WEDDING | My biggest wedding mistake was booking Brock House Restaurant

Today I wanted to share with you my thoughts on our original wedding venue. Brock House Restaurant (or Brock House for short) is a wedding and events venue located in the Point Grey / Jericho area of Vancouver. It’s super popular for summer weddings because there is a gorgeous tent that is decked out with string lights and chandeliers, as well as a backdrop that faces the ocean and the mountains of Vancouver.

Brock House is a beautiful venue, and it was always my dream to get married there. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to book with them, because the tent, the lawn, the mountain and water view, and all of the trees, make Brock House an idyllic location for any fairytale wedding. We’ve also been to Brock House for a wedding in the past, and the food was also delicious, and service was good.

We were a “pandemic couple” who were originally scheduled to get married at Brock House in May 2020. The things I experienced as a pandemic bride with Brock House as our venue was really problematic, from my point of view.  For reference, we had planning for 90 guests on our original wedding date, and our event was originally planned for a Saturday evening.

To start, I want to say that we had a very positive experience working with Kaityn, the venue coordinator at the time we signed our contract. She was very responsive and helpful whenever we had any questions. Unfortunately, Kaitlyn left less than a year after we initially booked with Brock House, and we started working with Emily. Emily was pleasant, not as responsive or helpful as Kaitlyn, but still it was relatively positive. Not long after Kaitlyn left, Emily also left, so 3 months before our wedding, we were working with a completely new team at Brock House with completely new contacts. This is when things started going sideways, especially since COVID had started to spread in Asia and then slowly to the rest of the world.

As a human being and member of the Vancouver community, I completely understand that businesses have gone through a lot during COVID. I made it a goal of mine to help promote small local businesses to my network, and I was extremely lucky to have most of my vendors be flexible with us when we were trying to work around the COVID restrictions. I supported all of them by referring new clients to them, ordering things from them outside of our wedding contract, and generally supporting them whenever I can.

1. Lack of empathy

COVID became a full blown pandemic around the world in March, but starting in January, it was already an epidemic in China. The majority of my family (about 30% of our guests) would be flying in from China. Because of the epidemic there and the shut down of flights between China and Vancouver, and the fact that people actually were not allowed to leave the cities there due to the strict lockdown, I contacted Brock House to let them know the situation and to ask if there would be any flexibility in adjusting the contracted minimum spend as stipulated on our contract. Our intention was to work with them to find a middle ground as we still wanted to get married there (despite my family not being able to attend), in the hopes that our wedding could still go ahead as mostly planned.

Brock House’s response showed an utter lack of empathy and awareness of current events. Here is what they said, verbatim:

I understand your guests concern with COVID-19. I’m very sorry that this has resulted in over 30% of your guests declining to fly due to the higher risk of being in close quarters with others. If there is a world-wide travel ban, we will definitely look into making adjustments when necessary but as of now, we are unable to change the minimum food and beverage spend that is in your contract.

I explained that it wasn’t due to the fear of flying that prevented them from coming to Canada, but actually the fact that China was under lock down and there were no flights in between Canada and China. Later, the catering manager called us to say that if we don’t have enough guests, then we can just add more items from their menu to try to meet that minimum spend.

Because the BC government put a ban on events over 50 people pretty soon after that, we were able to postpone our wedding to May 2021, but then came the next issue.

I also wanted to clarify that we were appreciative that they allowed us to postpone our wedding, but I also wanted to bring up that during this time (March to June, 2020), most businesses were closed in BC and Canada, including event venues, stores, restaurants, and other non-essential businesses, so even while events under 50 people were technically allowed, COVID was starting to spread quickly through Vancouver so no one was hosting events or even really seeing people.

2. Lack of transparency

We were told that if we wanted to reschedule our wedding to 2021, we would have to pay the 2021 rental rates and minimum spend requirements. There was about a $2000 increase between the 2020 rate and the 2021 rate. Because we had posted in a local Facebook wedding group asking about other couples’ experiences with Brock House, the Catering Manager also e-mailed us to say that we were badmouthing them on social media and they would have to reconsider if they could host our wedding at all. We were especially stressed because we had planned our entire wedding with Brock House, it was still my dream venue, and at that point we wanted to work with them to find a middle ground.

Then they told us if we wanted to reschedule, we had to move quickly because a lot of couples were already moving their dates to 2021 and there weren’t that many dates left. Under the pressure, we signed a new date and contract for 2021, with the new increased pricing, assuming they probably ask all of the other couples to do this as well.

During my planning process, I had met a few other Brock House brides from the local Facebook wedding groups, and after signing my rescheduled contract with them, I was told by another bride that what they said about the limited dates weren’t necessarily true, and that they were offered by Brock House to port their entire contract over from 2020 to 2021 without any changes or increases in rates. I was completely shocked.

I contacted Brock House immediately after and asked about it, and they said that what they discuss with other couples is confidential and they would not be able to comment on the details of the other couples’ contract. We had already signed our 2021 contract with them and they were refusing to budge. They offered to reduce our per person minimum spend to the 2020 rate, but the overall minimum spend for the whole event was still $1000 higher than the 2020 rate (not including the increase in rent), so that didn’t really help us since we had a low wedding guest count to begin with.

3. Lack of flexibility

Our contract stipulated that we had to pay them the rental fee upfront as a deposit when we sign the contract, and then 50% of the food and beverage minimum spend six months before the event date. As our original date was in May 2020, prior to changing our date to 2021, in December 2019, we had already paid them over $10,000 as part of that contract clause.

Come December 2020, because of the increase in the rental fee and food and beverage minimum spend, we were asked to pay another $2,500 in deposits. At this time, we reached out to Brock House to ask 1) what are our options if the government’s health orders and event restrictions are still not lifted by our wedding date, for example can we discuss lowering our minimum spend or potentially postponing, and 2) because we’re not even sure if our event can go ahead as planned, is there any chance for us to not pay the additional deposit because they’ve already had over $10,000 of our deposits in their bank account for over a year at this point.

In addition, several of our friends have had their wedding vendors go bankrupt and not being able to recover any of their deposits. We were really worried about the risk of Brock House going under and then keeping all of our money. With the exception of the initial deposit which was paid via credit card in January 2019, the majority of it was actually paid in Interac e-transfer, so there was no way of getting our money back if anything were to happen to Brock House. The credit card protection is also only available for a limited time after the charge is put through.

Brock House responded saying that they are expecting all events to go ahead as planned with all of the restrictions lifted, and that we are also contractually obligated to pay them that additional $2,500, otherwise we would essentially be forfeiting our entire contract and all of our previous deposits. I asked what if there are restrictions due to the health order, and they said we will have to wait to see how things go and they might be open to lowering the minimum spend depending on the situation and the amount of our minimum spend.

I reached out to a few of the Brock House brides that I met in the Facebook group, some of whom did end up getting married in the summer 2020 with the reduced number of people, and I was told by them that Brock House refused to lower their minimum spend, so they just ended up throwing money at it in order to meet the minimum spend amount, even though they were legally capped at the number of people who could attend.

With our minimum spend capped at 50 people, we would have needed to spend nearly $300 per person, which is completely unreasonable to me. Brock House also won’t allow food to be removed off the premises for health and safety reasons, so we would essentially be paying for food that would be thrown out, which is a whole other issue.

In the end, the health order restrictions for events over 10 people but under people weren’t lifted until July 1, 2021 (two months after our scheduled wedding date). Larger events of over 50 people weren’t allowed until September 2021. As such, Brock House’s strategy of “wait and see” was really detrimental to most couples who are just trying to figure out what their plans would be.


Brock House was my dream venue for a really long time, ever since we attended a friend’s wedding there a few years ago. I was so excited to book them as our venue, as I couldn’t believe that I would be lucky enough to get married there. We had read some of the negative reviews prior to booking, but no one thinks that these things will happen to you, until they do.

When I was dealing with all of the things above, I would actually have nightmares at night, and it gave me so much anxiety and depression that I had to seek professional counselling to help with the mental health issues stemming from this.

Your wedding should be a happy time, and you should enjoy the process of planning it. Unfortunately working with Brock House was the exact opposite. I would strongly suggest people think twice before booking Brock House. If you still decide to book this venue, then you should at least be prepared to deal with some of these issues.

TRAVEL | My dream honeymoon… spending a week in Maldives!

Maldives Reethi Faru review

We recently stayed at the Reethi Faru resort in Maldives for our honeymoon, and I got a lot of questions from people about my experience, so I wanted to share some thoughts about this resort. In addition to my review, I’ll also cover what I paid for this resort, and travel and logistics.

