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Silver Award, International Winner – Janet Brown from Australia by OHMJAM

Janet Brown
Janet Brown

I am delighted to have as my guest this week, silver award winner – Janet Brown from Australia. Janet’s short film titled ‘Water, Water’ was the silver winner in the International documentary category at the Wasaga Film Fest. The film was written and produced by Janet and directed by my dear friend Iris Walsh-Howling. I first saw the film when Iris posted a link on Facebook and I was immediately taken by the rawness of the film. I have since referred to it as a poignant film about the fragility of life.

I have since discovered that Janet has literary articles and short stories that have been published in Australian anthologies and journals in U.S. academic and literary texts.  Her short stories and plays have won prizes in both Australia and the U.K.

Janet has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Victoria University and a Bachelor of Science Education from Melbourne University. In addition to all that she does, she also teaches writing courses and workshops. Amongst her many accomplishments are the following:

– A Hole in the Ground – Janet co-wrote with Joanne Ryan, Directed by David Myles
– One Plain, One Purl was a winner of The Write Stuff playwriting award in 2004 and produced in 2005
– Dolly Stainer of Kew Cottage, Directed by David Myles
– Le Jardin De Ma Mare, Directed by Judy Ellis
– Small Bites (2010)
– Making Waves (2011)
– You was a finalist in the Gala of the 2010 Melbourne Short & Sweet Festival at Chapel off Chapel
– Sand, 2015

Her first short film Water, Water was filmed on the Victorian Surf Coast and has screened in Spain, within Australia and now has won in Canada.

Water, Water
Water, Water

Welcome Janet and thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to do this blog.

Janet I can’t tell you how happy I am that you not only submitted your film to the Wasaga Film Fest but that the judges were able to see what I did and award you the silver. I admit to letting out a very loud squeal when the win was announced at the red carpet Gala. I was told I should have gone up to accept the award on your behalf but I was so thrilled and emotional I couldn’t move. Now I know what it feels like to be at the Oscars and I’m so sorry you weren’t here to be honoured. How did it feel when you got the news?

Carol, Thank you so much for your interest in our film and encouraging us to submit it to the Wasaga Film Festival.  When Iris phoned me to say that you had just posted about our win on Facebook, I was absolutely elated.  Unlike yourself, I was jumping around the room and carrying on like a happy child.  It was such a lovely feeling to have the judges acknowledge our work.   

Where do you get the inspiration for your work and for Water, Water specifically?

The inspiration for my work can come from anywhere, and it does come from the strangest places at times.  My first play,  A Hole in the Ground, co-written with Joanne Ryan, was based on a community campaign to fight the proposal to build a toxic dump in Werribee, where I lived for many years.  Joanne and I were both involved in the campaign.  It was a political play, intersecting with the personal lives of real people who we knew.  At the opposite extreme, I have recently written a short story for adults about a little boy with feathers, it’s speculative fiction I suppose, and the idea just came from a fleeting image in my mind that I wanted to explore.  It hasn’t been published yet,  Other times I might be inspired by a tiny comment I hear in a conversation or interview.  

Water, Water’ started as a short story and it came about because there were massive floods in Queensland and Victoria, Australia, a few years ago.  I saw news footage on television showing the devastation and listening to people talk about staying and rebuilding their lives and homes.  I wanted to explore the sentiments of someone who made a different decision.  It is not often we see films where the main character is a middle aged woman, and I think that mature women are very interesting.  They have had loads of life experiences that give them challenges, insight, wisdom and daring, so that was where the idea originated from.  

I totally agree.  Claudia Clarke, the sole actress in the film did such an excellent job of telling the story and making us realize that this was a woman with very little fight left in her after life had taken its toll.  Tell us about Claudia and how you came to have her in the film?

Claudia is a beautiful actress, so talented.  She is highly respected for her live theatre work and played the role on stage in 2012 as part of a touring production of short plays called ‘Making Waves’.  When I had the idea to make the film version, I really wanted Claudia to be our actor again.  I feel that she had a huge responsibility with this film, and her performance is so poignant and real, I am very lucky she took on this project. 

I’m of course biased when it comes to Iris because she is so wonderfully talented and creative but how did it happen that Iris Walsh-Howling directed this film?

Iris Walsh-Howling with Janet Brown and Claudia Clarke
Iris Walsh-Howling with Janet Brown and Claudia Clarke

Yes, Iris is incredibly talented, and we have been friends and interested in each other’s work and projects for the past ten years since I moved to the Victorian Surf Coast,  It is a region where many creative artists live and work.  I’d been thinking about a project to work on specifically with Iris, so you can only imagine how delighted I was when she agreed to direct ‘Water, Water’.  Iris has a unique creative sense.  Her projects have an individual stamp on them that is inspired by her great knowledge and experience of theatre and performance-making, without being derivative, and then re-invented and energized through her own creative genesis.  I do mean ‘genesis’  like a birthing of something completely new and fresh.  Apart from that, I like to work with people who are a pleasure to work with. The process is as important as the outcome.  

I’ve been to the Victorian Surf Coast and to Lorne specifically and the similarities to Wasaga Beach are amazing. I read that you spent a lot of time in 2014 submitting the film to festivals both in Australia and internationally.  How did you determine which festivals to submit the film to and was the Wasaga Film Fest on the radar at all?  Any advice you would give to people wishing to submit their films?

There are a number of websites like Withoutabox, Filmfreeway and Reelport that list film festivals around the world.  They cover everything from the most prestigious festivals like Cannes and Sundance right through to smaller community festivals.  Each festival has its own criteria – length of films, filming equipment used, categories, issues (ie some festivals are just about films on the environment, women’s issues, disability, diversity).  Some are free to enter, some are costly.  You can upload your film and follow the calendar to choose the film festivals that interest you for your project.  It;s very time consuming, and some of these festivals have up to 5,000 entries, so  the chances of being screened are really limited.  I did not know about the Wasaga Film Festival in 2014.  Perhaps I missed it, perhaps it was not on these sites.  We were selected for screening at the Puertas Film Festival in Spain and the Barossa Film Festival in South Australia so we are very proud of our little film.

My only advice to other film makers would be to really consider what you want to achieve with your film and, if you want to explore the festival track, choose the festivals carefully.  It is great for the film team’s reputation if you are selected for screening and even more if your film wins a prize – we have been absolutely delighted how the news of our silver prize at Wasaga has been received.  People are now taking extra interest in our project and our work.  Thank you Wasaga!!

You also have a degree in Science Education which seems so far removed from Creative Writing.  I am probably one of the few people that would understand since I majored in Business Administration in my earlier years, went on to study and become a Homeopath and then finally a fashion designer.  However, people always tell me that I have to be one or the other or people won’t take me seriously.  Are you an academic first and a creative second or is it the other way around?

To be honest Carol, I am quite sure that I am a creative artist, a writer, first.  My science studies (we are going back more than 30 years!) probably gave me an approach to my creative projects where I feel I am always experimenting, firstly with the idea, the inspiration, that’s the question I am exploring.  Then, my method, how best to ‘do’ this.  What’s the form, the approach – a story, a play, a novel or non-fiction.  But unlike science where there are quantitative results and outcomes, with creative work the outcomes, or the final product, have a different measure.  My Master of Arts  studies were in Creative Writing, and I worked at Victoria University as an academic skills lecturer some time ago, but these days any teaching for me is usually in community learning centres as a creative writing teacher – such fun.  

Tell us a little bit about you Janet, what would your friends tell us about you if given the opportunity?

Oh dear, what would my friends say about me?? I would love to know too!

What’s next for the multi-talented Janet – another film, book or play?

Your comments are very kind Carol, thank you.  I have been asked to write a performance piece based on the real-life experiences of people with mental illness, so the first step is research and interviewing.  This is to be staged in October 2017.  Usually I have a few projects in various stages of development and I am fine tuning another play script about a woman who has been a prime minister and is very ill.  We don’t see the lives of powerful women represented very much on stage.  So often the main roles are of women as victims.  One of her daughters is a photographer and she documents her mother’s illness experience by taking photos.  She hasn’t asked her mother permission to do this and intends exhibiting them, to the horror of the other daughter who feels this does not respect their mother’s privacy.  I am interested in the line between the personal and the public, privacy, and this era of social media does it even exist?  

It all sounds awfully serious doesn’t it?  Mind you,  I have a funny satirical musical that I would love somebody to produce.  It is called ‘infiltration‘….. a media mogul has had a kidney transplant and he thinks the ‘spirit’ of his kidney donor is taking over…….

What pearls of wisdom would you like to leave us with Janet?

Everybody has a story to tell.  Listen carefully. 

I couldn’t agree more.  You can reach Janet by email at janetbrown.m@hotmail.com and you can view ‘Water,Water’ at https:/vimeo.com.

Janet Brown, Iris Walsh-Howling and Claudia Clarke Celebrate their win.
Janet Brown, Iris Walsh-Howling and Claudia Clarke Celebrate their win.

Thanks again Janet and as always Keep Creating!

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Platinum Award Winner – Nancy Dyson, Sunset Grill by OHMJAM

Platinum Award - Video Advertisement Category 2016
Platinum Award – Video Advertisement Category 2016

One of the many things I love about living in a small town community is that you get to know the residents and one of those residents that always puts a smile on your face is Nancy Dyson, Platinum Award Winner in the Video Advertisement Category at the 5th Annual Wasaga Beach Film Festival 2016.

Nancy Dyson
Nancy Dyson

Nancy is the owner of Sunset Grill in Wasaga Beach and apart from providing us with terrific food, she always has a smile on her face and is such a supporter of events in the community.  Her submission into the Film Fest won the Regional Advertisement category of which OHMJAM was the sponsor.  I’m proud to feature Nancy as my guest for this blog.

Nancy congratulations on your platinum win.  I’m delighted that OHMJAM was the sponsor in this category and your win was very well deserved.  The short film truly captured the spirit of Sunset Grill, the staff and the atmosphere.  What inspired you to make the film?

Thank you for sponsoring this award and for taking the time to write this blog.  I was inspired to make a commercial for the film festival a couple of years ago.  A friend from Stonebridge volunteered for the film festival and she said “Nancy you have to do this”.  She said it will be easy to make a commercial on your phone and it will be great advertising for Sunset Grill.

Was this your first submission or have you submitted films in previous years and did you come up with the idea for the ad or did you have help?

 Last year I didn’t have time, this year my staff and I took the challenge and worked on getting small videos of the restaurant throughout the year.

The music in the video was great, who did the music for your video?

One of my servers has a brother who writes music and I asked him if he could write a song about Sunset Grill.  He gave me several songs to listen to that he had previously written  and I picked one.  One evening last fall two of my cooks and I re-wrote the lyrics to one of the songs that Steve Deger wrote.  We loved it right away!!  

It wasn’t until the videos were due to be entered that we put the whole thing together.  One of my cooks is very computer savvy so he edited it and made a commercial to the music.  It was a lot of fun making the video and we were so happy with it when it was done.

I remember seeing the video for the first time and thinking how happy everybody in it was.  Every time I’m in the restaurant your staff seem to know everybody, it’s like one big happy family and your video certainly captured that atmosphere.  How did the staff feel about the win?

That was the first film any of us had made and we were all pleased with the way it turned out.  We weren’t sure if we could win…. especially after seeing some of the films the night of the business video view and vote.  There were some really good films in that category. 

When your film win was announced there was a huge round of applause, people said that your win was the loudest of the night.

I was so surprised and happy the night of the Red Carpet Gala when Sunset Grill won the award for best business video.  It was so nice to see so many residents from Stonebridge there to cheer for us and support our video.  They are a great bunch of people.

Nancy tell us a little bit about you, how long have you lived in Wasaga Beach and have you had Sunset Grill since coming here?

I have lived here for the last 4 years.  Sunset Grill opened 3 years ago and I am so happy that I moved here.  

What would you like people to know about your experience of living, working and playing in Wasaga Beach?

This is an up and coming town that we live in and there are many great reasons why I’m happy here.  I live in a great community where the residents are mostly retired or semi-retired and they are very active in the community.  I came here from Newmarket and I am happy that I can live and play in the same town that I work in.  The people here make it so amazing!

Nancy hosted a breakfast for Bobby Curtola, the Spoons and others the day after the red carpet Gala.

Bobby Curtola, the Spoons, Peter & Judi Wilkins of Wasaga Brewing Co. and Dianna Chycki of Beach Booster Radio at Sunset Grill
Bobby Curtola, the Spoons, Peter & Judi Wilkins of Wasaga Brewing Co. and Dianna Chycki of Beach Booster Radio at Sunset Grill

Nancy’s award sits proudly in the entrance of Sunset Grill and it’s a beauty.  I’m so happy for Nancy and proud that OHMJAM could be part of it.  Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me Nancy.

The award
The award

Sunset Grill is open 7 days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Our slogan is “Fresh is Tastiest” and we are one of few franchises who cook fresh food on the grill.  Come in and have one of our ‘Famous All Day Breakfasts‘  which is 3 eggs, 5 pieces of bacon, home fries and Texas toast.  We also have fresh salads, hamburgers, fruit salad and more…… something for everyone.

Thank you again Carol for being part of the Wasaga Film Festival.  I’m so impressed by your talent in designing/making gowns and dresses.  See you soon.

Next time you’re here stop in to Sunset Grill located at the Stonebridge Mall, try anything on their great menu (you won’t be disappointed) and say hello to Nancy.    Her winning video can be found on the Wasaga Beach Film Fest YouTube Channel – don’t forget to check it out.

In the meantime, Keep Creating!

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Happy Mother’s Day from OHMJAM (Online Fashion Boutique for Women)

Yellow Roses
Yellow Roses

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and what better way to thank her for all the love and sacrifices she’s made than with a beautiful bouquet of roses – any colour will do but yellow have always been my favourite.

It’s been a wonderful week thus far, the weather cooperated over the weekend so I managed to get my flower beds ready for whatever blooms.  I planted a lilac tree in front of the house last year, nothing is better than exiting your front door and smelling the sweet fragrance of lilacs in bloom.

