Tis the season to start the Christmas preparations and we love this season. It's the most wonderful time of the year! We also love cookies and even more when they are gluten-free. Here are our top 5 recipe picks for Christmas cookies with a healthy kick.
"So, I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings"
I'm a very private person but I'm also authentic and real and hopefully my story may inspire someone else who is on the same path.
Sometimes things happen for a reason.
Sometimes you find the love of your life and get married only to find out in the end that he was wrong for you BUT God put you together so you can have a beautiful child together.
Sometimes you start a new job only to realize it's so wrong for you two weeks later BUT the Universe brought you to that job to find your kindred spirit.
Sometimes you venture off as an entrepreneur and start a business from a wonderful idea. You work at it days and nights - it flourishes to something amazing for a few years and then, as you grow and go through life, you learn and grow yourself as a person and realize that you fell in love with something else.
These things happen. We learn. We grow. We move forward.
I'm now at the stage where I have to stay thank you to everyone who stood by me from day one (you know who you are) while building the COCOLILY brand.
Thank you for being by my side - I am eternally grateful for those who took a leap of faith on me and the COCOLILY brand.
I learned so much while building COCOLILY - my other baby ;) It is so close to my heart. I learned new things about myself. I taught myself things I never knew before. I discovered new passions and interests. Past passions re-surfaced once again and I realized I need to embark on a new journey.
COCOLILY brought out my passion for connecting with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
COCOLILY brought out my creative spirit and made me realize that I love designing graphics and websites! I thrive while doing marketing for clients and thinking of creative ways to market. I am fabulous at sourcing information and curating content for social media. I am passionate about producing styled photo shoots and bringing together some of the most talented vendors together (ie. Pear Studios and SSV Photo).
In the past I've produced several boutique tradeshows such as The Original Wedding Soiree along with The Original Petite Soiree, which featured a unique New York-style fashion show that's never been done before in Toronto. I've been used by so-called friends who were only my friend for my contacts or thinking I can take them further in their business - and of course - when I stopped doing a particular project, that friend stopped being my friend - hmph. It always hurt because I am a really kind, supportive and loving friend BUT it helped to build my character. That 'friend' was obviously not meant to be in my life and I saw it as a blessing in due time.
In addition, I also produced The COCOLILY Social - a creative event for the female entrepreneur. While producing this massive conference, I was by my moms side holding her hand and watching her wither away, completing breaking my heart. Along with knowing I'd be losing my mom soon, I also lost over $40K from producing The COCOLILY Social due to the insanely high costs of the venue and not having time to focus on sponsors as my mom came first.
I remember asking my mom if I should continue doing The COCOLILY Social as her condition worsened and she told me to continue with it and not give up.
If it wasn't for her, The COCOLILY Social wouldn't have existed and wouldn't have been so successful for over 200 female entrepreneurs who had nothing but sweet things to say post-event. Thank you mommy for always teaching me how to be a good person and for always believing in me.
I did lose my mom in June of 2016 and it was the worst heartache I've experienced - nobody can prepare you for that type of grief. I still needed my mommy and she was only 59. But I have to put my faith into gear and think that God needed her more.
All of my events were always original for Toronto and as such, often people tried to copy them (as they say 'the best compliment someone could give you is to copy you.'
I surpassed my own expectations, had sleepless nights of stress but at the end of the day I survived, I learned and I succeeded.
Having worked with speakers, models, photographers, actors in the past (as I also produced a few magazines!) - I found that my passion for that industry was resurfacing again. I used to be a Talent Agent - sending actors out on casting breakdowns and sending them out for television roles, editorials, film and commercials. I was absolutely in love but I left the industry because there was a man who worked there and started to try to flirt with me but because I wasn't interested - he got furious and made my life a living hell when I came into a job I loved and arrived to at 7:30am (even in snow storms) to get those breakdowns! I left and that experience left a bad taste in my mouth so I left the industry all-together.
BUT eventually you get over things ;)
Right now at this stage of my life I am pursing my passions.
I am also focusing on my family as there has been the death of my mom and recently, the death of my uncle - and things like this really make you open up your eyes to the sunshine and count your blessings despite the grief.
Nonetheless, I am excited. I have faith. I am going to where the joy is and I hope you will always follow the joyful path.
Entrepreneurship is not the easiest thing - we don't go out shopping all day or get pedicures or hop on our private jet and fly to Tuscany! Entrepreneurship can be lonely (which is why I started The Breakfast Club and will continue).
Entrepreneurship takes a lot out of you but in the end, it is so rewarding.
I can only hope that you will continue to join me on my journey and the ventures I started before and will continue, but also the new ones. I love connecting like-minded people together, marketing and building brands as well as the talented people on The HOC Agency roster!
I trust that an ending is followed by a beginning.
Sending you love, light and success in all that you do.
A mood board of our favourite things. Things that make us happy, that inspire us and just simply make us smile.
