Local Small Business Feature Series — Vancouver Waxlings

Vancouver Waxling's Bae & Babe Candles

I recently collaborated with Vancouver Waxlings founder, Margot J. Leviton and five other female-owned local small businesses for a Valentine’s Giveaway on Instagram. Margot’s prizes were the Bae and Babe candles featured in the photo above.

I originally met her through social media–She was offering a sample of her Key Lime Pie Candle. And coincidentally we also have a mutual friend. It is a small world and the pandemic has shown us just how connected we are as one.

M: When did you open your business?

VW: Waxlings was created in April 2020 when I dislocated my shoulder and could no longer see my Vancouver Healer clientele.

M: Did you always want to own your own business?

 VW: I didn’t really think about it. It was hobby that turned into a business.  I’ve had my own massage/healing practice since 2006.

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

VW: I grew up in North Vancouver.

M: What was your inspiration for your business?  

VW: During the COVID-19 shutdown I saw my clients getting very depressed. I thought if I could create scents that would connect them to happy memories–I could help them.

Vancouver Waxlings Founder Margot
Vancouver Waxlings Founder Margot J. Leviton

M: Did you go to university and if you did what did you study/major in?  Which university did you attend?  Would you advise others to pursue a degree before opening their own business?

VW: I went to WCCMT (West Coast College of Massage Therapy). 

No, not these days. You really don’t need one if you have entrepreneurial savvy and can navigate social media.

M: What would your advice to future owners with dreams of owning their own business be?

VW: Go for it. If you have the drive and a great business concept–Just do it!

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or famous quote you would like to share with everyone?

VW: Just. Be. Kind. It. Costs. Nothing.

MILESTONES

Are there any milestones for your business that you would like me to mention in the Feature?

When I landed my first stores Dip Co. Delights and Larry’s Market.

If you would like to learn more about Margot’s yummy Vancouver Waxlings candles, please visit their website, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Local Small Business Feature Series — Oenomel Chocolates’ First Year Anniversary

Oenomel Chocolates Small Business Feature

Welcome to Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC.’s new Small Business Feature Series. Vancouver based, Oenomel Chocolates, is the first business to be featured and just in time to celebrate their first year anniversary.

Oenomel is a Greek word that means sweetness and strength. It’s what Melody hopes her chocolates bring to people.

I met Melody Hu, founder of Oenomel Chocolates on Instagram. I was intrigued by this lovely, ambitious organic chocolatier and started following her profile. She has graciously invited me to her local events but unfortunately, my schedule has not allowed me to attend thus far. My fingers are crossed that I will be able to join her next one!

Melody Hu Founder of Oenomel Chocolates
Melody Hu, Founder of Oenomel Chocolates

M: When did you open your business?

MH: I launched my business on February 24th, 2021. So, in a way, my business is my Valentine. I have so much passion and love for it!

M: Did you always want to own your own business?

MH: I have always dreamt of building a brand that incorporates values, such as craftsmanship, sustainability, and wellness. And using that brand as a tool to create wealth for my loved ones.

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

MH: I was born in China and spent my childhood both in Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China, and Auckland, where sheep outnumber humans. I finished high school and got my Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where I studied Neuroscience and started my first venture, a macaroon startup business. And gradually, I fell in love with this city and decided that I wanted to build my business and home here.

M: What was your inspiration for your business? 

MH: I wanted to create a product that incorporates health, wellness, and craftsmanship. I chose chocolates because there are too many sweets that are unhealthy. They tend to be filled with saturated fats and harmful amounts of sugar. I only use natural ingredients and organic, fair-trade chocolates that are sweet and delicious.

Blood Orange & Almond Oenomel Chocolate
Blood Orange & Almond Blood Oenomel Chocolate

M: What did you do before opening your business?

MH: After graduating from UBC, I worked as an intern in a stem cell research company in Vancouver and then in business development for an international law firm in Shenzhen, China. I gained invaluable experience from both jobs.

M: If you were in a different industry, did you enjoy your former career?

Looking back, I did enjoy my former careers. When I worked in the law firm, I had guidance, and learned to work with others in a team. These are lessons that I have brought to start and develop my own company as an entrepreneur.

M: Would you advise others to pursue a degree before opening their own business?

MH: I was glad that I got a degree before opening my own business. University was an experience beyond what I chose for my major. I learned to learn, I gained mentorship from professors who have expertise in their field, and I joined clubs where I made lifelong friends.

