Stefan works in the luxury retail space specializing in made-to-measure tailored clothing and men’s ready-to-wear client development. He also sits on various cultural committees within Toronto, including the Equity and Diversity Task Force at The National Ballet of Canada and Creative Current, the young professionals steering committee of the Luminato Festival, Toronto’s Annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas.
Cyntia asks Stefan
1-How did you come to be involved in creative committees at cultural institutions in Toronto?
I've always been a patron of the arts in Toronto. The opera, ballet, symphony, and many galleries. I reached a point where I wanted to be more than a patron. I wanted to use my voice to help these organizations communicate more clearly to the groups interested in the art forms they produced. I also wanted to be a part of the arts community at a deeper level to learn from people with more experience and knowledge than I had. Through conversations at parties and other networking events, I was fortunate enough to speak with people who introduced me to other young professionals who sat on boards and committees of the arts organizations I wanted to be a part of. Those people were instrumental in giving me the opportunity to be involved. As a result, giving others the opportunity to be involved in the arts is very important to me.
2- What type of art do you like the most?
I’m a big fan of contemporary art, illustrators, and photographers. Outside of some of the larger well known commercial names, I appreciate the creative work of British illustrator Shantell Martin and NYC based photographer Lougé Delcy (Dapper Lou). Locally in Toronto, I enjoy the art of Ness Lee, Tabban Soleimani, and Alexis Eke.
3- What have you been doing to keep yourself occupied during the pandemic?
Not gonna lie; I’ve fallen victim to the Netflix wormhole and have binged on a bunch of shows, but I have also tried my best to use the downtime to cultivate more meaningful relationships and read. I used to despise FaceTime, still do. However, it has allowed me to stay connected visually with friends and grow relationships with some great people who I may have only seen here and there at parties or traded a few memes with on Instagram. Bookwise, some good reads were James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son (I’m late, yes I know), David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me, and The Cleo Reader: 2013 to 2019, which is a book dedicated to film and film culture from an intersectional feminist perspective. I also cycled. A lot.
4- Do you have a favourite movie?
Christopher Nolan is one of my favourite directors. Funny enough, I was talking to a friend the other day about the wave scene in Interstellar. It was incredibly well done. But a movie that has really stood out to me is If Beale Street Could Talk, directed by Barry Jenkins. It’s a beautifully shot film with some powerful performances by all the actors. A tragic love story that shows how unfair life can be living in America while being Black. The score is very moving as well.
5- What is your favourite music album?
I grew up on New York hip hop from the ’90s. Nas, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang. I love their music, but there is a time and place for that kind of vibe. It isn’t exactly a genre that transcends all moods. Having said that, for those who know me well, know that I’m pretty dynamic in the things that I absorb and that ties back to the music that I listen to as well. For me, D’angelo’s Voodoo is an album that has always resonated with me. Part hip hop, part soul but definitely always a vibe.
Stefan asks Cyntia
1- What brings you peace?
Silence brings me peace, also traveling on my own. I think without silence it's hard to observe how things work and formulate your own views about things. We have two eyes and one mouth for a reason. Traveling solo is also one of my favourite things. I love exploring cities, visiting art galleries and going into local shops. It's fascinating to me.
2- What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was the Company of One by Paul Jarvis. I was looking for a book to validate the way I manage my business because a lot of people tell me "you should expand, go big, you need to be at this shop in this city, etc" I find it overwhelming, because I like to create things at my own pace. From the beginning I created my brand with the intent to be creative and less commercial. I also manage every aspect of my business on my own. I only have my assistant that helps me with my collections. This book gets into the topic of why staying small is the next big thing for business. Very interesting read. I also read the Stanley Kubrick Archives when I was designing the ORBIT Collection, a very insightful book if you like Kubrick's aesthetics in cinema. It's always at my desk and is a great reminder of pushing your ideas forward.
3- Has anyone ever tried to quiet your creative voice on a collaborative project?
Perhaps, but I don't think it was meant intentionally. Sometimes people also would like to put their ideas out and it's normal to have some sort of a clash but it is part of the process.
4- What advice do you have on the humility of being an entrepreneur?
I think a lot of people don't want to start from the bottom. People don't want to look embarrassed, they want to look great all the time. I also didn't want to look embarrassed either but when I had quit my full time job and I was just with this business that was so new I had to go out and look for opportunities and simply figure out a way to make money with what I like doing. I would go anywhere people invited me to do a pop up or event, did not matter to me where it was, I would just be there. I remember even buying a folding table for events just in case the organizer would say "we don't have a table" then I could say "I have one and I can bring it!" I have many funny stories. I look back and I always laugh because they are always humbling like having an Uber leaving me in the middle of the street in a snowstorm because they didn't want to damage their car with my table and all my event props.
5- What has been the most rewarding moment so far of your jewelry career?
I think it was working on a large special order request for a client of my porcelain dishes to decorate their Villa in the south of France. I was like "Why do they want this?" "Are you sure?"I think I packed the porcelain like 10 times to make sure it wasn't going to break. Also friends who text me when they see someone at a party wearing my jewellery. I feel extremely happy even if I am at home on my couch. I don't go out much so having my pieces going to parties sounds fun to me.