Interview with Jess Arthurs from Wild Roots Esthetics


When you move to a new town it's hard to find out where to go for all your esthetician needs. Last Fall I was feeling stressed out and needed a serious relaxation massage so I googled what was in Ucluelet and came upon Wild Roots Esthetics and Massage. I had the most amazing treatment with Jess and felt so much better afterwards. I found out all her other services she offered so I went back in December to have my lashes done for our holiday to Thailand. That's when I really got to know her. She is the sweetest and funniest woman and really looks after her clients. Getting your lashes done takes a lot of time and can be super uncomfortable. However, she made me laugh and talk through the whole appointment that it was a really enjoyable experience. I couldn't recommend Wild Roots Esthetics anymore! Check out her website: for all her services and her Instagram: @wildrootsesthetics to see all her the awesome work she does. 


Tell us a bit about yourself...

My full name is Jessie Lynn Arthurs Arthurs, really. It was meant to be Jessie Lynn Arthurs Chandler (Chandler was my dad's last name and Arthurs is my mom's maiden name) but for some reason that I don't know I was named Jessie Lynn Arthurs Arthurs. I like to think it's some hilarious story, however, I think my Mom was busy with a toddler and then I arrived and the paperwork just got slapped together and tada! Jessie Lynn Arthurs Arthurs, the world is your oyster! 

I am a mom to the most outrageously funny 8 year old boy. I call him Pie but his real name is Will. I have a dog called Stitch who I am busy trying to make an Instagram celeb. I also have a cat named Skateboard...and a hamster named Winter who keeps on living, somehow. I love playing in the ocean, playing the ukulele, running like I am on fire and laughing. I do not like cooked cauliflower and I drink coffee at bedtime. 


Where did you grow up?

I was born in Nova Scotia in a little town on the south shore called Bridgewater. My dad moved to Ucluelet when I was a little girl. I grew up everywhere from Coast to Coast. That is pretty cool. I used to bushwhack to Big Beach before it was so perfectly groomed and super accessible.


Where did you get your training?

I did my training at VIU. When the program was over I was asked to be in a video for VIU to help promote the program. It's so embarrassing but pure comedy. Check it out for a good laugh! 

I followed that with training at Aveda Institute in Victoria. I have also added several feathers to my cap over the years, from massage to lash extensions and lifts. Little things here and there, when I can sneak away. 


Did you always want to have your own business?

My inspiration for becoming a business owner comes strongly from my Grandmother Ethel (we have the best names in our family.) She has owned and operated several very successful restaurants on the East Coast. She started with nothing and smiled always. She was a single mother to 3 children. ETHEL is a boss! We speak regularly and I give her so much credit for who I am today. 


Why did you choose the name Wild Roots Esthetics?

I can't take credit for the name of my business. I have this cousin, his name is Ken (decent name) who is more like a brother. He and his family came for a visit and we were having wine and planning my life. I couldn't come up with a name for this little teal studio. He was making jokes about our "wild" family in another conversation with someone who I can't remember now. Anyway, one comment led up to the next and finally "Wild Roots" Esthetics and Massage was born. So, Ken Chandler wins, AGAIN! 


What services do you provide? Do you have a favourite?

I do a lot of treatments at my studio. From massage, facials, pedicures, manicures, lash extensions and lash lifts and tints. I also do waxing, hot paraffin treatments, the list is so long. Check out the full list on my website:  

I really love every treatment, however, I am best known for waxing. 


Is it important to you to use organic products?

More than anything I wanted to carry a local and organic product line. It is so hard to choose and I am so stoked to have found the two that I carry: Modern Hippie from Vancouver Island and KODO from Victoria, BC. 


Do you have a favourite product?

I am really in love with the Rose Tea Clay Mask from the KODO collection. As well I really can't say enough good things about my recent Charcoal Mask from Modern Hippie


How important is self-care to you?

I am in the business of self-care. It is so easy to do as a career and I do a pretty great job of caring for myself too. I run, laugh and play. I feel like I am a lucky one. 


Where do you see your business going in the future?

Oh, I have the dreamiest plans. I see the beach in the future of Wild Roots. I can take this turtle shell career anywhere, however, until my son is out of school I will continue to be making big waves here in Ukee. I have a few things in the works for the near-ish future, but I can't spill all of my secrets. 


Thanks to Jess for being a part of my blog and taking the time to let me photograph her beautiful studio and answer all my interview questions! 

Interview with Zoe from Zoe's Bakery & Cafe

When I moved to Ucluelet one of the first places I ever visited was Zoe's Bakery & Cafe and I have not stopped going back since. I think it's my favourite bakery/cafe in both Ucluelet and Tofino. Not just because of its delicious treats, lunches and coffees but more so because of the atmosphere of the cafe. After living in Ucluelet for almost a year now I have become used to recognizing people's friendly faces whether on the street or at The Studio and I began recognizing the people at Zoe's Bakery. Last week Dave and I attended a Chocolate Truffle course at Zoe's and got to know some of the staff even more and I finally worked up the courage to talk to Zoe about doing an interview. As you know by now baking is a big part of my life and I love speaking to other people who bake as well. After interviewing Zoe I got to know her but also her bakery a lot better which was a great experience.

Zoe is a kind hearted woman who has done so much for the community of Ucluelet and you can see it even if you just walk into her cafe. As I arrived and sat down to interview her she stopped to say hello to everyone that walked in the front door as if everyone was her closest friend or family. While interviewing Zoe I saw how hard working she is as she iced gingerbread cardinals, specially requested by someone in town. It was amazing just watching Zoe at work as she mastered icing these beautiful cookies but also found the time to engage with customers and answer my questions. If you have never been to her cafe then you are seriously missing out and I would suggest you bee line straight for it when you're in Ucluelet next. Check out their website and Instagram to see more about the bakery and get inspired by their delicious baked goods:

Zoe's famous cinnamon buns (with or without cream cheese icing)

Zoe's famous cinnamon buns (with or without cream cheese icing)

Where are you from originally?

