Birch Blog

In case any of you are not aware….this year is Canada’s 150th birthday. And with the world being what it is today (mass bombings....everywhere! People being shot and killed in the streets, don’t get me started on climate change, oh and an ignorant unqualified Cheeto is running what most would consider the most powerful country in the world!) I feel more inclined to celebrate how friggin lucky we are more than ever! So in honor of this beautiful country we launched our CDN150 line last week. I know, I know, everybody is doing a CDN150 line….but ours is the best.

So I came up with the design, my graphic designer Lisa brought it to digital life and we finally found the perfect red sweater, ordered custom tags and delivered them to the screen printer!

But then came the fun part, the promo photo shoot.

 

I had a very specific feeling and vibe for this line. My inspiration was the song "Wheat Kings" by The Tragically Hip, one of the greatest Canadian bands of all time (also happens to be my OG bestie, Jocelyn’s favorite song) it opens with the sound of loons on the lake so we HAD to find a cabin for these pics, obvi. Due to licensing there was no way I could afford to actually use that song, so I poured over songs I could use for hours to find the perfect song! I wanted to launch the line for June 1st but we were already into the third week of May so it was crunch time. Then we heard threw a friend about Beaver Lake Mtn. Resort, I called immediately and managed to score a dope cabin on the water with it’s own dock. I spent the next week planning the shots we needed with our photographer, Amanda Wallace of Amanda W Photography, collecting props and convincing friends and family to come hang out at a beautiful cabin for a couple days, tough sell, I know.

So the weekend arrived and it was kind of amazing, the weather was so gorgeous, Gerran, Stella and I headed out early to get settled and explore than I drove back into town to pick up my Hype Girl and Amanda. 

Once we got there we started with pics of just Kaitlyn and I in the really large oversized sweaters just hanging out on the dock, it took a few minutes for us to relax but turns out we’re naturals in front of the camera!

We got amazing shots of Kaitlyn hiking thru the woods and Stella just being Stella curled up on the dock in my vintage Hudson’s Bay blanket (they’re my favorite of all the pics).  Stella and I hanging out in the log cabin, Gerran and Jeremy roasting marshmallows with Stella around the camp fire, Gerran and I in the canoe. I mean this couldn’t have been more Canadian if Bryan Adams followed us around while signing an acoustic version of “Summer of ’69" (have you ever wondered what Jimmy’s up to??).  

 

So we banged it out in less than 24 hours and I’ll admit I was nervous to see the final product. I could have hired models but I wanted this to feel cozy and familiar so I insisted we use ourselves as the models which clearly we are not so I was worried my Ork side would show in the all the pics, or Kaitlyn’s Vigo side would be front and centre. But after a few days Amanda emailed me the first draft of the video and holy jesus, I couldn’t have been happier or more relieved. It’s exactly what I had envisioned. 

Amanda did a brilliant job!

My favorite review of the video was Angelic from Centowear, she said “It made me want to go camping”. We hit the nail on the head!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En5qLBgdr6U&sns=em

So here it is loves….enjoy the video and come on down to the shop to get your own limited edition Birch Hill Apparel CDN150 sweater or tee!

xo

S

 

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FYI, I’m 36….some may say I look 40 other angels here on earth have told me I look younger but I just turned 36 today actually. So naturally I lord the “I’m older, wiser and more worldly than you” card over Kaitlyn’s head any chance I get. One of my favorite topics, turning 27. 

Something awful happens in your late 20’s and in my experience it’s most peoples 27th year.

Your hair just isn’t as shiny anymore, your skin not as dewey and almost looks dull, you certainly can’t rally from a hangover like you use to, and your body….well that bitch can’t snap back quite so quickly anymore.

