Youth And Adult Fashion Design Camps At The Cutting Room In Vancouver

I just have to imagine the sound of a sewing machine – that split second hum before the tat-tat-tat-tat-tat – and I can see, in my mind’s eye, my grandmother sitting with her foot on the pedal, measuring tape draped around her shoulders, confidently guiding fabric under the needle. A designer and seamstress by trade, she brought ideas to life with precision and passion.

Upstairs in my bedroom closet, a sewing machine passed down from my mother, lies dormant. Every so often when I’m digging through my clothes for something I would enjoy wearing, a thought creeps into my head: Imagine if I could design and make my own clothes? Oh my gosh, the freedom to truly express myself in a way I can’t always do through someone else’s ideas!

Do YOU ever feel this way? Or do you have a child/adolescent who expresses interest in learning about fashion design? Then you should meet Liza Deyrmenjian: a leader in apparel design and production, the founder of a New York-based fashion-business coaching firm, and the brains and passion behind Vancouver’s The Cutting Room.

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Liza to talk about her philosophy and upcoming Youth Fashion Camp.

Liza is successfully carrying out her vision for The Cutting Room by offering classes that focus on various aspects of the fashion design industry. It’s a one-stop shop for the emerging and established designer to gain skills in basic sewing, fashion illustration, pattern making, and all the elements of design.

You can venture as far as you want into the field of fashion from learning different stitches, to creating your own line, to understanding the in’s and out’s of the business.

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It is NEVER too late to follow your passions or your curiosities. No matter where you’re at in life, if you feel your heart tugged when you read fashion blogs, leaf through magazines or imagine life as a designer, Liza has all the skills and knowledge to help you take that inclination to the next level. This 8 week Fashion Design course for ages 16+ might be perfect for you!

And if your child (ages 8 to 18) is showing an interest in the field, you HAVE to check out the details of Liza’s Fashion Youth Camp taking place in July and August! This is an opportunity to meet a mentor in the field whose clients have been spotlighted by Elle, InStyle, Oprah and Good Morning America. With a project focus for the week-long camp, participants will design a collection, sew, create a brand, and then present their line. Local fashion names Nicole Bridger (one of my personal faves), Lululemon and Herschel will appear as guest speakers throughout the week. You can read more details about the curriculum and select your dates right on the registration page.

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The incredible thing is this youth camp is maxed out at 8 participants which means a) super intimate learning environment and b) registration needs to happen sooner rather than later!

There’s also an opportunity to meet Liza and a number of other Canadian designers at a trunk show hosted by The Cutting Room June 23-25,2016 at their beautiful space: 1888 W.1st Avenue, Vancouver. Check out which Canadian designers are going to be featured plus all the other exciting details on their Facebook event page!

A quick Google search will also give you a great idea of what Liza is about – I’ve shared some favourites here:

Read about how Vancouverite Liza D (as she’s known) made the move to the Big Apple, the celebs she’s worked with, and her take on being a designer vs. an employee.

Watch her present at the Stitch Factory Speaker Series in this video – and check out that skirt she’s wearing!

And for an incredible story about how a 13 year old girl landed her fashion line in Nordstrom – and a testimonial to Liza D’s mentorship and business-savviness, you have to check out this story. Guaranteed inspiration.

Say ‘hi’ to Liza on Facebook and Instagram, too!

I hope this post inspired you to continue exploring your interests and passions.

Here’s to living our most creative life!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative



DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored feature post. I only share with you the people and businesses I think can help you live your most authentic, creative and kind life. Thank you for supporting my work.

Something Exciting Is Happening In The Mom Blogger Community! #vmtop30

It happens every year at this time! No, it’s not the anticipation of summer holidays (read: mad scramble to figure out what the kids will do when we’re trying to blog!)…it’s the celebration of the Top 30 Mom Bloggers! Each year, Vancouver Mom puts out a call for your favourite mom bloggers and you respond in overwhelming numbers! And then VM has the daunting job of narrowing this great list down to 30.

These 30 moms are recognized for the work they put into their blogs and the impact they are making on the parent community. And by recognized I mean, we have a big ole party! This party is actually like an official start to the friendships, support and opportunities that lie ahead for these women, whether they decide to turn their blogs into full-time businesses, branch off into related fields or simply write for the sake of writing.

When I was nominated in 2012, my blog was less than a year old; I was a newbie in so many ways. The greatest blessings that came from my nomination were the confidence it gave me to present my writer self to the world, and the wonderful friendships I have gained. I wrote more about this last year, and I have to say it’s even more true today.

