11 Small Businesses to Support While Keeping Distance

creative direction & photography CYNTHIA NGUYEN pictured above CADETTE JEWELRY necklace  


During this delicate time, I want nothing more than to be able to connect with each and every one of you to ensure that you’re doing well and have something in place, to get you through these ambiguous days. 
While spending a great deal of time trying to decipher the days ahead and reminiscing past events, I catch myself feeling fairly detached from reality— rolling through the motions of living while participating in a fast-pace, mental race to recognize what’s happening around me and how to quickly adapt while still maintaining a sense of purpose. With only so much time to spend on each day, I’ve always told myself to ensure that my world and the actions that come from there will always be rooted in good things that can aid me in providing a sense of good purpose, fulfillment and be supportive of others. 
While my day job is spent supporting small and large merchants of all kinds that run brick and mortar and online businesses, my love and support for these businesses only continues. We are all social distancing, meaning it’s our responsibility to take care of ourselves and when possible, take care of others too. With spare hours to allocate from my time spent staying indoors, I’ve sourced and compiled my own a list of shops to support that are both local to Toronto (and Canada).


  • Cadette Jewelry | Allison Asis: Designed and handmade in Toronto, Allison is the powerhouse behind Cadette Jewelry, a line of artisanal jewelry for the modern and mindful woman. From her initial organic renderings of inspired wabi sabi and modern art in a sketch book, to sculpting the molds to cast and polish, to carefully dropping her pieces into the beautifully branded box— Cadette Jewelry is a true hybrid of timeless simplicity and womanhood, that’s been demonstrated by the woman herself.

    Personal favourite picks:
    the Vida necklace and Coquina earrings.

  • Vimeria | Anna Laskin: A modern and upscale contemporary jewelry brand, based in Toronto. Anna uses her industrial design background to go from importing her sketches into a 3D computer-aided design application to creating these structured yet stunning, minimal pieces suited for everyday. Her styled of fine jewelry is best described as geometric with elegance.

    Personal favourite picks:
    a pair of earrings I’ve worn since 2017, the Lilly earrings and Bridget choker.

  • Soft Focus | Sammi Smith: Fresh, timeless but also stylish and fun loungewear made in Toronto. Sammi’s focus is on reinventing what laid-back casual should look while elevating the individual who wears her contemporary silhouettes— all made out of quality, natural fabrics. She’s evolved the pyjamas into something completely modern and appropriate for, in her words “beyond the bedroom”. Did I also mention her robes are the perfect piece for a lockdown? Whether you’re a minimal lady or someone who likes a lot more bright colours to match your mood, Sammi’s has a robe waiting for you.

    Personal favourite picks: the Classic robe in Toast and the Lounge pant in Toast.

  • BAHH GOOSE / Canadian owned, in partnership with Asian artisans: Ethical and handcrafted, beautiful womenswear— where minimal, boho silhouettes meets eco-friendly, sustainability. The brand was created in Campbell River, British Columbia, yet it breaths Tulum, Mallorca and sandy California. Such materials used for their soft apparel pieces, include being sourced from Bali, Indonesia. Each purchase supports not only a local Canadian business, but also supports the workers by offering a fair wage and producing made to order in small batches, while also preserving their culture.

    Personal favourite picks:
    the Linda button up and Kai top. Check out their beautiful cotton robes too.

  • Daphne Newman Design / Daphne Newman: If there’s anything that can spruce up your everyday spent indoors (i.e. zoom calls) or enhance the day you’re tying the knot, it’s either an immaculate loungewear set or a luxurious, soft veil from Daphne Newman. The Vancouver-born designer has devoted her life to the world of couture design and European delicacy, with over 30 years in bridal fashion, to create her own modern bridalwear— and it’s truly apparent in the pieces you’ll see online and in person. I was first introduced to this label when I saw one of their robes on display during my visit at bridal boutique, White Toronto.

    Personal favourite picks: the Sophia bridal robe and Jolie white silk wrap top. If you’re planning to get married in the near future, take a look at their Catarina beaded lace veil. They’re currently holding a sample sale on their website.

