How Solo Travel Changed My Life

In the beginning of my traveling days, I never thought I would turn into a full fledge solo traveler and take the term ‘the world is your oyster’ to such great lengths that it became my lifestyle.

Continue reading “How Solo Travel Changed My Life”

The Must-See Sights When Fall Makes A Brief Appearance In Calgary

Fall is such a spectacular time of year. With the leaves changing to hues of yellow, orange and red. The cooler crisp temperatures meaning more layers of style – which is always exciting. Plus Calgary’s skyline looks pretty picturesque from all of its colorful angles. Continue reading “The Must-See Sights When Fall Makes A Brief Appearance In Calgary”

9 Round – My Newest Workout Addiction

Happy endorphins, a good detoxing sweat, working your muscles, torching fat and getting your blood pumping. That is what a good workout is all about. Continue reading “9 Round – My Newest Workout Addiction”

A Divine Dining Experience At One18Empire

Chic atmosphere, fine food, fab service, and beverages the entice the taste buds to wake up. That is exactly what you will find at Calgary’s One18Empire, a whiskey inspired bar and restaurant. With a selection of over 100 whiskeys, you could spend plenty of time sipping your little heart out. I do enjoy sipping on a fine whiskey myself. The focal point of their local inspired fare is shareable plates. The whole concept really intrigued me, so I had to go and experience it for myself.

Located in the Marriot Hotel downtown, One18Empire’s ambiance is very inviting.


The name is derived from where it was located on the original historic Atlantic Avenue in the early 1900’s known then as the Grand Central Hotel. There was a time the hotel nearly blew up way back when an old miner shoveled dynamite in the furnace. They now have a drink named after the event called ‘Near Miss‘.  A perfect place to unwind after work full of rich Calgary history.

Our server for the evening was Meredith, she was awesome from the get go. I was digging the uniforms which were that of workshop apparel too, and also the trays they use.

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Very fashionable workshop apparel I might add.

We got right in there with some Bourbon to start things off. The Black Walnut Old Fashioned – their signature cocktail. Which also happens to be one of the worlds first written down recipes.  I was instantly enamored by the large tennis size ball of ice in my glass. Not gonna lie, the ice sphere was pretty darn cool.

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Apparently it is not just for show either. It also has a purpose as I was informed. The ice melts slowly because of its shape and size, so that it maintains your drink at the perfect temperature while very minimally changing the taste, so as to keep it good until the last drop. That it was!! Delicious. I could get used to sipping on that.

My tastebuds were awakened, and seeing as how One18Empire’s focus is on shareable plates, we dug right into a charcuterie board.  I do love a good charcuterie board, it is a common staple back in Spain, so it almost brought me back home to Mallorca for a moment. I was very impressed with their personal touches on the board consisting of house made marmalade, house made pickles, and house made mustard. Those details always make a difference.

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Accompanied with that fine feast was the simple beet salad.

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Don’t let the name fool you, that salad was not so simple, it was more like divine.

With a chilled bottle of Reisling on the go, and even though we were feeling quite stuffed from the first course, we still went on to tuck into a couple of mains. Seeing as how we were already in sharing mode, we thought it best to stay on that train and choose a main each for the both of us to try.

We decided on the Seared duck breast and the Alberta grass fed petite tender .

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I would have to say my favorite of the two was the tenderloin, it was superb.

 

This was absolutely a divine experience, and we were provided with ample history of One18Empire by our knowledgeable and top notch server Meredith, her bubbly personality, and attentive service really made the experience a memorable one.

Unfortunately we didn’t do any whiskey sampling, or see the whole restaurant, but that is just more reason to go back sooner rather then later – and I absolutely will be going back for an extended experience. One18Empire, a historical sensory filled culinary journey not to be missed.

A Culinary Journey At The Workshop In YYC

Wining and dining is one of my favorite past times. A great group of friends having endless laughs and good chat while sharing fine food, and sipping on superb wine in a classy atmosphere. What culinary dreams are made of. The culinary scene in Calgary is pretty impressive and I am always on the hunt for unique places that stand out from the rest.