Kaitlyn is experiencing this all first hand this year as she turns 28 in August (August 28th to be exact, but don’t worry she’ll let everybody know with a full blown main street parade, sky writing plane, and I’m sure she’s trying her hardest to get Mr. Trudeau to declare it a Canadian holiday). But I digress….the first indication you’re 20’s are dying a slow death is your inability to bounce back from a night of drinking. When my husband and I first started dating we would drink and party almost every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night (we quit drinking completely when we had our daughter 5 years ago). One night I even drank 11 appletinis….there’s like 3 ounces of alcohol in one appletini so do the math…I should probably have had my stomach pumped but no I woke up the next day took a couple Advil liquigels, inhaled a McDonalds 2 cheeseburger meal and drove around to all the local pubs and bars to help my friend find her purse after first finding her as she woke up not knowing where she was (terribly responsible of us I know). If I drank that much now….jesus, we would need to call a priest for an exorcism. 

And what’s up with the hair and skin situation? You wake up on your 27th birthday and your skin is like “remember all those years of not wearing sunscreen and never drinking water?? Well today is the day bitch…..payback”. I have always had great skin, I don’t mean to sound boastful because I know it was all genetics and I realized at a very young age that not having problems with pimples was something to be grateful for so I thought I was taking really good care of my skin. You know, NEVER going to bed with make up on, exfoliating regularly blah blah blah. But it’s the preventive matters for aging that I hadn’t quite figured out, so here I am at 36 getting botox and regular facials…..ya I said it, botox. And I don’t care, I’m not ashamed at all. I’m a grown ass woman who can spend her money how she wants. 

Then there’s our hair, my hair use to be so shiny and bouncy now it takes 4 different products, a curling iron, a straightener, velcro rollers and a shit ton of hairspray just to get that effortless “messy ponytail” look. And don’t get me started on the grey….I get my hair professionally died and less than 3 weeks later I look like Anderson Cooper. 

27 was definitely the worst year as far as feeling old and shit changing on me….until 36.

Here I sit on the evening of my 36th birthday and I’ll be honest, I didn’t handle it well.

I’ve never been the type of person to get sad or depressed on my birthday, it’s just another day. But this year for some reason, wow it hit me like a brick wall. I knew Kaitlyn would have planned something special at the shop for me so I was planning on being there as soon as we opened. BUT, after I got out of the shower I felt super emotional and sad. I just wanted to curl up in bed and go back to sleep…..WTF!!! This is so out of character for me, shit NEVER gets to me and when it does I’m pretty good at brushing it off. But no, you guys I even cried!!! I can’t explain it either, maybe it’s because I’m over the midway hump and am now officially closer to 40 than 30?? Maybe it’s because I promised this year would be the year I FINALLY get healthy and in shape and it’s halfway thru the year and I’m nowhere near my goal?? Maybe it’s because I spend all my time with a 27 year old so I just feel….old!

I have no idea, but seriously, all the feels guys.

But, I rallied….I got my shit together put on a cute outfit, neckerchief and all and got my ass to work.

And it was totally worth cos….presents.

XO

S

 

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Ok guys, I have a real problem I want to address, I’m a clothes horse. My closet is always a disaster and since we’re renting we’re kinda stuck with the closet we currently have which is small for 2 grown ass people who appreciate fashion. Try not to be completely appalled by the pictures I’m including in this post. I’m also in impulse shopper, I don’t walk away from something and say “I’m just going to think about it” nope, not me, I buy it on the spot….maybe in 2 colours.

The problem is I end up purging my closet every season and getting rid of shit that still has tags on it!!!

I grew up in a trailer with my parents and 3 sisters, I think this is a big reason why I now feel the need to buy more STUFF. I didn’t have a lot growing up so I want more of everything, more clothes, more shoes, more gadgets, more make up, more books, more STUFF! So now I have a house full of crap I rarely even set eyes on because it’s packed away in Rubbermaid tubs. This past week Kaitlyn and I auctioned off our lightly used items that we have taken home from the store for charity. We get new stock in and we get super excited and take one home for ourselves, than we literally don’t have enough days in the week to get to wear that particular sweater we took home. All those items I auctioned off I don’t even miss, I couldn’t even name each one of them there were so many. But it felt so good to get rid of all that shit! Plus who knew it felt so good to raise money for a charity and help people!! But it all inspired me to spend more wisely.  

