Golden Ticket Candy

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Today we are chatting with our favourite local candy maker, Katie Reed. She is the owner of Golden Ticket Candy, a brand we proudly support!
(p.s. when you attend one of our workshops, you will receive a delicious treat from Golden Ticket!)

What inspired you to start Golden Ticket?

I was inspired to start Golden Ticket by a craving.  A craving for something sweet; a soft, creamy, buttery caramel, to be exact.  Then I started thinking about candy, a lifelong love of mine, and realized that most of it is full of refined sugars, preservatives, and chemical additives, and that most caramels and candies are not made locally.  So I decided to experiment on my own and develop some delicious recipes using good, simple ingredients to satisfy my sweet tooth without all those unsavoury components. 

Your flavour combinations are so delicious! Is there any particular combo you are loving right now? Can you give us any sneak peeks at anything new in the works?

My favourite at the moment is the pretzel caramel.  It's a simple variation on the original sea salt caramel that also has that crunchy, salty tastiness on top of the sweet caramel, a perfect combination! Right now I'm recipe testing a new flavour for spring that features lavender, as well as experimenting on a vegan caramel, annnd a few other things... stay tuned!

Is this the first business you have owned? What did you do before Golden Ticket?

Golden Ticket is the third business I've owned.  I became self-employed in 2009 when I opened Sole Survivor as a cobbler, running it until 2014.  In 2015, I opened Seesaw Café, a café and community space featuring my own wood creations as well as the works of other local makers, which I ran until 2017.  In January of this year I began Golden Ticket in the hopes of providing simple and delicious locally-made candy to the masses!

What has surprised you most about owning a business?

What has surprised me most about owning a business is not the incredible amount of work involved, but the fact that that can be so rewarding in itself.  When you have an idea and put in all the work to make it become a reality, you see yourself and those around you as players in a really big and inspiring community.  Watching my friends and peers succeed in being entrepreneurs of all kinds, and knowing the amount of drive and dedication it takes, really pushes me to do all I can to stay true to myself and my vision.  Owning a business gives me a broader perspective on life and makes me so proud to do what I do. 

What would you do on a perfect day in Toronto?

Toronto, to me, is about neighbourhoods, food, parks, music, friends and family.  My perfect day would be unplanned; my idea of fun is exploring and letting life happen as it will.  That being said, it would definitely start with coffee and my sweet daughter's smile.  Maybe a picnic(a California sandwich?!) with friends down at the water, checking out a festival, going for a bike ride, running into people I didn't expect to see, strolling through the market and buying some fresh food, then making a meal with it and sharing with people I love.

Podcasts We Love: How I Built This

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We are all podcast listeners here at the studio. Solo work at the jeweller's bench or potter's wheel is the perfect time for it. There are so many great ones out there, and one current fave is How I Built This With Guy Raz.  Every episode tells the story of a different entrepreneur, and as you might guess from the title, how they built their businesses. It's the real stuff, with all the high highs and low lows. These people created huge things, and seeing how they got there is so inspiring.

Episode to listen to: Kate Spade: Kate and Andy Spade

Field Trip : Health Hut

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We are launching a new series here on the blog called Field Trip, where we step outside our studio and visit some of our favourite spots in the city. First up is Health Hut, owned by holistic nutritionist Tara Miller.  She started Health Hut in a tiny outdoor space in Muskoka one summer, offering chemical free lifestyle products to cottagers before expanding to a larger storefront in Toronto.  The shop is a beautiful, light filled room with the perfect curation of wellness and beauty products. (and a cute shop doggo too!) 

This was our first visit, and we basically wanted to buy everything. Local brands like Province Apothecary, Lovefresh and Woodlot are displayed on simple wooden tables and white shelves, along with cult favourites like Tata Harper and RMS Beauty. In the back of the store you'll find natural remedies, cleaning products, a fridge stocked with healthy beverages - all your self care essentials are here!

 There are also workshops and events held regularly, an upcoming one to check out is Monday Meditation with The Quiet Co. It was such a great visit, and we can't wait to go back!

786 College St.

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The Quiet Co

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Today we are chatting with Emily Thring, founder of The Quiet Co., a pop up meditation studio, and instructor of our upcoming Superfood Latte and Nutmilk Workshop

What inspired you to start The Quiet Co?

I learned to meditate 6 years ago and I wanted a space I could drop in to support my practice in a group environment. Nothing like that existed in Toronto and after lots of contemplation, I decided to create a community for modern meditators to fit some quiet it into their busy lives. 

What does a typical day for you look like?

Honestly, every day is so different! Ideally, I start every morning with a little bit of movement (stretching or pilates), lemon water and a few minutes of quiet. I can't live without breakfast so I make something at home and have a coffee with adaptogens to make sure I'm getting the energy and system support I need. I usually spend a couple hours in the morning catching up on email or working on projects and have meetings in the afternoon. As an entrepreneur, I've learned to be pretty protective of my schedule. I carve out time for work or it doesn't get done! I love going to spaces like Make Lemonade or Tokyo Smoke to get out of my house and work with intention. I make time for my own meditation practice in the afternoon and take time then to read or prepare usually lead a meditation at one of our drop-in classes. Working out hasn't been a priorty but I'm trying to bring it back. I make an effort to walk everywhere and I can't wait for spring to actually start so I can get my bike out again. 

What is the best way for someone who has little experience with meditation to get started?

Like so many things in life you just have to start! Try sitting for 10 minutes a day, using a guided meditation from one of the amazing apps on the market or music. Make a commitment to do it for a week and see how you feel. A guided meditation class can be really helpful as an instructor will guide your experience, plus you can ask any questions and get advice on how to sit. 

How do you stay grounded when you are feeling the pressure from your business and life in general?

I have a lot of amazing people in my life who support me by listening and collaborating. I turn to them when things get crazy to help put it in perspective. I give myself permission to feel the pressure because it is real, and ignoring that just makes it worse. I try to go back to the practices that led me here: movement and meditation. Both are so important so I can show up as my best self in all situations.

Any advice you would give to a new creative entrepreneur/business owner?

In every moment you are making the best choice you can for your business with the information you have available. Trust your gut. Be realistic about what you can achieve and where you need to call in an expert. There's nothing wrong with asking for help.

Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth Friendly Home Design

By Gillian Johnson

  Photo: © 2012 Kodiak Greenwood

 Photo: © 2012 Kodiak Greenwood

Left entirely to my own devices I would be in absolutely no rush to build a “proper” house. Living off-grid in my 17 ft yurt is pretty much all my dreams are made of. I love the process of filling the water jugs and carrying them down, attending to the fire and creating systems that will conserve my resources and sustain me as efficiently as possible. It is a kind of living that is creative in ways I never imagined. I don’t long for modern conveniences while there (well, maybe refrigeration from time to time), the structure has been surprisingly resilient through all sorts of extreme weather and the birdsong, sound of wind blowing through the trees and the coyotes howling against the moon rising fills me with wonder every day.

My undisturbed dream for the land would be to have yurts, tiny houses and tree houses scattered through the forest but with the regulatory restrictions applicable in my area I have to make some modifications to the vision and build a primary structure. There are about a million restrictions to take into consideration with the house design to ensure it will be satisfactory to the many regulatory bodies that have a say, making the breadth and depth of this portion of the project intimidating to say the least. But I am doing it, just about to swan dive off this cliff and among a number of other emotions am excited for all the knowledge to learn and people I will meet along the way.

While compromising on building a primary structure at a minimum square footage, I am unwavering on using natural building principles and ecological design models as guides for this build. Amidst my research I came across the perfect inspiration book, “Handmade Houses” by Richard Olsen. He exposes the roots of “green architecture” by visiting homes in which cost-cutting, DIY improvisation, eco consciousness, art and craft simultaneously converge and shares fabulous photos of houses that embody all these characteristics. For these builds, the designers and builders, wholeheartedly embrace handcraft as a buffer against the prevailing cultural obsession with all things technologically new and as a result have created structures that are so much more beautiful and soulful than most you will find in our world of ever increasing uniformity. Follow along on the blog for more updates on the build!

