Interview with Canadian Idol Contestant: Mikey Bustos

Mikey Bustos is  a Filipino born-Canadian singer who has appeared on the reality television show Canadian Idol.

Sarah Velasco: What have you been up to since Canadian Idol?

Mikey Bustos: So, so much! It’s like asking a 20 year old what he’s been through since birth! LOL! In short, though, I’ve toured North America and Philippines, released records and music videos, performed alongside many artists including Christina Aguilera, Pussycat Dolls, several pinoy artistas, opened a very successful Ant Store business (AntsCanada.com), lived in several cities around North America, done thousands of shows, gone viral on Youtube birthing a fun, fresh, and new Youtube/comedy/acting career, product endorsements, won the GLOBE TATT AWARD for VIDEO SLINGER this weekend, and much more. I have been so blessed since Canadian Idol and I wake up to my Heaven every day.

Sarah Velasco: Has your style evolved since then? What has stayed the same?
Mikey Bustos: My style has definitely continued to evolve, just as I have continued to evolve since then. My music (or anything else creative that I do) and my life evolved together. Everything has matured in a way that I can't really describe. Listen to a song I recorded or performed in my early years (2000-2003) and then listen to a song I recorded or performed recently (2009-2011). I feel there's some maturity, more fun, more experience, greater informed notes, lyrics, phrasing, and tones that I couldn't have explored when I was younger.

Sarah Velasco: What should readers be looking forward to? Any upcoming projects you could let us know about?
Mikey Bustos: In terms of music, most definitely much, much more music to come. I have my sophomore album on its way! We’re currently working on a handful of exciting creative projects so keep an eye open for what’s in store. These are exciting times!

Sarah Velasco: What is your inspiration?
Mikey Bustos: Life and the divine. Sometimes I feel more like a vessel or channeler than a creator, like what I create (whether it be music, videos, art, literature, etc) comes from something far broader and infinitely more intelligent than just me. I collaborate with a Greater Source in all I do. 

Sarah Velasco: How would you describe your style? Does this differ from on and off stage?
Mikey Bustos: Well, if you are referring to music, I suppose my music can be categorized as soul. One Canadian Idol judge once summed it up well with the words “Fearless Emotion”. I think that describes my voice, art, writing style, and even garb at times. I’m a Cancerian and a Filipino… Fearless emotion!

Sarah Velasco: Do you ever get nervous on stage? Any advice on how to overcome nerves?
Mikey Bustos: Well, actually the bigger the audience the less nervous I am. I sometimes try to get myself psyched and get myself nervous when I’m about to go on stage for thousands of people, because for those big shows I’m actually too relaxed. The feeling of being nervous where the flight or fight response kicks in is such a GREAT boost which I find I need right at the kick-off of any show. For this reason, you don’t want to get rid of stage fright completely.
However, performing on stage without the nerves that are so overpowering that it affects your performance negatively, is something that comes with more experience on stage. Eventually, you simply get used to the feeling of being watched and “enjoyed”. What I do is I go to a karaoke bar as frequently as possible, because singing alone in private is NOTHING like singing in front of an audience. Handling and performing in front of an audience is an entirely different craft in itself, so karaoke is a great way to get used to the feeling of performing for a crowd. Plus, karaoke is great in that everyone is usually a great sport, everyone is completely drunk, almost everyone sounds off tune due to the drinking, and if you are still getting used to the stares, you don’t have to look at the crowd; you can look at the screen and pretend you’re reading the lyrics!

Sarah Velasco: Any advice for readers that want to get into this industry?
Mikey Bustos: Research! The music business is like any business… it’s about business. Learn the industry, buy Donald S Passman’s book on the Entertainment Industry, and surround yourself with positive people. Keep developing your craft, and the biggest secret is to stick with it until everyone around you and all your competition gives up, leaving you alone to reap the tasty flavour of success. This applies to anything in life that you want!



Interview with David's Tea Specialist: Richard Guzauskas

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us your story with tea?
Richard Guzauskas: I've been in the tea industry since 1987 and launched my first brand soon thereafter. I sold my last tea brand (Leaves Pure Teas) in 2001 and immediately became a consultant within the Specialty Tea Industry working with many tea brands, growers and blenders on an international level.
I met David Segal and his partner Hersch Segal several years ago when we had only one DAVIDsTEA store and, after a few brief meetings, decided that I wanted to be on board with them at DAVIDsTEA. It's been the single most exciting tea experience I've had to date. Everyday brings challenges, and more than that satisfaction.

Sarah Velasco: What does your job entail?
Richard Guzauskas: My job entails a little bit of everything that has to do with our core product, tea. I work with our blenders and growers around the globe to assure that DAVIDsTEA has the finest and most cutting edge tea, fruit and herbal blends available anywhere, at all times. I track trends in the food and beverage industries and then assist our blending teams to set new trends based on the direction of the demand, or our projection of what the demands will be - all the while being very careful to keep quality first and foremost. It's a lot of work and a lot of fun.

Sarah Velasco: Why is tea important?
Richard Guzauskas: Tea is important because it's one of the pillars of a healthful lifestyle in the 21st century. Teas provide flavorful, fun and healthful beverage alternatives that give us the pleasure we demand and the hydration we require with very little (if any) added sugars, calories and/or chemicals.

Sarah Velasco: How often should one drink tea, and what kinds?
Richard Guzauskas: At DAVIDsTEA we include our herbal and fruit blends in our definition of 'tea' so we suggest that you can drink tea all day long and late into every evening. I don't suggest highly caffeinated teas for everyone at all times of the day but our great selection includes low and no caffeine teas that really are suitable for almost anyone, at anytime.

Sarah Velasco: What can you tell us about Davids Tea? What differentiates the company from others?
Richard Guzauskas: DAVIDsTEA is a company that makes drinking teas a lot of fun. We bring an unprecedented variety of teas to the marketplace and specialize in great tasting, healthful beverages. We've brought teas to a new level by pushing the envelope on flavor quality, visual appearance and aroma while keeping quality, healthful benefits, service and social responsibility paramount in our offerings. We're a fast moving, trend setting company that loves offering our customers delicious alternatives to sugary soft drinks. And our staff is just about as great as it gets.

Sarah Velasco: Do you have a favorite tea?
Richard Guzauskas: I have not. I drink a lot of tea, all day long and into the night. I drink all types and find that I never tire of trying new ones.

Sarah Velasco: Are there any common misconceptions when it comes to tea?
Richard Guzauskas: Definitely, the biggest misconception seems to be that tea is difficult to prepare. Really it's so simple. Pour hot water over the leaves or herbs and wait a few minutes, it's really very easy.

Sarah Velasco: Are there different categories of tea? Can you explain this further?
Richard Guzauskas: There are many categories of tea, especially when you include herbals and fruit teas in the definition. I think maybe what you are seeking here are the classic tea types (from camellia sinensis): white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh types. These are basically classified according to their oxidation levels, which are carefully controlled in the process of creating 'tea' from tea leaves.
Each tea type has its own special and unique character, and each has different levels of antioxidants and caffeine. Our store staff is expert at explaining these differences.

Sarah Velasco: If there is one tea you could recommend to someone, what would it be and why?
Richard Guzauskas: Hmmm. Of the classic teas (camellia sinensis) I would recommend an oolong tea with a mid level of oxidation, like a Tie Kwan Yin. These teas have a very smooth, full bodied flavor and enough complexity to interest almost any palette.


Want Boutique: Pari Davis

Sarah Velasco: As owner of Want Boutique, what is your schedule like? What types of things do you do on a daily basis?
Pari Davis: The first nine years were close to 24/7 work. Now I’m able to enjoy 10am to 5ish and weekends off but am still often double booked. A day can feel like 3 hours it goes by so fast. No two days are ever the same unless I’m on a buying trip. Those are the most focused days – otherwise it’s all over the map but I like it that way – better busy than bored!

Sarah Velasco: When you fly out to New York and LA, how do you find items for your store? What sort of things do you consider when picking items?
Pari Davis: I find them at trade shows, sourcing brands, they find me, my buyer finds them, other reps tell me about them....if you have a store that has a good rep, lines will find their way to you.
The only thing I consider when choosing items is the audience that’s looking at them.

Sarah Velasco: Are there any differences between your Avenue Road, Yonge Street, Richmond Hill, and Oakville store (brands, styles etc) ?
Pari Davis: Yes. At times it’s like buying for 4 completely different markets and sometimes they’re identical. Again, it’s about the audience and their lifestyle, snack bracket and taste. It’s that hard and that easy.

Sarah Velasco: How did you start out in this business?
Pari Davis: A family member was a buyer for a chain of Hawaii based boutiques and I would tag along. After a while, I realized I was good at it and loved it.

Sarah Velasco: If you weren't doing what you are doing now, what would you have done instead?
Pari Davis: Photographer/Art Director – my imagination never seems to run dry.

Sarah Velasco: What drove you to succeed?
Pari Davis: The combo of truly loving what I did and fear of becoming a bag lady.

Sarah Velasco: Who were your role models when you were growing up and have they changed?
Pari Davis: I had a new one every year and still do. Here’s a few who aren’t family and friends – Anne Margret, Cher, Barbara Streisand, Madonna, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and lately it’s all about Oprah!
Each person gave me insight into different compartments of myself and inspired me in completely different ways.

Sarah Velasco: How would you describe your personal style?
Pari Davis: I grew up learning so many different “styles” that I like to wear a lot of them. The old Hollywood glam , preppy and Malibu Boho are my faves. I like having fun with it and surprising myself.

Sarah Velasco: On your latest trip to LA did you have specific looks in mind? Were you considering any trends?
Pari Davis: Each trip I go with an open mind and let the designers tell me what the trends are. I just pick the ones I feel will suit our clientele. After two decades it becomes a gut feeling that’s hard to give explain to even myself – I just know. ( or hope I know)

Sarah Velasco: What are some must-have items currently in stores?
Pari Davis: Must haves for Fall 2011 - printed silk blouses, equestrian leggings and fur trim blazers, oh, we cannot forget the yummy knits and cashmeres that keep us warm in the brisk October air. Fall is my favourite season. Feeling sexy when you’re covered up is true fashion.

Quick Answers:
Must-have accessory: A necklace that has special meaning to you.
Color of the moment: Brown
Favorite Store In LA/ New York: Polka Dots and Moon Beans
Item on your wish list: That’s never a quick answer – do you have an hour?


Christiane King Interview

"Christiane was born and raised in the Cote d’Ivoire. She traveled to Paris, broadening and refining her artistic sensibilities, and most importantly, recognizing her keen eye for fashion. Christiane later relocated to Los Angeles, where she graduated with Honors from Woodbury University with a Bachelors Degree in Fashion Design in 2005. Her final collection was judged by renowned industry professionals and received an Achievement Award for “Best of Couture” at the University’s Annual Gala. She received the Woodbury University “Rising Star Award” from her alma matter in 2010.

Christiane’s design aesthetic is strongly influenced by the many cultures and experiences she has been exposed to. She incorporates modern and timeless silhouettes with a focus on artful details. Her love for nature is very apparent in each of her collections with her use of organic draped techniques that often mimic flowers morphing around the woman’s body. Her Ivorian background serves as the foundation for each piece she designs and brings to life."

Sarah Velasco: If you could go back in time, and have one person to wear one of your designs, who would it be?
Christiane King: I would have loved to dress singer/actress Lena Horne. I think that she would have looked gorgeous in one of my dresses!

Sarah Velasco: When did you realize that you ‘made it’ in this industry? How did you feel?
Christiane King: I can’t really say that I have “made it” quite yet. I hope that by continuing to create designs that are in tune with what a woman wants, I will be able to make my brand a household name very soon. I’m very excited about what the future holds and I work really hard at growing my business and I think that I will say that I have “made it” the day I see more women walking down the street wearing Christiane King.

Sarah Velasco: What is the best and worst thing about having celebrities wear your clothing?
Christiane King: It’s always an honor to have a celebrity wear one of my dresses to a well-publicized event. It gives the brand some great exposure. I think it’s every designer’s nightmare to see one of his or her designs on a celebrity styled in a way that doesn’t showcase the style in its best light. But because we don’t always have control over how a celebrity accessorizes, you have to keep your fingers crossed that it all works out for the best!

Sarah Velasco: What is your schedule like? How did you get into this business?
Christiane King: My schedule really depends on the time of the year. My studio is definitely hectic as we get closer to fashion week . We get to relax after the shows or appointments with buyers.
I started designing professionally in 2005 after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion design from Woodbury University in Los Angeles. I was a designer at a Los Angeles private label company for a few years then decided to focus on building my brand since the Fall of 2009.

Sarah Velasco: What is your inspiration? Who inspires you when you design? 
Christiane King: I truly enjoy nature and I draw a great deal of my inspiration from the outdoors. But the woman’s body is my greatest inspiration.
My ideal woman to design for is a strong, assertive, feminine woman who has a good sense of who she is and what she wants in life. She is a woman who is not afraid of taking risks but who also knows that trends should never outsmart her personal style.

Sarah Velasco: Have there been any major changes to your designs since you started? If so, what has changed?
Christiane King: I would say that my design philosophy has definitely matured over time. My past work has a lot more draped pieces whereas now, I love to play with the fabric to create some textures and add some organic elements to my designs. But the one thing that remains is that I always strive to create clothes that are flattering to the woman’s body and bring forth her best assets.

Sarah Velasco: How would you describe your designs?
Christiane King: I would describe my designs as feminine and flirty with an organic twist.

Sarah Velasco: What is your personal style? What other brands do you wear (other than your own)?
Christiane King: I definitely like a“girly” look and feminine details really speak to me. I have a pretty broad range of designer and non-designer clothing in my closet. From a Diane Von Furstenberg blouse to J Crew shorts, what really matters to me is how the designs work together in creating the perfect outfit.

Sarah Velasco: Any mottos you go by?
Christiane King: I love this quote by Jim Cathcart: "Aim high! The future you see is the person you will be".

Sarah Velasco: What’s in this season and what should readers expect for Fall 2011?
Christiane King: We are seeing a resurgence of the 70’s retro/Bohemian and Ethnic themes. So we can expect the see fun 70’s inspired prints, high-waisted and wide legged pants, crochet/sweater dresses. Details such as lace, fringes, feathers will also be prominent. But when it comes to designing, I always try to stay away from fads and create pieces that will sustain the test of time. I think what women should remember to never let trends outsmart their personal style and stay true to who they are.