Next time you’re home on a Saturday night and you’ve already binge watched all of Friday Night Lights 3 times and need something interesting to watch I highly recommend “The True Cost” it’s a documentary about the fashion industry and something referred to as “fast fashion”. Fast fashion is essentially the industry pumping trendy clothes out so fast that we now have 52 “seasons” (1 per week) instead of 6 (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Holiday and Resort). This is why when you go to Forever 21 or Zara there’s always huge sale sections and sales racks because those styles were hot last week but are now “out”.  So you feel like you’re constantly needing to purchase more to stay “in style”. These big box stores (Zara, H&M, TOP SHOP, Forever 21 etc.) especially target girls in their 20’s because you ladies are more susceptible to buy into all that social media bullshit and you aren’t making very much money so you love these chains stores where you can get a whole outfit for $30. In my day those stores were Smart Set, Le Chateau, Mariposa etc. 

I’ve been reading a lot about capsule wardrobes lately, this is such a foreign idea to me. Why have 1 black sweatshirt when you can have 7??? A capsule wardrobe is basically a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you absolutely love and that are good quality pieces. But I’m going to do more research and spend some time in my closet really going through my clothes deciding what I really love and need instead of what I want or hope to someday fit in to! I know I already have all those basic pieces, it’s just parting with all the other crap that i don’t need. If you’re considering trying this new approach follow @caroline_joy on IG, her blog is great too. She basically has a capsule wardrobe per season, because you’re not going to wear the same 30 pieces in Winter that you would in Summer. I feel like this is doable, no?? 30 pieces per season, if I really look into it I probably don’t wear 70% of my clothes. 

Now I’m not encouraging you to stop shopping all together I mean I own a clothing store for crying out loud. And I’m also not saying don’t shop at those big box stores altogether either (I just spent $100 at Superstore on my ever growing 5 year old). I’m suggesting maybe have a little balance….shop with intention perhaps. 

Plus shopping at little boutiques like mine, and Cento Wear or LBVLifestyle and Blonde in Kelowna makes such an impact on the lives of the people who own and work in these shops. 

Also, let us not forget that the owner of Zara is the 3rd richest person in the ENTIRE WORLD!!! He doesn’t need your money….but my kid will definitely need braces someday so spread the wealth yo.

XO

S

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Saturday evening I watched a documentary called Embrace on Netflix, I highly recommend you watch it too. It was a about a women, Taryn Brumfitt, who posted a side by side picture of herself on social media a few years ago. On the left she was in a glitzy bikini for a fitness competition, ripped. On the right she was completely naked sitting on a stool and she was no longer in “fitness competition” mode but she was definitely still beautiful. I remember when this photo first showed up all over social media, she did many interviews about it because people were up in arms over it. Either cheering her on embracing her natural beauty OR ripping her apart saying disgusting things about her….like really awful things. 

So she went on a journey to try to figure out why women are so hard on themselves. 

I’m not going to sit here and say I’m super confident and love my body just the way it is, I mean I avoid the amazing Okanagan beaches so I don’t have to be seen in a bathing suit. I hate summer time because it’s hot and my thighs rub together. I won’t take side profile pics of myself because of my double chin. I wear Spanx under simple white tee because my stomach hangs over my pants. Kaitlyn and I joke about wanting “thigh gaps” which we know is absurd, I mean I’m ALMOST 36 and she has a juicy booty so it’s definitely not in our future. Plus if I had a thigh gap my phone would fall into the toilet when I’m checking all my snaps while I poop. But there are some things I take a stand on, when Kaitlyn first came into our lives I had to tell her that we don’t use the word FAT in our house especially around Stella. It took her a while to remember not to say it but now she even scolds other people who say it. I tell Stella almost everyday how much I love her juicy thighs and little tummy. When she talks about another girls hair or pretty clothes I try to remind her what matters is her brain and her heart and her soul. 

