Part I – Carla Westcott
Cruelty-Free Handbags

Carla Westcott graduated from the Parsons School of Design BFA program in 1994 and one year later founded Westcott, a designer eveningwear company. She is adjunct faculty in the Parsons BFA program and is a member of The Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Carla Westcott is founder and designer at Westcott, a New York design house specializing in evening wear. A graduate of the Parsons School of Design BFA program, Westcott, a Vicksburg, Mississippi native, was recognized at Parsons with both the Jennifer George and Mary Ann Restivo Gold Thimble awards for her gown designs. She worked briefly for a Seventh Avenue dress designer before founding Westcott Design Group in 1995. She is a member of The Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Westcott’s guideline in creating her modern eveningwear is one of engineered harmony. The minimal silhouettes are clean and elegant, defined by luxuriously rich fabrics and traditional construction inspired by couture sewing techniques and by her affinity and respect for architecture. She cites artists as diverse as German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher and architect Frank Lloyd Wright as influencing her work. The details and garment construction of the garments are often drawn from architecture and its sympathetic discipline, industrial design. Pioneering the use of Swarovski crystals as graphic embellishment in her first collection, Westcott continues to develop this signature primarily on matte jersey.

Carla Westcott’s collection is emblematic of stark elegance characterized by flawless draping, couture construction and detailing, and always, body-conscious shapes. Following the launch of her first collection in October 1995 by Saks Fifth Avenue, Westcott continues to attract the finest retailers in America and Canada including Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus and Holt Renfrew.

For Spring 2014, Westcott launches her first handbag collection. Made exclusively of Italian textiles and hardware, the collection embodies Westcott’s esthetic of minimalist elegance. The collection is proudly manufactured in New York City’s garment district and is currently available at CarlaWestcott.com.

Part II – Ricki Heller
Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free

Ricki Heller is the voice behind the popular food blog RickiHeller.com, which celebrates sugar-free, gluten-free, allergy-friendly whole foods through a low-glycemic, vegan lifestyle. With over 600 foolproof recipes, humorous anecdotes and comments from two chatty canines, the blog illustrates Ricki’s philosophy that “a healthy lifestyle CAN be sweet.” In 2011, Diet, Dessert and Dogs (the blog’s name then) was nominated for the SHAPE Magazine “Best Healthy Eating Blog” and as a “Best Healthy Cooking Blog” by The Kitchn in 2013.

Ricki’s latest cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free: 100 Allergy Friendly Vegan Desserts was published in September, 2013 and became an amazon best seller the day it was released. Her first book, Sweet Freedom: Desserts You’ll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres and is one of only three cookbooks recommended on DeGeneres’s website. Ricki has also written three anti-candida ebooks.

After being diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Ricki first began to change her eating habits and realized how much the food we eat influences or health. Later, after suffering from candida and following an anti-candida diet for more than 3 years, she determined to learn more about the healing power of foods and obtained her Registered Holistic Nutritionist designation.

These days, Ricki still shares her recipes through her blog, books, speaking engagements and by teaching cooking classes in the Toronto area. She is an Associate Editor for the hugely popular Simply Gluten-Free magazine, for which she writes a regular column. Her articles and recipes have also appeared in Clean Eating magazine, Living Without Magazine, Allergic Living magazine, Canadian Living Magazine, VegNews.com, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and others. She’s also a regular contributor to The Daily Digest (Attune Foods blog), The Balanced Platter and Fitalicious.com.

Ricki’s television appearances include Canada AM, CityTV’s Breakfast Television, as a featured guest on York Region Living, In the Know, and as a regular guest on Rogers’ daytime (York Region and Toronto). She was also a speaker at the inaugural Nourished conference in Chicago in 2012.

Ricki lives and works in Vaughan, Ontario, with one husband and two lab-border collie cross dogs.

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