While most of the women who attend are bloggers, you don’t have to be one to attend! That’s why I’m telling you about it; it’s the perfect opportunity to make some new connections. If you read Vancouver-based blogs and want to meet the voices behind your favourites, there’s no better time. Also, if you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, or love writing in other ways, why not come down and talk to other like-minded women? Over the last couple years I’ve really come to realize how important face-to-face conversations are for me, and maybe you agree.

Consider this your invitation – tickets are $25 and the event includes a wine-tasting from the Oliver-Osoyoos Wine Association plus delicious local chocolates.

And I love how it’s being hosted at Roundhouse Radio 98.3 FM – a community-centred radio station. I thought that was pretty creative and a lovely way for those with a passion for communications to get to know one another.

So, will you be there? Grab your tickets and let me know! I’d love to see you on Wednesday June 22.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Why I Love My To-Do List

To-Do List. Sounds daunting to most of us, and that’s because it’s a never-ending list. If we include work + family + personal care + household maintenance + social calendar…we’re just never caught up.

I have to say, though, that although I don’t have as many ‘checks’ as I’d like next to the scribbled points in my agenda (yes, I’m all paper and pen when it comes to these things), I’m quite enjoying my to-do list. I will not get everything done today that I had hoped (I actually wasn’t planning on blogging today, but couldn’t let this thought float away without pinning it down here), but what I will get done, and what I will transfer over to tomorrow or later this week, I’m lucky to have to do.

You won’t catch me dreading writing stories or my next column or the outline for my upcoming writing workshop. I won’t groan when I have to schedule social media posts or read articles in my genre.

Adding soil to my indoor plants…that doesn’t suck so much.

A quick tea with a friend followed by a walk with another friend. Yeah, that’s not rough either.

Of course my life also consists of changing diapers, listening to whining, refereeing 3 children, responding to their 3 separate ’emergencies’ at the same time, making decisions and other adult-y kinds of things.

But having ‘writing’ be a big part of my life, identifying as a writer and just openly being who I am has carried me through way more difficult times.

What’s on your to-do list that just feels amazing? What says ‘I’m being authentic?’ on your list of things to check off?

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Remembering Mom With A Random Act Of Kindness

“Your mom’s birthday tomorrow…How are you doing?” My cousin, Zubeen, texted from Toronto last night.

I had just come home from my own birthday dinner with my 3 kids and my husband. May has always been a month of celebrations with myself, my brother and my mom having birthdays within a handful of days. Mom’s last birthday was in 2008; Life has only given me more and more love each year since then, but I always look back fondly on how we used to celebrate together. And of course, there’s always that heavy feeling in my chest when I remember how special she made us feel on our birthdays.

When a loved one passes away, it’s always nice when someone else talks about them, brings them up in conversation, shares a memory, recognizes a special day. They never truly vanish when we keep them alive like that. Stories are so important, not just to reminisce with those who knew our loved ones, but also to pass down to the next generation who may not have had a chance to witness someone’s character or personality.

My mom was a giver. I don’t know anyone who could dispute that. She gave and gave, and then she gave some more. One of the things she liked to do was pay for the parking for the person behind her at the doctor’s office. “You never know what kind of news they got from the doctor.” This is so true.

My cousin, Zubeen, suggested we remember Mom today by doing a random act of kindness for a stranger in her honour. Kindness is a ‘given’ every day, of course, but her suggestion actually made me feel excited about today. Setting an intention to make someone else’s day a little brighter is always uplifting, but doing it in someone’s memory is another way of saying, “My mom existed. She once lived here with me.”

Being 3 hours ahead, Zubeen beat me to it 😉 I got her text first thing this morning sharing what she did for a stranger. It was a fun way to start the day!

Would you join us? If not for my mom, then for someone else you wish was still here with you?

You can tell us in the comments how you chose to spread kindness today – you never know who you will inspire. Plus, did you know that ‘witnessing’ an act of good increases the serotonin in your body? That’s Nature’s anti-depressant. The whole thing is a win-win situation!

Hope your day is full of love and joy, and celebration!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative birthdaymom


Redefining Failure

I just watched Jay Shetty redefine failure in this video:


If you have a few minutes to be inspired today, I hope you give yourself a chance to watch that. There are so many different points within it; the one I want to share here is this:

In the English dictionary, failure means a lack of success. As Shetty points out, if that is our definition then what we are saying is we don’t value learning and growth and experience and struggle.