The experience

As with most people, Maldives was a major bucket destination for me. I’ve been wanting to come here for my honeymoon for as long as I can remember, and I am very lucky that my amazing husband was happy to allow this dream to come true for me. Pre-COVID had initially booked a different resort, but when the pandemic happened, we had to cancel the other resort. A few weeks into the pandemic, this deal came up (see Pricing info below) and we had to buy it. We’re really happy we did get the deal, because we got to go to a traditionally very expensive destination for a fantastic price.

We stayed in an overwater villa, which was part of the deal we got. I had heard that beach villas are actually preferable for those who come to the Maldives often, but since it was our first time, we had to stay in an overwater villa. It was everything I had imagined, and even more. It’s really hard to describe just how beautiful Maldives is. The water is crystal clear and completely transparent, you can see to the bottom and all the fish swimming around even while standing on land. There’s so much fish and wildlife, and it just feels surreal to be in the middle of the Indian ocean swimming on a sandbank with nothing around you.

Maldives Reethi Faru review

Thoughts about my stay

The good:

  • For the most part, the service here was AMAZING. Every one will say hi to you as you walk by, and ask how your stay is going. We had some incredibly attentive servers at the buffet restaurant and at the a la carte restaurants (shout out to Sina and Sateesh!)
  • The food at the main buffet was delicious with a very wide selection of different items each day, so we never felt bored or tired of the food.
  • There was a ton of fresh tropical fruits available each day. My favourites were watermelon and papaya, but I also got to try fresh guava for the first time.
  • Everything is very clean. Our room was cleaned twice a day (towels are changed once a day but you can request additional changes). I usually don’t like using “public” bathrooms as I prefer to use the bathrooms in our room, but even the public bathrooms were super clean and well maintained.
  • The air conditioner in our room was strong, which we appreciated because it was HOT the entire time we were here.
  • I got two massages and both were fantastic. The spa is really serene and a wonderful environment to get some relaxation.
  • Prices for drinks were pretty reasonable, especially since we were on an island in the middle of the ocean and everything had to be delivered via boat.

The not-so-good:

  • We made it very clear when we booked our stay that we were coming for our honeymoon, but that wasn’t acknowledged at all during our trip. We saw pictures of people getting special flowers laid out for them in their bed welcoming them here for their honeymoon, but we didn’t get that. No one even said happy honeymoon to us. It actually made us wonder what makes this trip a honeymoon over just another (expensive) trip.
  • The food and service are both relatively inconsistent. We had some really great food and service by some venues/people, but others were really bad. 
  • We had a few issues with the restaurants messing up our bills. Because we were not on an all inclusive plan, we had to pay out of pocket for certain things. We went to two different outlets where they tried to charge us for things we didn’t order. We had to argue with them back and forth about it, which really dampened our trip.
  • The house reef had a lot of really good fish to look at, but the coral comes up really high so even when you’re swimming out to sea, you are likely to cut yourself on coral. I cut myself on coral and the dive centre people just told me to wash it with fresh water, but later it became infected and I had to go see the on-site doctor (who happened to be Canadian!), and he told me that it’s been happening quite often lately where people are getting cut by coral and the cut getting infected.
  • They advertise a number of different restaurants on the island but we found that a few of them shared the same kitchen, so they served the same food. 

Overall we had an enjoyable time. The service we got from a few of the restaurant servers definitely made up for the lack of other things.

Maldives Reethi Faru review

Logistics and transit

We flew Singapore Air from Vancouver to Singapore, stayed overnight at Changi Airport at the Ambassador Hotel in T3, and then flew to Male the next morning. After we arrived at Male, you had two options for your transit to the resort – you could either take a seaplane, which would be more direct as you’d fly straight from Male airport to the resort; or you could take a domestic flight to a smaller airport and then take a speedboat to the resort. We did the latter, as our one way transit was covered in our package (more info about that later). 

The total trip end to end was 44 hours long, which was way too long.

The flight from Vancouver to Singapore was actually a lot more pleasant than I expected, even though it was nearly a 17 hour flight. The food was great on board (I miss airplane food so much), and I especially loved the selection of instant noodles available. There was also a good selection of movies, which I took full advantage of. Being a flight to Asia, everyone was super diligent about mask wearing, and there were no issues at all with anyone not wearing a mask.

The stay overnight at the Ambassador Hotel was also pretty decent. I was happy to be able to shower and change into fresh clothes, and sleep in a real bed, before our next leg of the trip. The hotel was pricey at around $350 for just a 10 hour stay, but we got two meals included as part of our stay, and honestly it made the trip so much more palatable. I highly recommend booking an airport hotel if you have an overnight transit because it can help make the rest of your trip less exhausting.

The flight from Singapore to Male was short, at under 4 hours. The plane was older so there was no in-flight entertainment, but I had downloaded some Netflix shows on my computer so I was able to watch those. Again the food was great, and I took advantage of another Singapore Air flight to eat their instant noodles.

Once we got to Male, we had to wait over 3 hours for our local flight. There wasn’t anything to do in the airport, so we just sat there waiting. The flight itself was short, just 20 minutes, but the domestic airport was extremely disorganized and most of the travelers (from Europe) were not wearing masks while waiting at the airport or on the domestic flight, so we felt very uneasy waiting at the airport.

The last part of the trip was a speedboat ride. The speedboat ride was supposed to be 40 minutes but it ended up being over an hour because we did not go straight to our resort, rather the boat dropped off other passengers at other resorts and ours was the last one. I heard from other people that depending on how many resorts they go to, it can take over 1.5 hours, so just keep that in mind if you choose this option. The domestic flight + speedboat connection is cheaper than taking the seaplane. A seaplane ride round trip is around US$500 per person, but the domestic flight + speedboat connection is just US$350 per person, round trip. We only paid US$175 per person for our domestic connection because the rest was covered in our package.

We arrived at Male airport at around noon, but we didn’t get to the hotel until 6PM that day because of the waiting in between connections. Reethi Faru is on “island time,” which is one hour ahead of Male, so by the time we got here, it was already sunset and dinnertime, so the first day was really a wash.

Maldives Reethi Faru review


We got an amazing good deal on our stay, which included:

  • 7 nights in an overwater villa
  • Half board (breakfast and dinner included, but no lunch or drinks)
  • Sunset cruise
  • 15 minute free massage
  • 15 minute free photography session which comes with one photo (you can buy additional photos)
  • One way transfer via speedboat and domestic flight, and then half price the other transfer (US$175 per person)

We paid US$1,600 for the package (approximately C$2,400 at the time after conversion) via Travelzoo, which is a phenomenal deal for the Maldives, especially since there was no limit on the dates to travel (you just have to use it before the end of 2022), so we came during the peak of their high season in February.

If you don’t follow Travelzoo, you gotta because they have so many amazing deals for travel to fancy resorts. I’ve been a subscriber for years and I’ve encountered several really good deals, but this one is probably the best. We had been looking to come to the Maldives for our honeymoon even pre-COVID, and the resort we had originally booked (and canceled) was over double the price of this resort, for less nights, less meals included, and no transit included. The star rating and reviews were similar, with Reethi Faru edging out the other resort by a little bit.

In addition to the above price we paid for the package, we spent another C$1,200 on food and drinks, and $500 on activities, such as a dolphin safari (SO worth it), two massages for me (the first one was significantly discounted), and renting some equipment for activities in the water.


I got asked a lot if I recommended Maldives, and honestly I don’t. The distance is the #1 reason why I wouldn’t recommend it for someone living in North America. I think that we’re really lucky to be relative close to a few very beautiful destinations, for example all of the Caribbean is just marginally less beautiful than Maldives and it’s only a 5 direct hour flight for us in Vancouver. I think that if it is a bucket list destination for you then 100% you should do it once to experience it, and then you can go back to travelling to closer locations where you don’t spend 2 precious vacation days in transit.

I did have a good time, and I’m really glad I went because it was a dream destination for me. It was also wonderful to experience it with my husband.

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FEATURE | Small business Sunday featuring Atelier Eli, Too Funni, Reusable BBT Cup, Reclaim, and Apothekari Skincare

Reclaim coat with Too Funni sweatshirt, Apothekari Skincare and Atelier Ali

I’m sure you don’t need another article telling that this past year and a half has been “unprecedented,” so I’m just going to get straight to it. In the last year, it’s been more important than ever to support small businesses. As a consumer, I’ve tried to focus my shopping efforts on indie brands and local businesses, particularly businesses headed by women. I’ve talked about some of the brands I’ve supported on my Instagram, but today I wanted to share them on my blog too. These are in no particular order, but all of these I’ve personally interacted with and/or purchased from, so they have my personal seal of approval!

1. Atelier Eli

I wanted to thank my friend Melody for introducing me to Atelier Eli. It’s no secret that I absolutely love leather goods, especially that intoxicating smell of leather. Atelier Eli is a small leather shop that is owned and operated by Maggie. It’s based in Vancouver, and all of the products are designer and handmade in Vancouver by Maggie. I purchased the Dopp Kitt and I am completely obsessed. The leather is beautiful and the handiwork is just incredible. Not going to lie, I was trying to decide between this and a Louis Vuitton toiletry case but I’m so glad I got the Dopp Kitt from Atelier Eli. Maggie, the owner, is also such a lovely and sweet person.

100% recommend, and I’m already eyeing my next purchase from Atelier Eli.

2. Too Funni

Too Funni is another local Vancouver business that designs and creates super adorable embroidered clothing and accessories, wooden magnets, stickers, and other fun things. I only own her embroidered clothing – my collection has grown from no Too Funni to five embroidered sweatshirts and one t-shirt. They are the perfect pandemic-wear for cosying up at home, but they are also easy to put on for when you want something comfortable to wear out. Tiffany’s items are also customizable, so they make for a fantastic gift.

My favourite is their bubble tea sweatshirt… get one, you won’t regret it.

3. Reusable BBT Cup

I met Carrie in person in Vancouver when she first started her Reusable BBT Cup business as a side hustle, all the way back in 2018. We purchased two cups from her back when she only offered the one option of glass cup with white lid. Fast forward three years, now she has four different styles of cups with a variety of coloured lids, plus straw sets, bubble tea kits, and she also collaborates with other local businesses such as Too Funni.

Since 2018, we’ve used our bubble tea cups nonstop, primarily to drink smoothies at home and on-the-go (there’s something about drinking smoothies out of a to-go cup like this that makes it taste better). I didn’t include my cups in the picture above because the cups are in constant use in my home and at the time of writing this, we were drinking milk tea out of the cups.

4. This is Reclaim

I first encountered Zana from Reclaim in a weird internet instance I won’t get into. Long story short, I helped her with a sticky situation, and then she offered to send me a coat from her collection as a gift. The coat she sent me was the Timeless Coat, which has since been discontinued and replaced with the Timeless Coat Edit. The Timeless Coat, and the updated Timeless Coat Edit, are both made of 30% cashmere and 70% merino wool. For US$375, the price is relatively affordable for coat that contains such a high percentage of cashmere.

I’ve been wearing my Timeless Coat nonstop in the winter. It’s super warm and lightweight, and it also pops really easily over any outfit. I mostly wear mine unbelted, but it also comes with a belt of equal fabric composition. In addition to their coats, Reclaim also offers a curated collection of everyday wearable clothes that are priced very fairly and made to last. Last but not least, Zana, the founder, is super nice and very responsive.

5. Apothekari Skincare

I can’t do a shortlist of small businesses to support without mentioning Apothekari Skincare. This local skincare brand was founded by Sharmani, a pharmacist who set out to create effective skincare for women who want real results. My favourite product by the brand is Bespoke Vitamin C in the 10% concentration. It’s a fantastic antioxidant that also helps to brighten and even out the skintone. I also use their all-natural deodorant when I workout at home and it’s been great at keeping me smelling fresh.

Disclosure: The Reclaim coat and Apothekari Skincare products were gifted to me by the brand founders with no obligation to write about them, but I’m featuring them here because I’ve truly enjoyed using them. Everything else was purchased by me.

WEDDING | First year wedding anniversary and photos of our backyard civil ceremony

Sheila + Barrie (15 of 124)

On the first anniversary of our backyard wedding, I wanted to share some photos from our civil ceremony. I had explained in a previous post that our wedding and reception were canceled because of COVID. We didn’t want to wait any more to get married, so we had a simple civil ceremony in our back year. We’re waiting to see how vaccinations go before rescheduling, but we’re hoping that we’ll be able to celebrate with our friends and family soon!

Photos: Jeremy Hannaford at EMP Media Services
Hair and makeup: by me
My jumpsuit: Club Monaco
My shoes: Valentino
My husband’s outfit: lululemon

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FASHION | First impressions of my Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne / Terracotta

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

I said to myself last year that I am at “purse peace” with my designer handbag collection. That just means I feel like I’ve invested in my designer handbag collection that I have bag options for pretty much every situation, and there’s enough coverage in my collection that I shouldn’t need to add any more to it. That being said, I still love bags, so despite being at purse peace, I’ve still been into watching bag reviews and looking at new bags to buy, albeit no longer at that ultra premium price point.

I’ve seen Polene bags floating around the internet for a few years, but it wasn’t until recently that I started becoming interested. The Numero Un bag is their first design, originating from a few years ago. It reminds me of my Celine Belt bag, in a super cute, dumpling-like shape. It comes in four different sizes – the regular, the Mini, the Mini Backpack, and the Nano. The Numero Un Nano is the latest Numero Un style to be released, as it came out in late 2019/early 2020. I absolutely fell in love with the super cute size, and I immediately did a bunch of research and purchased it with my own money.

Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored, and I purchased the bag with my own money. All of my thoughts are my own; I am not affiliated with Polene.


I won’t talk too much about the background since a lot of bloggers and Youtubers have covered this extensively. Basically Polene was founded and is based in Paris. They have one physical boutique in Paris, but the majority of their business is conducted through e-commerce sales. They ship worldwide from their workshop in Spain.

The products are all handmade in Spain by artisans, and the quality is said to be comparable to some of the higher end brands since everything is hand made.

Ordering and logistics

Polene has various different website “formats,” for example for shipping to Canada, you can order from the EU site in Euros or the US site in US Dollars. I read on Purseforum that if you order in Euros, you get charged less duty. I’m not sure why this is the case since all of their orders are shipped from Seville, Spain.

I placed my order on a Monday night, it shipped on Wednesday morning, and then I received it the following Monday afternoon (one day in advance of its scheduled delivery date) in Vancouver. The shipper was DHL and I paid 20 Euros for shipping.

Fellow Canadians, specifically if you live in BC, I placed my order for the Numero Un Nano using Euros and I paid C$64.36 in taxes and fees. This is broken down as:

  • $17.85 in DHL processing fee (like custom brokerage fees)
  • $46.51 in GST/PST, which is about 12% of the bag (at the time of purchase, 280 Euros was approx. C$388).

Because the item is being shipped from the EU directly into Canada, and it’s also made in the EU, due to CETA, there is no duty. I was just charged sales tax.

First impressions

You’ve probably seen some of the unboxings on Youtube but the bag comes in an absolutely beautiful shimmery white box. The box is incredibly sturdy and well made, and is better than some of the luxury designer boxes I have. The dust bag is also very nice quality and is superior to some of the luxury dust bags I own. It was very nicely packaged in bubble wrap, and then wrapped nicely in branded tissue paper. First impressions and presentation are A+, especially considering the price point.


The colour I picked was the Terre de Sienne. It’s translated to Terracotta or Sienna on the website depending on which page you’re looking at, but the French is consistently labeled as Terre de Sienne. It comes with a contrasting cream stitching, which I absolutely love.

I don’t know if its just because of the amount of reviews I watched which said the leather quality is amazing, or if I’m just used to the leather on ultra high end handbags, but I found the smooth calfskin leather to just be okay. It’s not the softest or smoothest of leathers, and it looks and feels like the colour was painted on top rather than dyed. My vintage Chanel bag was also painted so I can kind of tell the difference between a dyed and a painted bag now; a painted bag isn’t as supple compared to a non-painted bag, and you can definitely tell the difference when you touch this Polene. You can also see in the detail photos below that there’s a lot of wrinkling in the leather, and that happens more often with bags that are painted. Yes leather does wrinkle normally, but a painted bag would show more significant wrinkles than a non-painted bag. The leather is also quite stiff, which could be because the design of the bag requires a more structured leather.

Even though it is advertised as smooth leather, it feels a little bit textured, so I think that’s why a lot of reviewers have said don’t find scratches on it even after months or years of use. If you are worried about buying a smooth leather bag, I don’t think you have to be worried about this one. I think it’ll be pretty durable, especially since it is protected by a layer of leather paint as well.

The stitching was even, and I couldn’t find any issues with the construction quality. The interior cotton fabric lining felt thick and strong.

The hardware is gold hardware and you can tell that it is very high quality, each piece stamped with the word Polene. The magnetic closure is also very strong and I don’t have to worry about it randomly popping open.


This bag is super adorable. It’s a really good size for me when worn handheld, slung on one shoulder, or cross-body. I’m 5’6.5 and a US size 8, and at the longest length, it’s just about the perfect length for me cross-body. If you are a bigger size or taller than me, then it might be a little snug.

I was a little bit worried about the colour initially, because some Youtube reviews are showing it as almost a dark orange, and I had a hard time finding more “real life” photos of this bag. I do have to say the bag in real life is a tinge darker than the online photos, but it is mostly true to colour.  It does have some orange in it, but it’s not an orange bag.

In terms of what fits in the bag, I don’t carry around that much — a compact wallet (LV Victorine wallet), a 6 key holder (from LV), iPhone 10, hand sanitizer, mask, hand cream, and maybe a soft sunglasses pouch, and I can fit everything inside no problem. If you’re someone who carries a lot then this bag is not for you as the folds at the front significantly decrease the bag’s capacity. I can fit a transit card in the back pocket, and nothing else.

Note: I took the “what fits inside” photos later in the day in a west facing room so the bag looks warmer in these pictures than in the other pictures. The bag doesn’t look this warm in real life. The other photos are quite accurate in terms of real life colour.

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review
Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review
Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review
Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Final thoughts

If I had to summarize my thoughts about this bag in one phrase, it would be “it’s pretty good for the price.” The style is super cute, like a dumpling, and it’ll be a great weekend go-around bag. I could see myself using this for a long time, but I wouldn’t see it as an investment bag I can use forever because I don’t think the leather will stand the test of time (i.e. 10+ years of regular use). The price is pretty reasonable, as after conversion and taxes it was around C$480. It does feel luxurious to use, without the luxury price tag. Overall it’s a great purchase for those who want to get something that is well made without the ultra high price tag.

Would I buy another Polene bag? Yes, yes I would. The styles are very chic, practical, and the prices are reasonable. I can definitely see why they have such a loyal following of customers.

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

Polene Numero Un Nano in Terre de Sienne Terracotta Sienna review

FASHION | Review of Veja Campo sneakers in Extra White / Matcha

Veja Campo review and sizing

I’m back today with another fashion post! Today I wanted to write about my Veja Campo sneakers. I ordered these from Nordstrom a few weeks ago and I struggled with the sizing so I wanted to share my thoughts with you in a blog post. I’ve been seeing Veja sneakers featured by several Youtubers for over a year now, but I was never tempted by them until I saw a photo of the new Spring 2021 colours, which included a pair in white and a beautiful soft mint green. I didn’t even research the different sneaker designs offered by Veja because I knew I wanted the specific pair in this mint colour.

Veja Campo review and sizing


The Campo style is one of Veja’s less athletic-looking, casual sneaker styles. It comes with a rubber sole with not a lot of arch or insole support. The upper is made of a beautiful soft grained calf leather, with vegan suede accents on the back and side of the shoe. In terms of casual leather sneakers, Veja offers the Campo and the Esplar. You can tell the difference between them quickly because the Campos have the word “Veja” stamped twice on the shoe — once on the back and then once on the outer bottom heel of the shoe. The Esplars only have Veja stamped once on the back of the shoe. The Campos are in a grained leather, versus the Esplars have a smooth leather upper.

In terms of design, the Campos are a slightly wider shoe compared to the Esplar. The Esplars are slimmer and sleeker looking. I have relatively large feet (size US 9) so the Campos can look a bit chunky, since they are wider. That being said, I don’t mind at all because I love the mint colour. If you’re not particular about the colour, then you might need to take a closer look at the Campos vs. Esplar. I personally prefer the grained leather on the Campo as well because it helps to mask imperfections. Smooth leather is hard enough to maintain, let alone being on shoes!

Price-wise, these are on the more expensive side for Vejas. They are priced at C$190, versus the Esplars are C$120-150. The V-10s, which are the most popular Veja style, are slightly pricier at C$200.


Contrary to popular belief — Veja Campos do NOT run big.

I had a lot of trouble finding my size, especially since I ordered online. Vejas come in full sizes, and I kept reading on multiple sites that they fit large and if you have a half size shoe, to go down the half size. I’m a European size 39 for 98% of my shoes, so I ordered my true European size 39. Unknown to me was that European size 39 were converted by Vejas to be a US size 8, which is not my size (I’m a US size 9). Also when I got the shoe, they ended up being too small. I returned those and then got the European size 40, which were a perfect fit with a bit of wiggle room in the toes, which is how I prefer my sneakers to fit.

I really think that for these shoes, you should go into the store to try them on if possible, or order online from a place that has flexible returns and exchanges. I almost ordered these off of MatchesFashion, which would have been cheaper for me but the return process would have been a lot harder.


The Campos are pretty darn comfortable pretty much immediately, however similar to other people, I had some issues with the tongue irritating the top of my foot. I ended up trying to break them in at home while wearing thicker athletic socks so that I can soften the tongue. Otherwise, the shoe itself didn’t require much breaking in, just the stiff tongue.


I love the grained leather on these shoes. They immediately make the shoes look and feel more higher quality than say a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths (or other Adidas white sneakers). The Campos feel very substantial and well made, and are slightly heavier than my Adidas sneakers, but they don’t bother me at all. After wearing them for a while, the leather does crease, but it’s not super noticeable because of the grained leather. I’m pretty happy with the quality and believe they will hold up well even with a lot of wear.


I love these, and I actually immediately ordered another pair — the V-10 in white with black accents (got them for half price at Nordstom!). My only issue is I tend to be clumsy and also quite lazy with my shoes, so I need to try extra hard to maintain the cleanliness of them over time. White sneakers are classic, and are super easy to style, so you can wear these for years and years to come.

What do you think, do you like the look of these shoes?

Veja Campo review and sizing

Veja Campo review and sizing

Veja Campo review and sizingVeja Campo review and sizing

FASHION | Stuff that social media influenced me to buy

Veja Campo sneakers review

I watched a recent video by Carol Chan where she talked about all the things that she was influenced to buy because of social media, so I was influenced by her to create a post of my own.

I will openly admit that I am highly suggestable. Sometimes all it takes is a beautifully staged photo, or even just a random snapshot, and I will be hooked.

1. Veja Campo sneakers

I’ve been seeing these sneakers float around on Youtube for quite some time now, but it wasn’t until I saw a post by a Nordstrom sales associate that I follow that it clicked in my brain that I needed these sneakers. I got them in a white and mint green combo, which is just so beautifully spring.

2. Chanel Classic Flap in the Jumbo size

I’ve actually always wanted the medium/large in the Classic Flap, but I watched a Youtube review posted by Chase Amie, who absolutely loves her Chanel Jumbo, and it started to get me interested in the Jumbo. I had also went to the boutique to try on the medium/large and the Jumbo for myself, and found that the medium/large doesn’t quite fit all of my essentials (which included a full size long wallet at the time). While Chase Amie’s review wasn’t the thing that sold me on the Jumbo, it was definitely the thing that made me think differently about which size bag to buy.

3. Acne Studios Mini Musubi bag

I saw a picture of Helen from Lumiere d’Helen wearing her Mini Musubi bag, and I ordered it online without even trying it on or seeing it in person. I didn’t do any research on it, which is super unlike me since I like to research something to death before buying. It’s also a style that isn’t something I gravitate towards, as it is a bucket bag-like style and quite boho. I normally prefer something that is more structured and classic. The bag is uber cute though, and I bought it in a beautiful burgundy colour which is a colour that I’ve been wanting to add to my collection for a while.

4. Max Mara Manuela coat

Meagan’s Moda posted an incredibly detailed and unbiased review of the Max Mara Manuela coat, which is what inspired me to ultimately buy that coat. I had been researching Max Mara coats for a few weeks at that point, and my original intention was to buy one of their cheaper, unlined options, but upon seeing Meagan wearing it in that video, and styling it in her Instagram posts, I was hooked. I think I want the 101801 coat next, Meagan makes it sound so perfect!

5. Plants… many of them

I was never a huge plant person because I’ve always had a black thumb. Plants just die under my care (I’ve killed several cacti). But ever since I saw these Instagram posts by my friend Melody and my now-friend and fellow cat-mom Le, I’ve been completely hooked. I have around 13-15 plants now, and so far they’ve been doing okay *knock on wood*. Half our house gets a ton of light (west facing) while the other half gets not as much light (east facing), so I’m forever trying to find different types of plants that will thrive under different lighting.

Thankfully, my office is south facing and gets a TON of light, so my plants that are in my office have all been doing pretty good! Of course, I’ve killed a few plants in my journey, but thankfully my husband doesn’t mind so much because most of them are still doing pretty okay, again *knock on wood*.

FASHION | Initial thoughts about my new Classic Teddy Coat in Camel from The Curated

The Curated Classic Teddy Coat in Camel review, the curated coat review

Hello! I’m back today with another fashion post. I’ve noticed that my blog has transitioned from skincare and makeup to more fashion, and I apologize to any long term readers who aren’t the biggest fan of fashion. I feel like as I age, I’ve become way less experimental with my skincare, preferring to use products that are more suitable for my skin type, and I also rarely wear makeup now that we’re working from home all the time. I still love fashion, as whenever I do get to leave the house, I try to be a bit more dressed up since the opportunities to do so are so limited now.

That being said, this isn’t a true review. The weather in Vancouver is still really warm, and I haven’t been leaving my house or needing a coat this warm. However, since we are slowly entering fall, I know many of you are looking for coats like this, and I wanted to get this initial thoughts post out as soon as possible so that you can have some kind of information to help you make purchasing decisions. I also noticed that The Curated is reopening pre-orders for this coat (and other teddy coats) this week, so I hope that this post will be useful to those who are looking to buy a teddy coat from The Curated.

Anyways, onwards with the post!

[UPDATE – I’ve since made some updates based on my latest experience. Please read to the end of this post!]

The Curated Classic Teddy Coat in Camel review, the curated coat review


I’ve never been a fan of the teddy coat trend, but since we’ve been working from home all the time, I’ve been spending more and more time with my fleece blanket. That’s when it clicked that I could technically be wearing a cosy fleece blanket with me everywhere I go, and still be fashionable, in the form of a teddy coat! I was a little concerned that the teddy coat trend had already been over by the time I caught on, but based on an Instagram poll, it looks like 2/3 of you still believe that teddy coats are on trend. Regardless, the potential to be walking around in fleece blanket was too much of a draw, and I started researching teddy coats.

You know my love for all things luxurious, so I had to start my search at Max Mara, whose teddy coats are amongst their most classic coat lines. Unfortunately, they are also priced at astronomical prices so I had to let that go. I also searched on Etsy, as well as other more conventional websites for clothes such as Saks, Nordstrom, The Bay, and Simons, but it seemed like most of the teddy coats that were available were either thousands of dollars for real wool, or a few hundred for synthetic materials. As I grow older, I really prefer to invest in a good solid piece of clothing and then I never have to replace it again, so I prefer natural fibres to synthetic. That means looking at wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca, camel hair, etc. I also didn’t want to pay a ton of money for something that was still considered a trend item.

I randomly stumbled on the brand The Curated on Instagram, which has just been around for the last 2-3 or so years. It was started by a female entrepreneur, a lady who is South Korean by heritage, but adopted to Australia, lived in China for a few years, and now she has set up her home base in Norway. Initially, the brand focused on affordable yet luxurious double faced wool and cashmere coats, but in the last year, they’ve expanded to teddy coats, alpaca, and other materials. The coats are very minimalist, and most of them are made of double faced wool / cashmere and is unlined. The products really remind me of Max Mara but without the steep price point.

The brand philosophy is also centred around sustainability. The Curated works with vertically integrated suppliers (those who harvest the wool, make it into fabric, and also manufacture the coats) in Inner Mongolia, in China, where a lot of the world’s wool and cashmere production is located. Most of the fabrics used are leftover from prior seasons, so it is more sustainable. Lastly, the products ship directly from China, so customers don’t incur the additional costs of having the items stored in local warehouses, and having to pay shipping twice (from the supplier to the warehouse then to you). Because the fabrics are mostly past season leftovers, the coats are made in limited quantities and sell out very quickly.

The coats are all very reasonably priced. The wool / cashmere blended coats start at US$295 and then the 100% cashmere coats are US$875. Shipping is not free, but it’s a reasonable US$25. You can also see how much taxes you will incur before you order, so you know the all-in cost and there won’t be surprises upon arrival.

The Curated Classic Teddy Coat in Camel review


I ordered the Classic Teddy Coat in Camel, which was priced at US$295, plus US$25 for shipping and another US$97 for taxes and duty (prepaid at the time you order), so all in I paid US$417, which converted to approximately C$550. It shipped from China (directly from the manufacturer, to save costs), using DHL. My order arrived super fast. I placed my order on Sunday night (past midnight), my item shipped on Tuesday from China, and I received it Thursday afternoon. Estimated delivery was supposed to be the following Monday, but then I received a notification on the Thursday that my order was out for Delivery.

The Classic Teddy Coat is made of 100% wool outer, plus a silk lining. The texture for teddy coats vary significantly on the market, you can get ones that are more fleecy, and ones that are more like faux fur. The Classic Teddy Coat was inspired by the texture of the Max Mara classic teddy coats, so you get a very luxurious product without the $5000 price tag. The Classic Teddy Coat comes with beautiful lapels, as well as is single breasted using metal eye and hook closures.

The Classic Teddy Coat is one of two teddy coats offered by The Curated, the other is the Modern Teddy Coat, which does not have lapels. In addition to camel, the Classic Teddy Coat is also available in a sand colour, which lighter and more cool-toned. I love my camel coats, and I also love warm tones for fall, so it was a no brainer which colour to pick. Both the Teddy Coat and the Modern Teddy Coat come in a long version, which comes down to your calves, as well as a shorter version, which is thigh length. I wanted something that would be wearable through the winter, so I picked the longer version.

In terms of sizing, I went with my usual M size. I’m 169 cm (5’6.5) and I usually wear a size M or US Size 8 / UK size 12, and it just so happened that the founder of this company, Nicola, also is my size, so I was able to use her sizing for reference. I also sent a message to their customer service just to confirm the sizing, and they did confirm that I would be best with a size M.

One thing to note is that it just so happened that my coat in my size was available for sale right then and there, but because The Curated primarily uses past season leftover fabrics for sustainability, based on my research, they primarily rely on pre-orders for their product sales. As such, the item you want might not be available to purchase and ship right away. Pre-orders will be announced via their Instagram and Facebook group, so keep an eye out if a particular item you want happens to be sold out now. There’s a schedule posted on the Curated’s website that has an estimate of when things are expected to ship.

The Curated Classic Teddy Coat in Camel review

My initial thoughts

My teddy coat arrived in a vacuum seal bag. I understand this is to save costs and so that customers don’t to pay extra for an extra large shipping box. I have no issue with this because the box will get thrown out anyways, whereas the vacuum seal bag is great to be reused for future travel or packing. Because it’s vacuum sealed for so long, you do have to fluff it out a bit before you wear it. You can either throw it into the bathroom after a shower so the steam will allow the coat to fluff out and straighten, or you can also gently steam it to steam out any wrinkles. Do not use an iron on this!

Of course, being the impatient person that I am, I had it hung up for an hour and then I decided to steam it, first on the silk side, where I spent most of my time steaming, and then very very quickly on the wooly side. The wrinkles mostly steamed out, with some faint lines still remaining, which I’m pretty sure will fall on their own as the coat wears. As I was steaming it, I did make a note of the quality of the fabric and stitching. The silk is very soft, and is not a thin layer of silk – it felt quite substantial, which I’m sure is necessary to prevent ripping as the coat is pretty weighty.

The stitching is okay – not amazing, because the knotting was done a bit messily, and the stitches aren’t evenly spaced out or as tight in some areas, but it’s fine for the price point. I found one very light snag in the silk lining, but it’s very faint and not very noticeable. I also noticed a few of the wool fibres detaching from the coat; it was just a few standalone fibres though, which isn’t unusual for a furry coat like this.

The medium size that I purchased fits me pretty much perfectly. It is slightly oversized, which is what I prefer. The sleeves are a tiny bit short, but it’s not a huge deal. It’ll look wonderfully layered over both thin and thick sweaters. As mentioned previously, I am 5’6.5, and the coat is pretty long on me, hitting me at my upper calf (modelling shots below). I think this is a good length for me.

The coat is heavy. It is also very warm and cuddly. I love wearing it, even just around the house, because it feels like I am just walking around in a cuddly blanket. I haven’t worn it out very much, but wearing it at home does feel very warm. It’ll be a great piece to wear if I don’t feel like wearing my parka, and it’s too cold for my Max Mara Manuela coat. It’s not waterproof, but wool is naturally water resistant so it would be okay to wear in the snow as well, just not in a rainstorm or downpour.

This wasn’t a huge deal to me, but it might be to some people – the colour of the coat is not a true camel. Next to my Max Mara Manuela coat, which I consider to be a true camel colour, the Curated Classic Teddy Coat in the Camel colour is more of a warm, rusty brown. That being said, the colour still looks great on me, and the warm tones make it absolutely perfect for the fall season. I just wanted to point it out in case people were looking for a true camel coat. I posted about this on the Curated Community Facebook Group, and Nicola the founder responded saying she’s noticed the colour difference and they’ve been thinking about changing it, so in the future there might be a truer camel teddy coat coming. In the meantime, if you’re not the biggest fan of the warm tones, the sand colour is a much cooler-toned colour.

I’ve read people say that the feel of this coat is more akin to a faux fur coat than a true teddy coat. I disagree. Even though I don’t own any other teddy coats, I’ve touched them in store, and I do think this feels like a true teddy coat made of natural fibres. If you buy a teddy coat made of synthetic fibres then you might end up with something that’s more faux sherpa, but that wasn’t the look I wanted.

This coat doesn’t have buttons, rather you close it up using a set of hook and eye closures. They’re very easy to use, and well hidden in the teddy material, so it maintains the minimalist look.

The Curated Classic Teddy Coat in Camel reviewThe Curated Classic Teddy Coat in Camel review

Comparison with Max Mara coats

As you may recall, I did a lot of research on Max Mara coats last year as I was trying to decide which one I wanted to buy. As I wasn’t looking at buying the Max Mara teddy coat at that time, I didn’t specifically try on or do a deep dive at Max Mara teddy coats. That being said, I can do a quick high level comparison between the quality of my The Curated Classic Teddy Coat, and my Max Mara Manuela coat which I’ve had for about a year.

The biggest difference between the Max Mara coat I have and my teddy coat is that the stitching on the Max Mara coat is done absolutely beautifully. If you’re a stickler for little details like this, then you can’t beat the even, tight stitching on the Max Mara coat. There’s a reason their coats are so expensive, and part of that reason is the attention to detail is really there. That being said, if you are okay with not 100% perfect craftsmanship, but the items are made with quality materials, then I don’t think there’s a huge difference between Max Mara and The Curated. I’m very happy with the wool fabric of my The Curated Teddy Coat.

In terms of materials, Max Mara has several teddy coat styles that come out each season. They are all very similar in look and price, BUT they can be very different in terms of material. I’ve seen Max Mara teddy coats come out in 100% wool, a wool / cashmere blend, a wool / synthetic blend, and even other types of materials. I haven’t looked too deeply into why there’s a discrepancy but I’ve just noticed that there is one. Obviously if you are comparing a wool / cashmere or alpaca blend teddy coat by Max Mara, then the quality of the material and the softness should be superior to The Curated teddy coats, but if you are comparing a wool / synthetic blend or even a 100% wool Max Mara teddy coat, then the quality differences will be debatable, especially since the Max Mara version is nearly 10x more expensive than The Curated.

Max Mara often releases double faced wool / cashmere blend coats, and they are way pricier than The Curated’s coats. Something like this would be indistinguishable from a The Curated coat. Even the Weekend Max Mara Ted Coat I tried on last year, which was 100% wool but not that soft, was more expensive than the 30% cashmere / 70% wool coats put out by The Curated. The S Max Mara coats I tried on were softer than the Weekend Max Mara coats, but those are even pricier (and are still only 100% wool). If you are looking for a double faced wool / cashmere blend coat, then I don’t think you can go wrong with the price point of The Curated.

The Curated also has 100% cashmere coats for US$900. By comparison, Max Mara’s 100% cashmere coats are usually over C$5,000 and can go up to C$8,000. Both are lined.


Overall I’m very happy with this coat purchase and I’m very excited to get a lot of wear out of it this fall and winter. For a price of C$550, you get a beautiful coat made of quality and natural materials. I can’t wait to incorporate it more into my fall wardrobe (or just continue to wear it around the house).

I already have a minimalist coat from Max Mara (my Manuela coat), which I am very happy about. If I had discovered this brand before I purchased my Max Mara coat, there’s a chance I might not have even gotten the Max Mara coat and just bought something from The Curated. The styles are all beautiful and I think worth a look if you are interested in getting a minimalist wool coat.


Hi everyone, I thought about whether I wanted to post about this here because I know that the Curated is a small brand and sometimes small brands have issues catching up to their demand, especially since they’re a small team, but I decided that I’m honestly so disappointed in the brand’s customer service that I’m going to speak about my experience on it. I am writing about this nearly two weeks after I first brought up the issue to the brand, after multiple follow-ups, posts on the Curated Community facebook group, their live chat, and Instagram messages. In the meantime, they’ve been completely active on social media, posting new releases, commenting on people’s posts, etc. while largely ignoring my correspondence.

I’m in Vancouver, Canada, so I got my coat shipped to Vancouver, Canada. I mentioned above that I paid approximately 33% in taxes and duties on top of the price of the item and the shipping cost.

My work VPN is in Toronto, so when I was shopping during my lunch hour, my shipping address defaulted to Toronto, which is when I noticed that for shipments to Ontario, people were only getting charged sales tax of 13%. That was a 20% difference, which is pretty huge for a coat that is hundreds of dollars and in USD.

I contacted the Curated customer service about it via live chat (they were showing online at the time). After several days there was no response, so then I sent an email. The customer service person, Mary, responded saying that she will have to ask Nicola, the founder about it. A few days later, it was still silence and no one had gotten back to me or addressed the issue. I finally posted on the Curated Community Facebook group as a PSA for Canadian shoppers to be aware of this issue with the taxes being calculated wrong, and to hold off on ordering until this is figured out.

Finally, after many other Canadians said they just made orders and paid the inflated 33% tax, Nicola the founder came on and said that taxes were supposed to be 25% (not 13% or 33%). No effort was made to contact affected Canadians to give them a refund for the difference, and she just brushed off the 33% and 13% taxes as a Shopify glitch. I later emailed her to ask if I can get a refund for the difference, and asked whether the refund would be for the difference between 25% and 33%, or the difference between 13% and 33% (since 13% was what my other Canadian counterparts were paying, I thought it was only fair that I get refunded that difference). I still got no response, no apologies, and no explanation. I ended up getting a refund of 8% (difference between 25% and 33%) via my Paypal a few hours later, but again with no attached explanation or apologies for the inconvenience.

The next day, I got an email from Mary (the customer service person), who thanked me for pointing this out to them, and offered me free shipping on my next order.

I went to try out my free shipping code, and saw that the taxes for a shipment to Vancouver, BC had been updated to 25%, which is what they said they would do. Just for the heck of it, I checked the price for a shipment to Ontario and it had been updated to ZERO tax. I honestly couldn’t believe it, because now not only were people in Ontario not paying ANY taxes on this (the Curated would still have to pay tax to the government so it just means us other shoppers are supplementing the shopping of Ontario buyers), the difference between the taxes paid is now even greater. It’s a 25% difference now, whereas before it was a 20% difference.

I contacted Mary again, and also Nicola, just to ask about it, and again received no response. Meanwhile, throughout the next few days, the brand was constantly posting things on social media about their new releases. Nicola, the founder, even did an “ask me anything” on Instagram. I sent her a question asking if this had been fixed, and of course she didn’t respond to it. She later posted saying that if we had any questions, to send her a DM.

In the meantime, I’ve had a few people reach out to me on Instagram and Facebook saying they saw my post on the Curated Community Facebook page and ask if this issue has been resolved. They said they’ve been trying to get ahold of Nicola and their DMs go unread and emails are unanswered. Meanwhile, Nicola is still answering questions about products on her “ask me anything,” and also posted a screenshot of her responding to someone sending her nasty messages on Instagram. If she has time to read and respond to nasty trolls on the internet, I’m surprised she doesn’t have time to respond to her legitimate customers.

I saw that they posted recently that they will soon be offering free exchanges and returns to customers in Canada / US. That’s great but that only affects new customers, it won’t be valid for previous orders.

The next day, I went to try to check out my cart again and this time, the issue was even worse. Thankfully Ontario’s glitch had been fixed that it was charging 25% tax, but BC was showing a whopping 54% in taxes. Once again, I emailed Nicola and Mary to ask about this, and also included a screenshot. Finally Nicola responded with a very curt “can you refresh it” (verbatim, with the same capitalization and punctuation). I responded saying I did, I tried using incognito mode, tried removing it from my cart and adding it again, etc. Because this was so unfair to my BC shoppers, I posted an update to my post on the Curated Facebook group to let people know this was still happening. A few hours later, Mary responded to the Facebook thread saying this had been fixed. If I didn’t point this out (or point out any of the times that the website was overcharging tax), The Curated would continue to overcharge taxes for certain Canadians. They also locked my thread from additional comments. Finally the next day, Nicola made an announcement on the Facebook page saying that the Canada tax issue had been fixed.

The products are beautiful, that’s a fact. The prices are also really good for the quality that you get, but the customer service has honestly been disappointing and lacking. I get that they’re a small brand that has grown quickly, but they should be adding people to they’re growing so fast. If they have time to launch new products every week, they should add new team members so they can help them manage this growth. They’re still sending products to influencers regularly to promote their products, but they don’t have the infrastructure to support that boost in demand. It’s very clear where their priorities lie.


I really wanted to refrain from talking about this (for months I didn’t) because I don’t want it to look like I’m bashing the brand in any way, but as a consumer myself, I would want to know all of the things I’m saying now and then make an educated and conscious decision about whether I want to embroil myself in any drama. I understand that the company and the people worked really hard to establish it and the products are nice, but it looks like there is zero accountability when it comes to quality control, as well as some very questionable business practices.

Some examples of things that happened:

  1. Another company released a coat that was similar to the Curated’s Classic Coat, so the brand founder asked the people in the Curated Community Facebook Group to go spam the other brand’s Instagram and tell them to remove the coat for copying the Curated’s design. Well the truth was that the Curated actually took the coat from a catalogue offered by an OEM, and made minor tweaks to it (e.g., lengthening the sleeves). This whole time, the Curated founder has called people who don’t design their own clothes “lazy,” and said she absolutely designs all of her own coats.
  2. Related to the above incident, the other brand was running a promotion where customers can submit photos of them wearing the coat to get 30% off. People on the internet, who wanted to get the discount, took photos from the Curated Facebook group. The Curated founder found out, accused the other brand’s founder of malicious stealing, and again told her minions to go attack the other brand. As soon as the other brand realized what her customers were doing, she removed all of the photos, but the online bullying didn’t stop for the entire day. The other brand’s founder said she was having a breakdown because of all of the online bullying, and she couldn’t argue with the Curated’s hoards of supporters… over a coat! Does The Curated’s actions remind you of anyone else out there who is calling for people to bully others?
  3. There were a lot of sizing inconsistencies in one of the batches of coats that were sent out where the actual coat in a particular size was several inches smaller than the measurements that were posted on the Curated website. The founder didn’t take responsibility, said it was the factory’s fault, and instead asked the affected customers to sell their coats in the Facebook group to other customers instead of accepting a return. As a company, asking your customers to sell their items instead of accepting a return for defective items is simply unheard of.
  4. The “silk” lining advertised by the brand turned out to be polyester in the coat pockets of some of the coats. The founder also took no responsibility, said the factory “never told her.” The brand’s founder has since asked the affected customer to sell her coat in the Facebook group rather than accept a return. The last I’ve heard, it seems like the brand is potentially looking into offering a return, so hopefully this is resolved properly. Update – just kidding, the affected customers were provided with store credit of $25 to spend on their next Curated product.
  5. The brand advertised down coats with “100% waterproofed cotton outershell, 100% ethical down fill.” A customer tested this on her down coat and commented saying she didn’t think the coats were waterproofed as the water soaked right in. The Curated founder said they do not use chemicals to waterproof as chemicals are bad, and that they waterproof the coats based on the way they’re woven. But that still doesn’t resolve the issue of the coats not actually being waterproof?? Again there was no accountability from the brand, only deflections.

If you want to personally see some of this stuff happen in real-time (or if you don’t trust what I’m saying), you can go to the Curated Community Facebook Group and see for yourself.

Nicola – if you are reading this, please do NOT attempt to contact me. I gave you my personal number for order fulfillment purposes, not for you to call or text me whenever you want to talk about random things. My order has been complete for a while and I’m no longer a customer so you have no reason whatsoever to contact me personally. Living in the EU, I’m sure there are laws against the misuse of personal information. We definitely have that in Canada. Also please stop telling people that the constructive feedback (or negative comments, if you see them as that) affect “your family’s finances.” I get it, you are trying to make money for your family, but at the same time, consumers also have a limited amount of funds to spend on things like coats. Everyone is trying to make money to support their family. If you spend hundreds on a coat and it ends up being nothing like what you expected and in some cases not even wearable, wouldn’t you be upset?

The Curated Classic Teddy Coat in Camel review

This post is not sponsored. I purchased this coat with my own money. I do not use affiliate links.

FASHION | My experience buying vintage Chanel, featuring my medium Diana bag in beige lambskin


I recently picked up my very first piece of vintage Chanel and I wanted to share my experience with you in case anyone was interested in getting one too.


I went into this process knowing the specific model of bag I wanted – the Diana. The Diana comes in two sizes; what I didn’t know was if I wanted the small or medium Diana, so I did a lot of research on the dimensions, weight, what can fit into each size, and how each size would look proportionate to my frame. Since the Diana is a vintage bag (they stopped production of it in the 90s, and while it was reissued in 2015, significant design changes were made for the reissue), I wouldn’t be able to go into a store to try it on and had to rely on internet reviews and photos to decide this. Since you are still spending a good amount of money on a bag that was likely going to be shipped to you from overseas, it was important to do a lot of research to make sure that the bag you are getting suits your needs.

Some amazing resources I found to research the bag itself included My Grandfather’s Things, a specialist in Diana bags who owns multiples of each size so she often does comparison photos and also videos; Facebook, specifically the Chanel Reetzy Groups; Instagram, using the hashtag #ChanelDiana; as well as Youtube. I also found this blog post which I thought was very helpful in pushing me towards one of the sizes.

The price of vintage bags has also changed a lot in the last 6-12 months, primarily driven by the multiple price increases, as well as overall consumer awareness to be more sustainable, so it was important to also understand the price trends so you aren’t overpaying for something. The best resources I found for pricing references are Vestiaire Collective; Tradesy; and Instagram. I found them to be the most helpful because the sold listings continued to be published, so you can see what were the historical prices for the style you wanted, as well as the purchase date so you know at what point in time those prices existed.

Based on my research, the Diana small was sized in between a rectangular mini and a small classic flap, and the Diana medium was sized similar to a medium classic flap. The primary difference in capacity being that the Diana is a single flap bag. Since I’m 5’6 and a US size 8 / UK size 12, and I have one Chanel Jumbo and two Chanel minis, I thought that the Diana medium would be a better fit for my body size and my needs.



Because the bag has been discontinued for almost two decades, the next challenge was trying to find the bag at the right condition for the right price. I had wanted the beige Diana, which is harder to find than the black, and usually came in worse conditions than the black because light-coloured lambskin is harder to maintain than black. Another challenge was making sure that the bag is authentic, since there are a lot of fakes on the market, some of them looking very similar to the real thing.

I had around 10 websites bookmarked which I refreshed every day to see if there were new stock that came in. Some of them included Hedy; Amore Japan; and eBay. I also looked at Vestiaire Collective; Fashionphile; The Real Real; Tradesy; and 1st Dibs.

Since I was new to buying vintage, I wanted to make sure that the transaction would be low risk, so I decided that I would buy from a Japanese seller. Japanese vintage sellers are some of the most reliable and trusted on the market, particularly because Japan has very strict laws when it comes to counterfeits, and from what I hear, Japanese bag owners also tend to take better care of their bags, so the condition of the item will be better when it hits the resale market. I also wanted to make sure that if for whatever reason, the bag was counterfeit, I needed an authenticity guarantee which would allow me to get my money back.

For those reasons, I ended up getting my Diana bag from a popular Japanese reseller of vintage bags from eBay, and paid using Paypal. The reseller had over 30,000 positive reviews on eBay, and eBay and Paypal also have authenticity guarantees, so I felt like I was protected in case the transaction didn’t go well.

One thing that came up in my research that I didn’t anticipate to be so common was that a lot of vintage bags are re-dyed or re-coloured. I had asked the seller if the bag had been repainted or redyed, and they did not know. They just said they didn’t do anything to the bag while it was in their possession, but the previous owner(s) could have. This is something to be aware of if you are looking for a vintage bag, particularly if its light coloured. It’s hard to tell via photos if the bag had been repainted; one thing to look out for is if the leather looks wrinkled, if the stitches and the corners and nooks of the bag look like there is paint on it. It should be fairly obvious once you receive the bag, as it significantly affects the feel of the leather.

Receiving the bag

Shipping from Japan was lightning fast via DHL. I paid on Tuesday night, it shipped Wednesday night, DHL got it on Thursday morning, and it arrived in Vancouver at around 1PM on Friday. If you’re buying from a Japanese seller, they have the option of shipping via DHL or EMS, which is similar to Canada Post Xpresspost. If you have the option, you should ask if the seller can ship via DHL. I knew of someone else in the Chanel Facebook group who purchased a bag from Japan and their package was shipped using EMS, and it sat in Japan’s export customs for over two weeks before it even left Japan.

There is always risk of buying something sight unseen. The eBay listing didn’t mention the inclusion of a dust bag or authenticity card, so I thought the listing was for just the bag, but when I received it, I saw that the authenticity card and the original dustbag had also been included. This was a good thing, yes, but it shows that eBay listings can be inaccurate.

The primary thing that made me a little bit disappointed about this bag is that the bag looks to have been repainted. The leather is a bit dry, stiff and wrinkled in the back. It is a 2 series bag from 1991-1994, so I’m not surprised it was repainted since I imagine beige bags are hard to keep in immaculate condition over nearly 30 years. The flap of the bag, though, looks perfectly smooth.

I did pay duty on this when it arrived in Canada, but it was very immaterial compared to the value of the bag. DHL didn’t include a detailed invoice breakdown of the duty and taxes owed though, just said that I owed an amount in duty, taxes and brokerage fees. I paid this over the internet using a link they had sent me, so by the time the bag arrived, the courier just dropped it off with no additional paperwork.

After receiving the bag, I did get it authenticated just for peace of mind, and confirmed that the bag was indeed authentic.


I’m very happy with the bag I received. I’m super happy with the condition and the price that I paid. Even though it was repainted, the leather still feels very soft. I’m also pleasantly surprised that I was able to receive the authenticity card and the dust bag, which I didn’t expect at all since those are things that can be easily lost. I’ve just started using a leather conditioner to enhance the leather and also ensure its longevity, so I hope that this bag will last me for the rest of my lifetime.

The TL;DR of this is that you should do a lot of research to make sure that you know what you are buying, and in the end, it might not turn out 100% perfect and what you expected, but overall it’ll still be a good experience.

Here’s a photo of me modelling the medium Diana. You can see the proportionally, it looks pretty good for my frame. I’ll provide a more thorough review once I’ve had more opportunities to wear this out.


WEDDING | Review of our Four-Panel Invitations from Minted


I googled to find reviews on the Minted Four-Panel Invitations but I didn’t see anything, so I wanted to make sure I document my thoughts properly such that other brides can find this useful. This review is not sponsored, none of my links are affiliate links, and Minted has nothing to do with this post.

Note: As with most 2020 brides, our original “big” wedding celebration was postponed to next year. We still mailed our invitations out earlier this year, before COVID happened, so we were able to get good use out of them. Sadly, a lot of other couples basically had their invitations go to waste. I heard from other couples that if your wedding was postponed, Minted will give you a discount code to re-order new invitations. That’s something to keep in mind if you decide to order from them.

One of things I cared about least in my wedding planning process, apart from flowers and decor, was our invitations. I always thought that invitations were a bit of a waste of money, since most people will just throw them away once they read the information on them. This is especially true of entire invitation “suites,” where in addition to an invitation card, you also get the reception information card, details card, accommodations card, etc etc. Yes apparently sending your guests a stack of papers with everything on a separate card is a thing. These “suites” can also cost upwards of several hundred to even a THOUSAND dollars. Nope, I wasn’t going to spend that much money on cards when I can put it towards booze or an oyster shucker bar instead.

I had originally planned on getting my invitations from Costco. They have some beautifully pre-designed template cards for very affordable prices, but it wasn’t customizable and if you wanted to add additional information, you needed to add another set of detail cards. While it was still much more affordable than buying it elsewhere, I still didn’t like the idea of sending a bunch of loose cards to my guests. This is when I discovered the Minted “Bride on a Budget” section and the Four-Panel Invitations.

Invitations on a budget

Minted offers two types of invitations on a budget. The All-in-One Invitations are great if you are doing your RSVPs traditionally by mail, and if most of the details of your wedding will be provided elsewhere, like on your wedding website. The other option, which is what we opted for, was the Four-Panel Invitations. These are essentially folded cards that have the main invitation with the primary details on the front of the card, and then the inside folded part is completely customizable. You can include photos of yourself, or fill the inside with details, which is what we did. We wanted to give our guests as much information upfront as possible in the most straightforward way, so we put the schedule of events, venue address, RSVP link (we are collecting RSVPs electronically), wedding website link, and more all inside the card.


Designing our invitations

Designing this card was super simple and straightforward. Minted offers a ton of invitation designs on their website, and most of them come adapted for the Four-Panel style. We were able to narrow down the list to a few designs we liked, and then we played around with putting in our details to see which one looked best with our details in them. The design we ended up with is called Heartbeat – Barrie really liked how simple it looked, but I didn’t like the font styles or the heart in the middle. Thankfully, all of that was customizable – we were able to change the fonts from a wide selection of font styles readily available through minted, and we were also able to request that the heart be removed and replaced with a simple ampersand.

I didn’t particularly enjoy using the online editor; it was a bit tedious to use and the lines didn’t line up straight, which was a bit annoying. That being said, after you input your information and submit your order, Minted has in-house graphic designers who will take your invitation and edit it for any special requests, straighten out the lines and spacing, and adjust it so that it looks good from a professional point of view. We had a few small items we wanted them to edit (including removing that heart), and also straighten out the spacing a bit, which they were able to do perfectly. They also made a few small adjustments that we didn’t request, such as edited the font sizing so everything looked more even and balanced. While it wasn’t something we asked for, we’re super happy that they did that because we’re way happier with the end result (designed by a professional!) than the one we put together.

We reviewed two versions of proofs created by Minted graphic designers, which took a bit under 48 hours to do once our order was placed. Once the final proof was approved, our invitations went into production straight away, and was shipped out shortly after that. The total time between me submitting my order to receiving our invitations in the mail was just a week, which was incredible since they were personalized for us. Keep in mind that we’re in Vancouver and our order shipped from Seattle so it came in under two days via Fedex. If you’re anywhere else in Canada or the US, it might take a bit longer.

This is what the Heartbeat template looked like originally:

Minted four panel invitation review

This is what our final invitation design looks like (with certain details blurred out), after it was edited by the graphic designers:

Minted four panel invitation review

Quality of invitations

I’m super impressed with the quality of these invitations. Despite being the “budget” option, the paper quality was just beautiful and thick. Because my cards were bifold, Minted also included vellum paper to put in between the two folds on the inside of the card so that the ink doesn’t transfer from one side of the page to the other. The quality of the envelopes were also very nice, and I think Minted also included some extra envelopes in case we mess up some of the hand-written addressing. Overall we’re very happy with the quality of the invitations and we’re thrilled that we took the leap and ordered from Minted.

We did order some samples (free!) just to see what the invitations would look like, but for some reason they didn’t make it to me until almost a month after we placed our final order. Overall it was a risk that we were happy we took.


Why Minted

Okay so here’s the important part. Apart from the ease of design and the card-shaped invitations, we picked Minted because they provide free guest addressing. Yes you read that right – instead of spending hours handwriting your guests’ names and addresses on envelopes, resulting in cramped hands, or paying someone to write them for you, resulting in a reduced wallet size, you can use Minted’s address collection form to get everyone’s addresses and then Minted will print them for you FOR FREE. Similar to the invitation designs, you can also choose from a variety of envelope print designs. We picked something really simple with just a nice classic cursive for the guests’ names, and then a clean printed font for the addresses.

The Minted invitations are slightly pricier than the Costco ones, but I think it is totally worth it because you save hours and hours writing out names and addresses.

The other convenient thing is that once the guests’ addresses have been acquired, you can also automatically feed them into your website for RSVP collection purposes.

The cost

We ordered 65 of these Four-Panel Invitations for US$122, but HERE’S A TIP! If you sign up for the Minted FREE wedding website, you automatically get a US$50 credit in your account that you can use towards anything. These credits can’t be stacked with a promo code, but they can be stacked with the refer-a-friend credit of $25. We ended up paying US$72 for 65 invitations, including the envelopes.

We paid $15 for shipping and then another C$16 for tax and duty, which came in a separate Fedex bill afterwards.

Minted wedding website

As a side mini review, I really love the Minted website. My type A-ness basically meant I made 4 wedding websites using different platforms (WithJoy, theKnot, Zola, and Minted), and I finally decided on Minted because it was the cleanest of all of the available designs, the website interface was very easy to use, load times were fast and efficient (the WithJoy website took forever to load), and there were very little reported glitches in the guest list / RSVP process (theKnot was really bad for this). The only downside is there is less flexibility in terms of adding pages or uploading photos (apart from the main one on the front page) unless you upgrade to their premium website, which costs US$20.

The basic website includes pages for the wedding details, RSVP, wedding party information, registry info and travel, but it does not include photo uploads or adding your own custom pages. The premium website includes everything a regular website does, in addition to unlimited photo uploads, a custom URL so you can be, instead of, and adding custom pages (we added a FAQ and “things to do around the city” pages). ANOTHER TIP! If you sign up for Minted, you will often get custom codes in your inbox. I was sent a code for a free upgrade to a premium website so I was able to upgrade without paying the $20.

This post was not sponsored or affiliated in any way by Minted. I paid for our invitations out of pocket.