But I’ll be honest I do wish I was in better shape. I don’t need to be stick skinny. I actually like the size I am but I wish I was healthier because I’m definitely not. First of all I’m weak, I get the light end of the box when we move shit at the shop. My endurance is awful, I get winded at the top of our stairs. And when I really think about it weight and image has been a major topic of conversation my entire life, I think it is for all women. As teenagers we share insane and incredibly unhealthy ways to lose weight. Starving yourself all day than chewing gum when you feel hungry, tried it but starving myself has never been an option, I just fucking love eating!! Purging, sadly I have quite a few friends who struggled with this as teenagers. I tried it once and could never actually make myself puke, turns out I’m an “emetophobe” I have an extreme phobia of vomiting….true story. Please don’t think I’m making light of these issues, I’m only being so blunt and honest about them because I know for a fact that well over half the ladies reading this have struggled with these illnesses or at least experimented with them. Probably more like 90% of the people reading this have and for some reason we don’t talk about it!! 

This past year and a half Kaitlyn has been working her butt off to lose 30 lbs. And I couldn’t be prouder of her because she did it the old fashioned way, eating healthy and excercising 3-5 times a week. No pills, no crazy diets, no fasting or cleanses just hard work and dedication. 

I on the other hand….

The idea of eating healthy is so foreign to me I literally snap chat Kaitlyn weekly saying “does this count as healthy??” I strongly believe that eating healthy is like being good with money, it’s not a skill you’re born with you have to be taught. I was taught neither growing up.

My favorite dish was fish sticks when I was a kid, like old school, literally shaped like a stick, fish sticks….with a shit ton of tartar sauce. Going out for dinner was McDonalds. We ate entire bags of Old Dutch BBQ and ketchup chips for breakfast on Saturday mornings while watching cartoons with huge A&W glasses of root beer….in the morning!!!! In the summer time my little sister and I would take those large glass measuring bowls with the spout and handle and use half a tub of vanilla ice cream to make huge milkshakes….daily! We ate No Name brandFruit Loops for breakfast every morning before school. (For the record Stella does not eat or drink like this at all. She’s never even had pop before except “ginger pop” when she has the stomach flu, but she does have a hankering for “treats” which is something we’re working on).

And on top of all of that we NEVER exercised! We joined every sport and dropped out a week later! My little sister played ball, my older sister played soccer, I played nothing….I was as a reader not an athlete. 

And now here I am at ALMOST 36 and I still haven’t figured out this healthy eating and exercise thing. The amount of garbage I can shovel into my mouth in one sitting and not feel sick is astounding. Kaitlyn says if she ate like me she’d be 400 lbs. In my 20’s that would be something I’m proud of but now that I have a daughter it’s something I worry about everyday.

Stella is not overweight by any means but she’s no willow branch like some of the little girls in her dance class. As soon as she’s finished her dinner every night she says “can I have a treat now?” So for my daughters sake I want to get fit and healthy. Not “rhinestone bikini posing on a stage with a fake spray tan” fit but “go for a hike with my family and not need a snack and an inhaler” fit. 

So we decided to do a little experiment. Starting May 1st I’m eating “clean” for 30 days. Last Sunday Kaitlyn came over and took all my measurements and helped me clean all the crap out of my cupboards. I’m basically following the Whole 30 plan, which requires a lot of planning. I’m one week in now and I feel pretty good. The first 3 days sucked because I had the worst headaches at night and was super nauseous. Saturday night I cheated for the first time, I made whole 30 brownies which were super bitter so we made homemade whip cream for Stella…..I slipped and added whip cream to mine as well. But I paid for it by nearly shitting myself an hour later. I also cheated yesterday when we made our first visit of the season to Davison’s and I had to have the blackberry frozen yogurt. 

And I’ll be completely transparent here, I’m still vain, I mean I have botox in my forehead!!! But I really want to instill in my daughter that it’s more about taking care of yourself and being healthy than being skinny and beautiful. 

I truly, truly hope I didn’t offend anybody in this post. I’m not an expert and I’m certainly the last person to take fitness or eating advice from. I’m just a woman and a mom trying not to fuck up my kid.

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For those of you who don’t follow my Instagram, I’m a big Jillian Harris fan….Robyn, Megan and Kaitlyn may even say I’m her #1 fan. So the events that transpired last Monday were beyond the scope of things I thought possible. I won’t give the full back story because stats say lengthy blogs lose readers but the evening ended with her and I texting back and forth for a while even including really awful selfies of ourselves. 

But I will give you the BACK back story…which started almost 10 years ago….the following details she does not know and to be honest I’m a little embarrassed by them. 

