Do you feel misunderstood, go through bitter self-recrimination, be confused about how you feel, cope with life challenges, or be distracted? Occasionally, we feel sad and display a lack of energy or vigor; however, gaining a deep understanding of the reasons behind the distress enables us to regulate our mood. The awareness allows us to remedy our feelings either through finding a solution or adopting a restorative method.
The problem arises when unknown anxiety, procrastination, fear, or an undigested disturbing experience pushes us to nihilism. When we cannot identify an accurate reason for the lingering inner conflicts, we tend to gravitate towards the negative path. This complication prevents us from gaining insight into what has triggered our despair, anxiety, or other impaired emotions. This is when self-help stops working, and you need a confidante, someone who patiently and supportively listens.
When your efforts and resources are ineffective and blindly steering the wheel, it’s time to establish a personal interaction that acts as a catalyst—a professional who can improve your wellbeing and resolve your worrisome behaviors and thoughts.
On this account, to learn more about how to deal with self-criticism, not to take offense, and develop a growth mindset, I had the opportunity to interview Krista Roesler M.A. RP, a registered psychotherapist and a professionally trained life coach at Psych Company located in Toronto:
Jupilings: Please tell us about your background and areas of expertise-
KW: I am a registered psychotherapist and a life coach. I have a masters degree in psychology and life coaching training from the Adler Institute/the University of Toronto. I work with individuals and couples on a wide range of issues from finding purpose in life and achieving dreams and goals to dealing with more severe mental health issues such as addiction, trauma, depression, etc. Please see the website for a more detailed list: www.psychcompany.com
Jupilings: In the context of living a meaningful & a mindful life, how can we distinguish between who we should be and whom we want to be-
KR: In the context of living a meaningful & a mindful life you can distinguish between who we should be and who we want to be by getting familiar with our values or what is really important us. Start by writing a list of all the things you feel like you should do, have to do, feel obligated to do or others told you to do. Now cross off everything you don’t want to do. Now start a 2nd list and of the things you actually want to do and try to get more of that in your life.
Jupilings: How to deal with self-criticism-
KR: One way to deal with self-criticism is to first become really aware of it by writing it down. Next, separate your self-criticism from your own voice. Tell your self that just because you are thinking these thoughts it doesn’t mean any of them are true. Explore and think about where the thoughts originated. Did you have a critical parent? Next, think about what you really need to hear to feel empowered? Do you need to hear that you can do it? Do you need to hear that you are smart enough or good enough?
Jupilings: How to become braver in life-
KR: You can become braver in life by trying and doing things that are out of your comfort zone or that you didn’t think you could. This will help build your confidence.
Jupilings: How not to take things personally-
KR: You can stop taking things personally by recognizing that it’s usually about someone else’s issues and not you. These issues might be that someone might have a bad day or be under stress for example.
Ask yourself if they are like this with everyone? If they are like this with others than it is not personal.
Be curious and wonder why that person might behave that way? If it’s a bully. Were they bullied at some point in their life and now bully others? Is it someone who is shy and that’s why they have trouble with eye contact, responding, talking? When you can try to understand why someone behaves a certain way you can free yourself from taking it personally.
Jupilings: What are your 5 golden tips to help us develop a growth mindset-
View all obstacles/challenges/criticism as a learning opportunity
Embrace imperfection, mistakes and failure
Enjoy the process of getting there and don’t hyper-focus on the end result
Learn from the mistakes of others
If you haven’t mastered something yet, allow time to practice and improvement.
Jupilings: We do negotiate with ourselves and others each and every day, what are the necessary traits that need to be nurtured to help us negotiate from a position of strength-
KR: Non-judging is one of the attitudinal foundations of mindfulness. Any tips or practice that will support our efforts to adopt a non-judgemental attitude.
A tip that will support our efforts to adopt a non-judgement attitude is to be more compassionate with yourself and others. A good way to do this is to think of someone you deeply care about and want to protect such as your child or best friend. Now ask yourself if you would ever say those thoughts to your best friend or child. If you wouldn’t think about what you would say to them instead and say that to yourself.
Jupilings: “If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool”. What are your tips to deal with our lack of understanding and to stay calm in unpleasant situations or being annoyed by people’s behaviours-
KR: A tip is to try to have empathy and to try to put yourself into that person’s shoes. Become curious about what made that person act or think that way. Remember we are all doing the best we can with where we are. Remind yourself of all the times in the past that you didn’t know any better and also acted like a “fool.”
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
KR: Setbacks are a normal part of life. I expect setbacks to happen. I factor the expectation that setbacks will occur into everything I do. It means whatever I want to do will just take a little longer and little more work to get there and that’s okay. That’s part of life.
Jupilings: What is your life motto-
KR: Action leads to success. Every little step forward will get me closer to where I want to be.
First impressions matter! The reality is that the relationship between our appearance and the way we act is noticeably strong. A few years ago, a study carried out by two psychologists, Hajo Adams and Adam Galinsky have shown that attire and the symbolic meaning of it influence wearer’s cognitive processes and coined the term “enclothed cognition”. In one of the experiments, they divided people into two groups; group one wore regular street clothes and the group two wore their normal clothes and a white lab coat. Both groups were asked to perform tests measuring their mental agility. The result was that group two performed much better than group one. The same results were observed in a similar experiment when both groups were given white coats; however, group one was described as painters and group two as doctors.
