ARMED Jewelry

The Side Hustle: The New Nine to Five

Desiree Girlato

"I think it is safe to say that many people from my generation (otherwise known as “millenials”) are often not committed to a singular “hustle” i.e. one lucrative day job. The key word here is our definition of “lucrative”, because what a steady job can afford us today has drastically changed since previous generations."

Notable in Toronto: Talya Macedo

Desiree Girlato

Talya Macedo is one of those people you meet and never forget. Her vibe is as natural as her beauty and as effortless as her style.  She speaks and you want to listen, because you know she has something to say.  Her insight on life seems as endless as her skill set/talent, so getting a chance to chat and shoot felt just right...

What does HER Collective Media mean to you? What was your process in starting it?

HER Collective Media was something my  friends (who impress me endlessly)  and I created in order to give ourselves a space to share ideas, networks, opportunities and energy. I really just wanted us to feel like we had other women to rely on for support, with a mutual understanding that you “give some to get some”. We went through a few changes - at one point we thought maybe we might have the potential to become a smaller agency, but our best bet was actually going to be in becoming a hub and a place that other women could come to for collaboration, connections and mentoring in some capacity. We have allowed HER to be fluid and evolving (like all great women!) and in doing so, allowed ourselves to be open to possibility.

Why is it important for this platform to be shared? And what do you hope to achieve?

I think women, specifically young women, need to feel represented. Like there is a voice out there saying something that they always needed to hear or providing validation. When it comes to women of colour, we’ve heard even less voices like ours in the past/growing up, so we try to create as many opportunities for these women to be heard or seen. My goal is for there to always be a new voice that resonates.

What kind of community are you hoping to cultivate?

To be honest, we have cultivated a very strong sense of community already and it’s growing into something very organic and purposely safe. We hosted our first panel on September 9th and talked about everything from building your career to navigating your emotions while we’re in this state of hyperawareness of socio-political despair. The room was so special and connected to each other. That’s what I want at all times. Connection and conversation - no matter how we’re doing it (in person, on social media etc).

I want young women to feel safe coming to us, but I know that “creating safe spaces” requires a lot of time and research into all kinds of experiences. We’re learning to do this in new ways. We knew that there were going to be young moms or women who experience social anxiety, so we made it a point to live stream our panel so they could participate and feel safe while doing so. To me, community promotes mutual understanding. I want to get really good at that and create opportunities while doing so.


Currently you have the webzine, what are you plans for future expansions?

My dream is for this project to be funded. So we have a physical space to work, create, mentor and brainstorm.

You’ve had some pretty awesome collaborations and speaking opportunities Who and what do you have your sights on next?

I think it’s time for us to start growing a little bit more outside of Toronto. I’m open to whatever that looks like to be honest. I would love to connect with other women of colour who are navigating the PR and Marketing industries. For HER - I have a plan that I can’t share quite yet but will likely launch in 2018.

I love your message of creating a space for empowered women to empower women, in what way can we encourage this on a day to day basis? (language/communication etc.)

What a great question. It comes down to this - listening and allowing each other to speak and hold space. If you fuck up, you own it and learn from it. There is no need to be defensive because we are ALL learning.

In what ways has Toronto lent itself to your art and passions? How does that differ from your hometown of Edmonton?

Edmonton has a great and talented creative community but it lacks funding and infrastructure. Edmonton also has a lot of racism to contend with so as a woman of colour, it wasn’t my time to shine there. I hope this changes in the future. You could say the same things about certain industries in Toronto too (and racism is very real and present here), but for me - it has been a lot better here. A lot more opportunity for collaboration and platforms and the PR industry holds a lot of potential. There are a lot more women like me or women who inspire me existing and growing in Toronto. I love it.


How does your style reflect your current vibe?

My style equation has always looked like this: simple pieces (denim, t-shirts etc) + great jewelry, hair and a bright lipstick. It works because I keep a lot of great accessories around so I don’t have to calculate an outfit. I’m way too “on the go” and I don’t have the brain space to do so! There are stylists in the city (Charlene “Asia Fiasco” Yeboah and Sophie “Her Fly Soul”) who I look to for daily inspiration when I don’t have time to think for myself.

Do you have any advice for creative women starting a career in a corporate industry such as PR?

To always remember that PR is a personal practice. You have to build your skill set, do a tonne of research and take great care of your relationships on a daily basis. You also need to be really patient and consistent in your efforts. It’s hard and it feels like a slow climb but navigating the industry when it challenges you is what teaches you!

You are currently a full time consultant for National PR but you have lots of experience in the creative industries. What are some of your other experiences and positions you’ve held in the past?

I’ve done a lot of different things! I’ve been a choreographer/dance coach, a bank teller, server, receptionist and stylist (among other things to be honest!). I think that dabbling in different positions teaches you what you want or don’t want and it gives you insight in areas you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to learn about. I’ve had a chance to talk to so many people and hear their stories!

How have those experiences/positions helped shape your current work ethic?

These experiences were truly vital in my development. Now I feel like when I take on a campaign, I can see it from the eyes of so many different individuals. I’m not limited to my own demographic in my thinking. It also forces me to try and learn as much as I can. I do research daily.

As a creative individual how do you stay motivated and inspired?

I keep bomb creatives and career women around me. Seriously - that’s how you do it. It keeps you in line, on your toes and keeps fresh information flowing. Plus these are the people who understand how to support and uplift you.

What accessory can you never leave the house without?

Just one? I could never pick just one!  Multiple gold necklaces, multiple rings, something gold in my nose piercing and hoop earrings!


A Day on Dundas West

Desiree Girlato

Born and raised in Toronto, Desiree Girlato is the owner of local Dundas West jewelry shop, Armed. With five-and-a-half years of business under her belt, her outpost has remained one of the constants on the ever-changing strip in the span of those years. And with her apartment located just above, it’s safe to say, she knows a thing or two about the ‘hood.

Whether you’re new in town or exploring the area, take these tips from a local on how to spend a day on Dundas West. Here’s how Desiree Girlato suggests spending your day:

Rise and Shine
Every good morning starts with a relaxed stroll to your favourite coffee shop. I’m not the most loyal coffee drinker, so I like to mix up where I stop based on the day of the week. My usual go-to is The Tampered Press (256 Crawford St.). They make the most amazing ciders and chais, but the best is the Chaider, which is a fusion of both. BLESS (best of both worlds). If I’m really taking my stroll seriously, I’ll head to Jimmy’s on Ossington (15 Ossington Ave.) for regular coffee or a Medium Medium (medium blend and size).

Once you get a good caffeine fix, it’s time to take to the streets. Dundas West is low key some of the best shopping in the city. It’s the kind of shopping a local would have to tour you through, because it’s less obvious than the Queen West strip just south of us. If I had to start from west to east (west is the best), this is how I’d spend my money accordingly. 

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The Loft
1575 Dundas St. West

In a perfect world, I’d stop in to get my hair done everyday before hitting up stores. Luckily, my go-to salon on Queen West has found a home on Dundas West and it’s a dream come true (I never have to leave my street!). I have yet to be by the new salon, but the opening party in April is going to be one hell of an opener. A little secret about the new space is the marble full service bar – you heard it here first.


Province Apothecary
1518 Dundas St. West
Yes, you’ve heard about them and probably not here first; but Province Apothecary has some of the best facials in the city and some of the best skin care I have ever used.  My next buy from them is going to be the eyebrow serum, which will hopefully turn my barely there brows into something that are #goals-worthy (everything is for the ‘gram).

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1410 Dundas St. West

It’s too much that I willingly follow them on Instagram, because I don’t think they have ever posted anything that I don’t end up obsessively coveting immediately after. They have some of the best pieces in high fashion at a price I can actually save for. In reality, I’ll never have the self-control necessary to save for a brand spanking new Gucci, but VSP comes in for the save with bags that range for around almost half the price. A necessary mention is also the beautiful store layout. As a store owner myself, I really appreciate boutiques that create a unique and inviting space, while carefully merchandising all that good good


Shaw Flowers & Gifts
1068 Dundas St. West
Just in case you missed it, people are obsessed with plants, and you’re probably one of them (I am too). The woman who runs Shaw Flowers & Gifts, along with the rest of her family, is truly a spiritual being, completely connected to all the plants she grows and sells. I go in frequently and we have rather long chats about what goes into growing the perfect plant (hint: it’s not water or sunlight), and how the technique of spreading love and good vibes in your environment is really the key ingredient for anything to thrive. Go get some green in your life and shower it with love, and I promise you, you’ll have NO BAD DAYS.


Armed Jewelry
1024 Dundas St. West

Which brings me to my store...Not only is it next in line, but we have a newly installed sign in-store that reads NO BAD DAYS. It’s fresh from the recent renovation, and I think it’s worth checking out. Okay, maybe I’m biased because it’s my store, but in all fairness, we do have some pretty sweet jewelry and some NEW NEW collections for Spring and Summer that I just made. If it’s not the jewelry that brings you through our doors, it’s likely the selection of shades lining the front window that caught your attention. We have been known to bring in some of the flyest shades on the block, with new shipments arriving weekly.  

So now you’re starving and you need a mid-afternoon pick me up. It’s time to stop for some food

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California Sandwiches
244 Claremont St. 

I’m well aware my navigation has steered us a block north of Dundas, but California Sandwiches is not to be missed. The classic veal sandwich is basically heaven on a bun or if you’re Italian, an accurate homage to Nonna’s home cooking. I always forget that this gem is only a few blocks away from me, but when it does cross my radar, it’s like hitting a mini lottery.  

Naked Beauty Bar
889 Dundas St. West
Your belly is full, you’ve got a good outfit, and your face is fresh as *bleep*. Time to get your nails did at Naked Beauty Bar. This place is no frills, straight to the point with some of the best playlists I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to while getting my nails polished. The ladies that run the shop are awesome and so are all of the talented staff that work there. They have monthly nail design specials and usually have walk-in space available, which makes it even harder to just walk by.  

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