Monday I met more members of the Wasaga Film Festival Committee that I’m delighted to now be a part of. I know I keep going on about it but I’m truly amazed by the number of talented,  creative people we have living in this community.   I’m thrilled to be a part of this team, so looking forward to working with them to realize the vision “bringing the world to Wasaga Beach”.

I also received a wonderful message from a client who had purchased one of my dresses and wore it to a function over the weekend.  She wrote “WOW I have never received so many compliments on an outfit before and from several random people I didn’t even know.  My husband was wondering if you make suits”.  She did look amazing in the dress – a testament to the difference between ‘tailored’ and ‘off the rack’.

OHMJAM goodies arrived this week.  Now I can wander all over town without having to tell people who I am or what I do.  On that note, my story was in the spring issue of Women with Vision magazine.  ohmjam pressies As if that weren’t enough, I received an email last night from a gentleman I met the other day telling me he’d just watched me on our local TV channel so he took a moment to visit my website to learn more about the work I do. His words “Very Impressive”. Thanks to his message I got to see the last few minutes of my interview.

Back to Mother’s Day,  I don’t get flowers or cards any longer.  My sons are in Australia (where I’m sure they celebrate at the same time) however, the distance is a good excuse for them to forget or just not bother because they’re too busy.   How does it feel?  Well I normally wouldn’t write about something like that but being forgotten on the one day that you should be remembered and honoured for all that you’ve done, long into their adulthood hurts beyond measure.  It’s all too easy to blame yourself and wonder what you did wrong to deserve being forgotten.  Then you remember the last good deed you did for your children and how quickly that was forgotten and you know it isn’t your fault.

Sadly, I hear all too often from women who gave birth to sons.  “A daughter’s a daughter for all your life but a son’s a son till he takes a wife”.  I also hear far too often how wonderful women’s parents are but that her husband’s are horrible, intolerable people.  If I live to be 100 I will never understand how it’s possible that parents of girls are perfect people whereas parents of boys aren’t worthy of the time of day. I was a daughter and I spent the last 10 years of my Mother’s life caring for her but I’m also a Mother of boys so does that negate all the good I’ve ever done and reduce me to being one of those unworthy people?  Hhmmmm there is nothing logical or scientific about that concept so could it be that it’s just #‘daughter-in-law’ perception? (I’m hashtagging that and claiming it the newest trendy disease).  Unfortunately,  there’s far too many women suffering with that affliction.

I’m hoping that all men everywhere not only remember the Mothers of their children but also the woman that gave you life because without her you wouldn’t be here.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day and remember Keep Creating!

Don’t forget to

Just do it
Just do it




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My Guest – a Woman with Vision – Lorraine Leslie by OHMJAM (Online Boutique for Women)


In March I was an Exhibitor at this year’s International Women’s Day Expo held in Collingwood, Ontario. The creator of the event is Lorraine Leslie and it was there that I first met her. Her resume is impressive, her story inspiring and she’s built an empire helping other women achieve their goals thru mentoring. From model, police officer, fitness guru to entrepreneur, she has done it all. The list of her accomplishments is lengthy but after recently being asked to appear on her television show “Women with Vision”, I got to see the women in action up close and see for myself why she has won so many accolades.

First of all, Lorraine thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be a guest on my blog.

After seeing you in action for myself, I have to jump right in and ask how do you do it, you are a multitasker extraordinaire?

Carol, that’s a very good question – one I get asked a lot.

From a young age I was taught to listen, watch and learn. In doing so, many doors and opportunities have opened up for me. I’ve walked through each door and experienced amazing things, such as being a police officer and changing outdated rules that affected both the lives of men and women across Canada… I soon realized that being an advocate for change for women became a focus in whatever I was doing. I prioritize my initiatives. Timing is everything. I like to refer to this talent as being an expert in time management – everyone can learn this talent.

I know that you modeled before becoming a police officer; that seems like quite a transition knowing how rigorous the police training is. What made you decide to become a police officer?

My modeling started as a teenager. I was asked to model after receiving 2nd place in the Miss Daffodil Pageant in Newmarket at the age of 16. I guess you could say I have a natural instinct for modeling. I watched fashions shows, how models posed in catalogues and just said to myself  “I can do that”. I later went onto model for Eleanor Fulcher, Eaton’s, and Sears and at special fundraising events throughout my entire life. It was always for fun and to help others.

My Father was a man who also made changes.  He started the Toronto Auxiliary Police Force under the direction of Chief Mackey back in the early 1960’s.   My brother was also a police officer.  As I child I had learned the value of listening, watching and learning and this is very important when you are a police officer. I joined the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department in August 1966.

Somewhere I read that you changed the rules about Police Officers marrying. That rule applied to financial institutions as well, my first job was working in a bank as did my fiancé.   When we got married, even though we worked at different branches I was let go because of that rule. I don’t think young people today could ever imagine the boundaries and prejudices that we faced back then. So how did you manage to change the rule?

A rule was made during the Depression back in the 1930’s that stipulated if two people were employed by the City of Toronto one had to give up their job. They didn’t want one family taking home a double income as it wouldn’t be fare to the rest of the people who were losing their jobs during the deep depression.  I was studying for my police exams and realized how outdated the rule was.   The next weekend I went home to visit my parents and I asked my father if he knew about the rule or heard of it – he hadn’t. Our discussion led to him asking me “What are you going to do about it?”  I didn’t have an answer at the time but it stuck in my mind that a change needed to be made. About 18 months later the rule was changed and I was one of the first police women to marry a police man. The ruling I initiated the change for also applied to the school boards, financial institutions and hospitals across the country…there was an immediate domino effect – corporations were changing their rulings quickly.

After leaving the Police force you became a certified fitness trainer and built an empire in that field. Having 32 fitness rental locations, training 24 personal trainers, over 6,000 students collectively over a four years period, a cable TV show, and a newspaper column. You also opened up a chain of Lorraine Leslie Dans’n Aerobics fitness classes across the Maritimes. That plus being a wife and Mother of 3 boys. Being a mother to 3 boys is a job in itself but doing all that you managed to do is an incredible feat. You said that you learned your sales and marketing skills then. Did you intend to build your fitness business to that extent or did it take on a life of its own?

I was in the right place at the right time….

When I moved to Newfoundland on a transfer with my family the YMCA and Parks & Recreation were still doing the 5BX army fitness routines.

I knew that I wanted to continue to teach fitness classes so within three weeks of settling into St. John’s I went to the YMCA and Parks & Recreation Department and basically auditioned to promote my own dance fitness program to music. They told me music is used in dance classes but once they saw my program they agreed to let me volunteer for three months to see how the program was accepted, and that was it.  I had women lined up outside facilities to sign up to take Lorraine Leslie Dans ‘n Aerobics™.   The two classes I started quickly became six classes a week – then 10. Over the summer I started to train instructors in anatomy and physiology along with the dance routines I choreographed to the hot upbeat music of the season.  When I left St. John’s, Nfld. there were 24 instructors to continue my Dans ‘n Aerobic® Legacy.

I loved what I did and when we were transferred back to Ontario my instructors kept the programs going and I flew down and taught them the new material for the next two years…then they took over the business.

After having accomplished all that you had it must have been heartbreaking to find yourself in a position of having to leave the business behind. Back in Ontario you went through a traumatic, life altering experience which forced you to leave your home and your three sons –with nothing but you tape recorder, the clothes on your back and $152 to your name, you also lived in your car for 3 months.

I too left my home with two babies, a plane ticket back to Canada and $50.00 in my pocket but I was 20 years old and full of piss and vinegar so to speak.

Your situation could have been devastating but instead you picked yourself up and started over. I know from personal experience that there’s a moment when you know it’s going to be ok. What was the moment that you knew you weren’t going to be defeated by circumstances?

I realized I was not alone – there was something pushing me forward. The morning after the physical assault I went back to my house after the boys had gone to school and the house was empty.

The locks on the doors had been changed and there was a box on the front step with some socks, underwear and bras in it.  That was when I said to myself, “I will not be a victim!” I had worked with women in similar situations on the police department and knew I could turn my life around. I had a burning will to survive inside me.

You went back to school to study Gerontology and graduated with honours after only 18 months of a 3 year program. You continued to educated yourself and now you hold Certifications as a Business and Life Coach, Certified Psycho-spiritual Life Coach and Founder of the Women with Vision Institute. It’s not an easy task but it seems you take it all in your stride and refuse to let anything stop you.

Here you are today, having taken a leap of faith in 1998 and started Women with Vision! ®. A Woman with Vision that you certainly are. Who would have known that Collingwood would have grown as it has and that there would be so many women entrepreneurs in the Georgian Triangle? I’ve been here a short time but I’ve already learned that you not only have to be talented, you have to have energy, enthusiasm and a thick skin to be an entrepreneur in a small town community. What advice would you give to women looking to start in such a community?

Have FAITH in God and BELIEVE in yourself.

When you want something, you think about it…shortly it becomes a reality. I.E. you want a drink – you go and get it.

If you continue to think of the same positive thing it will manifest itself into something real.

I have always wanted to help other women in business and with their life skills… My mission is your vision – your vision is my mission! ©

That’s great advice Lorraine and  very well said.

What’s next for Lorraine Leslie or do you feel you’ve reached the pinnacle of success?

At 69 I’m just beginning! My goal and vision is to take Women with Vision across Canada – Franchise the magazine, expand the Women with Vision TV Show and publish my Memoirs into a Best Seller 😉 

That’s one I’ll look forward to reading!

To continue to educate, motivate, inspire and promote women of all ages, from all walks of life and career backgrounds. Each day is a new beginning and the opportunities are there if you look for them. Seize every moment and live life to the fullest – Lorraine Leslie©

I’m delighted to have met you and to learn your story; you are the type of woman that all young women should aspire to be. Thank you for inspiring, motivating and initiating. 

Thank you Carol for the opportunity to share my story – I hope your readers will pull strength from what I have shared.

No doubt they will Lorraine. 

Lorraine has provided us with a few photos of herself participating in just a few of the events in her life.  She has shared them for viewing only (copying is not permitted).

Check out Lorraine’s magazine at www.womenwithvision.ca and she can be seen on TV during the week on Roger’s. 

In the meantime, don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter and as always Keep Creating! 





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Introducing Tania Wood by OHMJAM – Online Boutique

I wrote about meeting Tania Wood a couple of weeks ago and  how impressed I was with her.  I asked her if she would share some of her art and photography with my readers and she graciously agreed.

tania4Tania’s quiet and unassuming but getting to know her has been such a joy because behind that quiet demeanor is a woman who loves nature, art, beauty and fashion.  You get a sense that beneath that calm exterior is a strong woman who knows what she wants,  she’s fearless.  She’s the kind of woman every Mother wishes her son would bring home because you know you could become best friends with her.

This winter was a difficult one for many in Simcoe County, Tania and her husband Jeff were no exception.  They had to contend with no heat for almost a week (the result of a broken furnace) as well as no water for days (the result of old city plumbing that needs to be fixed but can’t be until the spring thaw).  That would be enough to send anyone screaming but Tania takes it in her stride and uses it to her advantage, by taking down the dining room wall.  They bought their house less than a year ago and are in the process of renovating.  Every time I see her it seems another wall has come down; soon she will have run out of walls to hang her art.  In the face of all of this her house is spotless and one can’t help but wonder where she finds the time because she has 3 jobs.

Every time I’ve seen her we’ve both been in a rush but we know we share the same appreciation for art and nature and from that appreciation has come a decision to collaborate but I’ll tell you more about that when it comes to fruition.  In the meantime, here’s what I’ve learned about her.

I’m surprised to discover that she’s only been painting for the last 3 to 4 years, her work looks like that of a trained artist.  You can see some of her art and photography here:

Tania what inspires you? 

Anything from a crack on the sidewalk to the colour combination on someone’s clothing. 

What message do you want to convey with your art/photography?

The various emotions that I felt while making a piece of art.

Do you have a preference, working on canvas, wood, etc.?

No I like painting on anything that I can create art on.

It’s obvious that you love to photograph nature.  Have you painted any nature scenes?

Yes, the nature paintings are mostly an abstract recap of something that I particularly enjoyed during my winter trips south to Mexico.

You’re also a landscape designer/gardener, where did you learn that?

I love working with my hands and picked up the skill from on the job training; as for the design part of it, that was self taught.

Of all the things you do, which is your favourite?

Painting abstract on canvas.  I find it so exciting to start off with a blank canvas with a colourful line up of paint tubes waiting to be made into something.

Is there anything that you would like people to know that they wouldn’t see from looking at your work?

Each painting has a strange, unexpected motivating story behind it, something that inspired its creation.  Also most of my work is created on something that is being discarded because it’s served its purpose and people are done with it.  So most of my work is created on recycled materials.  For example, old mirrors, old paintings, signs, hardwood flooring cut offs… with the hardwood flooring cut offs, I match them up like a puzzle and then glue them together to create a custom shape, then I create on it

Tania’s even resourceful when it comes to creating.  That’s my kind of gal.

Stay tuned because you will definitely be hearing more about this talented young lady.

Well it’s also the last day of March and we’ll have our spring/summer collection here by next week.  April is going to be busy starting off with taping for the “Women with Vision” television show where I’ll be showing a couple of pieces from our collection.  Also if you’re in the area pick up a copy of the Women with Vision Magazine as there’s an article about me.

In the meantime, Keep Creating!






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Thursday’s Treasure #7 – James C. Lee Photographer by OHMJAM Creative | Unique | Playful ~ Young Adult Fashion Designs



OHMJAM Photo shoot

Earlier this year while planning to do the photo shoot for our website, a mutual friend referred me to James.  Before contacting him I went online to see if he had a website so that I could view his work, it wasn’t that I didn’t trust my source, I did but I wanted to see for myself why he had referred him.  His work was definitely impressive but more commercial.  Nonetheless, I liked what I saw and after a number of phone conversations I was convinced that he was the person I wanted to do my shoot.

I met him for the first time the morning of the shoot and to say I was nervous would be an understatement, due to the fact that my models were not professionals but rather the children of friends.  The kids were all gorgeous but would they feel comfortable doing something they’d never done before and would he be able to capture the pictures I wanted.  After many years of living with control issues I have finally learned to live in the moment so I decided to do just that and gave the reins to James, after all he was the professional; we’d get what we got and even if it turned out to be a disaster we’d have fun doing it.   It was magical, once behind the camera the kids became professionals; James has the kind of personality that makes you trust him instantly, he was able to get the kids to do exactly what he wanted.  We spent two days shooting due to scheduling of all involved and had a wonderful time.

Okay enough about that – it is my pleasure to introduce you to this Thursday’s Treasure – Mr. James C. Lee –  my new friend and OHMJAM’s Photographer.

James Lee
James Lee

Hi James, so glad to have you here this week.  So I’ve never asked you what you thought when I presented you with the daunting task of doing our first shoot with a bunch of kids who had never modelled before, did you think I was crazy or did you take it on as a challenge?

Well, my initial reaction was how we would be able to shoot that many kids in a limited time frame without a set location for each kid.  I thought I was the crazy one to say that it would be no problem!  But I took it on as a challenge as I prefer to process in the moment with only a few ideas planned ahead.  The thrill of most photographers is being able to capture the essence of their subject/object in any situation, whether it’s a controlled studio session or a chaotic location shoot where the weather gods can mess with you.

After all our conversations we’ve never talked about your journey to photography.  Tell us a little bit about that journey, where you went to school and what made you decide on your chosen path?

I was innately drawn to all things visual at a young age.  I took happy snaps with my father’s Polaroid and the dreadful Kodak 110 and Disc film cameras.  I never really took it serious back then, only for fun.

In 1992, I went to the University of Saskatchewan to study Engineering.  I failed miserably.  I eventually received a Bachelor of Arts degree.  During the last two years, I studied Photography. One of my classmates suggested that I should apply for the Photo Editor position for the student newspaper called “The Sheaf”.  He felt confident in my talent and thought that I would get the position.  After a tremendous year with the newspaper, I decided that photography would be my desired path as a career.



In 1999, I stuffed all my belongings into my car and moved to Toronto and apprenticed with some of the best in the industry and eventually ventured out on my own.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration from a vast array of sources.  I cycle around the city, I rummage through tons of magazines, I watch a lot of film, I listen to all types of music.  Lately I’ve become obsessed with Tumblr and follow some really fantastic people who gather some of the most stunning, visceral, and honest photography in the world.  Yes, I do get inspired from famous photographers and their famous photos but I find that perusing anonymous images is far more satisfying.

The perpetual drive to find that visual aesthetic you can call your own is what inspires me.

Last week I featured Anastassia Art who said that a good picture is in itself a piece of art, do you feel the same way?

I believe that photography is merely a means of capturing or creating a moment and the latent image is the translation. The picture itself is the result of one’s vision; to be gazed upon, to be interpreted, and to hopefully be appreciated.

What do you prefer to shoot – inanimate objects such as the beautiful commercial work you do or people?

I don’t really have a preference between an inanimate object or a person.  I approach each with the same vigourJCL_20081225_3923

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Well, this is similar to the inspiration question above.  The creative juices can spawn from a simple notion; whether it is a scene in a film to the way a person on the street carries him or her self.  I try to keep these stimuli in mind when I’m behind the camera.

For me they aren’t similar at all.  For example I can see an image that inspires me and I’ll lock it away in my head.  Later it can be something as simple as walking thru my kitchen when it’s clean when I suddenly have the urge to go and extract the locked image onto paper.

From your website it looks as though you’ve travelled a great deal, do you travel for work or just for pleasure?

Ha! I haven’t travelled anywhere too exotic lately.  The photos are from a road trip with my friend through Europe.  I would love to travel for work.  

Out of the many photographs you must have in your portfolio do you have one special favourite and why is it your favourite?

I don’t really have one specific image that is my favourite.  I guess my photos from Europe would be my favourite because they strike a personal chord with me.  At the time, I’d just broken up with my girlfriend and a friend was about to quit his job so he decided to rent a car and asked me if I wanted to go on a road trip through Germany, France, and Spain.  How could I pass on that opportunity?  My other favourites are the portrait sessions with my comedian and bike courier friend.  They were a pleasure to photograph in that they allowed me the freedom to ask whatever I wished for and they complied.

Paris at night
Paris at night


Is there any type of work that you turn down?

It is very hard to turn down work because one thinks they can do ANY type of photography.  I, as with my colleagues, prefer to focus on a select few genres of photography.  If you tell a client you’re a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ photographer, you might marginalize your talent and they won’t know where to use you for a photo assignment.

What would you like people to know about you that they wouldn’t know from viewing your portfolio?

Well, I tend to re-watch a film several times and obsess over little details (the soundtrack for a particular scene, the lighting used on an actor, the composition/framing, etc.)  This obsession to detail spills over to other things like the way I dress, improving my volleyball skills, cooking, even cleaning the house!

I’ll share another little secret – James has a gorgeous little Boston Terrier that he rescued.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us today.  You can see more of James work at his website www.jclfoto.com or follow him on tumblr www.jclfoto.tumblr.com and instagram www.instagram.com/jclfoto

Until next time Keep Creating!








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Thursday’s Treasure #3 is a Rock Legend by OHMJAM Creative | Unique | Playful ~ Young Adult Fashion Designs

B.J. Cook (Singer/Songwriter)








I’m excited and honoured to have a real life rock legend as this week’s Treasure. For those of you who are too young to know our guest, let me tell you that she was once a lead singer with a very famous Canadian band called “Skylark” who in 1972 recorded a song called ‘Wildflower’. The song spent 21 weeks on the Billboard pop charts; was extremely popular in Canada and was number 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It sold over a million copies and can still be heard on many radio stations today.  And that was just the beginning of a very exciting career.

Please join me in welcoming this week’s Treasure Ms. B. J. Cook, singer/songwriter.

BJ in the YouTube video of you singing Wildflower with Donny Gerrard you were obviously very pregnant.  The record was at the top of the charts for 21 weeks, a long time – were you touring with the band while you were expecting and what was that like?

I loved being on the road.  Before playing with Skylark I was on the road with Ronnie Hawkins for about a year and a half.  When that came to an end we decided to put Skylark together.  It was an amazing band, with excellent musicians and a real identifiable sound.  When we’d finally found the right group of people and had rehearsed sufficiently,  I sent a tape  to a dear friend of mine whom I had met the first time I moved to L.A. in 1968.  His name is Dino Airali and he was the one who took our tape to Capital Records, it all happened very fast, we were signed in a matter of weeks.

Having another child was never in the cards, when I was young I had a very large baby, a daughter named Tamre.  Many years later, I was told by 3 specialists that I would never be able to have more children.  I got married believing that but the Universe had other plans.  We had a baby and a hit record around the same time.  I did the Midnight Special (the video) when I was almost in my 8th month and then finally it was time to come back to Victoria and Amy (our miracle) was born on July 29th, 1973.

The night she was born the Tower of Power and Crowbar were playing in Victoria, we were friends with the guys in both bands, so the night of their concert both bands dedicated their shows to us and our baby girl Amy Skylark was given an amazing ‘welcome to the world’ concert!  So Amy was ‘blessed’ musically before she was even out of the hospital and as you know, she’s a remarkable woman!

She is indeed, she’s already worked with  Michael Buble, Josh Groban and Beyoncé; authored a book and is a mom to three.  I have to confess I thought this interview would be easy but you’ve had such an interesting, amazing life and career that it’s difficult to condense into a couple of pages.  Nonetheless I’ll try and forgive me for asking this so early on in the interview but….. you did a song called “l’ll Have to Go Away” written by Kerry Chater from the group Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.  I discovered it just a couple of years ago.  I’m no musician, I can’t sing to save my life but for me the range and control of your voice in that song is brilliant.  It reminds me a lot of Karen Carpenter’s voice but your voice has more depth.  It’s a beautiful song and it has become one of my favorites. Why do you think it didn’t become a huge hit, could it be the long instrumental intro?

Choosing material for an album is a long process, you listen to hundreds of songs.  I’ll Have to Go Away was actually a song we chose because of the lyrics and in all honesty, I don’t have the greatest range so it was a perfect song choice for me  Not to contradict you but I believe that it was also on the Canadian Charts for quite some time.  I think the intro to that song is one of my favourite pieces, it’s called “Suites for My Lady”  and it was written in my honour, so it holds a lot of meaning to me.  I’m flattered that you find a comparison to Karen Carpenter, she was/is one of my favourite singers.

Also to let you know Wildflower was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and it’s one of the most recorded Canadian songs EVER.  At least 70 artists have recorded it from Aaron Neville to Luther Vandross

Well I certainly stand corrected about I’ll Have to Go Away but I’d never heard it until just a few years ago nor have I heard it covered by anybody else.   You’ve worked with so many people during the span of your career and actually knew George Harrison, of the Beatles  personally.  You have a funny story about taking your Dad to George Harrison’s house.  Care to share that with us?

George Harrison became a good friend because my husband at the time was signed to his record label – Dark HorseGeorge was a frequent visitor to our house and I must admit that each and every time he came by I would sneak into the bedroom and call my pals back home and we would freak out that one of the Beatles was in my living room LOL.

The story about my Dad is that we were invited over to Georges gorgeous house in Holmby Hills (a beautiful area of Beverly Hills) one afternoon and my old Pop decided to go for a swim in the pool and just took his clothes off and jumped in LOL (not naked of course) but it was quite the sight.  It wasn’t until we got home that I realized what a big deal it had been to swim in George’s pool.  After our visit with George, we went shopping and we ran into Steve Garvey (Baseball player) and his wife Cyndy.  We knew them thru mutual friends and my Dad got to meet them.  When we got back to Victoria the first thing he said to my brother when he got off the plane was “shake the hand that shook hands with Mr. Steve Garvey” and not a single word about George Harrison.  LOL

Hilarious.  You have worked with so many legendary artists over the years like Ronnie Hawkins, Domenic Troiano from Bush and the Guess Who,  the amazing Prakash John (who’s son Jordan is now making quite a name for himself)  to name a few.  I believe you wrote the music for a couple of Canadian television shows with Domenic Troiano.   One of your childhood friends was quoted as saying that as a young girl you had a passion for fashion.  So why did you choose music and where does your inspiration come from when you write?

I met Domenic Troiano around 1967/68 when he was with his legendary band Mandella.  They were in Vancouver and he would come to sit in every night with the band, I was singing after hours at the Elegant Parlour owned and operated by Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong.  Back then I worked a house gig with my own group Sweet Beaver, 6 nights a week and then after hours worked another gig with another great band – A Cast of Thousands.  I had no clue who Domenic was but knew he was a killer guitar player and we instantly became good friends.

The writing thing started with Skylark, Doug Edwards (Wildflower) and I began writing and we actually performed a couple of our tunes with Skylark but my writing was just a means to an end, I didn’t really take it seriously.  I knew eventually I would have to give up being a front person, I was getting older so writing just seemed like a natural progression.  When I moved to L.A. I started to learn how to construct a song.  I got to write with some amazing writers – Michael McDonald, Jay Gruska, Brenda Russell, Bill Champlain and David Foster, to name a few

When I moved to Toronto in 1981, I started writing with Domenic Troiano, George Oliver, David Tyson, Paul Christopher, Michael Fonfara, Joel Feeny, Domenic Morrisey and William SmithSmitty’ from Motherlode.  To answer your question what made me choose music……. I knew from the time I was a kid that I was going to do anything that would put me on stage!  I started singing when I was about 14 or 15 with some of the better musicians in Victoria and quite a few of those guys were at my 70th birthday, so I’m proud and honoured that we are all still friends.  The other side of that is, I didn’t have much of an education, so my choices were very limited.

Speaking of birthdays, I know you just celebrated one so let me wish you a happy belated birthday.  I don’t think many of the younger people today realize that during the 60’s Toronto was to music what Vegas was to gambling.  I remember the Hawk’s Nest and seeing some of the greats on stage. So many people got their start in this city but you started on the west coast and ended up in Toronto at a time when the music landscape had changed.  What brought you to Toronto?

In the 60’s it was the same in Vancouver, we were a music mecca…. I call it BK – before Karaoke.  The Rocky Mountains have always been the great divider, the wall between the music of the west and the music of the east.  We had no clue what was going on in Toronto as you, I’m sure had no idea what was going on in Vancouver.  It was only when the musicians would come and play that we would hear the different sound; it was so distinctive, something we had never heard.  Yonge Street was the breeding ground for the birth of that TO Sound and to us on the west coast, it was just exciting and new.

The first time we really heard the TO Sound was with the Mandela and then Franklin Shepherd and the Good Shepherds and that’s when Robbie King arrived in Vancouver and became legendary!!  Robbie King was a sorcerer, he was this little elf-like man with long flowing hair to the middle of his back and in the 60s he wore long robes and looked very much like a biblical character.  He was brilliant, well read, he was funny and serious, he was many things but above all, each and every single time he played you became a voyeur, watching him make love to that piano or Hammond B’3 and you became mesmerized.  He was brilliant.  When he died, the entire music community showed up to pay homage to him.  He played all over the Skylark album.

You mentioned Ronnie Hawkins and the truth is that he appeared in my dreams and told me that I had to bring my band Sweet Beaver to Toronto.  I know that sounds like witchy-poo stuff but it’s the truth.  Like I said, he was from the other side, beyond the Rockies.  I had no idea who he was and neither did anyone in the band.  So at first it was just odd and then as he continued to appear in my dreams I started to think that maybe I should pay attention.  After each dream about Ronnie I began pleading with our bandleader for us to leave and go to Toronto and after a couple of months of it, he fired me.  He told me that he had no intention of leaving Vancouver to go and chase a dream but he told me that I should go and try to find him and if it didn’t work out, then I could come back and have my job back.  So I was put on one month’s notice while they broke in my replacement, Carl Graves ….. the other singer in Skylark.

We were all very sad, I loved those guys and we had been together for a long time, now I was leaving to go  to chase a dream and God only knew where and I didn’t know if I would even get close to Ronnie Hawkins but I knew that I had to go.  I had about two weeks to go before I was to leave and one night while I was on stage I saw David Foster and a friend come in and sit at the band’s table.  Usually we stayed back stage, back then we were ‘professional’ we didn’t mingle or sit with the audience, we were the entertainment; we had a dressing room and a back stage area.   David Foster had never been to see us before and even back then he was well known and very much respected, he was only 20 years old.  So on the break, I went to see why he was there.  He told me that he had come to ask me for a favour, that he wanted to know if I knew any other kick-a-s girl singers because he had just put together a band for this weird guy named – RONNIE HAWKINS and the rest as they say, is history!

WOW that’s an amazing story and I don’t consider it withchy-poo at all.  I’ve had my own share of premonitions.   You’ve been back living in Victoria for quite some time now.  I understand that a music studio has been added to one of the local high schools and named in your honour and you’re still involved in scouting fresh new talent.  What’s it feel like to have something like that named in your honour in the city where you grew up?

I started a project 5 years ago, trying to raise the money to have a ‘state of the art’ recording facility in the inner city high school.  The money is still in a fund but due to many things, bureaucratic mostly, it’s not a reality, at least not yet.  Plus it’s a heritage building, so it’s happening, just not exactly when I would like it to.  It’s incredibly flattering that they would name it after me, a true honor.

Your daughter Amy is following in your footsteps, writing for some of the big names in music today and you have 5 grandchildren.  Are any of them interested in pursuing a career in music and what advice would you give them or any young people wanting a career as a musician?

Amy is a brilliant lyricist, as a matter of fact I could honestly say that she’s one of my top 5 ever.  Her Father and I were secretly hoping that she wouldn’t choose music as a career, it’s a brutal business and at the time, it felt like I was tossing my child into shark infested waters. She had gone to University and got a degree in International Business, moved to the U.K., met her first husband, had my gorgeous granddaughters, and thankfully, came back home.

My youngest granddaughter seems to be the one to dive the deepest into the music gene-pool, she’s amazing!  She’s smart and funny, she’s beautiful and she’s immensely talented.  When a real talent shows up, there is no denying it…. And what is really cool about our girl Eva Sky, she hasn’t any idea what she wants to do.  Right now being a teacher is high on her list but she’s 9, so I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to unfold.

I’ve read Amy’s first book “When Autumn Leaves”, I loved it and can’t wait for the next installment but from the posts I’ve seen, your other beautiful granddaughter Mikaela is already quite a talented writer so I think she may be following in her Mother’s footsteps.

You have met them all from the Beatles, Bill Clinton, Justin Beiber.  You’ve been to, seen and met them all and have the t-shirts to prove it, well actually in your case it’s a picture gallery to prove it LOL.          Photo Album

What would you consider to be your best moment/the greatest achievement in your life or career?

Without a doubt, being on the road with Skylark, the original group was the highlight of my musical career.  I tell ‘civilians’ that there’s something magical that happens, it’s like an invisible thread that runs from player to player when you’re on stage and you are all in sync.  It’s like you’re lifted off the ground, you’re making music and you’re all magically connected.

Under experience on your Linkedin profile you put Table Setter, Life.  That is so you, you are one of the most outspoken, friendly, down to earth, generous, fashionable and funny women I’ve ever known.  I love the fact that you can drive in your car with the roof down, and Katy Perry’s song Circle the Drain blaring – you’re ageless, timeless and so cool.  What would you like people to know about you that they don’t already know?

Flattering praise for sure Cuz… I have met a lot of ‘famous’ people and I’m happy to say that it’s still happening.  Last month I was in L.A. and met Natalie Cole but even a bigger thrill was meeting and having my picture taken with Diane Warren, who is amongst my top 5 songwriters…. So the beat goes on.  The one thing I think a lot of people might be surprised to know about me is that I would much rather have been – a dancer!!!

Well knowing you, you’ll probably still take a stab at that too, in fact I’ve seen you dance and you’re still a great dancer.  Yes B.J. is my cousin and we come from a large family, rich in history and creativity but I’ll leave that for another day.   Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wonderful memories with us.  It was a real treat.   With Love cuz.  Xox

I’m sharing a video with everyone so they can see what a power house singer you were, singing Woodstock while very close to delivering.  Amazing.  Enjoy!!!!


And that my friends is why you should all follow your dreams and Keep Creating!!!!!

You won’t want to miss out on the rest of our treasures, and new pieces coming to the collection so sign up for updates and remember to like us on Facebook where there’s always something or someone dropping by.

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Thursday’s Treasure #2 is Kona Kare by OHMJAM Creative | Unique | Playful ~ Young Adult Fashion Designs

A Natural Wonder

I discovered Kona Kare when the Dare to Wear Love Gala was taking place.  Often one of the best ways to learn about a product is through word of mouth and I have friends who love this product.  The owners of Kona Kare Lip Butter Balm are a Mikayla and Nadim, partners in life and in business. 


Nadim & Mikayla
Mikayla & Nadim


I see from your website that you worked in a completely different industry when you met.  I love a good love story but I love a success story even more.  It can be quite a challenge living and working together but you seem to have overcome that obstacle.  What was your motivation to produce a lip butter and how long have you been doing it?


[Mikayla] I have always been obscenely obsessed with lip products, specifically lip balms! However, it wasn’t until I met Nadim that I became more and more conscious about what I put on my face and body. He is extremely conscientious about what he applies on his skin and what he consumes; a mentality that used to be completely foreign to me.  It wasn’t that I was completely oblivious, I just never thought of a lip balm as something that could potentially be harmful. Nadim made me more cognizant of the chemicals that exist in many cosmetic formulas out there and how anything that we apply on top of our skin will eventually get absorbed into our skin. So too, we were motivated to come out with a quality product that set us apart from the traditional lip balms while also providing protection and care that our oil-starved lips deserve. We launched Kona Kare and our first line of Lip Butters on November 1st, 2012.

As a Homeopath, I highly recommend all natural and it’s so true, our skin is our first line of defence and it’s important to protect it.  What exactly is the difference between a butter and a balm?

A lip butter’s main ingredient should be, as its name aptly implies, butter(s).  We found that a strong amount of quality butters mixed with the right oils and waxes helped keep the lips moisturized much much much longer than an average lip balm. It also creates a nice natural shine on top of your lips which helps diversify its purpose; making it an awesome lipstick companion!

I see from your website that you’re re-branding, care to elaborate?

Hahaha!  Yes, the secret’s out!  We get a lot of emails from people asking about it all the time – this is an exciting time for us! After we launched our line of Lip Butters we noticed a few glitches here and there with the overall packaging of our lip butters and being chronic perfectionists we needed to remedy it. Along with that, we really wanted to create something uniquely luxurious, so we decided to re-formulate the product without compromising the texture that people have grown to really enjoy.

You got into the business without any experience in the industry.  How did you discover the Tahitian Monoi Tiare Oil?

 After many months of laboriously testing out a vast amount of ingredients we realized there was something still missing. We met someone who briefly talked about an oil from Tahiti but completely forgot about it until we came across it again while searching for quality coconut oil. The dreamers is us want to believe that it was meant for us to find 😉

There is no such thing as coincidence so no doubt you were meant to find it.  I love the fact that you’re a Canadian company that appears to be attracting international attention.  Where, other than Canada, are you selling and what’s your target demographic?

 We’ve definitely been extremely fortunate and completely grateful for the love and support we have received and are continually receiving! We get sales daily scattered all across the United States and proudly have reached clients in every province (a HUGE personal accomplishment for us! Yay!)

That’s definitely a huge accomplishment for a company that’s been in business for such a short time.  Are all your sales direct through your website or are you in stores?  If so, which stores carry your product and where are they?

Currently our sales channel is strictly online at www.konakare.com. We have not yet chosen any stores to carry our product.  Our brand is the beating heart of our company and whenever we make a decision we will make it based upon how our brand will be portrayed within the milieu that it is sold. We live in a society driven by money and success, but that is not why we are in business. We have morals and values that far exceed any monetary gains. Don’t get us wrong, we want to thrive, but we’re not looking to build an empire, we want to build a legacy; a business to pass down to our family for generations to come.

I can certainly appreciate that, it’s hoped that OHMJAM will also be a family legacy.  Would you attribute your success to your own marketing endeavours or did you get help from other sources?

We’ve built Kona Kare with our own hands and thank all the wonderful and kind hearted people who have helped us along the way. The Mississauga News played an integral role in helping us create local awareness and strengthened our brand recognition in the GTA!  In January of 2013 we were extremely humbled to be featured in an article written by Jan Dean which if you are interested can be found here: http://www.mississauga.com/news-story/3131465-couple-share-passion-on-the-lips.

You currently have four flavours, Chocolate Peppermint, Peaches & Dream, French Vanilla and Original.   Is one more popular than the others with your buyers or do people generally buy all of them?

People usually purchase the Collection, sometimes even more than one to give as gifts for other women in their lives! French Vanilla does, however, draw a lot of attention at the events that we have been to.

What other than the fact that your product is all natural would you like people to know?

That our product may not be for everyone. The reason why we went into business was because we were led by a positive health conscious choice. If we can create lip-health awareness and inspire people to throw out their chemical infested lip balms and gravitate towards a more natural choice (even if it is not with us) then we are beyond content! We know people have choices, we just hope that if they choose us it is because they believe in – not just our product – but in us as people.

A Canadian company with integrity I’d say, that’s why you were selected to be one of our Treasures.  Thank you for dropping in and sharing your story with us.

Anyone wanting to know about Mikayla and Nadim can drop by their website at info@konakare.com.

Keep Creating!!!

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Interview with Kerry Nash, owner of Little Lids.com by OHMJAM Creative | Unique | Playful ~ Young Adult Fashion Designs


Little Lids

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 5.56.31 AMSocial media is a wonderful thing connecting people across the globe.   I have found some interesting websites while surfing the internet and on Twitter.  One of those people is the lovely Kerry Nash who is the founder/owner of Little Lids.  I asked her if she would let me feature her on my first interview and she graciously agreed so without further ado…..

little lids.com
The Scally

I was immediately reminded of the movie Bugsy when I saw your website, not that your hats look like gangster hats, they are stunning.  However, there is one picture of a little boy with ‘the Scally cap’ it is so like one of the earlier scenes in that movie.  It’s adorable, as are all of the photos on your site.

I recently did a photo shoot for OHMJAM,  I’m so sorry I didn’t discover Little Lids before the shoot but there will be more photo shoots and I have no doubt that the OHMJAM kids will love your hats as much as I do.

What was your motivation to do children’s hats and how long have you been doing it?

My love for hats is a huge motivation for Little Lids but the business idea came alive after the birth of my son.  He was born in the cold New England month of February.  In need of a warm winter hat I  searched downtown Boston high and low and came up empty handed.  The light bulb went off, a hat shop exclusively for children.  Babies are always going to be born and they need hats to cover their little heads in the spring/summer/fall and winter.  An online website where you can go anytime to find just the right hat for your little one.  Little Lids was born in 1999.

Which hat would you say was your best seller?

The scally cap is our signature cap.  A scally cap is another name for the newsboy cap.  Scally is a term we use here in BOSTON.  It is a replica of a cap my dad wore when he came over from Ireland many years ago.  He only took two things with him, a bag over his shoulder and the cap on his head. 

We make our own line of Little Lids Vintage Caps.

“There is something special about a boy in a cap.”

There sure is and I am a huge fan of hats, particularly for children. In Australia hats are part of the school uniform to protect the kids from the sun.  I think that’s a great idea.  What are your thoughts on making hats mandatory for children in countries other than Australia?

I agree 100%.  The sun’s rays are very harmful and children need to be protected. 

Working with schools/day care centers is something I would love to get more involved with in the near future. 

Your hats are unique, what inspires your designs?

We have created a super cool, fun little hat shoppe for children. We carefully bring together a rich collaboration of unique, hard to find and well-made hats.

We carry our own line of Little Lids Vintage Caps, which were inspired by my Irish heritage and my dads love for his favorite cap but we also carry other brands and styles. If it’s not unique or an original hat design, we won’t stock it. If we don’t absolutely love it and wouldn’t put it on our own children, then we will not sell it. 

I did a blog last year about children knowing what they like at an early age, do you get feedback about whether the children enjoy wearing your hats or is it the parents that like the look of their kids in your hats?

Children come in all shapes and sizes with many different personalities.  Some little ones love wearing hats and some will not keep it on their little heads for a second.

I think we can all agree,  that when our children are at the beach in the hot direct sun making a sand castle, we want them in a sun hat and when they are going out in the snow to play, they need a winter hat.

Aside from making them look adorable and special, hats are very important.

Walking into a fabric store is one of my favourite things, it gets the creative juices flowing.  What turns your creative engine on?

Great question, my creative energy comes alive when I am exploring new places.  I love people watching, going on afternoon walks with my camera, movies and books.

Would you say that most of your sales are in North America and if not, from where?

Little Lids has sold to people all across the states.  We have many happy customers from Australia/Canada/England and Ireland.  Most of the sales are from North America but we have sent out hats all around the world.

I see from your site that you have a Happy Customers section, that must be so rewarding and encouraging.  Do you get a lot of people sending comments after receiving their orders?

We do and I love hearing feedback from happy mums/dads/grandmother/aunts.   Receiving photos of little ones in their hats and positive feedback is very reassuring that Little Lids is a great idea.

Other than carrying unique hats, what message would you like to convey to people about your designs?

Little Lids would like to convey that we are in love with the old classic tradition styles of the past with a splash of today.

We’re glad that you do because we get to share them with you.  Kerry thank you for dropping in and telling us about Little Lids.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me. 

Kerry Nash

Drop by www.littlelids.com and enjoy the wonderful array of hats they carry.  You’re sure to find a hat for your special little one and you’ll thank me if you haven’t already discovered it for yourself.   In the meantime, Keep on Creating!



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