By: Marilyn Wilson

Shine 2016 – an extravaganza of fashion, music and dance– will be hitting the stage at the Commodore Ballroom on September 10 th. This wonderful evening is made possible by hundreds of individuals who are rallying together for mental health. Communities helping communities!

Every single person and every single business involved is volunteering their time and services. Because of their generosity, Shine! will be able to donate 100% of every dollar raised through ticket sales and donations directly to the evenings recipients – Canadian Mental Health Association and The Lions Gate Hospital HOpe Centre.

As a thank-you, we will be highlighting some of the wonderful people and businesses who are working hard to make this evening the best it can be. Today’s interview is with Karin of Beauty By Impairment, one of 12 designers participating in SHINE!


Please share about your journey to becoming a designer – how did you choose this career, training or self-taught, when did you launch your brand?

I developed an interest in making clothing as a young teenager. I wanted to make things to wear that no one else had or make things I found in magazines. I would bring my machine to school and sew on my lunch break. Eventually other students started to ask me to help them design and make grad dresses, Some dance and theatre companies contracted me to make costumes during that period as well. I went to school for fashion after high school as a natural outgrowth of that interest. Later, I went to Emily Carr and acquired my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, but still felt drawn to fashion. My primary focus at school was textiles, fashion and photography, and my final year at Emily Carr was devoted to organizing and styling fashion photoshoots. Once I finished at Emily Carr, I decided to start my business. My brand has existed since the beginning. though it has obviously evolved substantially.

Describe your brand/collection? Who is your customer? What would you most like readers to know?

My brand is Beauty By Impairment. The name was formulated out of a sense of understanding that fashion for women has often been at the expense of health or comfort. Think of the notions of foot-binding or corsets to reach an unrealistic aesthetic. Both were defined by the beauty myth of that period and society. Originally some of my work was corset-based. Currently I have a large customer base for luxury swimwear and exotic couture. I also continue to create fashion for artistic purposes such as photoshoots and shows such as for Shine. I would like your readers to know that you can be active in fashion without buying into the beauty myth. My customers are a very diverse group and they’re all beautiful. Mwah (kisses)…

What do you love most about working in the world of design? What is hardest?

I love two things the most. I love how a simple idea evolves into a complex configuration of cloth and other material to enhance the beauty of whoever wears it. I also love the feeling I get when a customer is floored by how something I made makes them feel.

What is hardest is probably trying to ensure that I can do everything I want to. I have a lot of customers and provide a wide variety of clothing – that can lead to some pretty large lead times in producing what people want. There are a lot of things I can’t control such as material availability or even the demand for my product. Sometimes I have to let go of interesting projects but that is never easy.

Can your share an interesting story from your time working in this field?

Every day is new and interesting. There are always new projects, new people and new challenges. I can’t really single out any one thing.

I have a lot of amusing stories but they’d be more appropriate to an outtakes reel than interesting. One example of that was at VALT last year when taking the stage to collect a reward. I unknowingly stepped on the train of one of my model’s outfits, tearing it off her. Without missing a beat she reached around and held it in place without anyone knowing. We had a great laugh about it afterwards.

Please share how you heard about Shine 2016 and why you feel it’s important to participate in this fundraiser for Canadian Mental Health Association and The LionsGate Hospital HOpe Centre.

I was part of the Vancouver Alternate Fashion Show in 2015 and was informed there that Shine would be looking for designers for their event. I was very interested in being part of it. It’s a wonderful cause and we should all give back what we can to our community. Mental illness is more common than most people think and anything I can do to help is worth my time and energy.

What part of the Shine 2016 show will you be involved with? Can you give us a titillating hint as to what we expect so see from you on the runway?

Sequins, Glitter, rhinestone – maximum fabulousness.

For more information on Beauty By Impairment, please visit their Facebook page at . You can also follow them on their Instagram account – @bbidesigns.

Shine 2016 is going to be a do-not-miss amazing showcase of fashion, music and dance, all in support of The Canadian Mental Health Association and The Lions Gate Hospital HOpe Centre.

Don’t Miss Out! Pick up your tickets today at