Lockdown number three, an early spring, and nothing to do. So we gave our new Afends collection to local photographer Haley Mai and she went for a stroll around her 'hood before taking some time to catch up with Mike.
Crazy that it turns out you live right down the street from me. How’s living on Windsor’s drag strip?
I’ve never heard it be called the drag strip before! Love that.
Cars burn rubber. It's so awesome to have a front row.
Oh wow that’s totally spot on! Honestly, it happens way more often than I thought it would and can be quite entertaining.
Have you ever considered throwing something out your window at them? Like eggs or passed due chicken?
LOL personally, no. But I’m sure my sister (who I live with) definitely has. I think it’s humorous. Also I’m vegan so don’t have a lot of past due chicken lying around.
Ah, how long have you been vegan?
I’ve been fully vegan for about a year and a half now, but I was vegetarian for three years leading up to it.
Why the switch?
At first, when I went vegetarian, I wanted to do it for my health and because I was curious to see if I could. Then, along the way and through more research, I became more knowledgeable about the impacts an omnivorous diet has on the planet. On top of that, being exposed to the cruelty of factory farming really drilled in for me that I didn’t want to take part in supporting it.
So I guess you won’t be hanging out on our patio this summer for jerk chicken and pork night?
If you introduce a jackfruit pulled pork, or bring in some veggie burgers, I’M THERE.
I think we actually might be doing that this year. So you used to live in Ford City, right by our shop? Like when we first opened I remember you were always walking by with a coffee.
Yeah! I had a unique little apartment that I loved with the coolest landlord. You’ll still most definitely see me walking just around anywhere any time with a coffee in hand. It basically a personality trait at this point.
Best coffee in Windsor?
Haley: Oh geez this is hard! I’d have to say either Cafe March 21 (on Pelissier) and Cafe Amour Art (On Ottawa). Although, you guys make a mean cappuccino, too.
If you had an unlimited amount of money - like let’s say another pandemic hit and you could get a million dollars a month from the government - what would be the perfect studio for you?
Oh wow, I would LOVE a studio apartment. Something I could live in and work out of. I picture an entire wall of floor to ceiling windows, painted white brick walls, a loft area with a spiral staircase, a kitchen with dark, sleek cabinets and countertops, and hardwood floors that look like they’ve been well lived on. Ideally this is higher than the 4th floor so I have nice view and golden sunlight coming in through the windows in the evening. And probably in Toronto where there's a bit more work.
Ah Toronto, then you’ll need the dough. So what inspires you the most?
I’m inspired by so many things on a daily basis, the ones that typically have the biggest impact are: nature, life experiences, and music.
Life experiences. So what's Haley's best life experience thus far?
This would be my Bali trip. I was healing from a breakup and needed to get away to figure things out about myself so I bought a last minute ticket and took off solo. But I ended up meeting someone who I now consider one of my best friends, and he and I spent the time exploring beautiful islands and taking lots of photos.
How did you get into photography?
Ah, I love talking about this! I picked up a small, pocket sized digital camera at 16 and loved taking photos of myself and flowers with it. Eventually, my grandparents gave me the greatest gift and bought me my first DSLR camera. This was what really kickstarted everything for me.
What's your go-to cameras?
I'm definitely not a 'gear head' and only really know what I know and am comfortable with. I love my Canon 5D MK III for professional work and the Canon M50 for more laidback stuff like YouTube and easy quick snaps of life.
So tell me about your business. What kind of services to you offer?
My business is always changing, but currently I’m heavily focused on self-portraiture, travel photography, and food photography, specifically treats. I do brand collaborations/sponsorships with my self portraiture and travel work and I photograph food for Windsor local businesses!
It was cool to work with you. What do you think of the Afends capsule?
I had a blast working with you, I can’t thank you enough for trusting me with your vision. I’m so impressed with this collection. The quality, the designs, the attention to detail, all of it. This collection has something for every aesthetic, and I think that’s so important.
Yeah, it’s a really cool brand doing cool things. I just opened the new men’s hemp plain tees and they are so buttery soft I’d spread ‘em on toast on Sunday mornings.
Ha, I love that. I totally agree with that statement. The fabric is just... incomparable.
Before we hangup, can you just give some insight into the fit of this collection, just for everyone about to head over to the website to sell us out.
So I'm wearing a couple different sizes: 24 in the trousers, medium in the tops, and the jumpsuit is a size small. I wanted the trousers to fit more to my form, so I sized according to my waist. My usual size 26 actually fit a bit larger so I sized down to a 24! They still had some room in the waist and became very comfortable (not tight at all) throughout the day of wear.
I'm really loving the baggy/boyfriend shirt look right now, so I opted for the medium in both the hemp crewneck and long sleeve shirt!
The jumpsuit felt more like a 'true to size' garment, so I stuck with my regular size small and I'm glad I did. It fit so comfortably with just the smallest amount of 'oversize' to make it more comfortable and easy to move in.