There is so much more to our self-expression through our fashion style that we can imagine among many things to consider that shape our image, is the opinions of others. Therefore, finding our style, one that is authentic and represents the real in us needs guidance and planning. Carving an image that stimulates our abilities, defines our prowess and is a consistent mirror-image of our character demand a consultant. In fact, I had the opportunity to interview a fabulous Canadian Image and Style consultant, Barbara Aleks to learn about her career and tips on how to develop a personal and professional style.
Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you started as a stylist & image consultant-
BA: My mother was an extremely talented seamstress who worked in the garment district in Toronto, so I grew up around fabric, clothing and dressing people. I actually designed my first dress when I was 4. It was just a part of my life.
When it came to a career though, I chose to get into Interior Design as a profession and worked in the field until I had my first child. After my second was born, I started helping some of the other new moms with their wardrobes, and my passion was reignited.
Once I made the decision to transition into Personal Styling, I obtained my certification in Image Consulting and officially started my business. I have worked for myself, styling women ever since.
Jupilings: What are the qualities and skill sets that make a successful stylist-
BA: There are many qualities and skill sets that make a successful Personal Stylist. Aside from the obvious – being knowledgeable about fabrics, cuts, body shapes, skin tones, combining clothing pieces, different colours and patterns, knowing how to style those pieces, keeping abreast of what’s current – a Stylist also needs to be both intuitive and adaptable.
Every client is unique. They have different likes, dislikes, preferences, styles, comfort levels, limits. They also have their own pasts and experiences that shape their thought processes. Stylists have to truly understand the people they’re working with and be able to adapt their strategies to help their clients achieve the best results.
Jupilings: What approach you suggest to develop a personal style-
BA: When trying to develop a style all your own, I suggest becoming clear on what you’re drawn to and then modifying it to suit your preferences and lifestyle.
One exercise I suggest when trying to determine your style is to hop on a platform like Pinterest, create a board, and start pinning anything you’re drawn to – clothing pieces, outfits, accessories, etc. Pulling images from the internet or magazines works too. Once you have a good collection of photos, scroll through them and note the similarities. Whatever you’re drawn to, you’re drawn to for a reason. That’s your style. From there, take all the information you’ve gathered and adapt it to suit your life.
Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-
BA: Have a clear and strong brand and be consistent across the board – both visually and in the message. For example – choose your brand colours, fonts, visual style and written style, and stick to them. It provides people with a certain comfort level and improves the trust factor.
Jupilings: Three tips for female executives in the boardroom or top managerial positions on how to choose the colour and the proper attire overall how to dress for success-
BA: If you’re a woman in an executive or leadership role, you need to dress the part – especially if you’re new to the team or building your reputation. Here are three tips to help you achieve that:
1. Wear structured clothing with strong lines, avoiding soft, flowing fabrics. When you want to be seen as a leader, you must present yourself as someone who holds power. Structured clothes with strong lines will elicit more power than clothing with softer lines and flowing fabric.
2. Wear fitted clothing. Clothing that skims your body and fits well makes you appear more qualified and authoritative than loose, ill-fitting clothing (which just makes you appear sloppy, messy and doesn’t instil confidence).
3. Wear dark or bold colours or geometric patterns. These colours and patterns are stronger and more commanding than soft, light colours and floral patterns. While this might seem like a subtle change to make, when you’re a woman in a leadership position, every little bit helps.
Jupilings: Top 5 accessories to have in your wardrobe that reflect status to self- expression specifically for professionals-
1. Good watch
2. Pearl or diamond (real or faux) stud earrings for women and cufflinks for men
3. Structured top handle handbag for women and briefcase for men
4. Leather belt always kept in like-new condition
5. The best quality shoes you can afford, kept in great condition
Jupilings: Your favourite accessories designers-
BA: Love Gucci,Louis Vuitton,Hermes and Dior for accessories. From timeless classics to trendier pieces, all four provide incredible options season after season.
Jupilings: What colours are best suited and universally accepted in a business meetingfor Female/Male regardless of cultural differences-
BA: You can’t go wrong with Navy and Charcoal Gray when it comes to business – male or female. The one thing to remember is to keep your look classic and conservative. Always err on the side of caution. If you’re doing business with someone of a different culture, do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re not going to offend in any way.
Jupilings: What is the proper professional attire for a politician to come across as approachable (of course depending on the settings) however my questions is more geared towards appealing to millennials-
BA: Even though a politician might be appealing to millennials and wants to come across as approachable, they’re still in a leadership role and should dress in a professional manner. That said, they can relax their appearance in a variety of ways. The more relaxed (and less severe) someone looks, the more approachable they appear.
A jacket with jeans is more relaxed than a suit. (Dark wash jeans are a better choice than light wash jeans.) If a suit is required, removing the tie also helps. If no jacket is required, a button down shirt is more professional than a collared golf shirt or t-shirt, worn with either slacks or jeans. Folding the sleeves of a button down shirt a couple of times also relaxes the look.
Similar to what I mentioned for men, a jacket or blazer with a skirt, dress or pants (whether jeans or slacks) is more relaxed than a suit. If no suit, jacket or blazer is required, a button down shirt or blouse is more professional than a shirt or t-shirt, paired with either a skirt or pants. Structured or fitted skirts or dresses are more professional than loose or flowing ones; however, judgment is required when choosing which is best for the occasion. When wearing a button down shirt or blazer, folding the sleeves a couple of times or pushing them up to the forearm, provides an easy, relaxed feel.
As a politician, you don’t need to dress like a millennial to appeal to a millennial. The last thing you want to do is look like you’re trying to be one of them – especially if you’re clearly not. Beyond attire, your words and your mannerisms have a great deal to do with how approachable you may or may not seem.
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
BA: When a setback occurs, the first thing I do is allow myself to feel the frustration, disappointment, or whatever feeling shows up, and get it out of my system. Then I take a moment, regroup, put a new plan together and get to work. When you’re self-employed or own your own business, there’s no stopping. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-
BA: My children are my greatest inspiration. Everything I do is for them. They’re amazing people, and I want them to have an incredible life. One of the reasons I started working for myself was so that I could be there for them, and set my work hours around their schedules. I also wanted them to see that you can find something you love and are passionate about, make a career or business out of it, and find success in nontraditional ways.
Jupilings: Favourite place to chill with friends in Toronto-
BA: The Deq patio at the Ritz on a hot summer night is often where you’ll find me. Although any place that has good food, great wine, decent cocktails and a pleasant atmosphere, where we can hear each speak and have a decent conversation, will do.
Jupilings: What is your life motto-
BA: I have three. Never give up, go with your gut, and if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.
If something is important and really matters to me, I don’t give up. I may have to course correct and make adjustments, but I keep going. Also, these days, I always trust my instincts and follow them. I wasted so much time in the past listening to other people’s opinions and advice over my own guidance and then wondered why things didn’t work out. Not any more. Now I go inside, check in with myself and make my decisions. Then I let “I” go. Because if I’ve put in the work and trusted myself, then if it’s truly meant to be, it’ll be. If it’s not, I’ll move on.
“Iran at a Glance” Art Exhibition takes on thorny collective issues by Iranian artists living the challenges of social injustices, apparent and the embedded, inside Iran. The selected art pieces depict the ongoing struggles of numerous communities, relentlessly unveils tensions between cultural practices, absurd traditions, social movements and political ideologies. The exhibition is taking place at Queen Gallery, located at 382 Queen Street East, Toronto till March 30, 2019.
Queen Gallery presents the work of contemporary artists from Toronto and around the world. Housed in a refurbished brownstone, this distinctive space is a forum where the boundaries of media are greeted, embraced and even challenged.
Jupilings: What is Iran at a Glance Exhibition about?
MA: Iran at a Glance exhibition seeks to offer a new and fresh perspective into Iran’s contemporary art scene. The socio-cultural elements affecting artists/people in Iran are explored through the lens of twenty artists and their artworks. Through their own stylistic techniques, each of the artists gives us a unique glance into their world in Iran. The exhibition was curated by Iranian artist Nina Rastgar and Mahrokh Ahankhah, the founder of Queen Gallery.
Jupilings: Who are the artists:
MH: The artists featured in this exhibition represent the diversity of expressions, concepts and backgrounds among artists in Iran; From emerging to highly established artists.
Jupilings: What are the prevalent themes in this collection?
MH: The collection explores the day-to-day lives and concerns of artists and their experience as a creative individual.
Jupilings: What was the selection criteria for this particular group?
MH: The curator for this exhibition selected artists based on their artistic merit and their originality of ideas, concepts and techniques. Beyond that, the diversity of artists and their backgrounds was one of the key driving factors in selecting artists and artworks for Iran at a Glance Exhibition.
Jupilings: How does art play in cultural, political and civil resistance in Iran?
MH: The study of Iranian history shows the unbreakable links between art and all other political, cultural, social, and economic events; art has been continuously used as a highly efficient tool to express thoughts and aspirations, as well as to challenge authority, and oppression. The contemporary Iranian artists, represented in Iran at a Glance and beyond, follow the same legacy that prior artists such as Kamal-ol-Molk, Behzad, and Sohrab Sepehri. Today’s artists, in their many different mediums, speak of truth, and the real-life struggles of Iranian artists in Iran.
Jupilings: What other exhibitions do you have coming up?
MH: Our next exhibit features Tina Rouhandeh. Her artworks combine calligraphy, poetry and sewing together; Scribe and Stitch exhibition is open to the public on April 3rd-13th, 2019.
A public space that unfolds the nodes and nuances of our souls and desires and satisfies our safety and care requires a dazzling and utopian thinker: one that is observant, innovative, and is genuinely attentive to public behavior, social pleasures, and thoughtful relationships. Driven by excellence, Alessandro Munge, the founder of Toronto-based Studio Munge, adheres to these principles and elements to craft harmoniously unique visual stories that transform a space into becoming the “it” destination.
Dubbed as the Interior Designer of the year 2018, Alessandro Munge differentiates his creations by understanding observable behaviors and cultural inclinations. With an impressive roster of international clients, especially in the hospitality realm, Studio Munge evokes sophistication and beauty.
AM: A naturally intuitive creative who cherishes authentic experiences through design.
Jupilings: How do you challenge yourself with every new project-
AM: I challenge myself with every new project by starting with a completely blank slate. Rather than following one formula or repurposing the same elements and concepts, I look at what we’ve done before, and push myself to form something completely different and new.
Jupilings: It is quite challenging to work on projects on the other side of the world, do you have ground rules on managing expectations that can be applied universally-
AM: No matter the country, area code, language or time zone, effective communication is detrimental to executing a project successfully. We always take the extra time necessary to have weekly or daily briefings to ensure everyone involved is working towards realistic timelines and a clear vision. From international site visits to long conference calls, our expert project management team has been key in managing expectations. Their expansive design and construction knowledge as well as their constant dialogue with contractors, suppliers, and clients helps us monitor progress and ensures the holistic execution of our design intent.
Jupilings: People, tastes, preferences… change, so what significant principles in your world of design are applied to make things and create concepts that are durable and time-tested-
AM: Our work is consistently concept-driven and developed around the emotional response we envision our end-users to experience within our spaces. Emotions are universal and timeless; they are not limited to trendy colours, finishes or forms. Whether our spaces align with your preferences or specific tastes, they will connect with you on a deeper level withstanding the test of time.
Jupilings: How do you motivate people working for you-
AM: Without the dedication of our almost 60 employees, Studio Munge would not be the dynamic force we are today. I want each member of that team to feel as excited to come into the studio as I do! Motivating every employee comes from leading by example, encouraging individuals to see their own potential while challenging their limitations, and building an inclusive, collaborative and inspiring work environment. Giving back and participating in events together fuels the fire; to name a few activities, we have shared lunches and engage with our community at design-centric events.
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
AM: Setbacks are an inevitable part of life. What’s important is how you prepare for, react to, and learn from them; it can make or break you. When dealing with the unexpected, remaining calm and collected as well as optimistic is crucial. It allows you to focus on the most effective and efficient solutions without compromising the design intent.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-
AM: For me, inspiration doesn’t come from one specific source. From one moment to the next, I’m inspired by new things and experiences all around me. These sparks of intrigue happen organically anytime anywhere I wander, like rough stone textures or the grooves in the sand made by the ocean tide. I’ve started to document more of those textures and moments on my own Instagram. It’s my way of keeping it all in one space and sharing those precious flashes of inspiration with my friends and community.
Jupilings: What is your signature personal style?
AM: My Italian roots and love for fashion and art play a huge part in my personal style. I like to keep things relaxed, clean, elevated and effortless. I love sneakers and detailed basics that are minimal with an edge.
One of the brightest stars in the eatertainment industry, Janet Zuccarini knows how to successfully integrate food and vibes components to create remarkably welcoming eateries. A talent, an empowering mentor, and a visionary, she runs exhilarating restaurants where unpretentiously perceptive to charmingly elegant people enjoy the fresh and tasty food.
JZ: Positive. Tenacious. Hard-working. Fun. Zest for life. Lover of food, business, and travel.
Jupilings: What qualities made you successful in the hospitality industry?
JZ: Being in the restaurant business isn’t easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the most challenging industries you could choose as an entrepreneur. When I opened my first restaurant over twenty years ago, I worked sixteen-hour days, seven days a week. I did everything from the bartender to bookkeeper to bussing tables and seating guests. Knowing every angle of your business, and knowing it really well is a huge advantage when it comes to making those big decisions. As a restauranteur, you have to expect challenges, and then have the passion for keeping pushing forward. If you have a genuine love for the work you do, no roadblock or setback will get in the way of your goal.
Jupilings: What are the branding principles in hospitality/lifestyle that you want to manifest in your restaurants?
JZ: I’m fortunate to have seven successful restaurants under my belt, with two set to launch in 2019, which is incredibly exciting. One thing I’ve known from day one is that you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to restaurants – something seen in all of my concepts. For example, with Felix in Los Angeles, we knew we had to make it a destination restaurant, and that meant partnering with an exceptionally talented chef and locking down a piece of property on one of the most sought-after foodie streets in the world. With Chubby’s we wanted to bring the warmth and vibrancy of Jamaica – a place that I fell in love with after going there many times on vacation – to Toronto. The strategies for those concepts are vastly different from Gusto 101 or Nervosa which are designed to be neighbourhood fixtures that withstand the test of time. The one common thread that ties all of the restaurants together is the idea of a transporting experience, complete with delicious relevant food, inspiring design, and soulful hospitality. As long as I am grounded in these three pillars, I feel free to innovate and expand wherever my imagination takes me.
Jupilings: What are the elements you consider when it comes to conceptualising a new venue?
JZ: Location is certainly key. When we made the jump from just a few restaurants to a global restaurant group in 2015, we solidified our mission to build the most culturally relevant and celebrated collection of restaurants and innovative culinary experiences in the world. Location plays a massive role in bringing this mission to life. Whenever possible, I seek to purchase the real estate in which my restaurants are housed. I believe that design is equally important as incredible food, and purchasing real estate affords me the opportunity to invest in infrastructure and have full control over the details. With any concept, our goal is to create a transporting experience.
Jupilings: Regarding your latest venture, Felix Trattoria, in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, what sentiments you want to capture & what kind of experience your audience will gain?
JZ: As my first international endeavour, Felix has a special place in my heart. When the opportunity to open a restaurant on Abbott Kinney fell in my lap, I knew I had to bring my A-game. Felix is deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of regional Italy combined with the fresh ingredients grown by California’s greatest family farms. When you walk into Felix, we want you to feel like you’re at home – everything from the food to the atmosphere feels comforting, but in the same breath, extraordinary. Our Chef, Evan Funke, brings the time-honoured tradition of pasta fatta mano or handmade pasta to Felix, resulting in some incredible dishes. We’re so grateful to have been honoured as both “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire Magazine and “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater LA. The transporting experience at Felix is next level, but you’ll just have to try it yourself to see.
Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
JZ: My first job was working with my father who brought the first espresso machine to Canada, and I would, as this tiny 12-year-old, haul espresso machines from restaurant to restaurant to help my father out in his business. Seeing how hard he worked first-hand instilled within me a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. I remember he would always say, “Janet – whatever you do, work for yourself!” Reflecting on where life has taken me, I’m sure his words were a massive influence on the career path I’ve chosen.
Jupilings: As a female entrepreneur can you, please share five tips to achieve one’s career or entrepreneurial aspirations in the hospitality industry?
JZ: Male, female, it doesn’t matter – we’re all just humans here. If someone else in the world can succeed, why can’t I? All it takes is a big dream, and the grit, hard work, and passion for making it a reality. But advice specific to hospitality? You better want it and want it bad. This business isn’t an easy one, and you have to be prepared for things to go wrong. At the end of the day, if things go sideways, it’s going to be your passion for what you do that will give you the confidence to get back up and make it work.
Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures?
JZ: Authenticity is always central to everything I do. Beyond having incredible food and design, knowing your brand voice is one of the most important things to have locked down – know who you are and who you aren’t; speak to your audience, not at them; and be authentic. Especially with social media, everyone feels like they play a part in your brand. We have thousands of loyal customers both on and offline, and they will let you know if something isn’t right. That’s why when it comes to hiring, I’m very selective with who is part of the team. From the person who manages our Instagram accounts to the server that brings out the plate of food, each team member is an extension of the brand. I’ve learned only to hire awesome, and to invest in those people to ensure they have the tools and training to bring each brand to life.
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks?
JZ: Having been in this industry for some time now, I’ve developed a thick skin for any setback that comes my way. Especially when it comes to the restaurant industry, you have to expect the unexpected – but having an indomitable spirit is what allows me to keep going. Sometimes setbacks can be your greatest opportunities. Whether it was a hard lesson that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life or a mistake that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, I try not to be afraid of setbacks as I continue to build my company. I remember when we were building Gusto 101 we ran into some troubles with the construction of the foundation. This roadblock turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to us as it led to the creation of a basement with a private wine cellar – one of our most celebrated features in which we now host private dinners.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why?
JZ: One of my earliest inspirations for business was my father who owned his own espresso machine company. Working alongside my father taught me about entrepreneurialism and the hard work it takes to run your own business. My father was also one of those people who knew how to make people feel special – I have fond memories of homecooked meals growing up where my friends and family would pile around the table to devour anything my parents would serve us. This sense of soulful hospitality is something that is deeply instilled in me and is something I make a point of incorporating into every restaurant I open.
Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today & what are the unique traits that women bring to your industry?
JZ: Today women have a lot of opportunities, and being a woman shouldn’t be seen as a disadvantage. If anything, it’s an advantage – women have an intuitive sensibility around details that most men just don’t possess naturally. This is a massive strength for me when it comes to considering everything from the ingredients of each dish to the unique design details of my restaurants. Something as small as having purse hooks under each bar or good lighting in the bathroom are features that can so easily be missed but make a massive impact when it comes to overall experience.
Yes, society puts pressure on women to follow a certain path – go to school, have a career, get married, have kids – but now, more than ever before women feel empowered to take a path less travelled. When I was younger, I asked my father for the wedding money he had been saving to help with a down payment on a condo. He even made me sign a paper saying I wouldn’t come back to ask for wedding money down the line. Years later, I sold that condo and used that money to buy into the partnership at Trattoria Nervosa. I’ve never looked back since. Don’t be intimidated to enter into a male-dominated industry – it is just an opportunity to put your own unique stamp on the way things are done.
Love and passion are the foundations of southern Italy. The jewel-toned sea, the mighty Mount Vesuvius, the whisper of a rushing wind carries you to this fiery landscape where a halo of calmness cuffs your soul. A place where the rich aroma of local cuisine redolent of legends and traditions is the jet-setters’ playground. Don Alfonso 1890, run by the Iaccarino family, in the heart of Sant’Agata in Amalfi Coast, is that charming place for nobility, food connoisseurs, and lovers.
Thanks to Nick Di Donato, President, and CEO of Liberty Entertainment Group, and Nadia Di Donato, Vice President & Creative Director, the Michelin star awarded Don Alfonso 1890 has enriched Toronto’s fine dining experience. A match made in heaven, the culinary romance, and the upscale sophistication of Amalfi Coast merged with the expertise of Liberty Entertainment Group is brought to the hip and sparkling Toronto. The narrative, the Mediterranean flavors, the phenomenal culinary, the creativity, the exceptional service, the remarkable art unleashes the Proustian effect. A revival of an impression from our past life, a lost memory, a heartwarming movie, a desire, or merely living a splendid lifestyle has been introduced in our modern and booming metropolis. The elegant restaurant is an oasis for titans of the financial district, visionary moguls, charming clans, or driven patrons.
Jupilings: What are the branding principles in entertainment/lifestyle that you want to manifest in your creative designs-
NDD: For individual venue: Firstly, I want to establish the intended perceived image of the restaurant in the first 30 seconds of entering and then the subsequent emotional response to the entire experience. My design is not limited to space itself; it extends through the many layers from artwork; to furniture; to tableware; to the menu and collateral design; to wardrobe. The details create the “design magic” that is at the essence of customer experience.
By design, These establishments are either located in historically designated properties or in signature neighbourhoods throughout the city. These classic shells provide a particular opportunity to juxtapose traditional elements with a new modern design which has now somewhat become signature to Liberty Group.
Today, with an impressive collection of uniquely designed venues ranging from casual eateries, nightclubs, elegant restaurants, large banquet facilities and its crowning jewel Casa Loma, under my creative direction, the Liberty Entertainment Group has gained recognition as one of North America’s top hospitality companies.
Jupilings: What are the elements you consider when it comes to design and to conceptualise an entertainment venue-
NDD: One of the most interesting projects that a designer can take on is designing a restaurant. It can be daunting and stressful to come up with concepts. At times I find myself stumbling upon some “design magic” through the exploratory process. Narrowing it down to a final design concept and then seeing it through the build process to customer enjoyment which is a very rewarding experience.
Conceptualisation: All design components revolve around clearly defining my target market. Every detail departs from that one notion…”How do I want the customer to feel.”
Once I have that clear understanding in mind, I establish the identity of the restaurant by pairing a design style palette (ie, furnishing, coloring, lighting, construction materials) with a visual components package (ie: tableware, uniforms, signage, logo, menus, marketing collateral, etc) which I use as my framework to ensure the overall image of the restaurant is cohesive and consistent. This phase is the most crucial part of the overall process. It results in a design vision that guides the entire project.
Personal design style: I see interior spaces more through the eyes of an artist rather than as a technical interior designer. I’m always thinking out of the box and very hands-on working closely with my construction team (whom I’ve been working with for over 25 years. When I walk into a raw space, I always consider the existing elements that can be utilised in my design. Since most of my design projects are located in historically designated buildings, I have an immense appreciation and respect for the intricate details of historic design and always juxtapose original with new.
Personally, I am an art lover and a believer that fine art is like an accent piece of jewellery. Signature to my design is my inclusion of individually curated or commissioned art pieces tailored to reflect the personality of the space, elevating the dining experience by adding originality and intrigue.
Jupilings: Regarding your latest venue Don Alfonso 1890 Toronto, what influenced Liberty Group to introduce Mediterranean fine dining experience-
NDD: Firstly our roots are Italian; therefore it was a natural fit to partner with Chefs Alfonso and Ernesto in this special restaurant. It is the first restaurant of its kind in Toronto to showcase father and son world-class Michelin star chefs. A display of incredible talent in a beautiful space unlike any other in the city. (If I’m allowed to say so myself 🙂
The intention was to elevate the bar in the local hospitality industry in hopes of establishing a new standard of dining and capture the attention of critics on a global scale including the recognition of soon to be Michelin rating in Canada (Michelin to date has not published in Canada). (Word has it that they will be doing so as of November this year. We like to think that perhaps with Don Alfonso in Toronto; we were partially responsible for this finally happening.)
Jupilings: What sentiments you want to capture in Don Alfonso 1890 ’s ambience-
NDD: When I experienced Don Alfonso 1890 in the Amalfi Coast, the concept that resonated with me the most was the simplistic yet intricate contrast in the food. The contrast between classic ingredients prepared with a fresh, clean, organic, sophisticated approach. That is what I wanted to capture in the space. The contrast between the historical setting of this original mid-19th-century building provided the perfect backdrop to juxtapose a fresh, clean, sophisticated modern approach to the interior space. Everything in the restaurant from art installations, furniture, upholstery, lighting, linens, uniforms, menus, dishware, glassware, silverware and accessories are custom designed to reflect the above.
A few design details listed below:
I chose a Desk rather than hostess stand for a more inviting Concierge-style reception.
A newly designed 30’ waterfall feature with intricate Italian porcelain inlay adorns the bar area to give the sense of water of the Amalfi coast.
Temperature controlled champagne room featuring our extensive inventory of fine champagne.
Original wine cellar built in the mid 19th century houses our broad range of wines.
Open concept Kitchen designed for transparency and guest interaction takes up 50% of the restaurant floor plate. Guests are walked through the kitchen at the end of their dining experience.
Design: 38” counter heights for clearer sight line from the dining room into the kitchen
Material: sleek Carrera laminate in 5’ x 10’ porcelain sheets used for counters ideal for cleanliness and durability.
The main dining room is designed to showcase our chef eight-course tasting classic and contemporary menus. Round tables and fine linen were intentionally used to facilitate fluid formal dining service. Custom Cartier style chairs ergonomically designed for maximum comfort.
The mezzanine area is designed in contrast to the main dining room. The custom furniture and design exudes a more casual atmosphere conducive to the al-a-carte menu and molecular drink program. Fabrics and furniture styling is an eclectic combination of cowhide, leather, and linen sofas and chairs custom designed to dining height. The extensive 38’ kitchen/bar showcases food and drinks preparation at all times.
Jupilings: What kind of experience your audience will gain at Don Alfonso 1890-
Housed in the historical Consumer’s Gas Building the interior design offers a sense of glamour and opulence yet comfort and relaxation. Not only is the experience captured through the surroundings, but it is also about the artistry in food design, custom designed plating, the finest linens, every last detail is intended to transport guests on an extraordinary gastronomical experience unparalleled to any other in the city.
Jupilings: What does intelligent and elegant design mean to you-
NDD: Intelligent design is an interpretation of the function of space and successfully transforming that space into a showcase. Since my background is in graphic design, each project is an art piece. Design should be timeless, sophisticated, clever and primarily relevant to the intention of the restaurant. The most important element is using colours and materials that translate to the intended feel of the space rather than those latest trending palettes.
Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given-
NDD: Interior design is like fashion, it changes. Stay away from anything that might date itself or will be so flashy or interesting that it’s going to take away from the intended experience. It is best when you feel it, but it doesn’t get in the way. Also, not really specific to design, I was once told not to take my work too seriously as I’d miss all the fun. 🙂
Jupilings: As a female entrepreneur and creative individual, can you please share five tips to tap into one’s potential to achieve one’s career or entrepreneurial aspirations-
NDD: Find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then work hard at it. That is about as near to a formula for success as one will ever get.
When creating and innovating, work is play. Never take yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid of thinking out of the box. Never accept the notion that it can’t be done.
Never be afraid of taking risks. If it doesn’t go well. It will be your most valuable lesson.
There is really never a right or wrong to a design style. Whatever your approach, hone it and own it.
Be blind to the difference between a male or female entrepreneur. There is no difference:) I never believed there were obstacles because I am a woman.
80% of my work is construction. I am always surrounded by men. And I’ve never been phased by it one bit 🙂
Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-
NDD: In hospitality, You can’t be all things to all people. The most important and expensive lesson I learned was not to ever waiver. Research, focus, execute from A to Z and stay true to what you set off to do. This has been the tried and true formula for the success of the Liberty Group. Although a diverse portfolio, each venue is expert in and very specific to its particular concept.
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
NDD: In any situation, I will always see the cup half full. There is no problem that doesn’t have a solution. I never sweat the small stuff. Moreover, I never dwell on a problem.
No one is immune to setbacks. Trust me I have had many. Whether personal or professional it always made me a little wiser, stronger, and better for it.
Trust that you are capable of doing amazing things—and even more so if you have to work through tough challenges.
I never blame. Exploring the way forward is much healthier than trying to blame someone or something. Stay focused on the bigger picture, commit to it and no matter what, see it through from start to finish.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-
NDD: On a personal level, my husband and my two sons truly inspire me every day. Their ambition, perseverance, focus and accomplishments constantly give me the drive to accomplish slightly more than I did yesterday.
As a designer and businesswomen, I draw inspiration from the experiences I’ve acquired through extensive travel. The privilege of interacting with the diversities of various cultures has defined my creative style. My designs are often an infusion of elements inspired from all corners of the world.
Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today-
NDD: I have been extremely fortunate to come from a pedigree of very strong independent, accomplished women. Also, am grateful to have been provided opportunities denied to many previous generations of women, being able to spend time with my children and travel, while working and creating a successful business.
I have always felt that no matter the gender, there are no limits to what someone can accomplish through determination, hard work and focus.
Today, the sky’s the limit for women across the world. Being a woman in 2018 means being a warrior for constant change. I stand on the shoulders of the brilliant women before me. Every day I try always to be aware of what they have afforded me, and I am grateful for the tools I was given.
Today women are empowered to find out where the struggles for equality still lie, and have a responsibility to reach out to those who need support, and speak out about the areas of inequality that persist.
Jupilings: What is your life motto-
NDD: If you can see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hands. Keep working. Stay persistent. One day you will wake up exactly where you want to be.
Are you looking for a present for someone you want never to forget you? Do you like to be radiant? Do you like to exaggerate your ensemble? Do you like to treat your beauty to pure luxury? Do you want to possess that effortless “look at me” aura? Then you must stop by Archives Toronto. The one stop destination to explore the whimsical, avant-garde & unique creations in fine jewellery and accessories. Artfully showcasing the fine collections with all white interiors and mouthwatering one of a kind accessories, you are in the glamour land.
We met with talented and capable Jaleh Farhadpour, the owner of Archives Toronto. She studied architecture & fashion from which she has discovered her signature style and nurtured her creativity.
Tell me about your beginnings in art and design: I am an architect by training and worked in the fashion design industry in Dubai & across Europe. In 2005, my fascination with gemstone, their healing power, my inner experiences and emotions propelled me to create my own line of fine jewellery.
What experience or situation compelled you to design jewellery: My childhood memories. Being the eldest, my grandmother gave me permission to ferret around her treasure trove, dress up and adorn myself with her diamond studded and precious stones fine jewellery. That was my fantasy land and those recollections fanned my inspiration.
The first designer piece you owned was from which jewellery designer: Van Cleef & a Rolex watch.
What is your advice to a man buying his partner an anniversary gift: Choosing a piece with authentic design that can be passed down for generations will carve a special place in her/his heart. Fine jewellery made with passion, considering originality and craftsmanship should have greater importance to the monetary value of the stone or the weight of the gold.
And if you were to give one tip to a woman buying their partner a birthday gift: A watch is always a cool piece of jewellery, is stylish, has a functional use and tells the time.
Is jewellery an investment: Definitely fine jewellery is an investment. Designer pieces such as JAR have their own cult and unquestionably increase in value.
How does your showroom make life easier for busy fashionistas : We go through myriad of designers and pick the ones who are basically avant-garde, fashion forward with an edge. From boundless simplicity to divine complex designs, our selections are not only for early adopters who embrace the cutting edge aesthetics but also the romantics, the bohemians or the adventurers. The uncompromising novelty of our collections whether fine jewellery or accessories such as sunglasses, hats & bags have the “wow” factor. We offer what the trendsetters around the world are wearing. We have clients from New York, who used to travel to Europe to learn about the latest trend and add to their jewellery collection or accessories, now they are coming to us .
What is your favourite accessory: Definitely, a pair of earrings, I cannot go out without them.
Graduation season is coming up, any suggestions to parents and grand parents who are looking to buy a gift: A pair earrings by Delfina Delettrez, fourth generation Fendi and celebrated jewellery designer.
What genre of music inspire you: Rock, Stairway to Heaven is one of my favourite songs.
What is your idea for social responsibility: Environment is important to me, I strongly believe that we should buy quality rather than quantity. If we all use less, buy less we are helping mother earth. I love this quote: “I am not rich enough to buy cheap stuff”. Personally I am committed to recycling, cooking local, eating local. It is our responsibility to preserve our planet for future generations, and try to eliminate consumerism as much as we can. How? Well, try a minimalist wardrobe, which helps with “decision fatigue”, and invest in your accessories like sunglasses, hats, handbags & belts and jewellery. You can wear the same outfit over and over, it is about how you pull out looks. High quality accessories is one time investment that add personality & zip to your ensemble.
Are you involved in a charity? and why? Giving back goes hand in hand with my beliefs. It makes me feel good & my life meaningful. Many years ago, I’ve started a shelter for battered women and children in Iran and to this date gratefully is enabling many individuals to re-gain their integrity, self confidence and the ability for re-integration into society. Philanthropy is a connection with your community without it your spiritual self would be broken.
Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor? Roman Holiday.
What is power? Love is power.
Your favourite place to travel? Well, it changes, up to year ago it was the magical Sri Lanka & recently I had a vacation in Nevis and loved it.
What is your favourite book?” Through the narrow gate”, by Karen Armstrong. I’ve read few of her books and they all had a great impact on my spiritual awakening. Her views gave me a clarity that we are all part of one human family.
Among the politicians who would you like to play card with?Emmanuel Macron.
What is your “life Motto”? Do it with love and passion or don’t do it at all”.
What have you learnt from your kids? I have learnt that my capabilities are limitless because of my kids. I learnt when you love deeply, you are unstoppable. From the very first day they were born, I learnt about my strengths, my resilience and how to deal with my fears.
Photos courtesy of Archives Toronto, 1275 Bay Street Toronto On, Canada, M5R 0B3. Tel: +1 416 922-2229
What would you do, when you are nostalgic or affectionate, and as a strong woman you want to reveal your emotions in a subtle & intelligent way? How would you project your inner strength, compassion, and beauty to draw the good in your professional and social galaxy similar to the cosmos movement? Your uniqueness is your gravity. Developing a personal style accentuates your self-confidence and allows you to shine.
As a spirited campaigner for individuality, how would you integrate your beautiful mind, your identity and your taste in jewellery? Yes, body ornaments are part of your brand and developing a signature style for a woman with a purpose in life is imperative. Indicating your allegiance to your dearest, a society or ideology through jewellery is not only delightful but convincing.
Last week, I was invited to meet with Elie Top a brilliant and genial fine jewellery designer at Archives, Toronto and had the pleasure to conduct an interview. His collections, mécaniques célestes, cosmogonie secrète or étoile mysteries,, reassure the strong woman that design, craftsmanship and modern rendition of the symbols and celestial mechanics, undoubtedly play upon her strength and evoke harmony.
The pieces are about discovery as they unfold through interlocking cages and artistically engraved compartments. The precision is achieved by ambitious design, the technology of three-dimensional printing and high artisanship. Luckily, with the cosmogonie secrètecollection, you are in “control,” you have a “choice” in selecting signs and symbols that represent an idea, a message, a renewal, an advent or a new life.
Elie Top, French-born jeweller started his career in design at YSL and continued to be the celebrated accessories Director at Lanvin for 15 years. He has launched his own brand in 2015 with Elie Top, Mécanique Célestes Collection.
Jupilings: Tell me the story of Elie Top, the first project that had set you on this path of designing fine jewelry:
Elie Top: I have been designing costume jewelry for years especially for Lanvin alongside Albert Elbaz. So Fine Jewelry was the natural next step to express myself in the most personal way. I went back to my roots, a mix of baroque and industrial aesthetic, ornamental and mechanic.”
Jupilings: What was the source of inspiration behind the current collection:
Elie Top:I would say medieval, futuristic and casual, based on the idea of a secret for independent and strong women. It talks about design, structure, and systems.
Elie Top- Tahitian Pearl, Gold & Diamond
Elie Top- Tahitian Pearl, Gold & Diamond
Elie Top- Tahitian Pearl, Gold & Diamond
Jupilings: If you were to describe your team of craftsmen in two words:
Elie Top:Enthusiastic and inventive!
Jupilings: What is your advice to a man buying his partner an anniversary gift:
Elie Top: not to do it on his own but always with his partner! Women know remarkably well and much better what suits them!
Jupilings: What makes a piece of jewelry an heirloom:
Elie Top: Not necessary its value, certainly more the person, maybe the first owner, who has been wearing it, the way and the circumstances it was worn creates an aura and symbols that the descendants will enjoy to carry on.
Jupilings: Who is your muse or fashion icon:
Elie Top: I admire and love many women, but certainly the most important and influential in my life is Loulou de la Falaise. I met her very young at YSL, and worked with her for many years; her taste of huge, bold, barbaric jewels worn in a total free spirit made a deep and definitive impression on me. I miss her every day.
Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:
Elie Top: I work! Fear and doubt are essentials to move on.
Jupilings: Which side of Elie Top drives the wheel of your life?
Elie Top: The creative part is the most important, since ever. I always gave the creativity the priority: looking for beauty.
Jupilings: Which movie you would have liked to be the leading actor: