European sensibilities and Parisian flair combine in the creation of unique custom jewellery. Read to the end of the article for a special offer just for this neighbourhood.
Today’s the day to meet Lara Ilie. Originally from Romania, Lara and her husband (Tudor) moved into our neighbourhood in 2012.
Once again, I am amazed at the people I meet in this neighbourhood. Lara immigrated from Romania in 2007, but her journey didn’t start there. Lara had clear vision of where she wanted to be when many of us were more concerned about the latest fashion or party.
During her last year at university, Lara participated in a co-op work program that would provide her with a wonderful career and a clear path to Canadian immigration. Her career, first as a procurement specialist in Romania for general television programming, progressed to selling animated programs with the Canadian company WildBrain, the world's leading independent kids' content production company. They have one of the most extensive libraries of shows created for children including Peanuts, Teletubbies, Strawberry Shortcake, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Caillou, Inspector Gadget, Johnny Test and Degrassi. Their shows are enjoyed worldwide in more than 150 countries on over 500 streaming platforms and telecasters. The AVOD (Advertising Based Video on Demand) business at WildBrain Spark (a division WildBrain) offers one of the largest networks of kids’ channels on YouTube with over 245 million subscribers.
Her quest for Canadian immigration brought Lara to Canada in 2007 (Tudor had immigrated in 2005). “It’s funny that I had to come all the way to Canada to meet another Romanian,” says Lara. “But that’s what happened. I first lived at Church and Wellesley, while Tudor was closer to this neighbourhood at Overlea.”
“When we decided it was time to purchase our first house, we bought an unrenovated small one story house on Cottonwood Drive – just on the other side of Don Mills. We updated the house ourselves and then took the increased value as our down payment for this house.”
“I had found this neighbourhood during my maternity leave. I would walk for miles with Eric in his stroller. It was on one of these ambles that I first saw this neighbourhood. I couldn’t believe that I found this gem that no one seems to know about.”
“We moved in in 2012, but then I had an opportunity to live and work in Paris,” says Lara. “We were really lucky as Tudor’s company had an office in Paris and he was able to transfer as well. We pulled up stakes and took Eric with us to France. It was an amazing experience with Eric learning French as his first language. Both Tudor and I had learned both French and English at school, so this was an opportunity to strengthen our language skills – not having to learn something fully new.”
“When we came back to Canada, we enrolled Eric at Jeanne Lajoie French Public school So that he can continue speaking French. After a few more changes he is now at Denlow French Extended program who provided an avenue for him to use his French language skills and improve his English skills while maintaining classes with his age group. Elliot started at Jeanne Lajoie as well but now goes to Norman Ingram.”
“I loved this neighbourhood from the beginning. It reminded me of the safe and cohesive neighbourhood I had grown up in back home. That was the start, but the full value of this community was proven during Covid. During the first lock-down, the children were suffering due to isolation. It was our little park that kept us connected. Every day about 5 to 6 families would be at the park with their children. It was this connection that was needed. We chose to balance the risk of exposure to the need for social interaction. And it wasn’t just the kids that benefited, we did too.”
“Another Covid benefit is Arnie, our beagle. I’m now the mother of 2 boys and a dog.”
“It was during covid that I also returned to a former passion. I have always loved big, bold rich necklaces that make a statement and dress up any outfit I wear. The problem was that I either couldn’t find what I wanted, or if I did find something, it was really expensive. So, with a lot of experimentation, I started to make my own. I would dream about what I wanted to wear and then try to create it – to create a specific look. I got such positive feedback. Every time I put one on, people would ask me where I got it from. It was this encouragement, and the fantastic creative outlet that designing provides, that I decided to create a Pinterest profile and an Etsy shop page. My pieces are made with all natural materials; each piece is unique; they are versatile and can be styled in many different ways.”
Lara has a fantastic offer for the neighbourhood that is just in time for Christmas giving. Her Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ByLaraShop showcases her creations. you can also use the below QR code to go to her Etsy page:
Lara will give anyone in the neighbourhood a 10% discount and if you contact her directly, she will hand deliver without a delivery fee that is mandatory on an Etsy site. Lara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I also plan to have a showing in the park on Saturday, November 20th between 2-4 pm so that people can touch and feel these designs,” said Lara. “Hopefully it won’t rain. I'll put some flyers in the mailboxes to make sure everyone knows about the event.”
COME ON OUT AND CHECK OUT THESE AMAZING, CREATIVE PIECES.