While my home base was Toronto, the people I’ve encountered since I left home, were enriching me with very different ideals than I had been exposed to previously. Although Toronto contributed so much to my creative talents and intellectual development, for the most part, it is a conservative city, and being the wild child that I am, I began to feel very unhappy and unfulfilled there. I needed to stretch my wings.
So when I finally took the leap to move my life to Brooklyn at 27 years old to start production on my ethically focused, made in the Garment District swimwear brand, I was opened up to a Universe of possibility and influence. I found myself surrounded by artists, musicians and hippies that were challenging the status quo in positive and meaningful ways. Through the struggles I faced in my new life as an immigrant entrepreneur with very few resources, I began to imagine a world where everything moved in harmony; where all these inspiring, talented people, that were enriching my life so deeply, didn’t have to put forth such unnatural effort for the very basics of life, when really, they were put here to create and expand human connection through their art.
I arrived in Tulum two years later searching for something closer to the vision that had begun to reveal itself. By this time, Hotcakes had become an Instagram sensation, I was earning an income online, hired a fashion student to keep an eye on production in NYC and a fulfillment warehouse to ship orders. At the suggestion of Timothy Ferris andThe Four Hour Work Week, my cost of living had gone down by 75% by heading to paradise. Not to mention being submerged in a world reserved for the most beautiful women and never-ending aquatic backdrops. My lifestyle elevated and I became more aligned with my mission instantly, simply by changing location and being amongst nature for the first time. I’ve always desired to help people to see we are meant to experience a much more positive and fulfilled way of living, and Tulum has been a huge catalyst in solidifying that dream from thoughts to reality. Coming here, I had fallen into this beautiful rabbit hole of an expansive sense of freedom and possibility- by experiencing spiritual ceremonies, being exposed to Mayan culture, and meeting a self-replenishing stream of like-minded humans from all over the world, daring to break all the rules. Those were formative moments for me. I came into myself truly and deeply. I allowed myself to just be. I stopped wearing a bra and shoes most of the time, I listened to psychedelic rock and roll, I danced under the moon; I swam naked for all to see and took lovers from far reaches of the globe.
Tulum, without the people, is a place that truly reconnects you with nature and brings you back to your center, encouraging mindfulness of how you live. One only needs to observe nature to learn how to live in harmony with it. And here I was in the jungle, all the answers there before my eyes and coming through all channels of my existence. Through this observation, connection and solitude, my vision began to rapidly expand.
However, as obstacles have continued to persist over the last few years in seeking an aligned location for our boutique, one of the people I looked up to most for being visionary, essentially told me I should just rent any storefront available and offer what other boutiques were selling in order to satisfy business income; an extremely disheartening piece of advice for someone who so deeply values innovation. I had connected with this mentor initially for precisely those ideals I thought we shared.
And the sad truth is, this kind of entrepreneurialism seems to be happening a lot here now. People are selling out, creating carbon copies or exploiting and destroying the natural beauty that has provided us so much. All to get in on the gold rush of Tulum’s ever-growing tourist culture, decisions focused solely on profits. Right now, we are losing the jungle to it, we are losing the quality of life and moving farther and farther away from the dream that revealed itself to me when I first arrived.
While of course profitability is a core part of a sustainable business, through AMARA I really strive to consider a broader perspective and break the mold at every opportunity. Otherwise, my heart’s not in it. Innovation is what the world needs right now more than ever. Dismantle every status quo. We need to rethink society from the ground up if we are going to solve the problems humanity faces. My beliefs are strong so I want my actions to resonate that and set an example. What we hope to accomplish with any space, experience or product we create for the brand from here on out, is to highlight the beauty and luxury of nature and show how we can work with it, to enhance the quality of our lives while maintaining the Earth’s natural abundance. This past year, in addition to developing 8 new product lines to create an all-encompassing lifestyle brand, we have designed an architectural concept for our flagship boutique experience that will highlight jungle preservation. We have recently found the perfect location for our project and are beginning to bring this concept to life.
The Universe, being the precise, all-knowing, calculated genius that she is, was quick to rip it all away from me. In the course of 3 months, I pretty much lost everything that I had spent 3 years building. Minimalism by force. I found myself homeless, directionless, massively depressed and alone. Naturally, I was torn about how to move forward, I had very little confidence in myself and really no desire to continue with the business but feeling a sense of obligation to my new investors to keep moving. I had to swallow my pride hard, because for a moment there, my ego was prominently in charge.
I headed back to Toronto defeated, to seek shelter in my childhood bedroom, get behind my old bar and float for a while. Thankfully, the failure I was experiencing sparked another huge transformation and lead me to this emotional quest of personal discovery, healing and growth. Through these trials of gaining and then losing everything rapidly, I finally stopped, took stock and learned to consciously curate my life to begin to transform it into the masterpiece I have always known I am destined to create.
When we look at the world as a whole, or take a glimpse at our Facebook feed, we see such massive problems and begin to feel helpless against the sheer enormity of it all. But if we begin to break things down to a manageable level, you realize we only truly have control over ourselves. To me, that is an empowering thought. I arrived at the newest evolution of the brand and the will to keep pushing forward, no longer with the intention of saving the world, but simply by asking, what do I need to be truly fulfilled and live in harmony with nature? By shifting that focus inward I realized that my only “job” is to be my best self, an ongoing, evolutionary process, and through that focus would be able to offer my best self to the world around me and naturally align with my vision.
To make sense of it all, I started to write a lot of lists. I listed my values, things that made me feel happy, lessons I’d learned from particular relationships or business experiences, down to every little physical thing I would need to live a fulfilled life, from creative tools to wardrobe to self-care essentials. The root of it stemmed from looking into philosophies within the umbrella of utopian futurism, which for me also included minimalism, sustainable architecture, refinement, radical economics and spiritual enlightenment. I am very fortunate that I was blessed with such a grand vision so early in life but now understand, through the process of dissecting fulfillment and sustainability, the baby steps it’s going to take in getting there.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence I ended up here. We are not bound by limitations in this creative field, we are given room to grow, explore and be ourselves and that feminine power we all have inside of us is a massive asset. I feel that as women being at the forefront of such a forward thinking and rapidly growing industry as sustainable fashion, we have the capability to spearhead great changes in the world. We have the influence to bring people together in community, to think differently, focusing on the small details and making life a little more kind, caring and inclusive.