It all started back in 2009 maybe 2008 when I was a real estate agent at Re/Max Coast Mountains in my hometown of Terrace, B.C. My closest friend in the office Rauchene Lansdell came in one day saying her friend “Jilly" was on the new season of The Bachelor, so of course I tuned in. Like most of the people in the world I was completely charmed by her sense of humor and realness. So of course I followed her career, from The Bachelorette to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to “Canada’s Handyman Challenge”, my husband owns a Browns Socialhouse here in Vernon so I knew about all her interior design work with Cactus and Browns from his restaurant connections. 

But here’s where it’s starts to get embarrassing, I use to make these large block letters with fabric mod podged onto them (Jesus Christ) stay with me here, I started making them as baby shower gifts but people really like them and started paying me for them. I found this really cute fabric with little brown anchors and pink hearts on them so I made a “J” with the anchor fabric for Jillian and a “J” with this really beautiful wood grain fabric for Justin. Mailed it to whatever address I found online, never heard anything back. 

Cut to a couple years later #TeamJilly posts something on her website about wanting new content contributors for her website, anything from recipes to DIY home decor to fashion, whatever your department of expertise is. I didn’t see this post till sometime in the afternoon on the last day they were taking submissions so as soon as the huz got home I handed him Stella who was only 7 or 8 months old at the time I think and got to work. I only had a few hours to whip something together and you could definitely tell! Keep in mind my craft skills at the time were more Christmas-craft-sale/wooden-clothespin-reindeer-esque than the flower crown making gold spray paint wielding Birch I am now. So ya, the project I submitted was pretty friggin amateur. I obviously didn’t hear anything back. 

I know where you think this story is heading, me feeling rejected dressed in head to toe camo going thru her garbage in the middle of the night with a headlamp….but I assure you this fable has a happy ending.

So here I am living in Vernon running my store with Kaitlyn by my side. I carry solely Canadian brands and I strongly felt Jillian, being a proud fellow Canadian, would appreciate what I’m trying to do so I tagged her in posts, invited her to our grand opening (thank god she didn’t come!!) Tweeted her regularly, Kaitlyn and I even brought a gift basket of #BirchMerch to Justin at the Vernon Boat Show last Spring (he was very sweet and lovely of course). I just put myself out there!! Completely transparent, no facade. 

When I added this special guest feature to the blog I wrote my dream list of women I would love to feature, ladies like Kelly Oxford, Marilyn Denis, Sarah Richardson and Tamara Taggart never ever imagining that the one person at the top of my list would be my second guest…..miss Jillian herself.

Yes Birches, I Captain Ahab’d the shit outta that 5’2 white whale!

So here it is……

 

-What is your mirror mantra? 

To keep doing the best that I can and not to put too much pressure on myself, one day at a time! Between being a new mama, my business, my family and friends ... making time for everything and everyone can be hard but I just have to keep on doing the best that I can!

-What’s your guilty pleasure music choice? 

COUNTRY COUNTRY COUNTRY!! I freakin love it!! 80’s country ! 

-What is your favorite Canadian-ism? 

Plaid. Enough said. Lol!

-What has been your biggest business learning curve? 

That you are NEVER going to please everyone and to learn to live with rejection and criticism. also, to take constructive criticism, think about it and think how applying it would affect your business? maybe a certain naysayer has something to say that can help- even if it seems negative at the time! its ok to be wrong! 

-What makes you laugh till you snort? 

Lately it's been little Leo! He's such a little character and I just love sitting there and watching his every move! Also at 36 years old, I still think farting is pretty funny.

-What book do you love so much you could read it over and over again? 

I hate to admit it but I can't even remember the last time I read a book!! Ok i lied, it was 50 shades of grey and i’m worried it wouldn’t be healthy to keep reading that over and over again! LOL 

-Name a fellow Canadian BossBirch who you admire? 

Fraiche Nutrition.  She is brave, kind, modest, beautiful, a great mother and dedicated to everything she commits to! 

There you have it Birches, and FYI Tori also happens to be on my list....I'm coming for you doll!

XO

S

 

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