From the foothills of the Himalayas to the red carpet in LA, we caught up with Triple Threat sensation, Karen David... she sings, acts, co-founded The Queen's Trunk and now she's our HUG of The Week! Oh and did we mention her Brit Fashion pop-up shop is happening this weekend in Toronto?
Singing, Acting and Fashion...how do you juggle such a diverse career? What is a typical day in the life of Karen David?
Haha. It can get a little crazy, but as I've been acting and singing since I was a kid, you kind of get used to the busyness of to-ing and fro-ing, that you don't notice or feel the judge of it all. Every day is a new adventure and when I wake up, I am so excited to see where the new day will take me.
Fashion is something that became a strong passion when I moved over to the UK almost 13 years ago when I went to go and study at drama college for my acting. Living in Europe from my late teens was like having front row seats to the biggest fashion show ever! Everywhere you go, people really express themselves and their personalities, with the clothes they wear. It is very much about individuality from the simple, and slick, clean lines, all the way to the very insane, quirky styles too! I love it and found it very inspiring for assembling my own personal style.
A typical day for me constantly changes, but it is usually filled with meetings for either my acting, music or Queen's Trunk. Some days are really long, if I'm in the studio recording new music or filming and then having to attend red carpet events. When I am working at home, it's safe to say there will be regular moments when the landline is ringing, my cell phone ringing, and Skype phone ringing simultaneously from friends, family, or my agents from London, UK or L.A! A lot of people may think it's glamourous, but it's actually bloody hard work, lol, but like anything worthwhile, if you love what you do, it never feels like work, and that gives me the endless energy to see my childhood dreams through, going through the ups and downs and twists and turns. But, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am very grateful to be living my dreams.
Tell us more about your latest business, The Queen's Trunk and how you got it started?
The Queen's Trunk was born from a domestic problem, which I think most girls face when their boyfriends move in: lack of closet space. lol I never thought it would end up being the start of an inspiring business.
After clearing out my closet for my boyfriend, I had just over 400 pieces of accessories, and clothes - brand new (some with tags) which over the course of 5 years, had been sent to me by different PR and fashion companies for my acting and music careers. They came in different sizes. The rest were vintage or thrift accessories I loved collecting, even if they weren't in my size, I still bought them, just to have or look at or be inspired by.
Not knowing what to do, my Torontonian friend, Arlene Dickinson (Dragon's Den judge on the Canadian version of Dragon's Den), excitedly suggested I do a pop up shop at her office space, (in fashion district Toronto), after drooling over the 4 massive boxes of clothes I flew over to my parent's place for storage. She suggested I purchase new stock in more sizes as well, which I ended up doing by working with some of my wardrobe and stylist contacts who are constantly working in the industry, either on tv sets, film sets, magazine shoots and red carpet styling. All pieces were carefully selected, as it was really important to me to choose pieces that you could not find in North America. It had to be unique, different, and of course, British or European.
I wanted Canadian women to come to our pop up shop and feel special, like a ‘Queen’, knowing that the clothes were all one offs, some with stories behind them, and the new stock reflecting the Brit fashionista lifestyle. No one else would be wearing what they purchased, and they also felt extra special knowing that the pieces were all selected by stylists and a celebrity, and that some of the outfits had a unique story attached to it. It was if they had their very own European stylist.
I enjoy meeting people from all over, and it's such a joy to see people of all ages come into the pop up shop, with excitement on their faces, knowing they can afford a piece of British fashion that they would otherwise have had to fly to the UK or order online and take the risk of not liking their purchases. Fashion is all about individuality, and one thing I've learned about living in London, is that here, fashion is an expression of oneself. In North America, if you love something from the catwalk, or in the magazines, you would have to go to the Saks 5th Ave or Holt Renfrew and pay a lot of money to get that catwalk look. But in England, and the rest of Europe, the high streets and up are constantly turning around their affordable versions of high fashion, allowing consumers to be experimental and more fashion forward.
Together with my business partners, Jenny (my dear Mother) and Jason DeCourcy, we have a lot of exciting plans for The Queen's Trunk, including a website where our loyal followers can purchase online, from our local base, to introducing our celebrity A list stock where our fashionistas can purchase red carpet gowns, and shoes as seen on the particular A list celebs, from the Oscars, to BAFTAS, at a much discounted price. We are also planning on taking our pop up shop on the road to California in September, so it's going to be a little busy!
Who is your mentor or inspiration?
This is a tough answer as I have quite a few people in my life who have been my rock and inspiration. I have my amazing mother and father, who have always given me the strength to see my childhood dreams through and to never give up on what I believe in. Some of my high school teachers, have played an imperative role in who I am today. I was bullied in school a lot and had a horrific acne problem, - as a teenager, you think life can not possibly get any worse, but it was some of my teachers who had so much confidence and faith in me, that they encouraged me to keep singing and acting, and to strive to be the best that I could be. My friends and family, people I meet through my work, - they have all played a part in opening doors and helping me see things in a different light at times...I am very lucky and blessed to have some beautiful souls in my life, right down to my incredible fan base, who are always there behind me, every step of the way with my career.
What has been the pivotal moment in your life?
Moving to England. I never thought in a million years that I would have left home so early, let alone for London, UK. But life happens, and plans change. I knew I had to leave Toronto, and get out at that great big world, and see where life would take me. It was so scary and exciting at the same time. Leaving my family and friends was never going to be easy but if I wanted to make things happen with my career, I had to seize the opportunity of studying in London, knowing that the life experience in itself would be valuable to my acting and music pursuits. I learned a lot about myself and became even more focussed, never taking anything for granted. I have met some truly amazing people in my life from all sides of the pond and that would never have happened if I didn't make that important decision of moving to London.
You have lived in Toronto, London and now LA - such different cities! Which is your favourite?
The irony is I still live in all three cities! lol I have bases in all three so I am constantly going back and forth for work. It's too difficult for me to choose my favourite as each city has something so special about it, so I feel very lucky to be able to float from one to the other. Toronto is my hometown, where all my family and friends are, and where Queen's Trunk started. It's home, it's familiar, and safe, and so wonderful to just get away from the chaos sometimes that comes with the territory of what I do for a living. London is where I found myself, and got to know who I was and what I wanted to be. I studied there as a student and have worked there for the past 12 years in my acting and music. I love it there so much. It's quaint, and yet bustling, never a dull moment with so much to do, and so much opportunity, and let's not forget the fashion...!!! L.A is a love-hate relationship. lol There are certainly some interesting people there who are a touch disillusioned with life. But there are some amazing people too, who are so inspiring, and it's one of those places where anything can happen, and when it does, it happens fast! I love the weather there, and California is so beautiful.
Favourite places to shop in Toronto?
Um...where do I begin? lol Bay and Bloor is one of my fave areas to shop, also the Distillery District has some unique shops too and the boutiques along Queen Street West are fun and remind me a bit of Notting Hill back in the UK. But of course I have to say, The Queen's Trunk. haha. It's hard to be a buyer and when I see all these pieces which I want for myself too! :)
What advice do you have for hip + urban girls who want to make the big move to London or California to pursue their dream careers? Is it a good idea to just take the chance, pickup and go?
One of my mentors in Toronto, whilst growing up, said something to me that I will never forget when I was trying to decide whether or not to move to England. I told him, 'you make it seem so easy, to just pack my bags and go.' He said, 'But Karen, it really is that easy. We always want to make life difficult for ourselves when the answers are always right there in front of us. We're just too scared to look at them. Fear is an illusion. Take the fear away and you have endless possibilities.' I never looked back.
I am a university drop out and went to pursue my acting studies in London, when I received a scholarship to study at one of the top schools over there. I didn't know anyone - it was literally a fresh start, a new chapter to say the least, and I had absolutely no idea what lay ahead of me. But I hopped on the plane, 'blindfolded' my conscience and just took the leap of faith.
Sometimes in life, you have to take that 'jump' and know and trust yourself that you will land on your own two feet and be more then okay. If you don't take that chance, then how can you possibly move forward? You end up in the same place. Following your heart is never an easy path. It's the tougher choice, but one that is the most rewarding and filled with less, if no regrets.
I didn't go to London or L.A blindly. I planned it, did my homework, paid my dues, and did everything I could so I was prepared for when those opportunities presented themselves when I was over there. It was in London, that all the opportunities then presented itself for L.A, and now I go where ever the work takes me. :)
At the end of the day, life is too short to not live the life you want. Life is what you make of it and I wanna look back on my life when I'm rocking away in the granny chair, and be able to say, 'that was fun!'.
Tweet Karen @karendavid and check out The Queen's Trunk on Facebook.
Photo credits: Mike Prior and Ilze Kitshoff.