  • Lake and Oak | Meredith Youngson: Organic superfood teas and adaptogen blends by Toronto-based founder and nutritionist, Meredith. In a time where self-care rituals and nourishing the body and soul is high on the priority list, Lake & Oak offers quality, hand-blended herbal teas and lattes to aid you through this time. Restore your balance and replace that regular cup of caffeine with her Mega Matcha, and your mood and belly will be eternally grateful to you.

    Personal favourite pick:
    Sun Mylk, which I use with oat milk to make wonderful golden lattes and fresh turmeric blended bread.

  • F. Miller Skincare | Fran Miller: F. Miller started with the idea of creating minimal products with luxurious results, and has grown to become a collection of skincare essentials for face, hair and body, made from researched-based blends and nutrient-dense, quality ingredients. Using certified organic and ethically wildcrafted ingredients and the aim to minimize waste and footprint. 

    Personal favourite picks: Face oil and the necessity kit that comes with a versatile washed paper bag made from recycled content, handy for when we can travel again.

  • Shelby Naturals / Shelby Ondrus: Shelby is the formulator and creator behind the pure organic brand, Shelby Naturals. Her line of skincare aims to provide beautiful and healthy skin through quality plant based ingredients, combined with her background in holistic nutrition and chemistry. You’ll find no fillers, no toxic chemicals or preservatives, only certified organic, wildcrafted active ingredients sourced from a fair-trade process from organic farms based in Italy. 

    Personal favourite pick:
    Body oil and sanitizer, which is great for continual use during this eventful time. 

  • SOUVENIR | Danielle Suppa and Trisha Lepper: Souvenir is the destination for beautiful homeware and artwork, with the aim to feature emerging designers, artists and artisans, such as Rachel Saunders and Akai Ceramic Studios. Apart from being an airy, innovative space used for small events and workshops, it’s also a shop where you’ll be able to take home a lovely made good—  from stationery, scents, books, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and much more. 

    Their online store is coming soon sometime this month— May 2020. Their collection of goods are currently available for purchase via their Instagram.

  • SALT / The Caza Project: SALT is a catch all for everything calm and minimal, with luxurious selected interior pieces and captivating art work from such artists like Kassandra Thatcher, to take home. From effortless, sculpted vessels to the perfect cloud Turks couches for your living space. If you’re looking for a new oversized, indoor art project, then a paint job for your home with one of their Bauwerks Lime paints could be your next project. 

    Personal favourite pick:
    POSE II sculpture, Semi Circle Bed frame and Twig lamp.

  • Sol Atelier Toronto and Montreal | Ashley Klassen: Sol Atelier is a studio space that takes place in Toronto and Montreal, where creatives can rent and enjoy for photography, film, social gatherings over a warm meal and heart-felt conversations, pop-ups, small events and many more. The interior design and concept was done by Ashley Klassen, who is also a talented photographer. The look and feel of the space is bohemian contemporary, propped with vintage furnishing and art that seasonally changes to ensure creatives can enjoy the space time and time again. 

And that concludes my list of admired small, local businesses to support during this delicate time. I hope you enjoyed discovering them and feel also inspired to shop their creations as well. 

One last thing: We are all in this together; if I can help you in any way, feel free to reach out to me. x

This post is not sponsored and includes no affiliate links. All opinions are my own.



creative direction CYNTHIA NGUYEN
photography SELF PORTRAIT in collaboration
and Saltwater Collective
“Go where you feel most alive”
Oh, Tulum—the coastline of Mexico where the mellow sounds of the water and the slow music intertwine to become background sound to your scenes; where the taste of the salt is in the air and the breeze softly kisses your face. These were all the kind of moments and reactions I felt when I either found myself still at the shore of the beach or sitting in the outdoor living room of my beautiful, temporary beach home, at NEST, or even biking along the beach strip, under the palm trees. The calm views, the tasteful decor and the care people bestowed on me, warmed my heart, as these things brought joy to my time in Mexico.