..a french press, good coffee and a good book.
...the bond between a mother and her son.
...the colour yellow, sunshine and sunflowers.
...simple but pretty living spaces.
Beautitude is a Canadian Luxury brand that offers a fun loving line of targeted anti-aging body care treatments that are vegan, natural and cruelty free. We are happy to feature them today and their story!
What motivated and inspired you to start the business … how did you come up with the idea?
Chrisanthy: We had many skin concerns and we were having difficulty finding effective, natural and non-toxic products. This made us feel insecure to wear a lot of the trends and we felt bad that we couldn’t wear the things we wanted to. We just wanted healthy skin, and to feel comfortable and not put limitations on ourselves. There wasn’t many options in the body care industry, and those that existed were not as effective as we had hoped. Not to mention that they generally did not have the most appealing scent or packaging and were quite expensive.
Catherine: We came up with the idea when we were doing a "Did You Know section" for Sunbec Food, which is our family business. As we were doing the research, we discovered that Dead Sea Salt and raw sugar had an amazing amount of natural beauty benefits. We found that those benefits could be very helpful in treating our own skin concerns, and we were determined to wear those outfits that we had shied away from. We also knew that many women, regardless of age were feeling the same way we did. So we decided we wanted help women feel confident and sexy in their own skin, by creating a sassy line of natural and effective products that not only make you feel great but give your skin the nutrients it needs.
What you love most about your job /company/journey?
Catherine: What I love most about my job is that I genuinely love creating thingsand so my passion has become my business. It took us two years to create these products and launch our brand and we learned so many valuable lessons along the way. It is a bit surreal that what started out as just a simple idea, has now flourished into a business.
Chrisanthy: What I love most about our company and my job is that I get to wear so many different hats and I get to learn about the different aspects of running a business. I am never bored, and constantly challenged. One of the things I love most about our journey is that we get to meet such inspiring people, and I constantly find myself getting out of my comfort zone, which is scary but at the same time very rewarding.
Top 3 things on your bucket list.
1- I would love to have lunch with Anna Wintour. I think she is such an empowering and inspiring woman. I love fashion and have read her biography and would love to pick her brain.
2- I would love to travel to Thailand.
3 -I would love to start a non-profit to support young entrepreneurs. It’s not easy to build something from scratch, you need a lot of resources and support.
1-I am very passionate about traveling, so visiting the seven wonders of the world is definitely on my bucket list.
2- I love the sea. I would love to learn how to scuba dive and be able to explore the coral reefs.
3- I love fashion, so I would love to experience Fashion Week in Paris.
Great Business advice you received when you were starting out?
Catherine: Our dad, who has owned a successful business for over 30 years has always said “Nothing comes from doing nothing. If you work hard in your life, you will succeed.”
Chrisanthy: He also told us to be perseverant and that just because someone says no to you today, doesn’t mean it won’t turn into a yes tomorrow. You have to never give up, never quit and get creative.
What/ who is your biggest inspiration?
Chrisanthy and Catherine: We both feel that our parents are our biggest inspiration. They are partners in business, they are partners in life, they just aren’t our parents, they are our best friends and our biggest fans. They are a prime example of how two people with different strengths and views work together to create a thriving business, and loving and supportive family.
What does success mean to you?
Catherine: For me it’s having a balance in your life. It’s not just about working hard and having a successful career, it’s also coming home to a family that loves and supports you. It’s being able to be present for them and be there for them. It is difficult and I think it is something that I will have to work at for the rest of my life.
Chrisanthy: Success to me is really about having freedom. Having the freedom to pursue the things that I want such as a passionate career, different life experiences, traveling etc. Success to me is also being able to be yourself with your friends, and partner in life and creating a supportive and loving network of family and friends.
Your favorite spot for coffee, brunch or cocktails?
Chrisanthy: My favorite coffee shop is Tommy Cafe, in the Old Port. I love the vibe, it makes me feel like I am not even in Montreal. It is a great place to just escape, and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a delicious snack.
Catherine: My favorite brunch place is Faberge, in the Mile End. I love the menu and it’s got this “forever young” vibe! You can’t start your day wrong when you brunch there!
One thing you do to take care of yourself...your self‐care me/day/moment?
Catherine: I try to take care of myself by working out in the mornings before I start my day. It is not easy, but it’s the time that I focus just on accomplishing a workout and nothing else. Afterwards, I feel less stressed and more positive, I feel ready to tackle my day.
Chrisanthy: I try very hard to stick to my skincare routine for both my face and my body. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s something that just makes me feel good. The process for me is almost therapeutic, it’s just something that I am doing for me, and I feel a sense of satisfaction giving my skin the nutrients it needs to have a nice healthy glow.
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made for your business?
Catherine: The biggest sacrifice I feel we have made is time. Especially at the beginning, when you are launching, you give up a lot of time you would spend with your family and friends. You have to say no to things that you would love to attend because your business is depending on you. Sometimes you don’t know the difference between a weekday and a weekend.