What do you think?

Does that shift your perspective on your ‘failures’?

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because really, I want it to be about you. I want you to use the time to watch the video and reflect on what this means in your own life.

Hope your Friday is beautiful!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


The Hamster Wheel

Sometimes life can feel like a hamster wheel. Definitely, the laundry feels like that. Miss one day, or two and the mountain of clothes to be washed or dried or folded comes crashing down. Then you have to jump back on and maintain that perfect rhythm again. Or else.

But life is more than laundry (no, really) and I think the hamster wheel can apply to anything. What I find interesting about this contraption is sometimes we forget that we actually have some control over the pace at which it spins. And we have some control over what – or who – we bring along for the ride.

My family likes to go down to the lake when we can – about once a month over the winter and more in the spring and summer. It’s our happy place. It’s relief and freedom for each of us. What I love most about our trips to the lake is the time and capacity to reflect; I am truly in awe of how easily the excess crap melts away, while the things that really matter rise to the surface.


Every family works differently because the individuals that make it up have their own needs and interests. And each family as a unit has its own culture: values and goals that represent those individual needs plus something all-encompassing. It’s really important to be tuned-in to that culture and those values when you want to live an authentic life.

I’m sharing this because I hear moms talk about their worries about doing what’s best for their kids and their families. They look for answers in books or in other moms. Or they ignore those thoughts that creep up in those slivers of moments in between activity.

By all means, I think we can turn to whatever source of support we think we need – but I just want to remind you that the greatest expert on what your family needs is YOU.

Only you know what you want for your family. And most importantly, only you know WHY you want what you want for your family.

If your WHY is aligned with your values, then do what it takes to create that life for your people. If your WHY has anything to do with an outside influence, please go to a place where you feel relieved and free. An actual physical place outside of you, or some place quiet and deep inside of you. Ask yourself WHY in that place.

Why am I making these choices? Why do I want these things? Why is this a priority?

Everything else will fall into place. It’s a bumpy road for me, sometimes. We live in a culture of ‘do more’ but inside me, there is conflict in that. So regular check-ins help me figure out how to address that conflict.

I’m hoping this is helpful to you in your everyday decisions and in the big picture.

Let me know how you are handling the hamster wheel – are you dancing like the guy on the treadmill in that viral Facebook video? Or do you keep crashing and wondering what the heck is going on?

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative




Writing About What Matters To Me

Over the last few years, I’ve written about many different things and for various publications: spring cleaning ideas for a magazine, little girls’ dresses for an e-store, company bios for a financial website, my own memoirs for anthologies, grant applications for a charity, Facebook posts for a small business, articles on conscious living for an online magazine, and a whole lot more. And of course here on my blog, where I share personal stories and thoughts on living a creative, authentic and kind life. You name it, and I’ve probably got at least one sample of it. Basically, I’ve been finding my way as a writer and I am grateful I’ve had these opportunities to do that.

But over the last year and a half, I’ve felt a pull toward writing the things that really matter to me. I’ve found that these topics aren’t always easy to tackle, and are often more nerve-wracking to publish than anything else I’ve ever written. My ideas on how we can live together in harmony, my worries and hopes for the next generations, and my need to share the stories that bridge the gap between us aren’t easily squelched; giving them voice has been the most fulfilling part of my writing journey so far.

There isn’t a clear market for these thoughts. I have many writer friends, some who make really good coin doing product reviews for companies or writing about travel destinations. And they work their butts off doing it, all the while loving it. Sometimes I think to myself, I could do that too. And I know I technically can, but something inside me won’t let me. That’s not my work. I need to work my butt off doing what I love. 

So I’m still finding my way, but I don’t feel like I’m doing it as blindly as I was before.

I know who I am as a writer now, and when I try to sway from that I am stopped every time by my inner voice. I guess you can say my creative Self is pretty stubborn, and I think over the years of reading and writing about creativity, I’ve developed a closer relationship with that Self of mine. I can no longer deny it what it wants.

If you are part of my Facebook community, you might have seen that I’ve started writing a column for my local newspaper, Peace Arch News. My column is called Building Bridges, and that’s what I intend to do through the thoughts and stories I share there. So far, I’m two articles in and working on the third.

I’d love it if you had a read! In the first one, I talk about my experiences growing up bi-culturally as a child of immigrant parents. I thought that would be a good introduction to myself, and where I come from (literally and figuratively).

In the second one, I talk about the fact that tolerance is beneath us. I really don’t think we should be tolerating each other. Do you?

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I’d love to hear your thoughts which you can share right under the article on the newspaper’s website if you wish. Or feel free to message me privately. There are also social media icons on each article if you are interested in sharing.

If you have any stories about cultural connections you’d like me to consider for future articles (your name would never be mentioned), please drop me a line.

I hope that whatever path you’re on, you’re choosing authenticity as a measure for what you do, how you be, what you put out in the world. It’s not always easy, but I just think it must be worth it in the end. You’ve got a light in you that is stubborn, too. Pay attention!

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

One Girl Can – Funding Scholarships For Girls In Africa #iwant2be

Did you know that I was born in East Africa? So were my parents and grandparents. My parents grew up in Kenya, in a beautiful, port town with white sand beaches. Mombasa is a tourist’s delight and a historical trading centre. We left when I was less than a year old so I have no memories of my own, but was raised on stories and pictures by nostalgic parents.

Growing up, I always said I’d go back. In high school, I dreamt of returning to Mombasa to work in some capacity. I hated the perception people around me had of Africa; I knew it to be a place of creativity and beauty and joy and so much potential. Like every land, it has its dark side. But every land is so much more than its dark side.

I never did go back but still plan to. This time my dream includes a husband, whose family has history in neighbouring Uganda, and 3 children. I want my children to know that their roots run deeper than all they are accustomed to in Canada. We’ll get there.

In the meantime, my desire to give back to a country my family once called home has never been extinguished. So when my friend, Jamie, told me she was volunteering with One Girl Can to raise funds for scholarships for girls in Kenya and Uganda, I felt that familiar twinge in my gut. Maybe I can do something here.

One Girl Can essentially does 3 things: they build and restore schools in rural Kenya and Uganda, they provide scholarships for girls wanting to go to vocational school or university as well as fund secondary schools, and they mentor students throughout the whole process. I personally like that they aren’t affiliated with any particular religion. My greatest pet peeve is a charity that offers help plus religious propaganda. I was relieved when Jamie said this wasn’t the case with One Girl Can, and thought I’d share that in case that was something that was important to you, too.

So, how am I helping? I’m attending their second annual fundraiser on Thursday April 21, 2016 at 6 pm at the Imperial in Vancouver (325 Main Street), eager to learn more about the work being done by this Vancouver-based organization. I’m most looking forward to listening to founder and executive director, Lotte Davis, who is also from Africa; she’ll be sharing her story and her inspiration for creating this charity. Those kinds of stories are my favourite! Her husband’s company, AG Hair, is a sponsor and will be providing a swanky gift bag (valued at $68) for everyone who buys a ticket to the event.

This year’s fundraiser aims to double last year’s funds raised, and every dollar goes directly to Ganze Girls Secondary school in Kenya. Their dormitories and washrooms need some major expansion and refurbishing; these girls live at school because if they don’t, there is a danger that they won’t come back. Every girl deserves an education and clean, appropriate living conditions.

If you want to join me, let me know so I can look out for you! I’ll most likely be hanging out at the silent auction table with a plateful of appetizers in hand. If you can’t come but would like to donate, you can do so on the eventbrite page – you can even specify which item you are buying! Click through to buy your ticket or donate, and if you know anyone who is passionate about Africa, girls’ education, gender equality, or simply doing good, please share this post with them.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Lordy, Lordy! My Friends Are Turning 40! #salmaturns40

“I can’t wait till our 40’s,” my friend, Jessica, said as she sat on my living room floor.

“What? Why? We just turned 30! Why do you want to get old??” I exclaimed something to this effect. I can’t remember the exact words because this was nearly a decade ago.

“Think about it. Our 30’s are about working our butts off. We have toddlers, we’re having more children, we’re building businesses. We’re working hard! Our 40’s will be about enjoying the benefits.”

She’s a smart lady, and completely right about our 30’s. Since then, Jess and I have each gone on to have 2 more kids for a total of 6 between us. I’ve remembered her words as I’ve been elbow deep in poopy diapers and spilled Cheerios, and wiped snot and caught puke all in the same day while submitting an article.

I’ve thought about my 40’s as a magical land of ‘three-kids-in-the-same-school’ since my third was born two years ago. Of course, nobody can predict the future but it’s quite possible that the next decade holds a less-crazy schedule for my entrepreneur husband, more time and space for me to expand my work (and when you love what you do, then being able to work is actually a luxury!), international travel for the 5 of us, fewer booster seats and other little kid accessories, a daughter old enough to babysit, and much more.