I'm from New Denver, BC in the Kootenays. It's a small town with a community of about 500 people. My dog is named after the town: Denver, not the American city. 

How did you end up on the West Coast?

After high school I moved to Vancouver, that's what people from the town I grew up typically did. I was really interested in Forestry and I loved being outside all the time so it seemed like the right fit. I began working for Lesley Stowe at her fine food and catering store. I worked at the front end helping customers. The shop isn't there anymore, Lesley decided to focus on her Raincoast Crisp Crackers. The staff really encouraged me, even forced me to go to pastry school since I was always making cakes for friends and family. Culinary school had always been in the back of my mind but I didn't want to deal with meat. 

Handmade truffles

Handmade truffles

Where did you go to pastry school?

I went to Vancouver Community College for the Baking & Pastry program. When I had finished there I had to do a practicum which my professor suggested I do at the Wickanninish Inn in Tofino. I was offered to do my apprenticeship there with the pastry chef. I continued working at various restaurants in Tofino after that. However, being a pastry chef can be difficult and there was a struggle for me to find a job where I wanted to work. So I decided to go to Haida Gwaii where I worked at the Langara Island Lodge. I even ended up working at a Heli Skiing Private Lodge in BC where I could make pastries that were quite unique and fancy. However, I wanted to move back to the coast. The plan was to move to New Zealand. But then I was offered a job at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort here in Ucluelet and my love of exploring and the outdoors brought me back to the west coast. I worked there for a year and half and then decided to branch off and do my own thing. 

The new addition to Zoe's gives the bakery and cafe more seating space

The new addition to Zoe's gives the bakery and cafe more seating space

Did you always want to open your own bakery?

No to be honest I didn't. I was selling bread and snacks at the market in the summer in Ucluelet and Tofino and started to get a serious following. People convinced me that I needed my own space and the bakery came to be. It opened May 1, 2014. Although it wasn't my dream to open my own bakery, it is equally amazing at times. I am able to balance my skills from pastry school with more practical food that we serve. I love being self-employed and I like the idea of being able to employ so many people. I really enjoy that my bakery is a hub in the community and can help the town of Ucluelet. 

The specials of the day

The specials of the day

What were the biggest challenges when you opened the bakery?

The high turn over of staff in the first few years. I realized that you really need to pay your staff as well as possible because it isn't easy living here. I learned I needed to flexible and adaptable to anything happening. If something were to break down like my espresso machine, it may have taken days to fix it. However, now I know that and have people surrounding me that help out anywhere they can. The biggest problem that is still a challenge for my staff is accommodation. There isn't enough housing for the people who come to work in the summer and that's a problem not only I face but the town as a whole. 

The kids area in the new addition is perfect for little ones to play and enjoy

The kids area in the new addition is perfect for little ones to play and enjoy

How do you come up with inspiration for new flavours and different baked goods? 

I always look to nature and natural element as my inspiration. I also love scrolling through Instagram to see what's out there, it's a great source of inspiration for me. Living on the west coast has really influenced my style, I like that west coast rustic and simple vibe and I reflect it in my baked goods. However, in saying that, my style changes all the time. I remember when I went through a glitter phase. Everything had glitter on it! It was edible glitter though so it wasn't infecting the environment with little pieces of plastic like regular glitter does. 

The bakery has a wider variety of both healthy and not so healthy snacks

The bakery has a wider variety of both healthy and not so healthy snacks

What is your favourite food or baked good?

Pie is my favourite baked good, especially for the sentimental feeling it holds for me. The best way to eat pie in my opinion is a day old and cold, preferably for breakfast. I do not have a big sweet tooth though. I am more of a steak over cake kind of girl. However, I do like a piece of dark chocolate once and awhile. 

The composting and recycling system is very important to Zoe and her bakery

The composting and recycling system is very important to Zoe and her bakery

Now that you have made the new addition to Zoe's Bakery and Cafe, what's next for you and the bakery?

I would like to continue to have less of an environmental impact on the earth. We recycle and compost almost everything now! Once we began composting and recycling even more there was very little garbage being made. However, coffee cups make a huge environmental impact since we can't recycle them. We are trying to push everyone in the community to bring in your reusable cups and we give a discount to anyone who does. My goal is to start a garden out front of the bakery with the compost we make at the cafe to grow fruits and vegetables to use in our baking. I really enjoy teaching classes as well so hopefully we can continue doing that with some different cooking workshops on offer. 

A beautiful Christmas display with ideas for stocking stuffers

A beautiful Christmas display with ideas for stocking stuffers

Since the holidays are getting into swing are there any special Christmas treats you're making at this time of year?

I love Christmas baking! Christmas cookies are my favourite and I love making a gingerbread house every year just for fun. We also do a cookie workshop for kids in town. My apprentice is actually hosting it this year, she's baked all the cookies and then the kids get to decorate them. 

Thanks to Zoe for taking time out of her busy schedule to sit down and talk to me about her bakery. Make sure you stop in sometime, you will be happy you did! 

Interview with Jovee Handcrafted Designer: Alexis Kastner 

When I was at home last weekend I was busy putting together some new content for the blog. While my boyfriend and I were out strolling the streets of Victoria and taking photographs (Dave is an amazing photographer) we stumbled upon Jovee Handcrafted boutique in Fan Tan Alley. I wanted to highlight some local shops for Christmas shopping in Victoria, Tofino and Ucluelet because I believe it's important to support local businesses. When I first walked by the boutique it was closed and I was so bummed since I wasn't going to be home for another four weeks. However, after walking around some more and getting some pastries at my favourite Italian bakery La Tana in Fan Tan Alley, Alexis had opened up shop.

Jovee Handcrafted boutique is located in the beautiful and eclectic Fan Tan Alley in Victoria, BC. I've visited her shop a few times over the summer, always lusting after her beautiful leather goods. This time I worked up the courage to ask her if she would be interested in doing an interview with me and luckily she was! Alexis greets her customers from her studio above the shop where you can find her sewing made to order pieces or her current collection. Her Instagram shows up to date projects she's busily working on and gives you an idea of how amazing her pieces are. Check her out on Instagram: @lexouup

Read on to get to know Jovee Handcrafted designer Alexis Kastner a little more.


Where are you from originally? And how did you end up on the West Coast?

I'm originally from Toronto. I came out to the West Coast on a whim! My best friend was finishing up summer classes at UVic and he suggested I come out to visit for a holiday. At that time I only had two weeks left on my lease and hadn't found a new place in Toronto to live. So I decided to pay up my apartment. I sold a bunch of furniture and hired a moving company and moved myself to Victoria! I had never even been to visit. 13 years later and I am still here!


Did you always want to get into design?

I have always been creative and made things. From jewelry, to clothing. Pretty much anything I have wanted to own I have tried to make! Even furniture!


Where do you find your inspiration?

That is a hard question! I mean most of what I make, I make because I want it! I'll be in the shower or on a run and all of sudden I will be cutting and sewing leather in my head! I actually go through all the motions of building a bag even before I have the leather in my hands. So I guess you could say I am always inspired, I find inspiration all around me.


Do you work alone or with a team?

I am a one woman band! I am a hard boss on myself and I honestly wouldn't want to inflict that on anyone else (lol.)


Do you design for both men and women?

I do both! I am heavily weighted in women's pieces, however, I always carry accessories like wallets and keyfobs that anyone can use or wear. I do a lot of custom orders for men's bags as well.


Do you do a lot of custom designs?

At least 60% of my business is custom orders. I love it! There is nothing better than making something for someone that they have been looking for everywhere and can't find.


Do you have a favourite piece you have made?

My bucket backpack! It is tried and true. I have used mine everyday for years! It has been in the ocean at least three times, on the back of many motorcycle rides. I have even broken a bottle of red wine in it. (I then proceeded to take it in the shower with me to wash it out.) It goes from day to night because although it is very durable it's not sporty, but it holds everything! I even use it as an overnight bag.


What materials do you work with mainly?

New-old-stock leather (NOS.) I buy leather that has been sitting for years. I never buy from factories because I firmly believe in not asking for more than what already exists. It also means that chances are I cannot get that leather again, which means that most of my pieces are one or two of a kind.


Where does the name, Jovee Handcrafted come from?

That is a funny question. It is because I LOVE tassels! My friends used to make fun of me and call everything that I owned with tassels on them: "Jovee." Like: "Hey Lex, don't forget your Jovee bag!" They were making fun of me because Jovee equals cheesy 80's music, which equal tassels. So in the end I guess I turned a negative into a positive and named my line after it!


Where can we find your designs?

I have a sweet little brick and mortar in the courtyard of Fan Tan Alley where you can always fine me and my wares. As well, Instagram is where I tend to make a fool of myself! I post everything as I make it and a lot of the time it doesn't even hit the floor before someone has messaged me on Instagram who wants to buy it. You can also find my pieces at Little Gold on Johnson Street, Nomad on Government Street and Black Dog Barber Shop in Ucluelet. I am also currently working on few secret projects with some local businesses that will be available soon!


Stay tuned on Alexis Kastner's Instagram for more about those secret projects: @lexyouup Thanks to Alexis for providing all the images for this interview. 

Interview with Petra from Petrichor Hair Workshop

I have had an attachment to my hair since high school, always styling it in new and different ways and ready to change it at the drop of the hat. I had been going to Hive Hair Salon in Victoria to see my amazing hair stylist Jadah for a few years. Even after moving to Ucluelet I would still make the drive to go down to see her. In August was my last visit with her before she headed off to London for better things across the pond. Luckily before our 3 hour hair date ended she suggested I go and see Petra from Petrichor Hair Workshop in Tofino. I was apprehensive at first since I dread meeting new hair stylists, but Jadah reassured me that Petra was the best at blondes in Tofino. That sold me and I made an appointment with her a few weeks back and couldn't have been happier with my cut and colour.


Petra was so welcoming and her studio was an absolute dream. It didn't only feel like an upscale, boutique salon, it also felt relaxing and calm like you were spending the afternoon catching up with a friend. The products she has at the salon are some of the best and I really wanted to buy it all but I restrained myself. I'm already looking forward to my next cut and colour with Petra and was so happy she wanted to do an interview for the blog. Read on to learn more about the best hair stylist in Tofino and next time you need a little freshening up on your cut, make sure to book in with her. Check out her Instagram: and website:


Tell me a bit about yourself?

My name is Petra, I’m a Taurus and I live in Tofino. I’m pretty into my job (stylist and salon owner), having an active lifestyle, learning energetic healing practices and snuggling with my boyfriend Jason and our cat Oliver.

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from a small city in Northern Ontario called North Bay. I lived there with my parents and siblings until I turned 19. I never really liked North Bay because the winters are so harsh and long and there wasn’t much to do as a kid. Growing up I was really into music and art, my parents encouraged my siblings and I to be expressive and listen to whatever music we liked which was a solid way to pass time. Because we were just starting to get access to music on the internet, mostly you had to find whatever HMV sold, it was good enough for grunge music but for the underground music that I was into it was tricky to find. I ended up sourcing inspiration out of my dad’s records a lot or listening to a lot of local bands and going to a ton of shows.

How did you end up on the West Coast?

After a year of floating around working at the clinic as well as apprenticing as a body piercer at a tattoo shop, I decided to go to college. I wasn’t so inspired to go to college but my friends were all doing it so I followed their footsteps and studied ECE. That summer my best friend Krystle convinced me to move out west for a summer. I agreed as long as we went as far west as possible, which equated to 4 days straight on a greyhound bus landing us in Tofino. We both worked on MacKenzie beach and had a really beautiful and wild summer. I have lived in Tofino or Victoria ever since.


What inspires you?

I dressed however I wanted. I was pretty into fashion and doing my hair from a young age. I started colouring my own hair when I was about 11 years old, back then I had a pixie cut, so I would change my hair colour pretty often. From red to blonde to pink to black, I would be really influenced by whatever rockstar I was into. I really wanted to be a singer in a punk band, I could sing, but when I would audition I would totally freeze up. So instead I just sang in my own room and played with my makeup and dyed my hair and looked cool. I was always changing my look from punky short black and spiky, to pink glittery raver looks, to copper long flowing ethereal locks or dirty messy bleached grungy. The type of music I was really into at the time always dictated my hairstyle.

Have you always wanted to be a hair stylist?

Although I was so into hair and fashion I never planned on being a hairstylist. My first choice for post secondary was to go to art school. However, my parents didn’t think I would be able to sculpt a future from being a painter and a sculptor, which was the mediums I was mostly working with at the time. I had a part time job at a chiropractor clinic and I was really into the healing arts as well, so I was entertaining the idea of being a Doctor. I had great grades in chemistry and biology, but it was just too much school, I was too restless to commit.

How did you get into hair styling?

In 2006 I attended cosmetology school in Victoria. Finally something really clicked or just understood the balance of art, chemistry and geometry that the base line for everything in hair and makeup too for that matter. I immediately moved back to Tofino after the program and have been a full time hair stylist and makeup artist for 10 years now. I can’t imagine what else I would want to do in the world, aside from traveling the world as a high end spa critic...(lol)


What do you love most about your job?

For me the appeal of the job has always been based around the quality of life. Every day I get to meet new people, or hang out with awesome long-term clients who are more like friends. We hang out and create together. I love having real talk with people that really energizes me. Every day I have an opportunity to make someone feel amazing and learn a new point of view.

What trends are you seeing for hair right now?

Being a stylist is never mundane thanks to changing trends. There is always something to learn if you are humble and willing to expand capabilities. Lately the trend with hair cutting has been moving away from full hard lines and into a more choppy texture. This is a totally different cutting method from back when I was in hair school and it was all about graduated bob’s and feathered mullets. I went through a period of time when I was convinced that I would always have a mullet haircut (no joke!) With colour, for me the trend will always be the fineness, to bring all four dimensions into my colours. The vertical and horizontal planes, the highlights and shadows, for me it’s always about bringing elements together in a way that is both flattering and interesting. It’s my goal that no matter what shape or palette that we work with, that when my clients come back to the salon for their seasonal refresh their hair still looks great. The bulk of my clients are from our local communities in Ucluelet and Tofino. There are a select few who come to see me from London, New York, and Melbourne. I have to shout out for a few in Port Alberni too who religiously drive an hour and a half through our mountain pass for regular services. When people make an effort to come see me that really flatters me. I try not to take how amazing any of this is for granted.

What is your favourite hair product or hair styling tool?

I make a lot of investments in continuous education and tools every year. Apparently it’s a Taurus’ nature to want the best of everything in life, I believe it when I look through my tools! I have about 7 pairs of shears and I usually use about 3 or 4 of them on any one haircut. I invested in some curved scissors and a few texture focused cutting classes last spring that really inspired me. However, I would have to say that the Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer makes my days!


You own Petrichor Hair Workshop, did you always dream of owning your own studio?

Through the years working at different hair salons in Tofino and Victoria I never imagined I would be a shop owner. To be honest the idea didn’t appeal to me at all. I spent so much time focusing on my craft that I felt like before I wanted to focus on numbers and business I just wanted to be creative and take the time to be creative, connect with people and make myself a better stylist everyday.

When did you open Petrichor Hair Workshop?

Petrichor has been an independent salon going into four years now. Originally I ran the full service shop from a rental house her in Tofino. Last year some pretty amazing opportunities were presented to me, which gave me the opportunity to secure a lovely space downtown. I was able to build and design my own vision of the most beautiful, mid-century inspired, boutique salon in the area. There is a lot of room for growth, running the shop for the last year has been an invigorating experience. I am definitely ready to share it and grow with a team of like-minded stylists and artists. I have had several visions around where the space can grow; while all are pretty cool I try not to become attached to any. I try to keep my heart open to see what opportunities may arise.


I want to thank Petra for being a part of my blog, it's so wonderful to feel like part of a community here on the West Coast. As well I would like to thank Karly Bracey who took all these amazing photographs of the interior of Petrichor Hair Workshop. Be sure to book your next appointment with Petra! 

Favourite Workouts with Body By Kara

After a weekend of feasting on delicious Thanksgiving meals and leftovers; we all need a little inspiration to get back into the routine of things, especially when it comes to working out. I don't know about you but I had a serious Thanksgiving hangover after the long weekend and was planning a week of eating salads and working out. This time of year can be hard to get motivated to get an early morning workout in, so why not try a quick high intensity workout at home or next time you're at the gym, with Body by Kara's favourite workouts. When I interviewed Kara a few weeks ago, she showed me her favourite exercises to do in her studio, other then the TRX moves, you can do these wherever you are. So no excuses, time to get working out and feeling good! 

Jump Squats:


Jump squats are just a more intense version of a normal squat, you will definitely be feeling it quickly too. Start with your feet shoulder-length apart then bend your knees as if you are doing a regular squat. Then engage your core and jump up. When you land, lower your body back down to a squat to complete one rep. When I am working out I tend to do two-three reps of 10 jump squats. They are great for your quads and booty! 

Lunge to Twist:


This moves take a regular lunge to the next level by working your abs too! You can use added weight too to make this move a little more difficult. Start in lunge position, with one leg bent in front of the other. Keep your core stable and lunge into your front leg, bending into that knee but making sure to not go over your front toes. With your arms out and your legs bent into the lunge, twist your torso over your bent leg. Bring your torso back to the centre and straighten your legs. Bring your feet back together and place the opposite foot in front and repeat, which completes one set. I usually do two sets of 10 lunge to twist. 


Plank Up and Down:


This one is a tough exercise but will get those arms and core strong. Begin in plank position. Next lower your right elbow to the mat and then your left coming into an elbow plank. Put your right hand back on the mat and follow with your left hand, returning to full plank. As this move is a little bit harder try and do one rep of 10-12 and see how you get on.   


Full Extension Curl Up:


If you want to focus on your abs this is the move for you! I do this exercise every time I'm at the gym, since my abs are the one part of my body I am always trying to improve on. Begin lying on a mat with your knees bent and close to your chest. Bring your head and arms up to a curl. Then reach your legs out to the end of the mat and arms out overhead, making sure to not lower your legs or hands. Then repeat. I usually do two reps of 10 to ensure those muscles are really working. 


Donkey Booty Kicks:


Like the name says, this move is to target that booty of yours. Begin with your knees bent on the mat and your hands down, like in tabletop position in yoga. Kick one bent leg behind you and bring back down, without resting your knee on the mat. Repeat this move on the opposite side, completing a rep. I think it's important to work your booty so make sure you do at least one set of 15 reps. 




This exercise is one you would need the TRX bands for, however, your local gym may also have them so you could try it there or check out a TRX class with Kara at The Studio!  For this move lean back on your heels with your arms extended holding onto the TRX bands. Pull yourself up into a fly with your arms outstretched then once again lean back with your arms out straight. This will work your pectoral muscles, as well as your biceps and core. I haven't done much TRX, other than in The Studio with Kara, and it is hard work! I'm looking forward to trying some more TRX classes in the future because it is hard work!


Interview with Body By Kara

Moving to a new town can be hard, especially when it's a small place like Ucluelet. The transition for me was initially quite difficult, however, each and every day gets easier and it's because of places like The Studio and people like Kara. I have never really talked much about my love and need for working out on the blog, but it is one of the most important things I do. Working out, running and staying healthy overall has been something I have worked on for most of my 20's and I realize how much I need it when I go without it. When we first moved to the West Coast of Vancouver Island it was hard for numerous reasons but specifically because I didn't know anyone or have a place to workout. However, not long after I found out about Body By Kara. Kara is truly an inspirational fitness instructor, pushing me to limits I didn't know were possible in my body and I am so glad I found her classes. The Studio is a part of Ucluelet that makes it feel more like home than it ever has and I am so grateful for a community like this. I think the next few years will have its up and downs of living away from friends and family but it will also bring new adventures and friends because of places like this. 

Check out The Studio is located at 1920 Lyche Road Unit #6. I highly recommend trying any of Kara's workout classes on offer to meet her and see this new beautiful space. Check out her website for more: and her Instagram: @the_studio_ucluelet 

Kara outside The Studio

Kara outside The Studio

Tell me a bit about yourself..

My name is Kara. I have been a personal trainer for almost 5 years now. I was born and raised in the lovely and small town of Ucluelet. I moved away after high school and went to college, however, the ocean brought me back. I love the outdoors and since I have 3 dogs, they always keep me busy walking all the beaches and trails. In my opinion the West Coast is where to be.


Did you always dream of being a fitness instructor?

I have always been an active person, I played lots of sports and loved horseback riding growing up. Although, I have to admit I never really did enjoy working out in the gym until college. I feel like that was the time when group fitness classes and wellness really started to take off. I started working at the local fitness centre creating programs and taking care of all the advertising. Then once I went to my first group fitness class I was hooked. Not long after I started my schooling in fitness and I have never looked back. I find that there is always a new course to take or a new method to learn.

The set up for Spinfit, my favourite class offered by Kara

The set up for Spinfit, my favourite class offered by Kara

Where did you get your training?

I did all of my training in Victoria with Body Blue Print Fitness. However, I continue to educate myself with online courses and workshops out of town. Every year I also attend the Vancouver Island Fitness Conference.


 Your studio just opened, how long was this a dream of yours? And how did you make it come true?

I have always dreamed of owning my own fitness studio from when I first became a trainer with the goal of owning my own business in mind. When I first started out I was teaching all my classes outdoors and also taught classes throughout the community. With the low overhead it gave me a good starting point to see what I could afford for a rental.

As I became more established I moved into my first studio and began teaching classes and personal training in a smaller space, half of a double level. Not long after I decided I was ready to rent the full space and created the Yoga Loft. I spent 2 years there and then decided I was ready for a change and something to call my own. My husband and I had been saving and considered building. However, not long after that we decided to just look at a new studio space. Right away I knew The Studio was for me. It had a harbour view and was in the perfect, central location. It seemed like a dream, however, I knew that there would be a lot of work and time to build it. If you are willing to work hard and believe in a dream, it really can come true!

Inspiring details throughout the space

Inspiring details throughout the space

What classes do you offer at your studio?

We offer all types of classes in the studio. I personally teach Cardio Kickboxing, Dance, HIIT, Strength, Spin, Bootcamps, Toning, TRX and Bosu Classes. I offer drop in, pre registered and private group classes. There are 18 classes a week to choose from and no class is the same.

The October schedule has lots of classes on offer

The October schedule has lots of classes on offer

What is your favourite workout apparel?

I wear a lot of Lululemon, it lasts a long time and in my opinion is the best stuff to sweat in. I also wear a lot of clothing from my favourite local company and sponsor Pina. They print and create all of my BBK clothing. I have also recently been ordering from an online fitness warehouse: They are an awesome brand with great workout gear. If you haven't checked them out you should and use my code Kara15 you can get 15% off your order.

Some of Body by Kara and The Studio clothing line printed by Pina in Ucluelet

Some of Body by Kara and The Studio clothing line printed by Pina in Ucluelet

Do you have any other hobbies?

Besides running and yoga, I love to cook. I am working towards my Nutritionist Certification and Yoga Instructor Training in the near future!

The Studio offers both workout classes and yoga, the perfect balance for this space

The Studio offers both workout classes and yoga, the perfect balance for this space

Now that The Studio has opened up, what’s next for you?

I am currently registering for some new courses. I really want to get my Yoga Instructor Training and Barre Instructor Training this winter. I also plan on spending the winter getting my smoothie and juice bar open for next Spring. We will soon be a one stop shop! The key to running a successful business is to never stop learning! One of my favourite quotes is: "Never stop learning because life never stops teaching."

Every detail in The Studio was thought out and makes the space so wonderfully warm to enter

Every detail in The Studio was thought out and makes the space so wonderfully warm to enter

Stay tuned on the blog over the next couple weeks for Kara's go to workouts and favourite meals for before and after workouts. 

Local Artist: Kyla Mackenzie

I'm lucky to be friends with some very talented people. Kyla MacKenzie, is an artist who specializes in sculptural illustration, painting and photography. She was kind enough to do an interview with me and I am so excited to share her beautiful work here on my blog. Check out her website: to see some more of her pieces and her Instagram account: @kyla.artworks  

Tell me a bit about yourself…

Hah - I always find this question amusing, it’s something we get asked so frequently and yet I don’t think anyone knows the best way answer it. But I guess I’ll start by saying that I was born and (mostly) raised in Victoria, B.C. (My family moved to the states when I was 3 and we lived there for 7 years). I completed my BFA at the University of Victoria in 2014 and have since focused on travelling, skiing, learning to speak Italian, riding my motorcycle, and falling in love on the other side of the world.

Have you always been artistic?

Yes, but I also believe everyone is born with the ability to create artistically. To quote Sir Ken Robinson, “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it”. I can’t remember my life before art, and I can’t imagine my life without it.

Where did you study? 

I studied at the University of Victoria for 6 years, switching into their Visual Arts program after 2 years of Environmental Studies/Earth and Ocean Sciences. 

What materials do you work with?

I go through phases, but most consistently I use acrylic, oil, watercolour, steel wire, and sketching pens. I really love working with wire, it forces my mind to problem solve and think outside the box.

Do you have a favourite piece?

Yes, it’s a painting called “The Drifters”, which was the last assignment of my university degree. The purpose of the assignment was to create a work that depicted a dystopian future. My initial concept was to capture the negative effect of social technology and it’s ability to self-isolate through chronic use. However, with the growing refugee crisis, I now look at the painting and see a lost family searching for a new life, a new home. The ambiguity of the piece is what gives it strength, any viewer can look at it and feel compelled to invent the narrative. The painting invites the viewer to participate.

“THE DRIFTERS” – 24” x 30” (acrylic paint and plaster on canvas, 2014)

“THE DRIFTERS” – 24” x 30” (acrylic paint and plaster on canvas, 2014)

Detail of  “THE DRIFTERS”

Detail of “THE DRIFTERS”

Detail of  “THE DRIFTERS”

Detail of “THE DRIFTERS”

How long is your process?

It depends what I’m making and the size of the piece. There are some paintings I’ve completed happily in 2 hours, while others have taken weeks and have been painted over multiple times before evolving into a completely different artwork. As for my wire pieces, the drawing and composition takes several hours of research and experimentation, while the actual formation of the wire may only take an hour or two.

Who are some of your favourite artists?

I can’t say that I have any specific favourites, as I’m constantly discovering all sorts of different artists when I search for particular aesthetics or techniques, but overall I really admire the work of Picasso. He never settled for or stuck to a recognized niche. He created the niche. He stayed ahead of the crowd and was constantly challenging the concept of art and his own abilities as an artist. I admire that. I think too many of us find our comfort zone and stay there, or simply go after what we already know to be popular and avoid all risk. But that’s where most creators make their mistakes, they focus too much on being the best rather than being the only.

Where do you find inspiration?

My inspiration is often reflected by my current lifestyle or environment. If I find myself investing too much time and energy into things that aren’t important to me, I become uninspired and feel less creative. I think most of my inspiration and creativity comes from learning to trust my curiosity and following my intuition, which is constantly evolving.

What are you working on at the moment?

My focus at the moment is on creative self-discipline and artistic productivity. In the past I’ve often worked in spontaneous bursts, producing work only when a deadline is nearing or when I get a commission. So as of last week, I have committed myself to completing a small painting (nearly) everyday in hopes of growing and developing as an artist over the next few months.

“ORANGE SLICES” – 8” x 10” (oil on canvas, 2017)

“ORANGE SLICES” – 8” x 10” (oil on canvas, 2017)

Where have you exhibited? 

A Vancouver-based clothing company called Kit and Ace supported my most recent exhibition, “GLIMPSE”, and my sculptural wire illustrations were featured in their Victoria showroom for 6 months. Otherwise, my work is featured and for sale via my website: or Instagram: @kyla.artworks

“EXHALE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)   

“EXHALE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)   

   “INTERNALIZE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)

   “INTERNALIZE” – 18” x 24” (steel wire on paper, 2016)

Was it always a dream of yours to be an artist?

Creating art has always been a part of my identity, but not always something I felt was a realistic pursuit. I think many of us take our passions for granted if we don’t feel those passions fit society’s definition of sure-success. The dream of becoming an artist was never the point, I have always been an artist, but to give myself permission to make art for a living – that’s the dream – and it’s a dream I’m working towards.  

Thank you to Kyla MacKenzie for participating in this interview and providing me with photographs of her work. 

Hidden Gems: Quince Cafe & Ice Cream

A new series I've started is little hidden gems of goodness.  The first of this series is Quince Cafe & Ice Cream, my new go to coffee shop in Sidney, BC. Working in Sidney for years I have tried all the coffee shops around, however, none have ever impressed me quite like Quince Cafe.  This little cafe has delicious coffees and teas, homemade baked goods that are both traditional but unique in flavours and wonderful small plates perfect for lunch.  Quince Cafe hasn't been open for very long, but it has acquired quite a following already, which isn't always easy for little Sidney. Next time you're in Sidney, be sure to check out Quince Cafe & Ice Cream at the bottom of Beacon Ave. Check out their Facebook page and Instragram: @quinceshop. Anything you order will be delicious, but my personal favourite is their Kale Salad, Oatmeal, Pecan, Raisin Cookies and London Fogs.  

All the delicious baked goods at the Cafe

All the delicious baked goods at the Cafe

I was able to interview the owner of Quince Cafe, Courtney, who is so personable, you'll want to stay and chat with her over your coffee every time you visit! Here's the interview with some photos of her beautifully decorated cafe for the holiday season. 

Currant scone with homemade jam and cappuccino, you can't go wrong with anything you order at Quince Cafe

Currant scone with homemade jam and cappuccino, you can't go wrong with anything you order at Quince Cafe

How did Cafe Quince get started? 

I have always had a dream of owning my own business, but never pursued any of my ideas seriously. When the space became available, my boyfriend and I considered the idea more seriously and decided to go for it. He has a background in business development, whereas my strengths are in baking and customer service. With the help and support of my family, we were able to purchase the business, renovate the space and open within a couple of weeks. 

The Cafe

The Cafe

Was it always a dream of yours to own a cafe? 

I have always loved the idea of being self-employed and creating something that is truly my own. I have long harboured many "romantic notions," as my brother calls them, and running a cafe has always been one of them. I love getting to know our regular customers and providing a space for them which is welcoming and homey.  Starting Quince has seen us navigate a steep learning curve with many challenges and learning opportunities, but at the end of the day, the relationships we have built with customers has made it truly rewarding! 

Kale salad

Kale salad

What did you do before opening the cafe? When did it open? 

Prior to opening Quince I worked as a teacher on call in the Saanich School District. While I miss the students and their antics, for the time being I am remaining at Quince, as it takes all of my time and attention! We opened Quince in June, 2016.  

The decor is simple, yet unique, echoing their food perfectly

The decor is simple, yet unique, echoing their food perfectly

Do you have any training in baking/cooking? 

I have no formal training in baking or cooking; it's always just been something I enjoy and have learned through practice. Being in the kitchen has always been an enjoyable experience for me. We always kept a large vegetable garden growing up, and I have many memories of wandering out to the garden in the evenings to pick something to cook for dinner. I hope to incorporate more of our homegrown veggies into our recipes next year.


Where do you find your recipes for your baked goods? Are they passed on through family members? 

Many of the recipes we use at Quince come from my mom's kitchen. She has always been a wonderful and hard worker in the kitchen. As children, we were so fortunate. Every week she used to bake bread and treats for our school lunches. Dinner was always made from scratch. In the summer she canned (and still does) a large amount of produce, which we loved to eat our way through in the winter months. Her work ethic in the kitchen has certainly inspired how I view food, and the importance of making time to cook something homemade for loved ones. That's really what it's about for us at Quince. It's lots of fun, because now my mom is helping with the baking a few mornings. 

Family heirlooms give this space a real feeling of tradition

Family heirlooms give this space a real feeling of tradition

Do you have any holiday baking or themed coffees for this wintry season? 

We have a few items that are popular right now, which we are serving over the holiday season. One treat is our homemade Almond Roca, which is a hard candy. Customers are loving it!. It's keeping me busy in the kitchen! It's fun because Almond Roca is a recipe which my mom made for us every year at Christmas. It's fun to share some of the traditions from our home. Another popular treat has been the Vinnetarta, an Icelandic cake, which in our home is always associated with Christmas. It has a prune filling sandwiched between many layers of dough. It's a lovely treat as it is not too sweet, and goes so well with a good cup of tea or coffee. Other holiday baking includes pear mincemeat tarts, scuffles, shortbread and ginger cookies. 

Every flavour of soup is perfect for a cold day

Every flavour of soup is perfect for a cold day

How did you come up with the name for Cafe Quince?

I'm terrible at making decisions, so I knew I had to pick something fairly quickly and not dwell on it! I loved the idea of something natural and real, that comes from the garden. I also liked the simplicity of the name, and I think the name suits the space well.

Photo credit: Some photos were from Quince Cafe & Ice Cream's Facebook page and some were taken by me. 

Designers to Watch Out For: Danielle Bartlett

I have known Danielle Bartlett, better known as Dani, for almost 10 years. We met at the Fashion Design program at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. I remember the first day we met, forced to work on a group project together within the first few weeks of school. We were both quiet and shy, not knowing anyone else in the program, let alone Toronto. We became fast friends, bonding over our love for fashion, music and art. We have stayed friends since that day at Ryerson, even if we don't see each other very often. That's why I was so excited when she told me about her newest venture: designing accessories. Dani is such a unique and talented person, I was so excited to share her work on my blog with my readers.

Check out her website for more photos and to purchase one of her uniquely hand-dyed pouches:

Purple Rain , $18.00

Purple Rain, $18.00

Tell me a bit about yourself: 

I’m Dani! I’ve been living in Toronto for the past seven and a half years, but I’m originally from the east coast of Canada. I have a diploma in Textile and Apparel Design, and I attended Ryerson University for their Design program. 

Day Dream No. 2,  $18.00 &  Girl U Want,  $15.00

Day Dream No. 2, $18.00 & Girl U Want, $15.00

Have you always wanted to be a designer?

Yes, I think so. I remember dressing up as a “designer” for Halloween when I was 8 years old (I wore a pant suit and had a floral briefcase, very trendy in the early 90s). There were a few years in my early twenties when I really thought I was finished with textiles and design because I felt it had let me down. I wasn't getting anywhere and I wasn't inspired by anything. Luckily, that eventually went away and I came to terms with the fact that I will always want to be doing this. The act of creating something brings me a lot of peace and the older I get, the more I realize how important that is. I struggle a lot with self doubt and I am slowly learning to shut up the little voice in my head that tells me I can’t do something. 


Where do you find inspiration? Specifically for the colours and names you choose for each pouch?

I usually start with a gauche or watercolour study, just to see what kind of colour combinations look good together. Then I start building the dye recipes and do some testing to see how close I can get to the original painting. These most recent pouches were done in late December and January when I really needed something bright, and optimistic. The "Day Dream" pouches in particular are inspired by Toronto sunsets - there are some incredible skies here! The names are usually lyrics from whatever songs I’m listening to at the time. "Purple Rain" is obviously inspired by the late and great Prince. And, “Girl U Want” is a Devo song! 

Lilac Cloud,  $18.00

Lilac Cloud, $18.00

Do you have any favourite designers?

Definitely - I think there are so many designers out there right now who are doing really new and interesting things. Lydia Morrow who is a lingerie designer from England, she makes such fun and cute bras. Maryanne Moodie is an amazing weaver, I could literally scroll through her Instagram for hours. Tessa Perlow does incredible embroidery work, and Tuesday Bassen are some other big inspirations for me. Wow, it’s hard to pick just a few! 


Do you have a favourite piece you've worked on?

Honestly, every time I dye something new, it becomes my favourite. I think one of my favourite things so far this year was a one-of-a-kind pouch I made for my 6 year old niece for her art supplies (she’s already using pastels and charcoal!). Any time I make something specific for a friend - that’s my favourite thing to do. 

Day Dream No. 2,  $18.00

Day Dream No. 2, $18.00

What's your next step? Are you planning on creating more and/or different accessories?

I am going back to school in September for Jewelry Design, so I am getting really, really excited to start that new adventure. I am currently working on some earrings and hand painted tote bags that I hope to have up in the next month or so. Also I am hopefully going to collaborate with the illustrator who did my logo, to do some screen printed pouches.

All photos courtesy of Danielle Bartlett. 

Designers to Watch Out For: Maria-Christina McPadden

I had the pleasure of meeting Maria-Christina McPadden while I was visiting Ireland. An innovative and up and coming designer, Maria-Christina has worked with Louise Kennedy in Dublin, Viktor and Rolf in Amsterdam, Mary Katrantzou in London and Yigal Azrouel, New York, giving her designs a creative and international touch. Check out her website to see more of her amazing work:


First off tell me a bit about yourself:

I’m a 27-year-old fashion designer specializing in knitwear design and I'm half Irish, half Ecuadorian!


How did you get your start in the fashion industry?

I was always very interested in art; I went to Limerick School of Art and Design and there I realized I enjoyed the combination of both art and design and the idea of working with textiles.


Where did you study?

I did my first year in L.S.A.D Limerick and then decided to go up North to Belfast to the University of Ulster,where they offered a combined knitwear and fashion design course. I am currently doing a Masters degree in Italy called CKD, the degree focuses on knitwear through the Accademia Costume & Moda, which is aimed at young designers and professionals.

pic navy.jpg

What is your favourite piece in your own closet right now?

Hmmm…I'd have to say that it’s a second hand Aran knit sweater that I bought from the Wells for Zoà charity shop my friend helps out at...I'd say I've had it for at least 3 years and live in it.


Do you have a favorite piece you've designed/made? (If so why?)

I was working on a small knitwear collection last year based on my grandmother; I embroidered one of her sketches onto it so perhaps that. There is a lot of hand beading on the piece so I really enjoyed making the garment.


Who are some of your favourite fashion designers (and why)?

I would have to say the top three are:

1. Haider Ackermann, for his use of fabric and the way his garments are draped. His designs have an incredible sense of elegance and flow.

2. John Galliano for his eccentricity and theatrical energy that can be seen throughout his work.

3. Delpozo, while still being wearable they combine couture techniques with a modern sensibility to create unique voluminous pieces.


What inspires you?

Literally could be anything. I usually start from one concept or idea from art, nature or a story, or person. I keep sketchbooks for each new project…sort of like a giant brainstorm and pick out pages or ideas I would like to develop. The research part of designing is one of my favourite parts!


Are you working for a designer right now? (Where are you working?)

Nope I am currently in a small town in Italy, Correggio surrounded by knitwear factories! :) I previously worked at Louise Kennedy in Dublin. They were a really lovely place to work for and the office in Dublin has quite a small team so I really learned a lot there!


Would you like to eventually have your own line?

I'm sure yes in the future but...I'm not sure if it is something I would want right now! I would however work for a brand as you can learn a lot! 

All photographs courtesy of Maria-Christina McPadden