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Heart-Felt Shopping, Victoria Style

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To look at the photos, one would think the day was about shopping.  It wasn’t about that at all.

At least not entirely.

It all began with an unexpected email inviting me to come along for a day of touring through selected shoppes designated on the Victoria’s Shopping Tour roster.  I was one of seven asked to journey along on this fashion and media bloggers familiarization ‘Fam’ trip.  Since I’m not one to say no to new adventures, I accepted.

Shopping tours, although familiar with them, was not something I considered doing.  I’m a lone shopper.  Being corralled with other women, moving through items, talking, and being distracted, is not usually my idea of a good time when it comes to shopping.  As a self proclaimed treasure hunter,  I enjoy space and alone time to slowly search for unique finds.


(Left to right) Jodi Bryant, Pamela Sylvan, Leanne Allen, Tiffany Auvinen, Samantha Harvie, Jody Hollis, Sonora Angelina, Shannon Edwards, Sarah Pool

I was intrigued enough to go, so off I went with an open mind, besides a limo ride is a sweet way to start one’s week.

We gathered at the elegant Fairmont Empress Hotel.  The hotel was beautifully decked out for the holiday season and provided a perfect foil as the backdrop for women coming together to do what they do well.  An enormous jewelled tree graced the regal entrance and it was here I met these beautiful blogging women of Victoria for the first time.

It was fascinating to watch them arrive one by one as if on cue.  Well dressed footmen opened doors to allow them entrance to the regal foyer.  Many of the ladies had previously met or were friends so introductions were warm and effusive.  As the newcomer, I stood back and took it all in, wondering how the day would unfold.

Tiffany Auvinen (left) and Leanne Allen

Tiffany Auvinen (left) and Leanne Allen. Image by Driven Portfolios

The videographer and tour appointed photographer arrived and began the task of capturing special moments.   Hotel patrons and staff gazed on perhaps wondering who we were as the energy subtly began to spiral up among the group.  It was apparent we were quickly gelling, signalling great promise for the day.

After a flurry of media shots, we were escorted out to a waiting limousine.  After a few more shots in front of the vehicle, we ensconced ourselves within our chariot for the day.

Then the magic began to unfold.

A bottle of Prosecco promptly appeared along with accompanying glasses.  I don’t think anyone minded it was 10:30am on a Monday morning.  Interesting how Monday can take on a whole new flavour while in the back of a limo with a group of rocking ladies and a glass of bubbly.

My seat faced backwards.  What and odd sensation it was to travel in that position.  I lost all sense of direction as we were driven through the city, however, with a glass of champagne in hand, it mattered little after a few minutes.

The conversation immediately erupted into high energy revelations.  These ladies are fun and fascinating.  Snippits shared around contributions to their careers, family and life in general caused me to smile.   It was enormously appreciated by this newcomer as it allowed me to feel enfolded as if one of the ‘gang’.

kari mclay2

Tulipe Noir owner, Kari McLay (left) with Pamela Sylvan (right)

In no time, we arrived at Tulipe Noir in Oak Bay.  Owner, Kari McLay, greeted us.  I was immediately entranced by her energy as she asked my name.  Something this simple caught my attention.  Her manner instantly indicated that not only was she someone that took her business seriously but understood that people are her business.  It was also clear that she was part of the ‘tribe’.  The ladies loved her and the fun began at our first stop as the doors closed to the public for the duration of our visit.

After 40 minutes of laughing, trying on quality, casual designer fashions, indulging in fruit, cookies and hot herbal tea, it was time to move on to our next destination.

Our next stop was Domani Fashion , located in Trounce Alley in Downtown Victoria.  This chic shoppe carries lines of beautiful, luxurious Italian fabrics and styles exclusively imported from Italy.

Again, I was intrigued by the conversations generated as we took time perusing the racks, sharing information about ourselves as well as our likes and dislikes.  The gorgeous clothing acted as the perfect background for this new level of connection.


Delectable fudge at Catawampus Funk & Fudge

We were once again escorted back into the limo and headed to our third stop.  Catawampus Fudge & Funk was a treat of eclectic sights and tastes.  Its highly visual assortment of clothing, jewelry and accessories are customer favourites however, the real reason I think it’s so loved is the mind blowing offering of soft fudge.  The fudge is homemade and comes in a variety of delectable flavours, my fave being ‘Rum and Maple’.  This ‘must stop’ destination added to the allure of the day.

It was then time for lunch.

We were whisked off to Vista 18 Westcoast Grill & Wine Bar atop Chateau Victoria.  This was the perfect ending to the day.  Vista 18 offered breathtaking views of the city’s busy Inner Harbour, the snow-capped Olympic Mountain range, impressive Mount Baker, the Pacific’s Juan de Fuca Strait and beautiful downtown Victoria.

Ladies at lunch

Ladies at lunch. Image – Driven Portfolios

Dining over delicacies with the city’s view as part of the ambiance, solidified the heightened emotions generated throughout the day.

This day was about Victoria Shopping Tours gathering bloggers and media ladies together to familiarize them with their tour product so we can share the experience with our fans and followers.  This was accomplished.

However, the real accomplishment and added bonus, at least in my eyes, was the level of connectivity that occurred and new friendships gained.   I began the day somewhat jaded, however, as the day went on, my resolve to be unimpressed, melted.  The experience of touring energized me in unexpected ways and for that I thank the lady bloggers of Victoria who journeyed along that day.


Would I do it again? Absolutely! Image – Driven Portfolios

I’m also thrilled to now have new Victoria spots to ‘Whisper’ to my own tribe and Divas in ways they may not have previously considered.  At our next meeting, I’ll whisper the depth of what occurred throughout the day.  It was profound.

Ladies, are you looking for a new ideas, choices, experiences or perspective?  Gather your best girls, give Victoria Shopping Tours a call and allow the magic to unfold around you too.

Special thanks and kudos to Victoria Shopping Tours and to all who gave the ‘maximum’.  It showed and was greatly appreciated by all!



Styling in front of the Fairmont Empress. Image – Driven Portfolios



Lunch and swag with a view.



(Left to right) Leanne Allen, Tiffany Auvinen, Jody Hollis, Sonora Angelina. Image – Driven Portfolios

Blogging Ladies of Victoria

Jody Hollis, Living Hollis Style,

Leanne Allen, CVV Magazine,

Sonora Angelina, Victoria Fashion Magazine,

Tiffany Auvinen, Doctors Wives Living,

Shannon Edwards, Driven Portfolios,

Pamela Sylvan, Downtown and Around Magazine,






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