 

“There is a fine line between what we want and need. If you make what you need, you may find that it is also what you want.” Alexander Weygers

Eleventh House Jewellery

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Morgan Dowler is the owner and designer of Eleventh House Jewellery, and one of Assembly's resident makers. Today we chat with her about all the things!

How did you get started?

Back in 2011 while I was still living in Nova Scotia, I went on a trip to visit Cape Breton Island with a friend of mine. While we were taking a walk along the Atlantic ocean, I noticed some arrowhead shaped rocks that I thought would make nice pendants. That's when I began to teach myself to wire wrap objects to be worn as pendants. 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I like to pack my days pretty full with everything and anything. I am finding I am spending more and more time in the studio these past 6 months, which I am grateful for! As much as I like being busy with work I also appreciate the amazing community I have found since moving to Toronto so I will almost always end my days with seeing friends.

You often use crystals in your work. What would be your recommendation for someone wanting to get started with them-what are your top choices for starting a collection?

Rose Quartz! Rose Quartz is known as the "Love Stone" and thought to promote self love, romantic love, platonic love, all kinds of love! I find it to be a very calming stone to have around.

What/who inspires your collection?

100% all of the incredible womyn in my life. I think my friends are the coolest and have the best style. When making something I consider whether or not I could see my friends wearing the piece.

I know Eleventh House is not your only gig, you have many projects on the go! How do you find the balance between these competing priorities?

I thrive off being somewhat overwhelmed with things to do, so having multiple projects on the go is how I usually operate. Balance is something I am working towards haha...

What's one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting a business? 

Persist and power through all of the times you think it isn't worth it! You will have many of those times owning a business, but you gotta stay strong and keep in mind what drove you to start your business in the first place.

What's a book or band you are loving right now?

I am currently re-reading "Fall on Your Knees" by Toronto author Ann-Marie MacDonald. Her books are depressing as HELL but so beautifully written. As for music, Soupcans. Soupcans forever.

Toronto Workshop Spaces

If there is a craft or skill you want to learn, chances are there's a place to do just that here in Toronto. Below is our ever growing list of spaces offering workshops in the city. Enjoy!

Nightshift Ceramics

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Robyn Molnar is the creator of Nightshift Ceramics, and a Maker In Residence at Assembly. 

How did you get started making ceramics? Is this the first business you have run?
It was very random. I took a weekend workshop, and really liked working with clay so I continued to take more classes and learn as much as I could. (Still learning today!) I have run a few other “businesses” before. I say that in quotes because they were not successful, nor did they have much direction behind them. I sold vintage online in a shop called Rare Treasure, and had an accessories brand called Heartbeat with my sister in the mid 2000’s.

What is your favourite thing about your workspace?
The cool buds I share it with!

Your designs are so fun and fresh, where do you get your inspiration from?
I am a child of the 80s, and also one raised by TV, haha. (Ask me about any 80s sitcom-I’m sure I can tell you all about it!) But I think that the pop culture of that time has really seeped into my brain and my design sensibility too.

How long does it take to create a ceramic piece? Can you provide a little bit of insight into the process?
There are many steps, including the creation of the piece, drying of clay, firing. It can take more than a week to get to the final product.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
Honestly, I don’t even remember! Maybe a fashion designer? I don’t think I had much of a clue, which makes sense considering my actual career trajectory has been pretty clueless too!

What does success look like to you?
The freedom to do what I want, and choose the projects I want to do. Also while making enough money to pay the bills and do things like buy a coffee without having guilt for spending $4 dollars. Not completely there yet, but hoping to get there one day. :)

What are some of your favourite things to do in the city?
Well, my favourite night out is Yacht Rock at The Boat. If you are not familiar with what Yacht Rock is - it’s those smooth, jazzy sounds of the 70s and 80s- things like Phil Collins, Lionel Richie etc. I know a lot of people consider this garbage, but I love it so much! Another favourite thing to do is dine at The Skyline and drink their spicy margarita. The best!

Beginnings

It is hard to know where to begin this story. I will spend some time in the coming months putting to words the process of arriving at the decision to buy 25 acres of vacant land and live off-grid, because there is one thing I can promise you, it was a real process. One that took many years filled with lots of self doubt and fear but also of tremendous discovery, connection and support. It is a story of baby steps, of making incremental improvements and constantly challenging myself to learn new things.

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The dream is to build on the community that we are creating here in the city with Assembly. To transform the property into a playground of permaculture gardens, hardwood forest trails, and integrated food forests which we will use to create alternative off-grid experiences, host a series of homesteading and traditional craft-based workshops and provide artist residencies for those that are interested in exploring the intersection of art, farming and rural life.

The property had nothing when I bought it, no services (electricity, water) and not even an entrance.

 See my car tucked away on the left. There were load restrictions on the roads so the heavy machinery required to build the driveway had to wait til later in Spring. I couldn’t wait to start living here, so I would shimmy my car up the ditch and off road it into the property.

See my car tucked away on the left. There were load restrictions on the roads so the heavy machinery required to build the driveway had to wait til later in Spring. I couldn’t wait to start living here, so I would shimmy my car up the ditch and off road it into the property.

The climb up the steep learning curve started with the need to put in a driveway. Who to use, what permits are required, how much was this going to cost and where on earth should I put it? With each and every thing that has been done to the land, there have been so many factors to consider, research to be done and things to learn. Did I mention that I have absolutely no previous experience with any of this? I am saying all of this because navigating the new is always associated with elevated anxiety for me but my advice to you is don’t use that as an excuse, just do it, find your dreams, follow them, stumble along the way and then just make sure to laugh your ass off as it all plays out.

For now, here are some pics of the initial steps and structures that have been built. There is so much more I will share about this journey and I am so excited for when I get to see your beautiful faces up on the land.





 

Gillian Johnson

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Gillian Johnson is the founder of Assembly, as well as the owner and designer of jewellery brand Hawkly. Her new collection and website just launched, see more here.

How did you get started?

I first started making jewelry when I was on a University exchange program in Thailand. I was visiting a small island near Bangkok when I saw someone making jewelry and was overcome with envy. I started nosing around, asking questions and the artist was kind enough to share some tips on where I could source materials. Next thing I knew I was bartering for strands of stones in Bangkok’s Chinatown and making “jewelry” with fishing line. I was cleaning out some things at my parent’s house a few months back and found some of my original pieces. Pretty funny and a little bit embarrassing to see the craftsmanship from the early days but I guess you have to start somewhere!

What does a typical day look like for you?

I think I may be stumped on this one :)  There isn’t a lot of routine in my life as a result of living between the city and my yurt, travelling and juggling a variety of projects, but one constant is starting the day off with one of my great loves of life…coffee! I always drink too much of it no matter where I am. I usually like to write emails and take care of computer work while I drink that second cup of coffee. After coffee, a good day in the city starts with a bike ride and in the country with a hike in the forest. And I just love working away at my jewellers bench late into the night.

Your pieces are very textured & organic. What are some of your inspirations when creating a piece?

I find inspiration for jewelry pieces just about everywhere. Whether I am out on a hike and the intricate pattern on leaf catches my eye or am wandering around the city and have to stop to take a picture of the textured wall or ornate door knob, the inspiration just jumps out to me and I can’t wait to incorporate it into a miniature wax sculpture. So much beauty in the world to be interpreted, explored and shared.

You also founded Assembly, and are working on a farm project in the country. What motivated you to start these very different projects?

After over 10 years of entrepreneurship I realized the things that brought me the most joy, outside of making jewelry, were working collaboratively with inspiring people and being in nature. Though these projects seem unrelated at first, the common goals for all projects are building community, enabling continuous learning, creating beautiful things and sharing connection and joy with other people. Currently, Assembly is an incubator for other upcoming Toronto based brands and a workshop space where we have had the chance to collaborate with so many amazing makers and entrepreneurs. The plan is to build on that model by creating a permaculture farm and rural artist residency where people will be able to come to explore their craft and be inspired by nature. I am beyond excited for the type of collaborations and play that can be explored in this setting.

What do you do to stay grounded when you are feeling the pressure from your business and life in general?

When I am in the city, I love to have chill evenings with dearest friends. We call them “floor hangs” and the ingredients of those nights usually include some stretching and ball massages, bottles of wine and lots of laughs. In the country, a lengthy hike on an unknown trail or laying in the meadow observing the complexity of the plant and insect life that usually goes unseen will usually do the trick for me.

What are some surprising things you've learned from starting a business?

In my experience, it takes WAY longer than expected or desired for everything to come to fruition so above all perseverance is key. And I am still so pleasantly surprised with how supportive my friends and family always are.

What's on your best of Toronto list?

A meal at Union never disappoints, the smoothies and salads at The Goods are the best, love the down to earth vibes at the Tampered Press and the back patio at The Walton. And fav shops are The Wanderly and Subrosa Vintage.

 

How To Hygge

Making time for adventures in nature, taking pleasure in the simple things in life, and sharing them with others. These are some of the main approaches to Hygge. In case you haven’t heard, Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish concept which loosely translates to cosiness.  More than simple ‘cosiness’, this term encompasses enjoyment of nature, simplicity and healthy hedonism. As Signe Johansen, author of How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life explains, hygge is  “The magic of everyday life, choosing hope and a can-do attitude over fear and despair, and making time to be kind both to yourself and others”

 

Sounds amazing, right? Shouldn’t we all be practicing hygge all the time? Perhaps easier said than done in our world of stress and work and general busy-ness! Johansen shows us the essential elements of incorporating hygge in your life with an informative book of recipes, home decor recommendations, and general ideas.

Here are some pro tips from the book on how to hygge:

•spending time in nature calms you. It allows you to step back and reflect on the very essence of what living is about.

•being active at all ages is essential. Find a sport or activity you enjoy and remember: it’s about feeling great, not looking a certain way.

•keep food simple and focus on naturally nourishing foods that will sustain you. Slow down to eat: savour those moments during the day when you can enjoy a delicious meal.

•Inebriation is decidedly not the end goal, but alcohol is a great ‘attitude adjuster’ when consumed in moderation.

•Being kind isn’t just about the self, and those moments of quiet solitude. It’s also about spending time with others, about being sociable and taking pleasure in simple things together.

Liz Worth

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Liz Worth is an astrologer, tarot reader and author living and working in Toronto. She is an original collaborator with Assembly and we are so happy to have her back in studio November 4th with her workshop, Tarot 101.

 

1. How did you get started?

My journey into tarot had a false start when I was younger. I was really interested in tarot and the occult as a teenager, but didn't have the patience to learn tarot at the time. Looking back, I probably didn't quite have the life experience, either. I got a deck back then, but expected it to all come together right away and when it didn't, I got discouraged. 

I didn't come back to tarot until much later, when I was in my 20s. By then I was very career focused, but was missing something. I had put aside my occult interests in the process. But I needed a spiritual connection to something and needed to focus my energy on something more than work. But I didn't know what. I went to an astrologer for a reading and after learning a lot about myself through my natal chart, I got inspired to get back to my long-forgotten interests in things like tarot and the esoteric. Especially because this astrologer had told me I had the right energies for this kind of thing. 