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dress shirt NATALIJA

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My time in Mexico started by plane from Toronto to Cancun. From Cancun airport to Tulum, I took the ADO bus. This transportation method was a recommendation made by a friend who is a local and from my experience, it is accessible from the airport, safe, and extremely cost-effective and easy to use. Normally a private shuttle or cab straight from the airport to Tulum can cost anywhere around $60-$100 USD. The price for a one-way goes for about $10-14 USD per person from Cancun to Tulum, and $8-10 USD from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. Be aware that the some businesses, including airport operated and restaurants will overcharge you as a tourist. Ask for local pricing when possible. The best way to explore the local streets of Tulum is by bike and NEST Tulum kindly provides them for their guests. Surveying prices along the beach strip via bike for scuba diving, snorkelling and tours are a good idea to compare rates. You can also ask your concierge for their go-to tours and they will be able to help you.

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Vanille 44 LE LABO

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It must have been years since learning about Tulum’s Cenotes. I would collect countless photos and underwater references. I would day dream about uncovering the wildlife and scenic region below the surface of the water. I knew that if I didn’t personally experience the Cenotes while I was in Tulum, I may not have another reason to go into a body of water. Boundaries were to be pushed and fears had to be overcome. About less than 4 weeks before my trip, I didn’t know how to swim. I was long developed in my adult years. I was ridden with regret that I had not learnt how to swim for this long. Over my childhood, I had developed a fear of water over traumatic events. The fear of water had also lend itself into such effortless routines, such as making face washing more difficult. It had taken me two informal lessons, taught by a love one and one formal lesson by an instructor before I was able to accomplish some sort of familiarity with moving through bodies of water.

It was both emotionally and physically draining to navigate through my lessons in order to get back to where I had previously developed a feel for comfort in the water. It wasn’t until the second last day during my time in Tulum that I  decided I had to try swimming and snorkelling in the Cenotes. It took me five to ten minutes of clinging onto the stalagmites and even holding my tour guide’s hand to get comfortable in the freezing water of the caves. I felt that I would be more embarrassed to partake in a group, and instead opted for more privacy in a one on one session, allowing me to go at my own pace. After the few minutes of struggle was over, I surprised myself with remaining calm and poised under water. I was not only swimming and snorkelling, but I was filming and holding a flashlight. For someone who had the severe fear of water— multi-tasking and breathing properly was a challenge to get used to. Eventually, the scenery became more of a distraction, and my breathing and body movements became consistent, and I was able to personally experience the Cenotes in the way I only dreamt of.
Since the beautiful NEST Tulum is an eco-friendly, boutique hotel, the power is generated from solar, wind and generators. During my first evening with the property, there was a power outage due to the wind currents. There was no electricity, no wifi, and no music. Only the sounds of the ocean, the sight of the little stars that litter the sky and candles that lit the path back to your room. If it were anywhere else, you’d find yourself uneasy. But since it happened in Tulum, it felt almost acceptable. It felt okay to disconnect and notice your surroundings. To take in what was in front of you and be grateful for all that you have. Tulum is not a place just for beautiful photos but for adventure and rest.“Every once and a while. Take off your life. And rest.”
– Nayyirah Waheed

Pretty Minute

Free People Women’s South Of The Equator Midi
Vintage suede long trench coat
ALDO Cici Heels in Bone

Lack Of Color Spencer Boater Natural Straw Hat
Tom Ford Lipstick in No. 03 Casablanca
Ellie Saab L’eau Couture by Ellie Saab
Kindling & Co Long
Y Drop Slip Necklace

See below for more options!

I have finally made time to post an article celebrating my big 2-4.

Because why wouldn’t I want to take this moment to dress up and be captured parading around my neighbourhood looking awesome? PS. Thanks Therese!

God, does it feel like scary that I’m that much closer to hitting a quarter century. But all in all– I’m blessed to be where I am, to be surrounded with the people I’m with and with the point where I am in life. I think it’s a great time to say…hello to another good year! There’s not a split second of a minute where I don’t think about another good thing to do. I’m going to enjoy being 24 while I’m at it. Say hello to more years of hard work and good memories to be made! x

Photography by: Artiese Studios

Two Blocks Away


Ann Taylor Crepe Colourblock Topper Coat
J. Crew Men’s Stripe Dress Shirt (similar here)
J. Crew Colourblock Cotton Wool Blazer
Banana Republic Sloan Fit Five Pocket Pants
ASOS Gold Arrow necklace (similar here)
Zara Black Pointed Toe Heels (similar here and here)
Danier Leather Black Handbag (similar here)

Ever felt the slightest bit of envy when you’re introduced to one of your new friend’s long time best crew? I’m talking about those who are in their late 20s, 30s, or even 50s and have been the best of buddies as a group since practically grade 2 and counting. Friendships that have grown longer than my own age— now that’s something amazing.

Living in the big city like Toronto, I found myself growing apart from those who I truly wanted to keep in touch with. Despite the ‘No excuse’ cliche which still holds tremendous amounts of truth, I still find myself struggling to try to find ways to rekindle or keep connected. I figured— friendships formulate from two sides. My side and your side. Seems easy right? Both sides should be understanding, accepting and should show some sort of amount of investing effort.

A couple days ago I met up with my one girlfriends who held the status of being my oldest best friend— the thing was I only saw her bi-annually and that did not share the same group of friends. We only lived 50 minutes away from one another as well. Could you say it’s our busy lives? ‘No Excuse.’ I only realized the severe lack of getting together until we met at the same restaurant which we visited from last summer. (Cafe Nervosa on Yorkville Ave) We both share the same love for eating a lot of carbs as a way to catch up… #loveitalianfood.

With all this being said I decided to make new goals to revamp my friendship and family skills:

1.) Make a list of people you haven’t kept touch with but would like to. New or old.

2.) Make a list of the cutest cafes, brunch or dining spots you wish to explore and hold your festive reunion at. Either in your city or theirs. Maybe just pick up a box of donuts and coffee?

If they happen to reciprocate, great. They are probably the kind where you can easily speak to and pick up where you left off. No change in feelings, but just pure excitement. If not, harsh but true— it’s time to move on. No harm in trying right?

3.) Get it together and toss them a text, call or Facebook message. Ask for their availability. 

You can gather from here whether or not it’s worth a shot to keep your friendship going or growing. Being almost 23 years old, I have already found myself weeding out people from my life—something I never found myself doing since I used to want to be everyone’s friend. But eventually you learn you keep the ones who care about you, your health, your sanity, your work, and who’s supportive of your wishes. 

**PS. I dedicate this post to my hometown girls.**

Photos by: Arnold Lan

No matter how far apart your friends or family might be, there are always ways to stay connected. Still count the brief yet great moments you share. That being said, I’m blessed to have the many strong friendships I have today and only want have them further grow and deepen them.


Apologies for the MIA. As it was my dad’s birthday this past week and wrap up in projects.
Happy belated Birthday to my dad. x

What are some cute ideas or ways you spend with your old pals?
I’d love to hear. Share them below! If you like for me to share more food posts with details.

Let me know! And PS. Have a good long weekend! xx




1. Olivers People ‘LOU’ Shades
2. Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera

3. Tag Heuer Grand Carerra Calibre 36 RS with Chronograph
4. Gucci Navy Leather Gold Buckle Belt
5. Nike Roshe Run Shoes 
Agent Procovateur Idalia lace and stretch-tulle underwired bra
Agent Provocateur 
Larizsa embroidered tulle and satin briefs

Valentines Day is in exactly three days. I’ve created a guide for the ladies in search of their boo’s gift. Please feel inspired to get them gifts from the choices on the board. These are some of the essentials every man wants. Last but least, have fun shopping for them, especially with No. 6 on the board. It’s a win win for you and him.

Good Luck! xo


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