University life has a lot to offer if you embrace it. There are many famous successful entrepreneurs who don’t have a post-secondary degree, so it is possible to succeed in business without a degree.

But you should know yourself and know what environment and path are best suited for your career development. And no matter which path you choose, you have to believe in yourself, have confidence, and never give up.

Oenomel Valentine's gourmet truffles and bonbons
Oenomel Valentine’s gourmet truffles and bonbons

M: What would your advice to future owners with dreams of owning their own business be?

MH: See the value in yourself and your business and bring these values to people you wish to serve.

Work hard, understand and love yourself–Do these things well, and extend it to your employees.

Don’t stop learning, don’t be afraid to try new things and fail.

Never give up. There’s always a way to succeed.

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or a famous quote you would like to share with everyone?

MH: “Dream big, start small, begin now.” — Robin Sharma, The 5 AM Club

MILESTONES

Oenomel Chocolates is celebrating its first year anniversary on February 24 and although it is a a startup business, it gives back to the Metro Vancouver community.

In December 2021. Oenomel Chocolate organized a fundraising event and raised 200 CAD for a non-profit organization to distribute food to insecure communities.

Over 20 local musicians, artists, and businesses participated, and over 100 guests joined us for a beautiful Warm Company and Wine Evening. It was an event worth remembering.

In 2022, Oenomel Chocolate continues to support charities with good causes. We will be organizing fundraising events and making donations to charity through the sales of some of our products.

If you would like to learn more about Oenomel products please visit their website and support them by following their on IG and FB.

Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC.’s Services

MAYUMI IZUMI | Content Creator

Building Community

Now more than ever, it is important to stay connected with our neighbours, local small business owners and strengthen our community. The pandemic has caused many businesses to suffer and some to close.

Services

Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC.’s mission is to empower small businesses to shine by offering digitally marketing, social media management, search engine optimization and public relations services.

We have increased local small businesses’ search engine optimization and raised them within the top 5 of Google searches, written over 30 business and restaurant features to highlight their talent, specialty and expertise.

Raisu Restaurant BLUEFIN TUNA DELUXE SEAFOOD BOWL
The Bluefin Tuna Deluxe Sewafood Bowl — Raisu Japanese Restaurant Feature, August 2021
  • Blvd Bistro & Swich Café (Double Feature — same owner)
  • Cahill CPA
  • Coache Collision
  • Creative Inspo
  • Eclipse Awards
  • Fawn Gill Fitness
  • Daisy’s Sandwiches & Such
  • Fit Life Coaching
  • Goodlad Clothing
  • Green Coast Rubbish
  • Henna by Arneet
  • Little Pink Door Boutique
  • QRZones
  • Queen of the Closet
  • Raisu Authentic Japanese Cuisine
  • Tequila Cocina Restaurant

Connecting with Business Owners

The best part of our work is the connections we make with the people behind the businesses and restaurants we feature all across Metro Vancouver.  We carefully select businesses that we truly enjoy whether it is because of the food, product and people or all the above.

We feel privileged to know the inspiring, creative and entrepreneurial individuals that took a chance to follow their dreams, worked hard and succeeded in starting their own businesses.

Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching
Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching — Interview & Feature, August 2020

There is a spark, a light within these men and women. We are uplifted when we interview them and dig into their stories:

  • Did they always want to own their own business?
  • What was their inspiration?
  • What is their advice to others who want to start their own business?

If you would like to read our upcoming local small business features make sure to subscribe to Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC. and also follow our Lifestyle Ezine on our Instagram and Twitter. To inquire about our services, please email: mayumi@mayumiizumi.com.

Fit Life Coaching: Where Do I Start? — Resident Nutrition Expert Kristin Ames

Kristin Ames - Nutrition Expert

Ahh, January, the month where we all decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Maybe lose some weight?  Start a new fitness regime? Get better sleep? Meditate?

It can be overwhelming trying to decide where to focus our efforts.  We know we want to feel better, but there are so many different options out there it can quickly lead to analysis paralysis and we end up doing nothing because we don’t know where to start.

On the other hand, it is possible to take on too much at once.  Starting a fitness program, cooking all your meals at home and trying to get 2 more hours of sleep every night, when you previously weren’t doing any of these things consistently, probably isn’t the recipe for success that you’re hoping for.

Extreme or time-consuming changes to your daily routine may be overwhelming when piled on top of all your regular responsibilities and commitments, to the point that you’ll likely end up abandoning your new healthy habits before you have time to reap the benefits.

Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching
Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching surfing

So what are we to do? I recommend choosing one new habit or behavior that feels manageable right out of the gate.  On a scale of 1-10 where 1 is ‘never gonna happen’ and 10 is ‘I can do this all day long’ it should be at least an 8, otherwise you need to scale back. 

When we are successful at improving our habits and behaviors, we get motivated to make more changes.  I know if feels like radical change will be the most effective, but it rarely is.  Small, manageable changes will lead to lasting results. 

You’re also more likely to keep doing something you enjoy, rather than grinding through something you hate; even the most disciplined person in the world will crack eventually if they don’t enjoy what they’re doing. 

Let’s say you decide you’d like to get in better shape; going to the gym 5 days a week for an hour will surely get you results – right? Well maybe, but it will also probably get you injured and discouraged if you don’t really like going to the gym. 

What if instead you signed up for a fun weekly exercise class, or tennis lesson, or set up a standing date to meet a friend for a walk?  Seems like it wouldn’t be nearly as effective to get you to your goal as the gym option, but guess what? If you stop going to the gym after 2 weeks, you’re never going to reach your goal. 

But maybe, after doing the exercise class for a month, you find another one to add to your week, and then you meet some like-minded people in the class and decide to get together on the weekend to go for a hike…you see where I’m going with this.

Kristin Ames - Nutrition Coach
Kristin Ames selecting fresh fruit in Keremeos, BC

The same principle goes for your nutrition – if your eating habits need an overhaul, think about what small changes you could make easily.  Do you eat out too much?  Set a limit as to how many meals a week you’re going to eat out. 

Don’t eat enough vegetables?  Set a goal of trying 1 new vegetable a week or eating a certain number servings a day.  Don’t buy 10 new vegetables at the grocery store with the expectation that you’re suddenly going to be eating them all day every day, chances are at weeks end you’ll be staring at a fridge full of rotten produce.

If you’re still tempted to bite off more than you can chew, try to narrow down your priorities – what single behavior change or new habit would have the biggest overall impact on your health and lifestyle? 

If you’re struggling with injury or pain, working on your mobility would be a great place to start – if you’re not in pain, you’ll sleep better, feel more like exercising, and probably not be cranky all the time.  

Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching
Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching lifting weights

If you’re always low energy and tired, then improving your sleep would be beneficial – you’ll be less tired (obviously), keep your hunger in check, and have more energy to exercise more.  Lots of benefits from one doable change.  

So pick something you can start working on tomorrow, and make sure you’ll nail it. Define what you’re going to do, how often you’re going to do it, and how you’ll measure your success.

Once you reach this goal, then, and only then, will it be time to add another.  Maybe it’s something you can master in 2 weeks, or maybe 2 months, it doesn’t matter.  I’ve said it before, but it really bears repeating: small, incremental changes are so much more effective and sustainable over the long term than big radical ones.

They may not be as exciting (for sure no one else wants to hear about your goal to eat 6 servings of vegetables a day for the next 4 weeks) but who cares? What is exciting is that you’ve set yourself up to reach your goals and still enjoy life while getting there.

Kristin Ames is a certified Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer and Health Coach living in North Vancouver.  Her company, Fit Life Coaching, helps people achieve their best body and health with personalized nutrition and fitness programs. If you would like to learn more about the programs she offers, contact her on her website or Instagram.

Mayumi & Mama Izumi’s Foodie Adventures — Fets Whisky Kitchen

Fets Whisky Kitchen

Welcome to my new series, Mayumi & Mama Izumi’s Foodie Adventures! Today marks my first installment and I’m very excited to write about Fets Whiskey Kitchen. It was my second and Mama’s first time at the yummy eatery and bar.

Located in East Vancouver’s Little Italy on ‘the Drive’, Fets is nestled beside Havana and across the street from Grandview Park.

Mama and I ordered their Country Fried Steak and the Cooper’s Breakfast. Fets’ Country Fried Steak is crispy on the outside and the organic meat is moist and tender on the inside — the best I’ve had. It is accompanied by Maker’s Mark Bourbon white gravy, rosemary biscuit & bread, sunny side up egg, hashbrowns (with sauteed onions), and a dash of greens (with pickled onions). Delish!

Fets' Country Fried Steak and Cooper's Breakfast
Fets’ Country Fried Steak and Cooper’s Breakfast

The Cooper’s Breakfast is so tasty that my mouth is watering reliving my memories of it. It is comprised of braised local pork, black beans, sunny egg, and cornbread. All the flavours in both dishes enhance rather than compete with each other. It is gourmet comfort food and my gourmand compliments go to the chef.

Not only am I a foodie, but also a coffee connoisseur. Fets did not disappoint. They serve Western Canadian, Canterbury coffee that is filled with multi levels of roasted flavour notes.

Canterbury coffee at Fets Whisky Kitchen
Canterbury coffee at Fets Whisky Kitchen

A definite must if you haven’t already had the pleasure to nom at this wonderful Commercial Drive restaurant. Besides the yummy eats, the customer service is also top notch and they have a heated patio. Need I say more?

If you would like to learn more about Fets Whisky Kitchen follow them on their Instagram.

The Challenges of Being a Makeup Artist During the Peak of COVID – Beauty Expert Insha Pathan

Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC's Beauty Expert Insha Pathan

INTRODUCING … Insha Pathan!

I am very excited and honoured to announce Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC’s new Beauty Contributor and resident Beauty Expert, Insha Pathan. Most of you, will remember that I interviewed this Boss Babe back on May 16th in my Babes Promoting Babes Interview Series. If you missed it, and want to gain more insight into Insha and how she became a make-up artist, have a look after reading her blog …

If you had told me in early March that I wouldn’t work for three months, I would have given you a look of incredulity. Sitting here in the middle of June, I will say that COVID has affected me in more ways than I ever thought possible.

Three months ago, I had jobs lined up doing make-up in the Film Industry and was excited as usual. Being able to work in my aspired profession makes me look forward to going to work every day. When I found out that there was no date set to return to work and filming was postponed indefinitely, I felt lost.

Initially, I enjoyed my time and the break from work, I saw it as an opportunity to better myself and get my life organized. I became healthier, decluttered, organized anything & everything and worked on improving and focusing on myself. Eventually, however, not being able to work started to weigh on me.

Being a makeup artist in the Film and Fashion Industries is a dream come true. I didn’t think I would ever be doing what I am! I have always been an artist and now the only difference is that models and actors are my canvas.

A sample of Insha’s makeup artistry.

I am always full of adrenaline and so excited to be on set. Racing against the clock to get the job done, meeting deadlines and overcoming challenges left, right, and centre, while still being able to be artistic was perfect for me. Not being able to work was making me miss it more and more, and a sense of dread began lurking because there was no definite date for when filming was going to begin again.

It felt like I was sitting in a waiting room, patiently hoping that at any moment, my number will be called, but with no end time in sight. I had two options, one was wallowing in self pity and the other was taking that energy and channeling it towards my creative talents.

I was an artist before I became a Makeup Artist. My inclination towards anything creative is what drew me to my field in the first place. So during this time of not working, I started to draw, paint and beginning Do It Yourself projects and practiced my craft and explored all types of makeup.

Insha’s sketches rendered during time off from the Film & Fashion Industries.

I decided that I would use this time during COVID and social-distancing to express my creativity and open myself to inspiration, so that when the time came, I would go back to work with a fresh mind set. I concentrated on what makes me happy — ART!

COVID has been hard on many of us and the most uncertain of times. When have we ever gone through a pandemic?!

Finding a balance and keeping a positive outlook helped to keep me sane and I did this by doing the things that I love. I let myself be creative and channeled my energy into art.

To everyone out there reading this, not being able to do their dream job, be patient and don’t give up. Things will go back to normal eventually and till then, find other ways to use your energy that support your peace of mind and your talents.

If you would like to learn more about Insha Pathan, follow her on her Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/insha_artistry/ and her website: https://www.inshaartistry.com/ Remember to subscribe to Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC, if you would like to see Insha’s future Beauty Contributions as our resident Beauty Expert!

I AM Grateful …

I'm Grateful

I am GRATEFUL …

I am grateful for so many things but top of mind — Mama Izumi, Big Sis and a certain someone who has recently come back into my life …

I risk “scaring” him off if he reads this blog BUT I guess that’s the risk I take for expressing my thoughts in the moment.

This moment is sooo delicious too … Leave it to a foodie to describe time with a food adjective. Hahaha … I’ve got my ear buds plugged into YouTube music and Shawn Mendes’ song, “In My Blood” and I’m feeling really happy.

Sooo back to gratefulness and this certain someone … We are supposed to go on a date today. I have the perfect outfit picked out too. My thrifty finds that I purchased from a Facebook Marketplace seller yesterday — sleeveless white & blue blouse that ties in the back with a teardrop opening $5.00 and stretchy jeans with a proper waist $8.00 (I hate low-waisted pants – they give me muffin top – yuck!).

We recently reconnected on Facebook and exchanged numbers and spoke on the phone a couple of times. Almost every time I think about him I get butterflies … Awww … I’m such a girl. Hahaha ….

This blog is going to be short and sweet like ME. I shall end this here for: 1) fear that he will read this and I may reveal TOO MUCH and 2) I will continue this later and let y’all know what happens …

Question is — WILL HE ACTUALLY CALL TODAY …. Fingers crossed, Babes.

Family Day Long Weekend

My Family

As I get older, family and friends that have become family are of utmost importance to me. I grew up an only child and my parents divorced when I was 11 years old so I have a very small family. My best friend of 23 years and partner in crime, Mona has become my Big Sis.

It’s a great feeling to have a big sister. Growing up, I always wanted a sibling and when I was about 5 years old, I told my parents while we were driving somewhere in East Van. They told me to pray for a brother or sister. I did but to no avail.

Almost two years ago before I moved, I endured a horrible situation where someone was breaking into my apartment. No matter how many times I spoke about it, Mona listened when no one else did. She stood by me and supported me. That is true friendship. That is love.

Mama told me that everyone needs someone they can trust but it doesn’t have to be a family member. I am fortunate and grateful that I have two such people–her and my Big Sis.

I hope that you have at least one such friend or family member and enjoy this Family Day long weekend with them. Show them that you care and tell them that you love them. You don’t know when they will be gone…

Welcome to my Lifestyle Ezine, Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC!

Welcome to my page and thank you to all the new subscribers! I normally send our new subscribers our Newsletter but the latest issue is currently in the works. STAY TUNED I will send you our 2020 Newsletter SOON!

My goal is to create a community of positive thinking people both male and female who would like to share their dreams, goals, and aspirations.

I have a lot of exciting projects that I am working on and if you would like to participate there are opportunities such as joining my Small to Medium Business Meetup, Babes Supporting Babes – meetup.com, I have a podcast by the same name that will be airing this Spring through – capilanoradio.com and my first interviewee will be our Fitness Contributor – fawngillfitness.com and Mayumi’s First Annual Charity Fashion Show Gala on – eventbrite.com and if you don’t live in Vancouver, BC you can still be a part of my community on Instagram @mayumiizumi.

Vancouver Is Expensive AF – Thrifting Is My Solution!

What was once just for fun, has turned into a lifestyle and necessity for me. Through one of my Instagram alter egos, Miss M: https://www.instagram.com/missmsthriftyfinds/ – I am your guide to thrifting and share my thrifty finds that I purchase mainly via Facebook Marketplace sellers, but also at my favourite thrift store, Clothes For Change in North Vancouver and various other thrift stores sprinkled throughout our city such as BC SOS Thrift Stores in Steveston.

Thrifting brings me such joy. I plan a whole day around my Facebook Marketplace appointments and make it an adventure! On Saturday, I had two appointments in Port Coquitlam and invited my Mom, Mako to join me in my modern day treasure hunt.

We picked up a NYX eyeshadow palette for $10.00, an IKEA rug for ONLY $5.00, enjoyed lunch at Arisu where the food was so yummy that it immediately became my new favourite Korean restaurant. After lunch we went downstairs and did some grocery shopping at Hanam Supermarket.

The pricing was good at the market, fresh produce AND best of all they have a customer loyalty program in which they reward us with points and exclusive special prices. They gave me 3 key tags so I gave one to my Mom.

Hanam customer service actually recommended sharing their loyalty program with family and friends when they gave me the key tags. Great for sustainability and since Mako would be coming with me it only made sense that we would open just one loyalty account.

Thrift shopping, even if you’re just looking is a great way to spend the afternoon with friends or family. On Sunday, I met up with one of my BFFs and Big Sis, Mona on Commercial Drive in the heart of Vancouver thrift.

We went to Miscellany Finds for the first time and it is a huge store with lots of great thrifty finds! And the best part we didn’t spend a dime. A truly thrifty experience – we were just window shopping …