The National Women’s Show – One-Stop Spring Shopping
Ahhh, Spring is in the air, and nothing says Spring quite like hitting the shops. So where can you go to experience Fashion, Beauty, Food and Fun all in one place? The National Women’s Show is my number one destination to discover new local and international brands. Taking place twice a year for the past 16 years in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, the National Women’s Show is a great place to head out with friends and family for a day of shopping bliss.
This year’s show in Ottawa took place on April 27 & 28th at the Shaw Centre in the heart of Ottawa’s Byward Market. The Show features local and international booths offering everything from clothing, to candles, to handbags and hair straighteners. The best part? No matter how many times you go, there are always new brands showcasing their wares. No two shows are alike in their offerings.
The National Women’s Show – Offering Variety
Much like past events, this year’s Show is separated into two sections: Food & Drink and Fashion, Beauty, Services and Wellness. The nature of my blog’s focus means I spend the majority of my time at the show in the latter section so I will be sharing the new brands from that section, I highly recommend taking a full day to peruse all the areas to get the full experience this amazing event has to offer.
The major takeaway from this event for me, is the diversity of the brands out there who are taking strides to think and act outside the box in the way they manufacture and market their products, to keep community initiatives in mind as well as their brands individual impact on the environment. It’s these smaller brands that will begin to fill in the gaps in the fashion, beauty, and wellness markets; to offer us more than just another product, to offer us an opportunity to make a difference with our purchases.
The National Women’s Show – Spotlight on Canadian Brands with impressive initiatives
Without further ado, here are the brands I love from this year’s National Women’s Show (The Ultimate Girl’s Day Out):
Poppy & Peonies
First, let’s start with this Toronto-based brand, discovered at last year’s Spring National Women’s Show. They’ve actually been at the last three shows I’ve attended but I never get tired of seeing their bright, cheery display of stylish, affordable and functional handbags and accessories. Last year they added jewelry to their collection and I am so enamored with it (love the Tortoise Resin Hoop Earrings).
Offering everything from bag tassels and wallets to crossbody bags and luggage, with prices ranging from $29 to $159, Poppy and Peonies adds practical and affordable luxury to your wardrobe. The best part about this brand, other than its Canadian roots, is it’s credibility; founder Nat has worked in handbag design for brands such as Fossil Banana Republic and Aldo before starting her own brand. Their brand aesthetic is hard not to love with its bright and patterned, multicolored man-made leather handbags and wallets. Best in show for this season are their Straw Bags, perfect for brunch or a day at the beach.
One other amazing feature is that Poppy & Peonies is an online only shop with trade show and market appearances but they also offer people the opportunity to become an influencer meaning they are independent distributors, hosting shopping events both in their own homes and the homes of others. Definitely a brand to watch.
Now here is a brand with a strong sense of self; as an Adventurers’ apparel brand, they appeal to anyone who likes to be outside and wants to look good while they’re at it. Their line-up of consciously sourced fibers such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, bamboo and recycled wool are used to make beautiful wool blankets, tees, hats and a line of drinkware perfectly made for life outdoors.
“Unconventional, transparent and generous. Celebrating and protecting the wild spaces we love so much. “
That’s not all, they also have big hearts and a strong conviction for change on our planet. Their website is chalk-full of inspirational quotes and they share with customers how they got to where they are today and why they have unapologetically forged their own path. Here’s what Anypaya owner’s Shan and Pete had to say about their brand, “We aim to use authentic and courageous storytelling, conscious consumerism, community engagement and damn fine goods as a powerful way to use business as a force for change.”
What’s so special about this brand? Well they’re Canadian for one, the majority of their products are made in Canada or the US and if they are made overseas, they must come from WRAP certified (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) manufacturers, who must comply with rigorous standards such as fair trade, child and forced labour free, exploration free, prohibition of harassment, abuse, or discrimination in a healthy and safe environment. Source Lastly, they have a One Pound Promise, whereby, they remove one pound of waste from our wild spaces for every product sold, by hosting and funding community cleanups across the country and around the globe. Source Pretty boom if you ask me.
These days a simple t-shirt is the staple item for any minimalist-style wardrobe, it allows for comfort and an easy-going style. What if you could buy those t-shirts and also fulfill a higher purpose, like feeding hungry children? A Toronto-based brand is offering this unique opportunity. Tenfed is a Canadian company creating unisex apparel such as t-shirts, sweaters, hats and soy wax candles, for every item sold they will donate 10 meals to children in need both in Canada and internationally. They’ve already donated 160,000 meals, with their sights set high to reach 500,000 meals donated by year end.
“Tenfed is more than just a clothing brand – it’s about having meaning and purpose behind what you choose to wear. It’s about having style while changing the world at the same time. When you wear Tenfed, not only will you look great and feel comfortable, but you’re also making a statement that you’re part of the solution. “–TenFed
Meeting the owners Mike Wallis and Kory MacLaughlin, it was clear to me that they were passionate about their business and driven to fulfill their community initiatives. The story of how the brand came to be is inspirational, “Mike worked in the corporate world and Kory ran his own landscaping company before getting into the Social Enterprise sector. Both were tired of working so many hours at something that they had little to no passion for. They both felt like there was something bigger to all of this. It lead them to travel to Chicago to attend a life changing Tony Robbins event. Being at this event solidified their idea of wanting to do something greater for the world, and something that they had a passion for. They left that seminar with an idea, and a bigger drive to make it happen! Mike and Kory launched Tenfed on August 10th, 2015. It was one of the most fulfilling days of both their lives. And it was just the beginning… ” Source
Consider this amazing local brand next time you shop, supporting local entrepreneurs and your community at the same time is a win win in my books.
Boots are made for walking and tires are made for driving, but can tires be for walking as well? The reality is that once tires are worn out the must be replaced, ending up in landfills if they can not be recycled. As a vehicle-dependent society, you can probably imagine how many tires households will throw away in their lifetime, these add up in landfills around the world and although they decompose (over 50-80 years) Brave Soles founders Cristol Earle and Florence Lavaseur had a higher vision for these abandoned rubber relics.
” In Brave Soles we value people, our planet and the legacy we are leaving long after we are one. The false perception that we deserve to get everything cheaper and faster has a cost that we can no longer afford to pay as a global community. “Brave Soles
Here is their story, “As the founder of an international youth humanitarian organization, Christal (co-founder and CEO) had been working and learning from a local community of garbage dump workers since 2005 on the north coast of Dominican Republic. But all the time, the question was still there: “What could be done with all the tires that are dumped everywhere?” In early 2017, the idea struck for the first time. Why not use tires for soles on beautiful hand made shoes – and create a way to help the most vulnerable people in the process?” Source
Meeting Cristal at the National Women’s Show I was immediately struck by her obvious passion for her business, devotion to her daughter and her drive to have a positive environmental impact. So far Brave Soles has upcycled 1,044 tires to create the soles of stunning leather sandals for men, women and children. My favourites are the Camila, the Jasmine, the Bohemia and the Gladiadora. With product features such as locally-sourced leather, hand-cut upcyled tire soles, cushy foam core, handmade leather footbed, and prices ranging from $65-$105 they are certainly an affordable, quality item to add to your wardrobe this spring/summer. They also offer quality leather wallets, clutches and bags made from upcycled leather (airplane seat material) now there’s a fashion trend that’s bound to “take off”.
True Northern Life
Now I know this post has been all about fashion, I am a style blogger after all, but if I see a local brand who is doing good things, I have a duty to share with my lovely readers. This was my first encounter with the Ottawa-based candle brand True Northern Life, they create natural soy wax candles poured in Canada using cotton wicks and recycled glass jars – sustainability is an important aspect of this brands supply chain. Source
“We strive to make candles that are clean burning, chemical free, and better for our environment. We don’t use additives so our candles may have slight imperfections, but these are a sign of a handmade product, and we’d rather have each candle be unique than add unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients.”True Northern Life
The question some may wonder is, “does it really matter what a candle is made of?” My answer would be, absolutely. Many candles on the market contain paraffin wax, a petroleum (oil derived) product that when burned releases toxic fumes, which has contributed to its fall out of favour. In 2009, a study by South Carolina State University found that burning paraffin wax candles give off harmful fumes (toluene and benzene) which is linked to asthma and lung cancer. Source Soy candles, in the same research, were not found to emit toxic chemicals. It is also reported that frequent lighting of multiple paraffin candles in an unventilated space could lead to problems commonly associated with paraffin wax: irritation of skin and respiratory tract. This study garnered widespread controversy on the effects of paraffin wax versus that of soy wax, resulting in an increased demand for soy wax candles. Source
The bottom line, is to choose a candle company that takes the safety of it’s products seriously and makes the health of it’s customers a top priority. True Northern Life is doing just that, give them a try, you won’t be disappointed.
The National Women’s Show – Until next time
And there you have it, another National Women’s Show has come and gone. Did you miss out? Don’t worry, they’ll be back in Ottawa, Toronto and Quebec City this fall. Head to The National Women’s Show for more details on this amazing event; “The Ultimate Girl’s Day Out”.