(A blog post written for Artisella, head to their blog to spot Urban Meets Erban)
Located in the heart of CF Shops at Don Mills, surrounded by consumer conglomerates, tucked alongside the well-known Nine West and directly across from Little Burgundy, Artisella’s (owned and operated by the lovely and passionate Sheryl Luz) stunning storefront window captivates, setting itself apart and drawing you in with a single glance.
As I push the door open to Artisella, I’m immediately drawn in, hit with the same overwhelming feeling I had over a year ago when I first stepped foot into Sheryl’s pop-up on Adelaide Street in Toronto. The space has created this sense of well-being. You’re drawn in by all the good that has been brought into one place and it’s done so through connections built with artisans and products that in one way or another give back. All of the unique products you see fulfill one or more of Artisella’s criteria; from being made in Canada, fair-trade, eco-friendly, artisan, handmade, or vegan. There is not a single thing in the store that doesn’t belong or doesn’t have a story that leaves you with a desire to change your carbon footprint and what you choose to find environmentally or economically important - even if that results in spending a little more money.
The enchanting smell of Spark candles fills the air and I quickly notice the cleverly crafted clothing racks made of gas pipes and copper finishing. Just an example of the level of detail and creativity you’ll find throughout the store. Beautiful artwork by Peggy Sue adds a sort of whimsical feeling. Succulents and greenery create warmness and add life to the space. It’s well-lit and inviting with a mood board, above the gentleman’s designated lounging area, which oozes creativity and depicts the importance of what Artisella stands for. And of course, Sheryl’s energy is simply infectious. She has made it her mission to do each selected artisan justice by displaying their work with care and, adding a bio about who they are and what their products embody. I personally love knowing the story behind each piece. It helps to create a connection with the artisans and ultimately leaves me wanting to purchase everything because I love what they stand for. Artisella is truly platform heaven for artisans.
Artisella is undoubtedly my happy place and go-to for all things artisanal. You will find 16 artisans at Artisella to be exact. Available products range from jewelry to cold cured soap, and each design has been carefully selected for the store. If money was no object, I’d buy it all! I could go into great length about each item, but before I allow myself to embark on the adventure of writing a novel about Artisella I’m going to highlight a few artisans that really stood out for me:
I knew I was going to love every piece the moment I laid eyes on the leather belt in this collection. The beautiful brass fittings and smooth vegetable tanned leather immediately brought a smile to my face. It is simplicity at its finest - timeless. And, it’s also hand-crafted in Toronto and ethically sourced to boot! I found myself mesmerized as Sheryl held up the Knit Pullon Toque and began to share the story behind the Peggy Sue Collection and the incredibly talented and kind human being behind it all. This is sustainable fashion that people actually want to wear. You are buying pieces that can be traced back to the farms that raised its fibers, farms at which Peggy carefully nurtured relationships. Those relationships involve every individual working on the pieces, from weavers, knitters, shearers, guilds and tanneries. And what I love most is that rather than sourcing materials outside of our beautiful country, the Peggy Sue Collection uses the most luxurious animal and plant fibers grown by independent farmers in North America. It comes as no surprise that after being founded in 2015 by Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks, the Peggy Sue Collection was named ‘Winner of Design Forward Canada’s Sustainable Fashion’ award.
I am always excited to see FashionABLE and the pieces they create. FashionABLE is a lifestyle brand that focuses on ending generational poverty by working with women who have overcome difficult circumstances. ABLE is the kind of brand that fuels your soul. Whenever you purchase any of their pieces you’re helping empower women and giving them a living with dignity. Everything is manufactured in communities ABLE wants to impact, whether it’s locally or globally, in order to create jobs in hopes to end charity dependency. Sheryl always displays the jewelry so beautifully alongside their bio, never skipping a beat to speak about their incredible story, what they do, and how they impact their surroundings. Crafted by hand and individually labelled with their creator’s signature, each piece has slight variations that add to their uniqueness. I gravitate toward purchasing their jewelry not only because of my love for bar and arch-style earrings, but because of what ABLE stands for. I feel as though my money isn’t lost to faceless corporate giants, it’s going back into the cycle of empowerment! I’m ABLE to make a difference.
A wonderful surprise, Shelby Naturals awaits at Artisella’s pop up! I haven’t been this excited about skin care in a while, not enough to lose focus on jewelry and beautiful alpaca sweaters anyway. But something in Sheryl’s voice had me equally as excited about it. I listened intently as she described Shelby, a registered holistic nutritionist, changing the world of skin care. As some of my favourite jewelry artisans embark on adventures to create ethically sourced pieces, Shelby moves her passion and goal into providing the purest skin care that’s formulated with simple yet ultra-pure ingredients that are intended to nourish your skin! This skin care line doesn’t discriminate. There is no one skin type that benefits from the product. It’s formulated to suit any stage of your skins journey and ready to tackle a variety of areas (depending on product); firming, sun pigmentation, redness and inflammation, acne etc. I must suggest the body oil as it’s been added to my morning ritual after I shower. It absorbs immediately into the skin, is light-weight and it invigorates the senses with its fresh lemon, grapefruit and bergamot fragrances. Each product uses active ingredients (ingredients your skin recognizes) and doesn’t include fillers. Simply choose a product that you’d like to try, worry-free of harmful chemicals or lack of consideration for the largest organ - your skin! I’m so happy Sheryl brought this line into the store.
Artisella is a game changer for me. From the very first jewelry purchase I made (my first artisanal non-mass produced earrings) I wanted to continue looking at jewelry differently; who I support and what I can do to make a difference - even if it’s simply making a constant conscious effort to shop local only. If someone or something could have such an impact on me, something right is being done. Artisella is doing something bigger than just giving consumers what they need or want, Artisella is changing the way we shop by providing the opportunity to shop consciously. To buy soap that is environmentally friendly, jewelry that comes from materials that otherwise may have been scrapped and tossed by some, and ethically sourced and handmade fashion ware. You don’t have to think about the ingredients or where something is made, you just have to decide whether or not you love it.
Be sure to head over to see Sheryl and enjoy the wonderful artisans who fill the shop with their beauty:
Apse Adorn, Becoming, Brave Collections, Days of August, Dee de Lara, FashionABLE, Ichcha, Landmine Design, Maloca, Peggy Sue Collection, Tania Love, and Votch (pop-up only: Shelby Naturals, Spak Candles, The Good Bar, and Fform).