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.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

You're All So Great

Wow! Yesterday we announced our Indiegogo campaign, and we were a little bit nervous to do so. We were worried about asking for financial help, but this time around we  needed some assistance and you guys really came through! This is me and Hollie following along with the campaign while on Facetime. We're so so thankful to everyone who has donated, as well as for all the likes, shares, re-posts, comments and high fives you have all given us.

The campaign will keep going until July 15th, by which time we will be knee deep in the middle of store renovations, floor refinishing, sign painting, staff training, and all sorts of other things. I have a feeling it's going to fly by, so we just wanted to stop and say thank you before we get carried away! We have the best customers, friends and supporters out there.

You can keep visiting and sharing our campaign through the link here: Help us open a second White Elephant shop! 

Also, there's this:

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!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Real Women Wear Birds

We have so much to talk about! But first and foremost is our Birds of North America pop-up shop happening this week, exclusively in sizes 12-16, with a couple of size 10's scattered about in there too. Birds of North America is such a beautiful, impeccably made clothing line, and we're so glad that designer Hayley is passionate about making her clothing in sizes you can't always find in boutiques. We want to support this initiative as much as we can, so we thought what better time to do a pop-up shop in these sizes than during the first ever Hamilton Fashion Week, June 16-21st. We're all about fashion being accessible and inclusive over here.

I asked one of my best pals Courtney if she wouldn't mind trying on a couple of dresses for fun, so that she could also become a superstar blog model. She wears a good dress.

Hayley pulled from past collections as well as the current season, so prices on each piece vary. This Hawfinch dress is only $70, and for a sweet Canadian-made dress, it doesn't get much better than that!

The adorable Autruche dress is in a blue and red seersucker fabric and retails for $194. So so so cute!

The Tick-tick dress is super flattering, fun, and goes for $70. We also have a skirt version for only $40!

I love this outfit. We paired this season's Rossignol Top ($129) with it's cute contrasting Peter Pan collar and the Shoreler Skirt ($40) with a classic toile fabric from two seasons ago for a pretty smart and sophisticated look.

This Hummingbird Dress ($70) is begging to be taken on a bike ride across the city. Maybe one that ends up at an ice cream shop? Yes, I think that's the perfect plan.

Most of Hayley's dresses include pockets, which every lady knows is a +1 score for the piece right off the bat. The Rosefinch dress ($60) is no exception, and comes in blue too!

There are SO MANY more great pieces dying to find good homes. And not just dresses, but skirts and tops and pants too! We're really excited about this event, and hope you'll pop in one day this week. The pieces will be out from Tuesday-Sunday and then they are gone gone gone!

We're also teaming up with Fat Girl Food Squad for the event, and they'll be stopping by Thursday evening to do a talk on style. We love these ladies and what they stand for and can't wait to see where the discussion goes. Oh! And we'll have yummy refreshments too. The whole thing goes down at 7pm on Thursday in the shop. Pop on by

Thursday, May 22, 2014


We're not very good at keeping secrets and we have been bursting to share this one.

Meet our new store! Hello Westdale! 1032 King Street West will become home to our brand new second location! We won't be opening until late summer, but now that everything is final we can finally share the news with you. PHEW.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Photoshoot Day, Photoshoot Day

We shot our spring/summer lookbook earlier this week, and really, it has been about two years in the making. Two winters ago, our incredible photographer friend Claire Dam asked if Jane and I would be into a shoot for the store featuring baby lambs. We didn't need to think too long about that one. But, we ended up missing lambing season last year, and we were determined not to make that mistake again when spring finally rolled around.

We quickly took on the task of assembling an all-star team this year - Claire behind the camera, with her amazing assistant Maria who we are always happy to see on set, Alex and Justine from A&J Beauty in charge of hair and make-up, Jessica Hunter and her beautiful floral arrangements, and Emma and Katie as the faces of White Elephant. We are so grateful to be connected to so many talented people who love to join forces creatively and make things like this happen. We are even more grateful that we get to work surrounded by amazing women! We don't actively seek out all female teams, which makes it so much more special when it just falls into place like that.

I didn't sleep very well the night before. Anxiety before big days like this usually keeps me up into the wee hours of the night, and the combination of a pretty serious thunderstorm didn't help to ease those anxious feelings one bit. I woke up with the sun behind ominous, dark clouds, still raining. I headed to the store and started to load all of the supplies into the car, and down came the rain even harder than before; a torrential downpour. I was certain that we would have to make concessions and shoot indoors without the baby lambs, but we were too far into it now.  This was too long in the making, with too many people offering their time and talent. I may have sent Jane a text in all caps uttering expletives.

Claire was generous enough to let us take over her home in the morning for prep. Alex and Justine did an incredible job making Katie and Emma look like natural, dreamy babes. Jessica kept busy in the kitchen making sweet arrangements of local, in season blooms. Claire and Maria loaded up the car with equipment and props. Jane and I mostly sat on the couch, discussed Jay-z and Solange, and watched the magic happen.

Something else magical happened. The clouds broke, and the sun appeared. We weren't holding our breaths though, and thought that we could maybe squeeze in at least the shots with the baby lambs before the sky got dark once again.

We headed over to Farmer Jim's property, not too far away from Claire's farmhouse. Claire met Jim when she bought her puppy Moses off of him, and he agreed to let us use his property as our backdrop for the day. He bought the land a couple of years ago and uses it to house his livestock - heritage pig breeds, goats, sheep, and his Italian sheepdogs. He didn't seem to mind one bit as we all lost any air of professionalism and squealed over the newborn lambs.

Did you know that #lambselfie is a really popular hashtag? You'll find all of us on there.

Amazingly, the weather held out for us until we had gotten all the shots we needed. We actually all had to strip down a couple of layers because the sun was relentless, and felt like the first hint of summer. Sheepishly, we all ended up with sunburns by the end of the day. Sunscreen had not seemed necessary due to the kind of morning we had! Although there is a pretty great abandoned farm house on the property, we didn't end up shooting anything inside because it was just too beautiful of a day with too beautiful of scenery to think about venturing indoors. We spent our time in the woods, by the animals, and around the Grey Gardens-esque abandoned swimming pool.

Everyone did such amazing work, and when things go that smoothly, it hardly feels like work at all. We're so excited to be able to show you the final results soon. It was a truly magical day.

Oh, and this is Claire's rooster Romeo. He's a total ham, who also loves to be snuggled. He was the star of the show at the end of the day. I mean, he is a pretty handsome guy, right?