Women We Admire | Miriam Zittell of Mellah
Mellah, the Moroccan rug boutique at 1090 College St, was born following a multi-country sabbatical for Miriam Zittell and her husband John Honeyman. They returned home to Toronto after a decade in New York, where Miriam studied and worked in fashion design, production and retail. Today, when not minding the store, Miriam brings her NYC design director experience to select fashion start ups. She has recently launched her own slow-fashion, everyday luxe pyjama line, and is a mom of two amazing kids.
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What do you eat for a power breakfast?
Scrambled eggs with Parmesan or avocado toast on grainy / seedy bread - made by John. And Coffee!!
What's your beauty ritual?
I’ve always been pretty low maintenance but am definitely starting to pay more attention to my skin. From my summer’s spent at camp, tree planting and a general love of the outdoors - I spent a lot of years smiling in the sun. All of a sudden at age 35, skin care is one of the hottest conversation topics with my girlfriends. My beautiful, older sister has the most amazing skin - she hit the Elastin jackpot. Me, not so much. One of my girlfriends recently said the key to anti-aging is moisture (sounds a bit zoolander-ish) but, pretty sure it’s true.
Cleansers: I love the PA Moisturizing Cleanser + Make Up Remover, PA Regenerating + Stimulating Exfoliator
Just getting into serums and acids. I love Vitamin C, Lactic acid and Marine hyaluronic
I try to use sunscreen everyday: The Perfect Sunscreen from Consonant (Waiting for PA to come out with something amazing & clean :) )
For hydration I love face oils and the PA Invigorating + Balancing Toner - smells the BEST!
- Touche Eclat YSL- the best all in one product- brightens & evens things out
- Glossier boy brow & lip tints
- I have been trying to grow in my brows for years- PA Full Brow Serum is helpful too
- ust got Charlotte Tilbury “Instant Look in a Palette” under strong advice from my sister (apparently age plus recently blonde hair mean my 'bare' face needs a little help.
(This list seems rather intense but I swear I’m low key!)
What's your self care ritual?
2 small kids can leave little time for self care. A super hot shower (I use dr bronners peppermint soap) and moisturizing with something luxurious (an amazing boss gave me the La Mer body lotion) is a great 10 minute indulgence.
How do you ground yourself (during the day)?
I try to find time for a workout. 30 mins at the Y or even a quick video at home on the iPad - sometimes with the whole family, including our cat end up in the same room - which is cute but slightly annoying. I recently started doing yoga once a week and am slowly getting addicted. If I’m in an edgy mood I’ll go for a walk to burn off steam. Moving is good for me!
Also just taking deep breaths when things feel overwhelming (business or family related), reminding myself to zoom out of the situation and and remembering to try and handle whatever is going on with grace and kindness.
And banana chocolate chip muffins. Or any kind of chocolate baked-good mid-afternoon!
When do you feel most like yourself? / When are you at your happiest?
- When I’m out with my husband drinking wine and eating steak
- Slow Monday mornings (Monday is our Saturday - shop keepers hours) making pancakes (banana chocolate chip)with the kids listening to music.
- Laughing with friends and family
- Doing something creative for fun or for work - looking at fabric, talking about the fit of clothes
What can you do today that you couldn't one year ago?
- I have learnt how to say no - to not take on everything that comes my way because of (weird, self imposed) guilt.
- To say that Mellah is doing well with confidence (though I still want to knock on wood, spit, touch an evil eye -I am a bit superstitious ) I would never want to sound like I’m boasting - but I am incredibly proud of the business my husband and I have built. It is amazing to watch it grow and evolve. It’s like our 3rd kid. (4th if you include our cat)
- Take both my kids to the park alone - I was pregnant a year ago but it took me about 2 months to feel confident enough to take both kids out alone!
How would you spend a perfect 'day off'?
- Coffee with steamed milk and cinnamon (it’s the little things right?)
- Gym for run or yoga
- Lunch with John and the kids and then maybe going to Dufferin grove or Sorauren park. It would be summer.
- Friends or my siblings would stop by around 4 for some wine / beer/ la croix and charcuterie and cheese.
- In bed by 9
What piece of advice would you like to offer to other women?
- Try to build and be part of a supportive community. We all need people we can turn to for advice, as a sounding board, to listen, to commiserate with, or to make us laugh.
- Say what you mean & ask for help.
- There is no such thing as having or doing it all. Like what is this “all”? Everyones situation is different and experiences are unique. You can only do what works for you or your family.
What’s the best part about being an entrepreneur? / What’s the worst part?
I've never been more driven to succeed or make something work. It is immensely rewarding to see your efforts pay off when you work for yourself. Whether it’s a sale (big or small), press, or someone telling us how amazing our social media presence is - it feels so good to know that people are connecting with what we are doing. The highs are so high when you are working for yourself. The flexibility is amazing, but there are sacrifices, it can feel lonely and it’s easy to lose confidence. I started working again 6 weeks after Nigel was born. In addition to Mellah, I consult for some Toronto based fashion lines and I definitely took on too much soon and burnt out. I felt like I was always working but never actually getting anything done.
I was fortunate to be able to step back and slow down. Having a schedule is key for me. And now I’m in a great routine and feel so grateful I don’t have to worry about going back to a full time job after a year of maternity leave. Working with my husband is amazing but it’s also intense. We spend a lot of time together (like A LOT). But I couldn’t do this without John. We are lucky to have a community of small business owners in our neighbourhood that are all super supportive.
What’s the most useful business lesson you’ve learned?
Always do things the right way, with integrity & honesty even if it takes more time, or costs more money. If you gain the trust and respect of your clients and customers your business will succeed.
If your business was a band, what band would it be?
Porter Wagner (John) and Dolly Parton (me).
Who is your business inspiration?
I’ve been lucky to have some amazing mentors over the years. While working at Theory in New York I got to sit at the table with both creative and business powerhouses. Tadashi Yanai - the chairman of Uniqlo (Theory’s parent company) is one of the most dynamic people I have ever met. One of his principles of business is “change or die”. Ultimately, I think that is the key to success- be flexible, willing to adapt and learn and open.
Who is your personal inspiration?
My mom - for her generosity, strength & support. She gives me and my siblings so much. She's been making us chicken soup from scratch way before 'bone broth' was a thing and is our biggest cheerleader - though she does like to play the devil's advocate too.
My dad - for his humour and tenacity. He is extremely successful but definitely didn’t take a conventional path. I am also inspired by my sister, brothers, husband, kids and amazing friends!
Where do you get your power from?
I know this is so cheesy- but I’ve always believed that Fate loves the Fearless. Being bold (through words, actions and the way I present myself) gives me power and strength. Also from the love and support of my family and friends.
What is your favourite 'indulgence'?
Shitty Netflix shows. Eating chocolate chips like popcorn. Shopping (but only sales).
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