fully translate. I wish I could dissect my chest and show you how full of love and happiness my heart is.  I guess that's a good enough start to a blog post as any.

After much deliberation and many bank meetings and budgeting and knots in our stomach, Jane and I launched an Indiegogo campaign to fill in all the gaps of what traditional financing wouldn't cover for our second location opening in Westdale. We love to do things the old fashioned way, and over the years we've taken out and paid back a few business loans to grow our little shop. We've done the same now to open the second location, but because we are still a small business it's not as easy to get as much as we really need.

So, nervously (and somewhat sheepishly inside) we decided to run a crowd-funding campaign. Maybe our customers and friends and families would help us to generate the funds we needed to make our new space the best White Elephant that it could be. Maybe we'd come up with really great rewards and perks so that it didn't feel like a straight donation, but more like they would be getting full value for their dollars spent. And that's just what we did, and we weren't at all prepared for the response.

SO many likes, SO many shares, SO many congratulations, SO many kind words, SO much excitement for us, and SO many donations to our campaign. There aren't enough words to express how loved and encouraged and supported you all made us feel. The bank may make us feel like we're just a small business, but the community behind us makes us feel like giants. We hit our goal, and then some, and we are indebted to those who supported in any way. Good vibes helped us just as much as every dollar.

We get to keep doing what we love, and we're so happy that you love what we do too. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Truly and sincerely and forever.

We got the keys to 1032 King Street West at the beginning of July, and the first thing we did was get more cut. With the special cat decals. How else would we have told them apart from our James Street North keys?

These are the first photos I took of the space. I don't think we had even signed the lease at this point, but we were pretty certain that this was going to become our second home. Previously a jewelry store for 17 years, it has all the old charm that we seek out.

Layers of renovations had been done over the years, so everything was stripped away to original walls, original flooring, and new electrical was run. You can almost feel buildings breathing a sign of relief when this happens.

Now we're running errands 24/7 to get things all in place for our August opening. We have our contractor Angie sanding and staining the beautiful original hardwood right now. We measured the space and are now in the process of figuring out fixtures and shelving and racks. That may include us learning how to solder which I am equal parts nervous and excited about.

A little bit more progress with the drywalled ceiling. There's still paper over the windows, but we have a feeling it's going to be a pretty bright space. It also means two times the amount of crafty window displays per year! I hope we can keep up!

I have to admit, one of my favourite parts is the fun stuff like finding antique furniture and decor to go in the space. Choosing new wallpaper is right up there too.

I rode my bike to the shop for the first time this week, as that will be my main method of transportation. Luckily, I live really close to the Hamilton Waterfront Trail, so check out the views along my commute! Unreal. And only a 20 minute ride. Hamilton, I don't only love you for your super supportive community, but for your beauty too.

We might be a little quiet over here, and on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram while we get things in place for the opening. We're aiming for August 1st, and we think that our timelines are right on so far, but we'll know better shortly. If you bought a perk from the campaign, we'll be sending those out, or notifying you for pickup as soon as the dust settles at the new shop.

Thank you again so very much for believing in us. We love working hard for this city, and we are so inspired to work that much harder with all of your support behind us.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

S/S '14 Lookbook

You may have seen our S/S '14 lookbook that we launched last week, shot by the incredibly talented Claire Dam. We wrote about the experience here a little while ago, because it was such an inspiring day to work with so many talented women and to watch our ideas come to life. Along with Claire, we worked with A & J Beauty on hair and makeup, Jessica Hunter on floral styling, and Emma and Katie as our beautiful models. Plus a whole bunch of talented baby lambs.

Selecting the shots that made it into the lookbook was no easy task, and I had to continually edit myself and cut it down, or else we would have ended up with lookbook that was hundreds of pages long. Luckily, we have this handy blog that we can show off all the shots that didn't make the cut, and what better time to do so than during Hamilton Fashion Week?

The Birds of North America Poule dress ($209) is one of our favourites for summer, and also comes in navy. Lamb not included.

Seersucker is such an effortless and easy, yet chic look to pull off in the summer. This Betina Lou Juliette dress ($180) nails it.

The Betina Lou Bea top ($125) is paired here with the Etourneau shorts from Birds of North America ($139). Those lambs kill me in every single photo.

Katie is wearing the Dagg and Stacey Alemany sweater ($116) with a pair of Valerie Dumaine Emile shorts ($135). Emma is wearing the Eve Gravel Guyane dress ($176). Both are great summer looks that can easily transition into fall with the addition of some layering pieces. Not that we're thinking about that yet.

We've carried Snoozer Loser's line of hand-printed scarves since the very beginning in the shop, and now we are pleased to be carrying a selection of their clothing pieces. This hand-printed shift dress ($210) is made from 100% Irish linen and is a dream to wear.

You can't see too much of the Amanda Moss seersucker and linen 007 ($238) dress in this shot, but trust me, it's a good one. I love this photo so much. The ivy draped across Katie's shoulder here, styled by Jessica Hunter, reminds me of Artemis or Athena or some other ancient goddess.

The Betina Lou Frida top ($140) and Dagg & Stacey Kensington pants ($140) look right at home amongst the willows and weeds.

We just got a restock of the awesome Mimi Hammer bathing suits (tops $64, bottoms $60) because we can't keep them on the shelves very long at all. These suits are incredibly cute and look good on everyone! Truth.

And my favourite shot of the day. Sorry Katie, but this photo of you and Romeo the rooster freaking out is just too funny not to share. Katie is wearing Rosehound Apparel's pizza sweatshirt and the perfect Betina Lou Millie shorts.

Claire was a champ and also shot the whole day on 35mm film, and the results were breathtaking. I am always finding inspiration in the otherworldly, and the ghostly look of these shots are perfection.

Just chillin' with the team at the end of a pretty great day. We hope you enjoyed our S/S '14 lookbook as much as we enjoyed putting it together!