When you live in a city that’s filled with so much talent, it’s almost a crime not to support it. Don’t you think? Living in times like these – when everything is about fast food, fast fashion, fast (and cheap) everything really – it’s increasingly important to think about who and what your dollars support. I feel lucky to have been raised in an environment that emphasized quality over quantity, and supporting artists and designers of all sorts, as well as small businesses.

In my mind it’s better to spend more on something I’ll have forever, than to spend little on something I’ll soon throw out, and can also be found on millions of others too. Even better is if the item is one-of-a-kind, which is exactly what I love most about Monique Anderson of I’MONIQ‘s designs. The Toronto-based designer combines her love of vintage scarves and semi-precious stones into unique statement pieces made into wearable and beautiful bracelets, earrings and necklaces.

Back in May, Monique and I teamed up to design a custom Gracie Carroll x I’MONIQ necklace (above) which was an absolutely amazing experience. Monique and I sat down together with a table full of gems, jewellery, scarves and chains laid out in front of us to figure out what I was drawn to most and why. It was a rather therapeutic experience to be honest! After determining that fuchsia is one of of my power colours and that navy calms me down, I settled on an amazing vintage scarf from Japan that combined both colours and some incredible stones that swirled with the powerful pink.

We debuted the necklace at the I’MONIQ pop up shop held inside The Black Box Boutique in Yorkville. Although I was familiar with the store, I owe it to Monique for finally getting me in there and discovering this hidden gem of a shop. Literally, the boutique looks like a giant gem stone, although in actuality it was designed to emulate a jewellery box.

Funnily enough, The Black Box Boutique owner, Lilla Balint, is also an alumni of the Ryerson School of Fashion; although graduated a year ahead of me from the design program which might explain why we didn’t know each other prior to the pop up shop. Her tiny tucked away shop is like discovering Yorkville‘s best-kept secret. Inside you will find anything from a little baby diamond, to a head piece for a wedding. There is literally something in there for everyone, and every occasion. Most importantly, Lilla gets major props for supporting and carrying so many of the city’s emerging talents, such as I’MONIQ, Made with Love, Headmistress, and a huge roster of Canadian brands.

Although my special I’MONIQ necklace is one-of-a-kind and stored safely in my jewellery box, I highly encourage you to discover The Black Box Boutique and the I’MONIQ range that’s in-store. I mean, Monique’s pieces are irresistible, even to a little miniature puppy! Take a wander through the shop via the gallery below and be sure to visit both The Black Box Boutique and I’MONIQ online!

Ps. You can create your very own custom I’MONIQ piece just like I did by contacting I’MONIQ directly.

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