And now that my friends are starting to turn 40, I’m getting pretty excited for the next leg of this ride.

On Saturday night, we celebrated Salma‘s birthday in style! Her beautiful home was converted into a swanky resto/bar with catered dinner, music (the best playlist ever – hello ’90’s hip hop!), candles, a photobooth courtesy of Third Eye Weddings, and even a slideshow put together by her husband.

It was so fun to dress up and relax on a Saturday night with ladies I am lucky to have become friends with through blogging. Seriously, these ladies are the best!

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{Photo Cred: Third Eye Weddings} {Left to Right: Moi, Salma, Raj, Crystal and Jamie}

Since the time Jessica and I sat cross-legged on my living room floor a lot has changed. For example, sitting on the floor doesn’t happen as often (haha!), and even planning to get together for a dinner sans family is quite a feat!

But the 30’s have brought many wonderful things: more babies (and a complete family!), so many experiences in the writing/publishing world, and incredible connections with other women who are doin’ the grind with me.

At Salma’s party, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was that we connected online and then moved our friendship to where we meet up socially and not just to talk shop. Salma’s been the type of friend I can vent to when something’s misbehavin’ in my life (WordPress plugins, children, my wardrobe) and she’s the kind of friend I can be like, “Guess what?! They liked my pitch!! Now what do I do??” She’s one of a handful of women I have in my pocket who I can sound like one of those crazy creative-types with: “My work is my heart, it’s like I’ve bled my soul onto these pages. And…I don’t know. Maybe my work is just shit. I mean, who’s gonna pay me for this shit?!”

My life would be less colourful without the women friends I’ve been collecting from all sorts of places – my family, high school, grad school, my neighbourhood, and through this huge space called the Internet. Now that we’re headed for this next decade, I’m excited to see what Life has in store for all of us. I hope that in 10 years when I’m writing about entering my 50’s, all my friends are doing well and we’re planning reckless things.

And I hope you’re doing wonderful no matter what decade you are rockin’ right now. One thing I’ve learned is that we aren’t guaranteed anything, so yeah…work, work, work, work, work as you must but always aim to live authentically, creatively and with kindness.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative



What I’ve Learned While Preparing My Upcoming Presentation

It feels like ages since I’ve blogged and I’ve missed it. Much of my work time has gone into preparing my presentation for the Today’s Modern Women of Faith conference (3 more sleeps!).

I’ve prepared a presentation which I hope will bridge the gap between women of various faiths so we can come together and create a world that we all want for our kids. Thing is, I have a lot to say and only 20 minutes in which to say it! Keeping everything concise while still sharing a combination of stories and facts has been my greatest challenge. I’ve certainly learned about chopping and polishing my own work. And now I’m constantly rehearsing so I know my material well enough that I shouldn’t need to pause too much to think of what I’m saying. While also giving myself enough time to pause and let the audience absorb what I’m saying. It’s really pushing me to be a better speaker – I think that’s a good thing!

I’m looking forward to connecting with people who are really into this kind of thing. We all have to make choices on how we spend our time; the women who will be at this event truly value the voices of women and the causes we stand for. While I wish I was seeing more familiar faces in the crowd, I’ve learned that this is an opportunity to connect with new people who share my interests. And hopefully they’ll be the women I can look forward to seeing at other such events.

I’ve also learned that emailing people doesn’t seem to be the way to go anymore. (Maybe I’m the last person in the world to have learned this.) I thought emailing was a more personal way to reach out to people – vs. tagging someone on Facebook or just ‘putting it out there’ for whoever happens to catch it in their feed. I’ve noticed, though, that when I send out an email sharing information about an event, I don’t really hear back from many. For this particular conference, I emailed 34 women and heard back from 3. I haven’t figured out: is it the email platform, or the content, or am I coming across as spammy? I really hope it’s not the last thing. Maybe we’re all so used to getting email that that line of ‘from a friend’ vs. ‘from a company’ is blurred. In any case, I’m no longer going to reach out to friends via email when it comes to sharing events.

I think perhaps the most significant thing I have learned from this whole experience is that saying ‘yes’ to the things that push me out of my comfort zone for awhile actually makes me feel fulfilled. It’s not always comfortable to be who you are, to speak your truth, to try to affect change. I’m not sure that we came here simply to be comfortable all the time.

Hope all is well in your world! I’d love to hear about anything you’ve learned recently, or anything else you wish to share in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative