Dear DiaryI'll Follow You Anywhere

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How many of you have been watching the new Netflix series GIRLBOSS?

I hinted a bit way back, but long before the show aired this Spring I actually got to step into “Sophia’s World” with Netflix. Remember when I went to LA last August with all sorts of other girl bosses from around the globe? We were secretly exploring the sets, ogling the wardrobe department, and chatting up Sophia Amoruso herself – I just had to keep everything under wraps until the show was out!

So, after almost a year of zipped lips, I’m publishing this post – complete with a list of the best vintage spots in LA from the Girlboss styling team, and a video clip from a one-on-one I did with Sophia at the backlot! This trip was so many special things to me: my first ever “blogger trip”, the first time I got to explore Hollywood behind the scenes, my first time interviewing someone I admire on camera (eek)… the list goes on and on. So much more goes into bringing a story to life than I had ever imagined – the team was essentially creating an entire world, and it’s been a trip to say the least to see the spaces we explored back then and the props we held on the big (or small depending on your Netflix setup) screen. We hung out in Sophia’s TV show apartment and saw how each look she wears on the show came together, from idea to sketch to shopping and final fitting/styling. We talked at great lengths about how the head of the wardrobe department came to find Sophia’s signature metallic leather jacket.

keep scrolling for the vintage guide, video, and more…

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At the time I was facing a lot of big, tough questions about my life, my business and where I wanted it to go, and the time spent amongst so many strong, independent women was so crucial to the moves I’d make in the months to come. It’s what prompted me to run away to LA for the winter, to grow my business and take on new challenges… plus the conversation that I had with Sophia (conveniently recorded below) pushed me to re-examine and eventually flush out some of the relationships in my life that were taking more than they were giving. I don’t want to be dramatic, but looking back that week was nothing short of life-changing.


The Best Vintage Spots in LA, as dictated by the GIRLBOSS team and Sophia //

A current affair
Scout
Rose bowl
Wasteland
Slow
Jet rag
Squaresville
Urchin
The bearded Beacle
Dorothy’s closet

Scroll one more time for my interview with Sophia!

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Dear DiaryI'll Follow You Anywhere

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As expected, almost every conversation I have right now is shaped by the same question: “How was LA? It looked AMAZING!” Every time I wish I had some sort of Eat Pray Love-esque story to share, an all consuming tale of triumph and growth and figuring out exactly where I’m supposed to be. But amongst the many tough things I’ve learned as of late, life is not like the movies (or romanticized novels loaded with privilege for that matter).

Anyone who follows me knows how tightly I cling to the fairytales I grew up with, from the aged stories of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O’Hara to Snow White singing “Someday my Prince Will Come”, but I’m starting to doubt I’ve been on the right track. Somewhere, something has gone awry. I worked so hard to build my life into the dream I’d always imagined – I climbed so quickly to such great heights and when I reached the top I guess I looked around and realized how alone I was up there.

This past three months I truly lived my life to the fullest. I did so much in such a short time, more than many people do over a decade, from learning how to shuck oysters on an oyster farm, to crashing into a patch of rocks on a rented surfboard (oops). I rode horses on the beach, went snowboarding through a forest of fresh powder, walked for hours on end through mysterious neighbourhoods and forced myself to be brave and make new friends whenever the opportunity arose. I learned how to eat dinner alone at a restaurant with only a book to keep me company. I fully quit smoking, switched to a 100% plant-based diet without looking back, and mastered new ways to deal with my anxiety and depression without the help of medication.

I also learned that no matter where you are or who you surround yourself with, your issues don’t just stay behind when you hop a plane. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and one that I’ve failed to accept so many times, but something about being on the other side of the continent and still facing a lot of the same problems made me question where the root of the issue was actually growing. It’s no surprise I found the root close to home – it was always within me.

Not to say there’s anything wrong with me, just the way I go about my existence. I’ve always believed in the good, that doing the right thing pays off and loving those around you will only build more love in this confusing and messy world. What I failed to notice was the shortcoming of basic human nature: for the most part if someone is given too much too soon, they’ll question how far they can run with it. I’ve done a terrible job of protecting myself, of valuing myself and of keeping in touch with reality – even if it isn’t as sparkly as I’d like to imagine, there’s value to having one foot on the ground, even if you’re a dreamer.

In conclusion, my trip was absolutely amazing, beautiful, extraordinary, and more than I ever could’ve hoped. It was also painful, raw, riddled with tears and struggle – more than I ever could’ve planned for. I think I left on this trip thinking it would just be a fun adventure, an escape from the cold of winter and the cold in my heart, but the most valuable thing about my time away turned out to be learning to actually work on myself, by myself, without any of the crutches, comforts, or support systems at home. Instead of staying so busy with events and friends that I buried my heartache and shortcomings, I spent days making lists of how I can improve myself and build off of the mistakes I’ve made. I sent letters of forgiveness to break down old anger. I made some big, hard, life changing decisions based not on my fairytale mentality, but on real tangible happiness and mistakes.

I’m going to cut this off here, because if I don’t I may NEVER stop, and no one loads this page for a full on novel. More coming, a LOT more, but for now this is the best trip summary I’ve got. If you’re somehow still hungry for more, there’s a fun roundup of some of my favourite LA learnings below, and of course a list of new favourite spots to see:

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A few takeaways before I go on and on for DAYS //

Care About Self Care // I’m really bad at taking care of myself. I forget to eat, to sleep, and some days I actually have to remind myself to breathe. California was a slightly different pace, where slowing down is celebrated and long lunches are best served on the patio with fresh squeezed local juices. I was constantly training myself to STOP WORKING and enjoy the scenery, to take a walk in the sunshine or take the afternoon off to visit a museum. In and around Valentine’s Day I went the whole nine yards, with a massage at The Now Massage, and honestly this place deserves an entire post of its own. The team is AMAZING, the massage so life changing, and the space is pure bliss. Don’t think, just go – you won’t regret it (and warning, you’ll likely come home with one of their gorgeous signature candles.)

More isn’t More // a major point of stress for me while travelling was everything I had lingering back home. For those of you who don’t know, I’m downsizing to a shiny new condo in response to our ceiling at #thepastelpalace COLLAPSING while I was away, and living out of a suitcase really made me realize how little I actually need in my space to live a happy life. Now that I’m home I’m shedding like crazy for Spring, leaving the extra weight behind and only bringing forward the bits and pieces in my life that truly bring me joy.

Scent Therapy // Scents can be totally transportive, so when I get lost in my mind or overwhelmed by the bitter winter cold I spray Le Labo Santal 33. Well known just about everywhere, I found Santal was particularly beloved in Venice Beach, in fact it was basically inescapable, so the two almost immediately became intertwined in my mind. A whiff of this stuff and I’m instantly back with my toes in the sand, sipping wine and watching surfers. Some might call it wearing perfume, but I prefer “scent therapy”.

Take a Moment to Meditate // All over California, especially in and around LA, folks kept reminding me to just ~chill~ and it wasn’t till I arrived back in Toronto that I started to listen. Sometimes the best things can’t be forced, and taking time to slow down and just be in a moment has had a really positive impact on daily existence. I’ve been using Headspace since I got back, and I’m loving their little lessons (“Not everything is about achieving! Just be present!”) plus simple guided meditation sessions that made it easy even for someone who never sits still (aka me).

Appreciate What you Have // I found myself complaining about Toronto a whole lot while I was away, and finally someone pointed out “you know, I’ve never met someone who has something negative to say about that city.” It struck me that maybe my issue wasn’t with Toronto itself, but with the version of it that I found myself living in. I started to restructure my thoughts, analyzing the negativity and taking into consideration what I might be able to change. By the time I got home I was shocked to find I wasn’t riddled with anxiety and sadness shivering in the cold – I was stupidly excited to get my life going here! So far it’s been nothing but good, even if I’ve had to shelve my summer dresses for the time being.

Van Leeuwen ice cream
Flowerboy Project
The Social Type
Twig and Twine
Moonlight Rollerway
by chloe
Donut friend
Flounce Vintage
Sokerbit
Kettle Black
The Springs LA
The Broad Museum
Galcos Old World Grocery
Block Party
Ysabel
The Row
Honeycut
SQIRL
Fonuts

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Dear DiaryI'll Follow You Anywhere

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I don’t really know how to write this post without sounding like a brag, but I have to be honest: life is really, stupidly good. It’s not just the sun, and the beach, and the comically fresh avocados… it’s the ability to go for a run every day without piling on layers, to order something vegan at any restaurant you desire, to make friends who take you to LACMA and rock climbing gyms and comedy shows because that’s how people hang out here. It’s a feeling of freedom that escaped me for too long.

Yes, I’m romanticizing, but in all fairness this place has been total bliss for me. I went vegan the day I touched down, have finally fully said goodbye to the disgusting world of cigarettes, and feel more in shape than I have in months. Sunshine and fresh veggies are the best medicine money can buy in my books, and coming down to California to escape some of that Toronto winter doom and gloom back home was just what the doctor ordered.

As I write this I find myself in San Francisco for a few weeks, a brand new place that I’ve never really explored! So until I get my bearings and can formulate a list of SF faves, here are my favourite NEW findings from L.A. this past month:

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Otherwild // If you were ever looking for housewares with boobs all over them, look no further. Seriously though, this Los Feliz shop is filled with perfect feminist finds and queer goodies. I wanted to buy the entire inventory (rainbow stairway included).

Shojin // Not only is Shojin a totally vegan sushi restaurant tucked away in a mall in Little Tokyo, but it also happens to be the best service I’ve ever experienced. If you want to feel like a princess and try the most creative fish-free Japanese dishes around, this is the place for you.

Shop Belljar // Stocked with RAOP favourites like HKM and Samantha Pleet, this lovely little store of amazing pastel finds is right next to Otherwild, so prepare to leave the block with a seriously dented wallet.

Go Get Em Tiger // A popular brunch and coffee spot in both Larchmont and Los Feliz), this cafe is perfect for a light meal, a tasty beverage, and lazy outdoor lounging (unless you go on the weekend, then you’ll be fighting for a seat all morning).

Eric Buterbaugh Perfumes // If you’re walking down Beverly Blvd. and come across a Nirvana-like garden with an undeniably delicate and distinct floral scent, you’ve found Eric Buterbaugh’s space. Part gallery, part perfumery, this gorgeous building is full of unexpected sensory delights, and if you think floral scents are outdated and boring, get ready to think again.

Tenoversix // An endless array of local art, dreamy housewares and wardrobe essentials await within this pastel heaven.

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Juice Served Here // Simple and to the point, this LA juicery has some crazy good combos. We recommend “Tropic Thunder”, “The Pixie”, and/or “Pearl Punch”… if you have to choose.

Bar Bandini // Cozy and crowded, this tiny dive bar in Echo Park makes for the perfect place to get close to someone new. Try the 101 Cider House “Cactus Red” if you’re not sure what fancy craft beverage to order – it’s hot pink and delicious!

Super Smash Buns Food Truck // The best late night food delivery of ALL time. We ordered the Vegan Quesedilla, Masala Fries, and Rose Lavender Lemonade and basically had a collective meltdown over the goodness.

Cliffs of ID // Rock climbing is rapidly getting big everywhere, but it’s REALLY big in LA. All the cool kids are doing it, and on top of being a fun way to make friends it’s also a SUPER hard workout!

Erin McKenna’s Bakery // I’ve been a massive fan of Erin’s Vegan, gluten free goods since first discovery her original bakery in NYC a few years back, and seeing her shop in Larchmont was like bumping into a deeply missed and oh so sweet friend. This is also the only place I know of that makes vegan black-and-white cookies, which just so happen to by my all time favourite!

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Still on my list to see…
Sweet Fin Poke
By CHLOE
SQRL
Little Pine
Block Party
Sage
Clifton’s
Donut Friend

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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It’s hard to even know where to start with this post, because honestly the whole LA experience was so magical I have a hard time believing any of it was real. Sorry in advance if this reads like a fairytale, but that’s just how it really was!

When Netflix asked me to join the roster of bloggers they’d chosen from all over the world for a #Girlboss adventure in LA there wasn’t even a moment of hesitation. A week later I was on a plane to the land of palm trees and surfing, totally unable to fathom what lay ahead. I checked into the Line Hotel (an amazing building with the best pool, a gorgeous greenhouse-like eatery, and a flawless juice selection at the coffee bar!) and from that moment on everything was a blur of magical girl power madness.

I laughed hysterically as a live studio audience member on the Chelsea show. I stood at the end of a gigantic wooden backlot rainbow. I did a one on one interview with original #GIRLBOSS Sophia Amoruso. I sat at a table that ordered one of everything on the menu, and then ordered MORE. And that list, that doesn’t even begin to cover it. By the end of the three days of Netflix adventures I walked away with 15 new friends located all over the face of the planet, a really cool Nasty Gal satin bomber jacket, and so much inspiration that my heart hurt.

It. was. Incredible.

I decided to stick around my favourite city for a few extra days, so mid-week I switched from the hotel to my friend Dana’s house and went exploring on my own. I’ve been to LA over 22 times before (what can I say, I always have and always will adore that place), but this time something was different. I felt so at home, and I covered so much ground so quickly just out of pure excitement. From Venice Beach to Silverlake, I went just about everywhere, and though a lot of the places I went to were clearly marked on a map of favourites from my past visits, I came across a whole bunch of unexpected wonderful things too.

I don’t even know how to conclude this. I ate the best vegan food of my life EVERY day, I had drinks with PETA employees and bonded over their Sea World protest stories, I helped rescue a kitten with an Uber driver and I spent a morning by the sea reading my favourite book of all time without a trace of loneliness. I felt truly alive, and so crazy inspired that I literally haven’t stopped moving since my plane landed in Toronto last week.

I love you Los Angeles, I really do. Until next time…

Scroll down for my favourite finds, and my list of perfect photo stops!

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Photo Spot Scavenger Hunt //

Some of LA’s most popular photo spots have become really overpopulated since my last visit, so I kept my eye out for less conventional spots over the course of my trip and made a list to share! If you hunt down one of these locations make sure you tag #RAOPphotospot so I can congratulate you!

Wiltern
Department of water and power  (i don’t know which location, but it was many shades of pink!)
Trashy lingerie
Building behind flywheel
100 market street
Westminster garage
HD supplies

New Favourites //

Olive & June
Nasty gal
Reformation
Flannel
L.angels
Alfred Tea
Moon Juice Melrose Place
Cafe Gratitude
Butcher’s Daughter Venice
Rawberri

Places I Still Didn’t Get To //

Milk jar cookies
Blu dot
Cotton hi
Big D’s Burgers

Keep your eyes peeled for my follow up post about the #GIRLBOSS show coming soon to Netflix, plus my interview with Sophia and a list of her favourite LA Vintage shops!