We have our fair share of DTC optical brands to choose from in Canada, so there's no shortage of great glasses in sight. I bought my first pair of BN frames: the Palmer, back in 2020, from the Vancouver store. I also had my eyes tested onsite, which made the overall customer journey pretty satisfying. What BN made me feel like as a customer was that I wanted to wear the brand's glasses, and I'd be proud to showcase them not only at home, but also while out working in the cafés, and on the streets. The staff here were warm, approachable, and knowledgeable. My glasses have always been ready quicker than they expect, and I receive a notification when it's time to pick-up. It's been a couple of years, and I now own 3 pairs.
I love the founder Christina Tosi and her story. I've watched her grow the brand and business over the years with her talented team, and have enjoyed seeing them expand into cookbooks, more products and international stores. The packaging is fun and playful, which is exactly what I want from a baked good company. I want to have that nostalgic childhood experience when I tear into something like the treats Milkbar has. I travelled to Toronto and experienced Milk Bar above the Momofuku Noodle Bar. It was late in the day, so they only had the compost cookie and b’day truffles. It wasn't the best experience, and the product wasn't what I envisioned, but I think Tosi and Milkbar deserve credit for continually pushing boundaries in this category, and regardless of my experience I'm still following Milkbar and excited about their move to Nordstrom in Vancouver.
The location at Momofuku in Toronto felt like an afterthought. I wouldn't know it was there unless I was looking for it. When I did get there, product availability was scarce, which was disappointing. It felt more like a tourist attraction, which perhaps might have been the appeal at the time I visited a few years back.
I had always been skeptical of natural deodorants, prone to using Mitchum and Dove roll-ons and sprays most of my life, finding they tackled my athletic pursuits best but it wasn’t until I took a closer look at the ingredients and consumer waste that I started exploring other options. I tried other brands on the market, like Salt & Stone and NATIVE — and while I found them great, it wasn’t until discovering Human Essentials that I realized it stood out in a category of its own. The packaging is playful and innovative (with a peelable canister) setting it apart from others on the market, and the scents are surprisingly unique. I’ve been using the product for one month, and I’m hooked. My partner also loves it. I use the Guava, Sea Salt & Coconut, and he uses the Dessert Lime Mandarine & Vanilla. The scents are high quality, in that the fragrance lasts all day long — taking off my shirt at the end of the day, I can still smell the freshness of the deodorant. It’s lovely! Shipping is fast and the company offers a subscription model as well.
I was drawn to Quip by their innovative design and fun packaging. My partner and I tried out the toothbrushes last year while travelling, and found them quite good. However, I went back to my Sonicare once we returned home. While the Quip provided a good overall clean, I didn't find it as effective or powerful as my Sonicare, but for the lower pricepoint, it was definitely a great offering. Both use sonic vibrations and are definitely better than manual cleaning. While the Sonicare provides better cleaning in my opinion, the Quip definitely hits a homerun on the design front.
It would be great to see the Quip available at drugstores in Canada to make it more accessible for Canadians.
The School of Life
As a book critic, I've been writing reviews for The School of Life books for more than a year. The London-based publishing house offers a wide range of books addressing various issues and how to cope with them. I find the information within The School of Life books to be exceptionally well-researched, beautifully laid out, and easy to digest. Self-help books can at times feel overwhelming, however TSOL have somehow taken somewhat challenging language and transformed it into simple terms in their books so that it can be understood by all readers. Not only that, the information is actually useful. Their books and product offerings also make great gifts.
As a Canadian, I love supporting other Canadian brands. Arc'teryx is a brand headquartered close to where I live, so as a Vancouverite, I've been to several of their stores. I got my first jacket at the flagship on Burrard Street in 2017 when they opened and have worn it many times over the past five years. The jacket is lightweight, stylish, and incredible quality. While I mostly use my Arc'teryx clothing for day-to-day living, I know I can count on the brand for other endeavors like climbing, hiking, and skiing.
I got my dog Tanto at the beginning of the pandemic and Wild One was the first brand website I visited to purchase some accessories for my little one. I was really impressed by the offerings. I purchased a leash, collar, harness, toys, and two bowls. It was definitely on the pricey side in comparison to other options available, but I was drawn to the brand by their visual representation and the fact they were listed among the top dog accessories brands by many publications. Today, almost two years later, we still use the bowls. I donated the leash, harness, collar, and toys to a friend. The toys did end up being on the larger size for my small dog, but I've heard from my friend these are great quality for her bigger dogs. When Wild One arrives, it was beautifully packaged. I would purchase again.
I've been journalling with Muji pens and notebooks for over two years. We got our first standalone Muji store in Vancouver in 2017, and since then I probably visit the store once every month or so to restock my notebooks. The pricepoint for notebooks is really low for such a high quality product. My partner and I also recently purchased some wine glasses and coffee mugs from the store on Robson in Vancouver. We love the unique shape of the wine glasses. The staff at both the Robson and Metrotown stores are really friendly and helpful.
I started purchasing Le Labo Santal 26 candles in 2016 as a corporate offering. It's a scent I love, and one I'd recognize anywhere now. I grew to love the brand, the unique stores, and the brand's offerings. I was lucky to visit a store in Tokyo while there on business, and was blown away by how beautiful it was, and how kind the staff were. The custom labels are make Le Labo products an incredible gift.
I was gifted a bunch of OV sweatsuits for my birthday 5 years ago, and have lived in them almost every day since receiving. I wish I could say I have a tie to the company that influences my review (because honestly I'm so obsessed with them, but I don't, at least not yet). I own the All Day Sweatpants, Tees, and Shorts (everything in Navy and Grey). Despite wearing almost every day and multiple washes (regular machine wash and dryer), they look and fit exactly the same as they did the first day I wore them. I haven't purchased anything from Outdoor Voices, since I already own so much from that original gift and the quality has been incredible.
Expansion into Canada.