A New Design Gem Opens in Leslieville

It’s not everyday that a new design boutique opens within steps of my front door and so I can’t help but get very excited, especially for something that is so fabulous that it reminds me of New York a little bit- which is really something to shout about don’t you think?   And what am I so giddy about?  The opening of Black Rooster Decor‘s first bricks and mortar store on Queen Street East, a few blocks east of Carlaw.  Until recently, most would agree that this side of Queen Street lacked luster until an influx of condos and a reno-boom improved everything.  Now, we Leslievillers get to enjoy the fruits of all the change: great stores are coming too.  Hallelujah.

Black Rooster Decor already has a very successful online business so the new store is a natural move.  Their strength is providing great design to clients who are looking for a well curated collection of items ranging from mid-century modern to European antiques.  While most of their business is currently across the border, they are dedicated to like-minded Canadian suppliers and designers.  They also have a personal shopping service which is fabulous for those who need a little inspiration.  See below for my interview with owner Nina Ber-Donkor.

photo21

photo 5photo 1photo 3photo 1-2photo 1-1photo 2-3photo

How would you describe the over-all style of the store? A mix of what we sell online with some local items thrown-in to make it special for our Toronto clients.

What makes you unique? We’re really lucky to have some local designers and clients in Toronto that have supported us, so we’re coming in with a perspective of what they like and want to see in-store.

Why Leslieville? It’s our favourite hood and close to home. 

What new products are you most excited about? Discovering new artisans that are making affordable and unique everyday home goods. It’s thrilling to offer something not found at the chain stores, something you won’t see in every home.

Where do you find your treasures? Are you off on buying trips all the
time? Not as often as I would like to… many of our purchases are made from visiting with our suppliers, seeing their new product lines, going to trade shows and sometimes blind trust in a product we’ve never seen but can tell will be awesome based on past experiences. 

What magazines are your go-to’s for inspiration? Domaine, Rue, Lonny. They’re killing it right now. And Instagram is a major source of inspiration. 

Why expand from a successful online business to bricks and mortar 
(when many retailers are doing the exact opposite at the moment)? It’s not an expansion but rather an extention of what we do. No one would question us opening a storage warehouse so a retail store is just as important for our business where customers can come in and chat and look and feel and get inspiration. And it’s really nice to actually talk to people and not sit behind a computer all day. 

Where can you be found? Instagram, Twitter, Website

Behind the Scenes at a Hudson’s Bay Photoshoot

One of my favorite types of projects is creating full rooms from top to bottom. To my extreme pleasure, that is exactly what I get to do with Hudson’s Bay!  Today I am going to bring you behind the scenes of a recent photoshoot that we did to showcase brand new linen collections for spring. As usual, shoots like these are HUGE productions with big crews, multiple photographers and lots and lots (and LOTS) of options.  What do I mean by options?  I mean that for every item that you see in the final shot, we probably brought 4 others to choose from.  And yes, that includes furniture.  Why do we need so many? Because I never know how things are going to look until I see them in the space, with lighting and bedding etc etc.  I would rather have an extra bedside table or two on hand and swap them in quickly than wish I had something different and get stuck.  Options are my best friend when I’m styling…unfortunately they can also be my assistant’s nightmare (thanks Biagio!).  On shoots for Hudson’s Bay I always, ALWAYS bring lots of flowers because there are bouquets in every shot and sometimes it can be a long process to get them exactly right.  We have to consider what looks good in the room, which blooms are seasonal/available (even though we are shooting months in advance), what speaks to the brand, what was done previously and what my clients prefer.  Luckily, flowers are my absolutely favorite thing to do.  See if you can spot our choices in the final images.

Anyway, without much further ado, I present to you images from the Spring Linens Book photoshoot.  Yes, we work really hard BUT we also have a lot of fun.  First is the cover image (you might recognize it from last week’s Globe and Mail insert):

hudsons bay may 17-30 2013 stephanie 1Setting up for the same shot.  Our locations was a super-hip furniture store in the West end.

IMG_0202On the other side of the camera: OPTIONS!!  And my makeshift desk is in there too somewhere.  Yes, it looks like chaos but I swear that we have a system.

IMG_0197

Oh there it is! Among the flowers…on the most adorable Bay garden table.  Hey! It matches my phone!  And I always keep my receipts in a chic glass vase. Don’t you?

IMG_0225

Biagio and I are in constant contact…and we bring our own phones.

IMG_0233

We shot an alternative angle for the Esprit bedding and it included me (in a pink dress!) walking up and down the staircase in the background.  The image was meant to be blurred….LOL!

IMG_0227The last time you might ever see me in a dress this pink:

IMG_0229

This is the final shot of new Distinctly Home bedding.  We were going for a uptown Kate Spade style.  I am in love with the gladiolas and the fabulous painted pipe wall! Amazing!  Oh and here’s a tip: garden stools as bedside tables. Why not?

hudsons bay may 17-30 2013 stephanie 2An alternative bike option for the above shot.  Super-chic no?

IMG_0215Here’s amazing off-figure stylist Rodney Smith (with photographer Paul Chmielowiec) creating those fantastic towel insert shots.

IMG_0218A better shot of Paul (the master behind all of the off figure shots in the book):

IMG_0219And who shot all the big room shots you ask?  Michael Graydon of course!  Here he is with our incredible Art Director Rebecca Watson.  Go Team!

IMG_0211All right now a few other random but fun shots. It’s raining chairs! Hallelujah!

IMG_0221Biagio, looking handsome, with “options”:

IMG_0206

I love a pretty vignette:
IMG_0198Photo assistant Rudo working on his tan:

IMG_0220The communal inspiration desk:

IMG_0214Oh and here’s me (in my regular clothes) trying to get a handle on things.

IMG_0208What a fun shoot!!  Thanks very much to all involved especially those at Fuel Advertising and Hudson’s Bay.  A very special thank you to our tireless clients Arren Williams and Jen Radway.  Can’t wait to see you all again very soon.

PS: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention bed-stylist Charlene Walton and producer Rosanna Tanti.  Nice work ladies!!!