Recently I had the supreme pleasure of enjoying an incredible culinary journey at the WorkshopLocated in the heart of downtown Calgary right inside the Theater Junction Grand, boasting the perfect combination of the Arts Culture as well as Culinary Culture – it is a pure gem.


I love the feeling of walking into a theater, we all know it. It is a feeling of excitement, and cultural history, beckoning you inside with its antique feel. Yes, I was absolutely already diggin the feel of it when I reached the front doors.


The restaurant is very open and airy, split on either side of the entrance to the actual theater.

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With the decor being that of an actual workshop – and a classy one at that. Building things was a hobby of mine growing up, so the workshop feel was quite appealing to me.

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We were warmly welcomed and upon being seated we were then given a great in depth briefing about the history of the place.

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I was amazed to learn that the theater itself was built in 1912, being now just over 100 years old. At the time the theater was considered the biggest and best in the Pacific Northwest. It is now a place where art can be expressed in multiple forms, from all areas of life. The Workshop and the Theater are two separate outfits, yet combine perfectly as one.

We clearly got into the wine from the get go. There is no messing around when it comes to myself and my love of wine.


I decided on a bottle of French Rose. I do love a good Rose!

Red, white, rose, who am I to judge really?! I love them all. Particularly Rose from French vineyards, however I have enjoyed some very fine Rose’s from North America now as well. Three of us arrived prior to everyone else, and being famished, we just ‘had’ to get right in there with some sort of snack to get us going. I suppose the excitement was also getting the better of us.

Because of the high recommendation given to us, we chose the Fried Cauliflower with garlic, green olive and Harissa aoili.  As well as the Seared Scallop with pickled potato, pork cheek, charred radish and serrano broth.

 

Wow, it was truly delicious!! I love vegetables, and particularly cauliflower, and with the aoili(which we eat alot of in Spain), it was the perfect compliment. Seriously ridiculous. The scallop was perfectly flavored and melted in your mouth like butter.

So far this culinary journey was off to a dreamy start.

Literally it was so darn good we had to order seconds of the cauliflower. Along side some Albacore tuna poke and the Bulgogi beef tartare.

Both beautifully presented and flavored, I myself however was more partial to the Tuna. I love fish though.

The service was impeccable, and the wine was flowing like a river. Just the way we like it.

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Not only were we being provided with top notch service, we were also being entertained as heck by our server. He really was amazing.

I was pretty stuffed from all those appetizers we indulged in, so for the main, I shared an order of  the Parmesan Cream Gnocci and the Spicy Maple Brussel Sprouts. Two of my absolute favorite foods on this planet. img_5959

I loved every bite. Just when you thought the food couldn’t get better – it then it got better.

The others shared the BBQ pork loin and Pork Belly, accompanied with some cumin roasted yam.

img_5962 With the amount of ‘this is so good’ that was coming out of their mouths, I was pretty certain that they were enjoying tantalizing their taste buds. You can see the effort and taste the passion that goes into every dish there.

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Long behold just when we thought we were at capacity, dessert arrived, and so did the Chef.

We were treated to their three house made desserts. Fallen chocolate souffle with cherry compote, hazelnut crumble, and malted stout ice cream. Fresh berries with citrus genoise, muscat sabayon, and pink peppercorn shatter. Last but not least, Lemon semi freddo, with torched italian meringue, blueberry compote and sugar cookie.

img_4034 How in the heck can you say no to dessert when it’s put right in front of you and boasting with artistic fresheness?! Well, you can’t. You just can’t.

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I can’t express enough how fabulous this whole experience was. The food, atmosphere, service, and the the people, were amazing. You can check out the YouTube video about the incredible experience if your keen.

I am absolutely going to be visiting again, this time around I will also take in a show. If you find yourself in YYC, the Workshop is not to be missed.

 

 

Dolly Parton Concert – Legends And Dreams Come Alive

Dolly Parton. I think that is all I have to say. She is a legend.

I can’t just stop there though, so I shall go on. From a very young age, probably starting around 7, I fell in love with Dolly Parton. That was back in the days of VHS, yes remember those?! Well my grandparents were big Country fans, and they had loads of various Country concerts taped on VHS, including plenty from Dolly Parton. Back then we only got about 7 channels on TV, and that was using an antenna and tin foil on top of the TV, you know,the ones that look like bunny ears. So you taped whatever you could when you were getting good reception so you could replay it.

Yah, so I taped whatever I could of Dolly concerts and watched them all the darn time. I also bought her book ‘Dolly – My Life And Other Unfinished Business’ when I was 10, which I read about 100 times front to back.

I was enamored by everything about Dolly Parton. I thought she looked like a barbie, she sang like a dream, and had the best outlook on life ever. I set 3 goals back then. To see her live, go to Dollywood, and one day meet her in person. 20 years ago she came to Calgary, Alberta, to play at the stampede. I wanted to go so badly, but I couldn’t make it. I was absolutely gutted. I knew though that someday I would have another chance, I just wasn’t sure when…… Until now.

A few months ago, I seen that she was coming to Canada on her Pure and Simple Tour, and Calgary was one of those stops. Seeing as how it was in Calgary that I had the unfinished Dolly Parton concert business, it was a no brainer – I had to finish it there.

I am in the Northwest Territories at the moment for a couple of months of home time before I head back to Mallorca, Spain, and it is a 14 hour drive to Calgary from here. 14 hours to complete a childhood dream of 20+ years, is worth every darn kilometer. I booked myself into the classy Hotel Arts, and lucked out when I got 4th row seats to the concert. I couldn’t believe when they randomly came available. I scooped them up the minute I seen them.

Dolly started promptly at 7:30. I was busy getting myself a classy beverage thinking there would be an opening act. Nope there sure wasn’t though. Dang it! I didn’t want to miss one precious second of Dolly on stage.

We were ready for action

I was in awe from the moment I set eyes on her. Actually I was in tears.


Famous people don’t even phase me, ever. To me people are just people. However, Dolly Parton was someone whom shaped me growing up. Well her and Marilyn Monroe. I had no idea how touching seeing Dolly was going to be. Not only was her voice totally perfect, sitting there listening to all her stories that I read in her book, coming from her own mouth, was beyond words. For the first time in my life, watching someone live, brought tears straight to the ol’ peepers. Especially being in 4th row. Her energy was emanating. She was so damn amazing. Leave it to Dolly Parton to be as inspiring as always.

Man did she put on a good show. From 7:30 – 10:30 with a 20 minute intermission, she’s definitely a go getter that one.

She pretty much played every instrument under the sun.


Even after the show it was hard to leave.

And also hard to believe what we just experienced.

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This is something I will absolutely never forget. Hands down best concert of my life.

The closest I came to getting a photo with her.

What did I take from all of this? Don’t ever give up on your dreams. I waited 20+ years for this one, but gosh darn it, it happened – and it was unbelievable.


Next stop, Dollywood.

Trust me, once you start checking the boxes, you just can’t stop.

Kicked The Dirt Up VIP Style At The Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede, 10 days of Cowboy’s, rodeo’s, chuck wagon’s, party tent’s, rides, pancake breakfasts, and let’s not forget the mini donuts…..  I have not been in Calgary during the stampede in about 10 years, so when I got invited by the fabulous fashion designer Jean Michel, to attend a day of behind the scenes day of VIP treatment – I clearly hopped on that band wagon.

We had no idea what was entailed in a VIP stampede day, all we knew was that we were getting picked at 4 pm in a private stampede limo. In reality though, when something says VIP, you know you must be in for a good time. Our chariot arrived and we were off to our stampede adventure. The day started with a beer in the Stampede head quarter office.

Of course I was sporting a Jean Michel scarf, who doesn’t wear one on the farm?!

Obviously when you are at the stampede, you sip on Calgary Stampede Budweiser.

After we had got our party started in the office, we were then met by Roc, whom was our guide for the day. He is awesome(seriously, from the moment we were introduced to himself and his wife, they were just darn awesome)!


Not only has he been working the the stampede for 39 years, he is on the board of directors, and he is a fountain of stampede knowledge. He took us straight to the ‘actual’ Stampede Headquarters. Here we thought we were at the headquarters, but we were very pleasantly surprised to see the real deal.

We were served some bubbly in the private stampede headquarter lounge, where we sat and listened to Roc fill us with endless Stampede history. I love history, and delving deeper into things to gain a better understanding of where it all began. Being in there is a very special treat. Unless you are on the board of directors, or are someone very special, you ain’t gonna be hanging out in there.

From there we were whisked off to enjoy dinner with all the chuck wagon racers.

For one of these private tents, they pay about $10 000 a day, times that by 10 days, and you have got yourself one fine looking penny. Just to get in there you have to have a special card around your neck, a wristband, and not to mention a special invite. It’s one of those places that you only get into if you know the right people.

 

The dinner was delicious, and perfect for the circumstances. Definitely reminded me of good ‘ol home cooking.


Made me feel like I was back on the farm. It was so cool being among it all. I grew up out on the land, and had ample opportunities to be on farms, so this whole experience was a nice reconnect with my childhood.

After we were fueled up, we had a chance to meet and hang out a bit with world renowned chuck wagon racer, Rick Fraser, whom just the day before was in an accident on the track and luckily dusted himself off and walked away from it. No biggie for Rick though, he was just as awesome as ever, and was right ready to hop back on the chuck wagon and hit the races.

Before the races I had to grab a snap with the Cowboy Mountie. It just had to be done.

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Rain or shine, the show always goes on.

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Photo credit to Jean Michel

I never realized how cool chuck wagon races really are, but I now have a new found appreciation for it.

Just when we didn’t think our VIP day could get much better, we were taken behind the scenes of the Grand Spectacular show.

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Where we were treated to a walk through all of the dressing areas, and a look at all the action behind the scenes, before we went up to the box for our VIP seat for the show.

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Where we were served wine and cheese, and had an incredible view of the whole show. Clearly that was ticking all the boxes for me.  Although once I seen the actual show – I was blown away!

It was much much more then I expected!

Spectacular is absolutely the way to explain it.

We were spoiled as heck all day long, we also each grabbed a snap with the lead singer of the show afterwards.CanCalgarySampede2016267VIPGrandStandShowOdegard_modifié-1

You can check out a bit of video action from the day.


The whole day was amazing, and seeing the Stampede from that angle, was absolutely incredible. I am so appreciative to Roc for giving us such a special experience, and to Jean Michel and his fab crew for the invite on the VIP day, as well as some of the fabulous photos for this article.

There is something about seeing how things really go to pull it together that makes you have a much greater sense of awe and appreciation for it. Don’t you agree?

A Day Of Pampered Bliss At Soma Spa

Hammam massage. Just the name makes me feel like I am traveling once again. I was lucky enough to come across Soma Spa here in Calgary, and learned they are in fact the only spa in Calgary to offer Hammam massage. With that being said, I was in! In fact I was in for a few other things too…. Micro dermabrasion facial, pedicure, and a bit of a manicure(I say bit, because we ran out of time, so it was just partial). Now you tell me a women that wouldn’t love that experience.

From the moment I walked into Soma Spa I felt like I was already rejuvenating, and it was time to let go……

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It was bright, open, and very welcoming. I love that it’s minimally decorated, and classy as heck.

All smiles await you upon entering. I was stoked! I had been wanting to do a spa day for like way too darn long, but I have been so busy, it just hadn’t happened. So this was a spa dream come true! After being warmly welcomed I was introduced to Shanti, my stairway to heaven for the day. She has this great energy, you can’t but help but feel relaxed around her.

First thing was first. Hammam massage time! It is a traditional Turkish bath concept with a bit of a westerner twist.

The ambiance of the room was perfect!

Not to mention the heated marble table that I had to lay on. Imagine – a heated, marble, table.

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Need I say more?!

Ok, well I am going to say more…..The music, and lighting was also perfectly relaxing. It’s the most incredible thing to have someone hosing you down, then exfoliating your whole body, not once, but twice over! Then a scalp massage, followed by massaging a body butter into your skin. That was one of the most awesome experiences ever!! I didn’t want it to end. I am officially a hammam believer!

Well after that pure bliss experience, I was en-route to my micro dermabrasion facial.

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I was in dire need of a facial….. Wrinkles and pores everywhere! At least it felt that way, possibly it didn’t appear as severe as it was feeling to myself. It was time to knock a couple years off my face. I was amazed at how non- invasive a professional micro dermabrasion treatment is. The at home micro dermabrasion treatments feel as though they are much harsher on your skin. As if I wasn’t already feeling ridiculously awesome after my Hammam treatment, the facial just took it up a while other level. I love when they massage all those fabulous creams into your face and chest. I was far away in some distant land loving life.

I floated out of that room…. And straight to my pedicure.

Radiantly Glowing!

I love pedicures! Particularly good ones. Shanti did such a great job! Very detailed.


She spiffed my feet right up, topped them off with some Shellac polish, and got them all summer ready.  We were really getting to know each other after 4 hours of treatments, not only that but we were also running out of time. I just wanted a small fix up of my hands, it was quite perfect I only got a wee manicure and some nice polish. Just the little dazzle my hands needed.

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I felt like I had barbie nails

Have yourself a little watch of my experience.


Man, I didn’t want the day to end. Alas…. All good things must come to an end. Or at least a pause. I am absolutely going back there soon for more treatments. Every aspect of that day was amazing, they took such amazing care of me, and I would highly suggest when in Calgary – a Hammam massage is absolutely in order! Thank you so much to Soma Spa for the incredible experience. Everyone deserves to pamper themselves. TLC is never over rated.

Shakey Graves, The Opening Act I Bought A Concert Ticket For

Have you ever in your life bought a concert ticket solely to see the opening act? Well neither had I until Shakey Graves just paid a visit to Calgary. He was here to open for City And Colour, whom also are totally awesome, but for me, they just ain’t Shakey.

You could almost say Shakey Graves was the musical ambiance of my summer last year(2015), he was always there in the background while I was having one of the best summers of my life. I spent it back home up in Northwest Territories, on my home soil, and home turf. I lucked out and had the best room mate EVER, Kyla. I decided to get a room mate just for fun, and it turned out to be better then I could have ever imagined.

Literally all we did was love life, laugh all damn day, listen to Shakey Graves relentlessly, and be awesome. For the whole darn summer. It was just as epic as it sounds – and yes, also a rarety to find people that you do those things so naturally with.

Shakey was there with us from the start of every day, right from the crack of dawn all the at till dusk.

And for dining on the deck.

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Daily wine sessions.

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Yes, I believe we drank more wine then water last summer. Trust me, my liver is reading this and thinking…..’Uh, yah you did. Tisk tisk. Took me awhile to bounce back.


Sorry liver, you really did take it like a rock star, and I did do a herbal liver cleanse just for you after it all.

Shakey was also there with us for our barn party.

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Shakey was even playing in the background when I revived a tired Bee with sugar water.

11427217_10153339985721063_4694045647920348824_n Trust me, I thought the Bee was a goner, but with some good beats and sugar, he sprang back to action.

Shakey was the star of every show. Ok, obviously we switched up the tunes every once and awhile – overkilling anything is never a good thing.

His toe tappin’ beats just made every moment of every situation that much better. By the end of if all we had a mission. A mission to make sure that we get to see Shakey LIVE. Unfortunately Spain beckoned me back last summer before we had a chance to see him. This time around, there was nothing stopping us!

I made sure to get floor seats so we could have the best view possible. Backstage passes would have been awesome, but that can wait for another time.

Excitement was high the day of the concert, almost on the verge of stressful high. As if we thought something may go horribly wrong and we wouldn’t make the show, or perhaps Shakey would come down with laryngitis and lose his voice.

Clearly we had no choice but to turn to wine to calm our nerves.


The view also helped the ol’ nerves immensely.

All went exactly how we anticipated. We got there in one piece, with a bit of a stagger, and the show was a GO.


From the minute he came out and starting singing his sweet songs, we were in AWE.



He was amazing live. Like you know how sometimes you see artist’s live, and they just don’t sound the same as on recording, and it’s a bit of a let down. Well this was the opposite. He sounded even freaken better! Music to our ears. Literally.


He played for nearly an hour, but it just wasn’t long enough. We could have listened to him all damn night. He rocked our little worlds, played all of our fave songs from his ‘And the war came’ album, and brought us straight back to our summer 2015, one of the best of our lives.


He was so good we decided there is no other way then to attend his concert in Texas when he is back there. Nothing like a home turf experience. Not only that, we were gutted he wasn’t selling any shirts at this concert. We want shirts! Well, and backstage passes, but we will settle for shirts.

In case you are wondering, we did totally enjoy the performance by City And Colour after Shakey was done his jam too. We all know they are awesome. But! Buying those tickets to see Shakey Graves, even if it was only an opening act – was worth every darn penny! I love live music and jam sessions, but it’s not so important to me to get to the biggest stars concerts, I appreciate talent from all walks of life. Shakey however was an exception. Oh and wait! Dolly Parton too, she is my childhood idol, she is coming here in September, you better believe I am sticking around Canada for that. Heck yes to being awesome, whatever that may be you- I say do it!

 

Nature Inspired Fashion By Jean-Michel

Fashion, art, travel, nature, and scarves, are some of the most cherished things in my life. So clearly I was overjoyed when I had the pleasure of meeting Jean-Michel Gires, whom shares those cherished passions, and has combined them all to create some stunning wearable art in the form of scarves, leggings and fans.

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With an absolutely incredible life story of his own, not only was I enamored by that, I felt instantly connected with his creations.

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I love the classy packaging!

Originally from France, Jean-Michel graced Calgary with his presence for an executive position in the Oil & Gas industry. After a few years, he decided he felt too tied down, and was craving his freedom once again.

Us travelers love our freedom, what can I say?!

With his extensive travel history, having visited 102 countries to date, and 15 years practicing digital photography under his belt, Jean-Michel has extraordinary photos of natural settings around the globe that he has impressively exhibited over 20 times in various countries such as France, Venezuela, Bolivia and China.

Jean-Michel decided it was time to find a way to share all the beauty he has captured in a capacity that not only just shares it, but brings its beauty to a whole other level. This is where his silk scarves, leggings, and fans came into play.

Initially when he began brainstorming, trying to find avenues where he can pull his passions together and expose his work, he thought perhaps to transfer his photos onto curtains, cushions, and table clothes – however, it was not quite creating that spark inside of him at that moment that he was looking for.

Jean-Michel decided that he wanted to showcase his photography using women as his canvas. What more beautiful canvas could you imagine really? After a year of trial and error, the vision he was looking for finally came into full fruition, and so began ByJeanMichel.

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His idea was to enhance women’s natural beauty with a wearable form of art, with vibrant colors, printed on only the best quality materials, and accessible to all. Jean-Michel was not only looking to enhance women’s beauty, but he wanted to see the women wearing his fashion, feeling absolutely stunning inside and out.

His long time fascination with impressionist art is where he gets his inspiration for his photos. He has taken his photos from Canada’s Lake Louise, Javanese Volcanoes, Paris Boulogne France, and the White Dessert in Egypt(just to name a few), and has turned them into dazzling motifs for his apparel.

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Not only do I love scarves myself, I love that each and every scarf and motif has a story behind it. They are beautiful to look at, feel beautiful to touch, and look beautiful on. I love that when I am wearing them my fashion piece is telling a story. Leave it to the French to continually create the most amazing fashion. For me and my favorite French designers, there is Chanel, and now ByJeanMichel.

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Here I am pictured wearing the Segovia scarf made of silk crinkle. The picture for the striking motif was taken from a creek in the historical town of Segovia, Spain. It’s the eloquent patterns of the trees and leaves that create the motif. I chose this one to begin with for the fact that Spain is my other home, I have spent the better of the last 5 years living in Mallorca, Spain, so it spoke straight to my heart. Not to mention, I absolutely love the colors! Talk about feeling beautiful and chic.

With these times in Calgary being grim in the Oil & Gas industry, Jean-Michel wants to inspire people, and show them that there is life after Oil & Gas.

From corporate world executive to fashion designer, Jean-Michel breaks the barriers, and goes to show that with some ingenuity and passion, anything is possible.

Having only launched in November 2015 here in Calgary, and with many retail opportunities opening up, this is just the beginning for Jean Michel’s brand. I know I will be showing off his pieces every chance I get. Don’t you just love feeling beautiful?