Chrisanthy: I agree with Catherine. I also believe you sacrifice piece of mind, to a certain extent. You have a lot more anxiety because there is a lot at stake and sometimes it is just really hard to stop thinking about work. So it’s really important to create a lifestyle that will help you deal with the stress and have a great support system around you.
What do you celebrate most about life?
Chrisanthy: Life is full of milestones, some larger than others, but in the end it’s filled with a lot of small moments and wins and it's important to cherish them. I don’t feel you necessarily have to celebrate just big life events. They can be small personal goals that no one even knows about. It’s important to treat yourself once in a while. But to be fair, I love throwing a good party so I always find a reason to celebrate.
Catherine: I agree with my sister. We have so much to be thankful for, it’s important to stay positive and recognize an accomplishment no matter how big or small it is. If great things are happening to you and the people you love, why not take a moment and acknowledge it! A little celebrating does some good for the soul and that’s the premise of Beautitude.
Product and lifestyle photos: Liana Carbone from Liana Carbone Photography
Portrait: Karine Kalfon from Karine Kalfon Photographe
Julie Cole, Co-founder of Mabel's Labels and a busy mama of six, shares her entrepreneurial journey and will inspire you with her business advice!
What motivated and inspired you to start this business/choose this profession...how did you come up with this idea?
There were two main reasons Mabel’s Labels came to life. The first was that we had a great product idea. We noticed there was a product missing from the market and like many clever moms, if it doesn’t exist, we might as well create it! Our great idea nagged away at us until we couldn’t ignore it any longer. Another catalyst for starting Mabel’s Labels for me was that around the time that we were considering launching our business, my eldest child was diagnosed with autism. I decided that it would be best for me to leave the traditional workforce (I’m a recovered lawyer) and pursue a career that would offer a little more flexibility so I could better manage my son’s therapy program. 14 years later, I’m delighted to report that both Mabel’s Labels and my son have THRIVED!
What steps did you take to get things done during the start‐up process?
First of all, we had a great mindset. Our business was not treated like a hobby, but a business. As such, we created a business plan, marketing plan, and delegated the to-do list among the business partners. Being able to divide and conquer the start-up duties contributed to our early growth. There is so much to get done in those early days. If you have business partners, don’t forget to draft a Shareholders Agreement. You want to make sure you get all your business in order while everyone is still friends!
What has been the most effective way(s) to create awareness of your business/brand?
Without question, word of mouth has been our most powerful tool. Our market is moms, and we know moms! Moms don’t tend to trust traditional advertising, but do trust their mom influencers. We launched years before social media existed, but once social media arrived, we were quick adopters. We knew that it would be a vehicle for word of mouth – now moms could talk about our products in their online communities, in their blogs, on the Facebook pages and Pinterest boards. By creating an amazing product and an engaged community, our brand awareness has been exceptional.
What you love most about your job/company/journey?
There are many scary things about starting a business – this is not for those who are risk adverse. However, the benefits are many. I have had some much needed flexibility while raising my six kids. I also love working hard on something that I created. There is so much energy and rush in being an entrepreneur. I would also say the best parts of this journey has been the people – it has been so enjoyable to work closely with my business partners, our amazing staff and our loyal community of customers. Business IS about relationships.
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made for your business?
Sacrifice is about perspective. I don’t see things as sacrifices as much as I see them as investments. I suppose in the traditional sense the biggest sacrifice I’ve made is sleep! I’d suggest that if sleep is a priority, then I would not recommend starting a business and having six babies!
What is/has been your biggest struggle aka mountain to climb and how you deal with it?
A difficulty with a growing business is that as soon as you get comfortable understanding where your business is, it grows and it’s needs change. You have to get very comfortable with being uncomfortable when you are a business owner.
Your favourite quote
My favourite quote and definition of success are the same thing. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it” - Maya Angelou
Great business advice you received when you were starting out?
We got so much advice when we started out – everyone has opinions. I’m not sure that there is any one gem that sticks with me, but if I were to give advice, this is what I would say:
- If you have a spouse, make sure they completely understand and support your start-up. Working long hours for no money for years on end can be a deal breaker for some people. Make sure everyone has eyes wide open about the impact starting a business will have on your family.
- Invest in your staff. You are nothing without a great staff team. Hire people for culture fit, hire people smarter than you and make sure you fill talent gaps. Get the right people on the bus. Hire slow, fire fast. A bad employee can cost you a lot of money and damage team morale.
What is the best thing about your workspace?
Our workspace is not fancy, but it is fun and funky. I love the way the Mabel’s Labels headquarters FEELS. Best thing about the workspace? The people in it!
It's that time of the year where you want to indulge in cocktails during the summer months, whether it's in your backyard on a Friday night or while your entertaining friends. Here are 5 healthier versions must-try cocktails.