distill (dis-'till) verb: to extract the essence of, to concentrate, to transform
DISTILL: Established in 2003 , DISTILL shows well-crafted
and curated Canadian made designs,
ethical and sustainable fashions,
distinct jewellery and
home decor objects
reflecting contemporary material and visual culture.
I love making things. As a kid I took pottery classes. I painted. I collected fossils and sea glass to make jewellery. I took a job sewing muslins for a fashion designer. I grew up to have a deep appreciation of design and craft and valuing the special human investment evident in handmade objects. I studied business and marketing since I fancied the idea of having my own shop. I studied ceramics at Sheridan and then operated a shared studio 'The Pod Workshop' in quaint Glen Williams with my husband Robert Akroyd - he is a furniture designer/maker. We lived in Halifax while I was a student at NSCAD furthering my studies in art history and ceramics, but returned to Toronto in the winter of 2002 as Robert and I had been invited to open businesses in the Distillery District when it was being re-invented as a destination for artist studios, boutiques and galleries. He opened his eponymous studio 'Akroyd Furniture' and I opened a boutique with my best pal in the spring of 2003. We merged my love of ceramics, jewellery, glass, textiles, metalwork and woodwork with her interest in home decor and fashion. Distill was born. The mandate was, and continues to be, handmade one of a kind, small batch or limited series craft, design and fashions. Although she left the business to raise her family, I stayed on and continued building Distill. In the summer of 2017, I opened a second location in my hometown Stratford. In the spring of 2018, I left the Distillery after 15 years and relocated to Queen Street East in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood. In the spring of 2019 I will be closing the Leslieville location. It was a great year in a lovely neighbourhood - but we are leaving the city for good! I am not about to swim upstream and return to my hometown area. We found a property just outside of Stratford - there is a workshop for Robert to operate Akroyd Furniture, a wee house for us and a large yard for our dog Quinn. I hope to get back into the studio and make some pots - look for them in Distill in Stratford!
My days are full scouting new designers, promoting the work of emerging and established Canadian makers and managing the shops - Stratford, Toronto and online. There is no shortage of great talent in this country. Distill has an eclectic collection of Canadian made designs - ceramics, glass, jewellery, wood, metal work, mixed media and textiles. Slow fashion, quality craftsmanship and ethical production processes are paramount. Buy less and buy better. I try to find objects and clothing that you can feel good about buying and love for years to come.
Thank you for supporting an independent retailer and thank you for buying designs made by homegrown Canadian talent. Visit me in Stratford soon to see what we have in store.