I picked up another tarot deck and it became an entry point back into the spiritual path I'd been seeking. I started to get into astrology, too, and began to learn how to work with both. I didn't set out to read professionally, though, and resisted that path for a long, long time. I took classes, read books, and did a lot of practice readings. Eventually, friends started asking me to read at parties and things, and then friends' of friends would ask me for readings. And then people started to say, "You should charge money for this." And then people would ask, "Do you think you will ever start a business for this?" 

But I kept thinking no, because I had another career planned out. But one day I realized I could do this, and that I wanted to, and the more I thought about it, the more right it felt. Years had gone by and I felt very confident as a reader by then, too, which helped. Practice is important. 
 

2. What has surprised you the most about starting a business?

The power of saying no. 

When I first got started, I had to say no to myself a lot. I would start to believe that I needed to do all the things, all the time: That I had to be on every social media platform, that I had use every bit of business advice I could find, that I had to take a million business courses and try to market it myself in thirty different ways.

And the reality is, the more focused you are, the better things become. Because you can't do it all anyway, and honestly, you only need to find a few things that stick and stay consistent with them. If Instagram gives you lots of visibility, then great. Stay with Instagram. Don't feel pressured to spread yourself so thin across other platforms, or to jump on the next tech bandwagon just because. Building business takes time and it's best to pay attention to the things that work for you.

And of course, saying no can be extremely important when you are looking at which opportunities to take. At the end of the day, you're going to be putting time and energy into whatever you are working on, so make sure it's the right thing. Don't feel that you have to say yes to everything, especially if it's not going to move your vision forward.
 

3. What's one trait you think a small business owner needs to be successful?

It's hard to pick just one. I think patience is important, because without it, any vision - business or otherwise - has little chance of becoming a reality.

When I started my business on a full-time basis, I would have whole months go by where I didn't have a single client. That's scary for someone who is running a service-based business model. But I really believed in what I was doing and I gave it time. 

I was also consistent in the effort I put into my business, which I think goes in hand with patience. Patience helps you say, "Give it another day," which helps you to show up consistently to work, even when the money has yet to appear.
 

4. Any advice you would give to a new creative entrepreneur/business owner?

Take your business seriously and treat it as such. Invest the time, the energy, the money, whatever you need, and give it enough time to actually become something. 

If you want your business to be full-time, you will eventually have to work on it full-time. It might not happen without you taking the leap first, so be ready to quit your full-time gig (if you  have one) to turn your business into a reality.

And know when to stop working at the end of the day. This can be really hard early on because there will be times when you need to be working on your business enough so that you can get all the pieces together. But breaks are important, too. Self-care matters. Don't work yourself sick. Don't deprive yourself of sleep. Don't forget that you are a whole person, mind, body, and soul, and that you will be better for taking the time to rest, relax, and recharge.
 

5. What is a little known fact about you?

I won a public speaking award in Grade 4 for a speech I gave where I spoke from the point of view of a cat. I wore a cat mask and everything. My mom still has the plaque somewhere. 

The Outsiders

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“ We are all Born Explorers”

A showcase of artists, creatives, entrepreneurs all with the common inspiration of outdoor adventure. “Because an adventurer is not something that you become, it is something you are when you are born.” This book is a celebration of people of that have never stopped wondering or wandering and are creating art, products and projects that share this magic with others. The following is a list of some our favs from the book but check it out because there are loads of inspiring brands, bloggers and artists featured (feeling proud to see so many Canadians featured)

Yamatomichi - an outdoor gear brand focusing on the production of lightweight backpacks and related essentials for mountain-go-ers.

Tree Tents - a spherical treehouse that offers year round, above-ground shelter for up to two adults.

Norquay - a Canadian brand dedicated to the art of camping, applying new design ideas to traditional items. They offer handcrafted, handpainted canoe paddles whose colors and patterns are inspired by the beauty and heritage of Northern Canada.

Sitka - a Canadian Lifestyle brand with signature product the Hobo Knife, a multitool that honours the adventure of life on the road and made in collaboration with Case XX.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson