El Camino Bracelets — How one young Canadian turned her passion into a business

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands
Photo taken by Candace Kellough

Photo taken by Candace Kellough

Imagine walking up the Costa Brava, Spain with a heavy backpack on your back, a skateboard in your arm, and the love of your life by you side. You’ve just walked 15 miles, up and back down mountains, and are ready to call it a day.

You find the perfect spot to set up your tent, have a snack (most likely something to do with peanut butter), and start bouncing ideas off one another. Just as the sun is about to set you come up with an idea that will transform you from wanderer to entrepreneur.

Candace Kellough and Tom Lane were backpacking from Barcelona to Monaco when they came up with El Camino Bracelets, a unisex bracelet for travelers. With the idea fresh in their minds and the knowledge that there wasn’t a product out there like the one they wanted to launch, they hopped on a train back to Barcelona and flew to England. There, they lived, worked, and saved for the start-up of their business.

El Camino bracelets represent your story and your journey around the world, according to the website. One bracelet easily replaces all of those knickknacks and dust collectors that many travelers accumulate while traveling. You can see every place you’ve travelled just by looking at your wrist.

Click on photo for original link.

Click on photo for original link.

“It takes about 20 minutes to make a single and about 30 minutes for a double,” said Kellough. “And of course, lots and lots of love goes into each El Camino. We’ve become quite attached to them and are always very curious where in the world they are going to end up.”

So far, El Camino bracelets have traveled to Canada, USA, Mexico, Ireland, all of the UK,

France, and Spain, she says.

Kellough and Lane make each bracelet by hand, and say they are proud of it. They keep everything local, says Kellough, and like knowing where all of their products are coming from. This is the basis of their business and something they want to hold onto as their company grows.

“We just want to keep doing what we’re doing and stay true to our roots. We want to expand organically by word of mouth and people spreading their love for everything we make,” Kellough said.

The bracelets can be double or single and are made from four high-strength woven cords available in black, turquoise, chestnut brown, red, steel blue, forest green or purple.

Each bracelet comes with a first ‘step’, which is stainless steel and engraved with El Camino. In order to start saving memories, you need to purchase what they call ‘steps’. They are engraved with the names of countries on them, with over 240 to choose from.

There are also ‘small steps’ which cover popular places that aren’t countries, like New York or Hawaii.  Next are the colourful ‘regional steps,’ which add a little excitement to your wrist and your travel story. Each ‘region’ is handmade in England and then sandblasted with the El Camino logo.

Finally, you can space out your steps and regions by adding wooden spacers, which are laser cut and made from mahogany or oak.

It’s a souvenir for travelers, by travelers.

Lane and Kellogg -- Photo from Candace Kellough

Lane and Kellogg — Photo from Candace Kellough

A native of Caledon, Ontario, Kellough says she became obsessed with traveling in her last year of university. She studied abroad in Alicante, Spain and says that teachers are so laid back when studying abroad.  They understand that the students are there to travel, learn, and experience new things. Being able to hop on a plane or train for a few hours and be engulfed by a different language and culture was exciting.

“I met so many people and experienced so much,” she said. “I realized that there is so much to see and do. After living in Alicante, I knew that there was no way I was ever going to be able to settle in one place for a long time.”

After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier’s business program, she worked two jobs and saved enough money to head to Europe. She spent some time backpacking, and eventually settled in Barcelona for a year and a half.

But Kellough’s Canadian blood missed the snow. Her next move found her in a tiny ski town in the French Alps, where she worked and snowboarded. It was there that she met Tom Lane, future business partner and beau, and fellow gypsy soul.

It was his messy hair that first caught her eye, says Kellough. They hit it off and soon were inseparable. The pair woke early to ski or snowboard, went to work, and met up after. Their days were long, and sleep was nonexistent, but it was worth it in the end.

When Kellough and Lane met, Lane was already in his fifth season in Meribel. Born in England, he spent his summers in Ibiza and his winters in France. He has been traveling for ten years, and both Kellough and Lane say it’s in his blood. His travels were originally limited to England, but that changed in when he decided to move to Spain.

Part of what drives their shared passion for travel is a thirst for new experiences.  Both of the young entrepreneurs admit that they get bored easily. They like to meet new people and try new things, and say travel is the best way to do that.

Since the start up of El Camino, though, Kellough says her lifestyle has done a complete 360.  There isn’t much time to bounce from country to country these days. The pair went from traveling ‘gypsies’ to working twelve-hour-days, every single day, she says.

They don’t mind though – they’re doing something they love, and are seeing the results of their hard work. They’re overwhelmed with such positive feedback and repeat orders. And with the job market the way it is in Canada, Kellough says she would still have gone the entrepreneurial route if she remained here.

“I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. It’s been in the back of my mind since I was young, I just never knew what that thing was going to go be or where it was going to happen” she says.

Working out of ‘The Treehouse,’ Kellough and Lane say they are learning something new every day, and firmly believe that passion dictates the success of any business. Their door is always open to the fresh air, something that helps calm their restless hearts. They love travel and everything that goes with it: long work days, bandaged fingers, and all.

http://elcaminobracelets.com

https://twitter.com/@ElCaminoB

https://www.facebook.com/ElCaminoBracelets

– Vanessa

** This article was originally posted on CANCULTURE.COM in April of 2013. It was edited by the talented Natalie Berchem. It got lost in the shuffle when the website was redesigned so I decided to share it here, on My Pen, My Voice.

** After this article was published, the owners of El Camino sent me my very on bracelet as a thank-you. I love it.

 

Shopping Spree with Dainty Girl

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Toronto Adventures

Last week I won a shopping spree with Nicole Wilson from Dainty Girl at M for Mendocino. I entered the contest on a whim, thinking that if I won I could purchase a few new pieces for future job interviews, family events, or date nights. Considering how much I loath shopping, it was a pleasant experience. What made it easier were the suggestions from Nicole, the wonderful PR ladies who made the contest possible, and the reasonably priced clothes I got to look at and try on.

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I got to shop on my own, pulling pieces from every which way, and stacking them in my change room. I tried on a few pairs of distressed denim, they were beautiful and stretchy, so much nicer than any pair of jeans I’ve ever owned. I did pull something in my back trying to put them on though — jeans aren’t my friend. I tried on a few skirts, some gorgeous jackets, sweaters, and crop tops. Having Nicole’s opinion, as well as, the other ladies there helped me make a final decision. They know so much about clothes, what works and what doesn’t, and helped me find a few pieces that I would’ve been self-conscious about purchasing if I had been on my own.

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I settled on a beautiful red skirt, two sweaters, and the pièce de résistance, a beautiful black coat. I tried it on with a pair of their ripped denim, threw my hair up and stood in front of the mirror beaming. You know when you try on that ONE thing that you know you must have. That one piece of clothing that makes you feel beautiful, sexy, and confident? This coat did exactly that for me and thankfully it’s Dainty Girl-approved.

FullSizeRenderThank you Nicole and M for Mendocino for hosting such an amazing contest and for helping me pick out some beautiful pieces to add to my wardrobe. Thanks for a wonderful night in the city and for boosting my confidence level a little bit — I’m looking forward to strutting out the door in my new coat!

Vanessa xo

 

Warby Parker Fall Collection [Obsession of the Season]

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

Fall is my favourite season because it represents change. I love the changing of the leaves, the fresh coolness in the air, and Fall fashion. I’ve been trying to find ways to wear some of my summer favourites in the cooler temperatures. I’ve found the easiest way to go is to wear a sweater over any dress, put on a pair of booties, and add a fabulous necklace (seriously I’ve seen it on Pinterest).

The only thing that I can’t convert for Fall is my glasses. I LOVE glasses, if I could own a different pair for every outfit, I would. I love the frames I have now, but I could use an upgrade. I’d like a darker frame and maybe a completely different shape. I’ve been looking online for a reasonably priced pair of frames that suit my face, that are warm and sexy at the same time, but haven’t had much luck. When Warby Parker emailed me about their Fall Collection, I drooled.

FALL2014_stills“Personality is what makes a good pair of glasses great. Our Fall Collection is for those who own their style, exercise their wit, and add life to the party.”

I love how much they understand that glasses are a reflection of the person that is wearing them. They are an amazing accessory and for people like me, an absolute necessity. The Fall Collection features NINE new shapes and TWO new hues. I love the crystal and striped olive, but my favourite pair from the new collection is the Durand Whiskey Tortoise (bottom photo). If I can squeeze them into my budget (they’re $120 CAD including your prescription btw), you can bet I’ll be purchasing them. These glasses scream Fall and I feel like they represent who I am right now. I can so picture myself wearing them while reading a great novel by the roaring fire, wrapped up in a blanket, and holding a cuppa cocoa. Can’t you?!

 

Talk soon,
Vanessa

Disclosure: I was contacted by Warby Parker to write a post about their Fall Collection. I wasn’t given any form of compensation for this post, I wrote it because I simply love their glasses.

Women in Clothes [BOOK REVIEW]

Book Reviews, Fashion & Beauty

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Women in Clothes is a collection of surveys about garments of clothing and how they shape our lives. It’s an intriguing 500+ page conversation that you’d have with your girlfriends, reflecting on all aspects of clothing, garments, and beauty. I loved the photos of real women’s clothing collections from the false eyelashes and dress sets, to grey sweaters and raincoats– proving that all women have a type of garment they covet more than anything. I enjoyed reading the various features and found that I had something in common with the way that each woman dresses.

I know the kind of dresser I want to be — a sophisticated, classy, vintage goddess with so much sass it turns heads. When I picture myself working and living in Toronto, that’s what I see. In reality I live so far north of the city it’s a mission to get down there, and the closest I’ve come to vintage is wearing the clothes my best friend gives away. She’s got great taste but our bodies are so different that her clothes never look right on me, I feel strange when I wear them, like I’m pretending to be someone else. Funds, patience, and the mindset that I don’t have to look great if I’m just running errands has dictated my style for years, but I am willing to change. I’m willing to take a good hard look at who I am and let my clothing express that. Even the best dressed women put on their pants one leg at a time.

There is no exact science to the way I dress but I do have a few rules for myself:

  • NEVER wear a tight top with wearing leggings or tights, make sure the top is loose and covers your crotch
  • if your pants are baggy wear a tighter shirt and vice versa
  • tuck in your shirts when wearing high-waisted pants
  • heels and a blazer make every outfit better
  • jewelry is your friend — your mom has a boatload for you to borrow

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Women in Clothes has so many layers of information, stories, and photos. I found the project called Ring Cycle truly interesting — fifteen women who work in a newspaper office photocopy their hands and talk about their rings. I enjoyed learning where and how these women came to own their rings — it made me look at the only ring I wear a little differently. My boyfriend bought it for me for Valentine’s day about four years ago, it’s technically a promise ring with a blue diamond (representing honesty, fidelity, and love) hidden on the inside of the band. He doesn’t call it a promise ring though, it’s a just because I love you so much ring. I wear it on the middle finger of my left hand because I felt it would be bad luck to wear it on my wedding finger. It’s white gold, simple and beautiful. I never take it off (except to shower and sleep) and I’ll never forget his bashful face or nervously sweaty temples when he handed it to me.

Another one of their projects entitled Mothers As Others was incredibly moving and wonderful to read. The premise was for women to send in a photo of their mother before she had children and write what they saw. While reading, I couldn’t help but wonder what their mothers’ reactions would be to what their daughters thought about them. Do they know how beautiful their daughters think they are? How much they inspired their lives, as well as fashion? I found a few photos of my mom before she had kids, these might have even been taken before she met my dad. She’s probably only eighteen or nineteen but she looks mature for her age. She looks confident and happy in her own skin, she appears strong and fierce, like she knows exactly where she’s supposed to be. She’s beautiful and her smile is endless. She’s got amazing hair (look at those bangs) and knows how to dress for her figure. I love the high-waist skirts and pants, the belts, and the collared shirts she wears. My mom still has a great sense for fashion (she helps me pick outfits all the time), a timeless style, and sometimes I see glimpses of the confidence she embodied all those years ago.

The best part about Women in Clothes is not the great writing or even the interesting surveys, it’s being able to place each survey or project into the confines of your own life. I learned so much about myself, my style, and the person I want to share with the world by reading this book. Although this book has a lot to do with clothes, how we wear them, and how we feel in them, mostly it shows the reader that they are not alone. There are so many women out there that think like you, that have the same insecurities and questions about clothing as you, just open the book to page one and you’ll find that out.

 “Taste is a wink, not a thud.”

Talk soon,
Vanessa
* Quote from page 22 of Women in Clothes
*Thanks to Penguin Random House for this book
*Thoughts are my own

 

Trind Nail Care [Product Review]

Fashion & Beauty, Products and Brands

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I have a bit of an obsession with nail polishes. I love getting manicures but am perfectly capable of doing my  nails on my own too. I have pretty good nails they’re strong and they grow like weeds but since I’ve done shellac a few time I find that my nails haven’t been the same. They chip, they peel, and they look godawful most of the time. I’ve been yearning to test out Trind Nail Care since my editor at Chic Darling told me how awesome they are.

Trind Cosmetics is a Dutch company which devleps unique products in the field of nail and hand care. Trind products are distingushed from other hand and nail care products are they are based on the natural consistency of the nail, cuticle and hands.Trind products make the nail strong and beautiful without disturbing the structure of the nail. The basis of Trind is highly effective and active products that are uniquely formulated, consisting of nourishing ingreidents of Keratin and numerous vitamins.

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I received a press release a few weeks back from Charming Media, letting me know that Trind Polishes are now available on The Shopping Channel so I requested a sample and thankfully they obliged. They sent me Step 2 (Cuticle Balsam), Step 3 (Nail Magic Buffer), and Step 4 (Nail Balsam) of their 6 Step System. You’re supposed to use the Cuticle Balsam and Nail Balsam daily for two weeks and then after two weeks only once a week for maintenance. The great thing about these balsams is that you can put a colour on right after them too! Out of sheer laziness and nail neglect I’ve only been using this system once a week BUT I can already see a huge difference in my nails. They aren’t peeling as much, they’re harder, and my cuticles aren’t as dry, I can only imagine what they will look like once I use them properly!

Trind also has a huge collection of what they call Caring Colors Nail Polish that were specially developed to maintain the health and vitality of your nails after getting them in top shape from using our nail care products. Their colours are beautiful and vibrant. I especially love the Pastel Purple, Dark Tan, Ocean Pearl, and Light Salmon. I hope to invest in some of these beautiful polishes soon!

Trind-caring-colours-300x249

What do you think about Trind Polishes and their 6 Step System? Would you give them a try?

ENJOY LIFE, KICK ASS, & KEEP YOUR NAILS LOOKING PRETTY! 
VANESSA XX

* All italicized statements are direct quotes from the Trind Nail Care Website and/or PDF Manual

* I was given Steps 2-4 of the system by Charming Media in exchange for an honest product review

Spark Sessions Workshops

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Products and Brands

ee8f9a163540b302a494b724a340f63bTo all of my fashion and beauty blogger babes, if you haven’t heard yet, Spark Sessions is doing full day workshops throughout 2014. If you’re looking for an intimate atmosphere where you can learn from your favourite top fashion bloggers, these workshops are for you!

sparklogo-website Spark Sessions Workshops are full day workshops to help you take your content to the next level. Our workshops are specifically designed with our attendees in mind, and intended to teach you all you the tips and tricks in a hands-on setting. We aim to provide direction, inspiration, and the knowledge to create the brand that you want.

Their first workshop is all about photography and it’s only two weeks away. The guest speakers for this workshop are: Casey Palmer from CaseyPalmer.com and Natalie from MyLittleSecrets.ca. I urge anyone who is starting their own blog (especially fashion) to take this workshop. Photos make or break a blog post, they add a visual aspect to your blog that people will remember. Some people may only read your post based on the photos that accompany it. There are still a few spots left, you can register HERE.

The second workshop is coming up in June and it will focus on SEO strategies and coding for bloggers and I am definitely going to sign up it. I blog often but I don’t really think about what I’m blogging about or why — in the sense that I take content as it comes — this is my diary not a money-making business. BUT I would LOVE to learn how to make it both. The third workshop is in August and it aims to teach you how to build partnerships and create the perfect media kit for your blog (I should probably sign up for this workshop too).

Are you going to sign up?

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Spark Sessions logo and quote taken from the Spark Sessions Website 

Tickets for each workshop are $69 +HST 

Trend Trunk Mystery Gift Cards… for you!

Fashion & Beauty, Giveaways, Just for Fun, Toronto Adventures

I’ve recently discovered an incredible website for the fashion-forward gal! It’s called Trend Trunk and they’re a company based out of Oakville who just so happened to appear on Dragon’s Den on November 6th. So, what is Trend Trunk?

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 7.49.53 AMTrend Trunk is a social marketplace where you can buy, sell, and donate amazing new and pre-loved fashion in a fun and simple way.  Their aim is to inspire and collaborate with the fashion-minded and budget-conscious community in a trustworthy environment. They believe that one person’s lonely wardrobe is another’s true love! If you’ve got items you’re not in love with anymore, you can ‘cash in your closet’ and use those funds to shop a users’ closet whose style you love, donate those funds to your favourite charity, or get the funds deposited directly into your bank account.

Trend Trunk aims to help you:

  1. Make money by cashing in your closet of all those stylish and fashionable items you have tucked away
  2. Save money by shopping fellow members’ closets full of brand new to pre-loved styles they love
  3. And look good doing it!

The best part about this website? They take care of all the nitty-gritty for you. THEY manage the payment and shipping, so you don’t have to. A seller receives a prepaid / preaddressed shipping label in their email when a sale is made. Simply print, pack, and ship. So there’s no need to meet up with someone in a darkened alleyway to sell your clothes or have someone haggle you to lower the price (unlike other websites). You avoid all of those creepy situations and can sell your clothes, shoes, and accessories from the comfort of your home. AND if you want to feel good and look good at the same time, they’ve combined fashion and fundraising through their Closets & Causes program which allows you to donate up to 100% of your net sale proceeds to any charity in Canada.  Plus, you’ll receive a tax receipt for the donated value—so it’s a win-win. Click here to find out more about the selling and shopping process.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 7.51.09 AMI already have my own account set up and a lust list that just keeps growing. But enough about me. How about something for YOU? I’ve partnered up with Trend Trunk for a fabulous giveaway. Here’s how it works: click the photo below or right HERE.

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 4.37.43 PMThen enter your email address and could receive a gift card up to $250 to use on TREND TRUNK! Every card has a value ranging from $5, $10, $25, $50 and $250. Don’t forget to read the fine print and let me know what you buy!

Happy Holidays!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

WATCH IT! MAN.

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Products and Brands

Date-nights with my man are my favourite nights for many reasons, I like to dress up, I like to see him dressed up, I love our no cell phones /talking only rule, and well, I love spending some quality time with him. As far as the dressing up part goes, he looks so handsome with his dark jeans and black shirts, dress shoes, and swanky jackets BUT there is one thing missing. A watch. I know, I know, what the heck do you need a watch for when you have a cell phone? Who really cares about the time anyways? Time doesn’t run my life!  Even so, it’s something he’s always wanted and it really completes an outfit! So, since Christmas is creeping up on us I thought I’d share my favourite men’s watches with you. It’ll make a fabulous gift for the special man in your life.

Hugo Boss Orange $160 – for the sporty guy that brightens your world 

Michael Kors Oversized Lexington $335 – for the gold-lover 

Vestal Plexi $400 – for the guy that could actually pull this off 

Diesel Daddy Radar $420 – for the complex fellow

Emporio Armani $495 – for the simple and understated

Now ladies, I know what you’re thinking — what about ME? WATCH IT! has put together a CELEBRITY COUPLE ALTER EGO gift guide to help your man find YOU the perfect watch!

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Which celebrity couple are you?

Let me know in the comments!

Talk soon, 

Vanessa  Xo

Twitter for the WIN — a #SparkSessions Recap from someone who didn't attend

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures
 

It’s nearly impossible to recap an event that you didn’t attend. Nearly impossible, unless you follow the event’s hashtags all weekend (even when you’re relaxing at the Mohawk Inn & Conference Centre in Campellville Ontario). I’m not a Beauty or Fashion blogger, even though some of my posts tend to lean that way. I’m a Lifestyle blogger who loves to write and even though Spark Sessions is geared towards Beauty and Fashion bloggers, I think any type of blogger could gain something from their event.  With the amazing panels, various brands, and numerous bloggers in attendance, I’m quite sad I missed it. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and am so glad I had Twitter to help me learn a few things from some of the greats!

Here are my favourite quotes/tweets from the event, search #sparksessions on Twitter to view more.

Anum Khan ‏@summerxskin
Kamilla Berdin ‏@KamillaBerdin#sparksessions
  • “Blogging is not a set it and forget it business” @DaintyGirl_TO
Stephanie Fusco ‏@stephaniefusco
  • Bloggers: be honest. If you didn’t love something, say so or don’t say anything at all. Free for you, $150 for someone else. #sparksessions
Chic Darling ‏@ChicDarling
Spark Sessions ‏@SparkSessions
  • Blogging is a career that comes out of passion. It is never a choice you make for financial gain. @LaineyGossip #sparksessions
  • Even if you’re not a journalist, editors work with you to become better writers as long as you are eager and willing #sparksessions
  • Be honest. Don’t over-inflate your writing experience. #sparksessions
  • Bloggers should check which posts get most traffic and have the lowest bounce rate for each style or type of blogpost #sparksessions
  • Just because you’re not a perfect writer now doesn’t mean you can’t work your way to be there. #sparksessions
 

Did you attend Spark Sessions? Tell me all about it!!

 

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

 

Twitter for the WIN — a #SparkSessions Recap from someone who didn’t attend

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures
 

It’s nearly impossible to recap an event that you didn’t attend. Nearly impossible, unless you follow the event’s hashtags all weekend (even when you’re relaxing at the Mohawk Inn & Conference Centre in Campellville Ontario). I’m not a Beauty or Fashion blogger, even though some of my posts tend to lean that way. I’m a Lifestyle blogger who loves to write and even though Spark Sessions is geared towards Beauty and Fashion bloggers, I think any type of blogger could gain something from their event.  With the amazing panels, various brands, and numerous bloggers in attendance, I’m quite sad I missed it. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and am so glad I had Twitter to help me learn a few things from some of the greats!

Here are my favourite quotes/tweets from the event, search #sparksessions on Twitter to view more.

Anum Khan ‏@summerxskin
Kamilla Berdin ‏@KamillaBerdin#sparksessions
  • “Blogging is not a set it and forget it business” @DaintyGirl_TO
Stephanie Fusco ‏@stephaniefusco
  • Bloggers: be honest. If you didn’t love something, say so or don’t say anything at all. Free for you, $150 for someone else. #sparksessions
Chic Darling ‏@ChicDarling
Spark Sessions ‏@SparkSessions
  • Blogging is a career that comes out of passion. It is never a choice you make for financial gain. @LaineyGossip #sparksessions
  • Even if you’re not a journalist, editors work with you to become better writers as long as you are eager and willing #sparksessions
  • Be honest. Don’t over-inflate your writing experience. #sparksessions
  • Bloggers should check which posts get most traffic and have the lowest bounce rate for each style or type of blogpost #sparksessions
  • Just because you’re not a perfect writer now doesn’t mean you can’t work your way to be there. #sparksessions
 

Did you attend Spark Sessions? Tell me all about it!!

 

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo