Leading British Bridal Designer Ritva Westenius has been in the forefront of bridal couture for nearly 40 years in which time she has grown to iconic status. Ritva has become the symbol of British style by opening the way to innovative and artistic interpretation of Wedding Fashion.
Born and educated in Finland, then in Sweden, France and the UK where she graduated with BA hons degree in London University. Paris then beckoned when an opportunity arose for her to enter behind the scenes of famous Couture Flouses and experience high fashion in the making, which truly fired a smouldering interest in luxury couture.
On returning to UK Ritva Westenius launched her own luxury couture wedding gown collection in the West End of Central London in 1977,
Ritva Westenius focuses on timeless, elegant styles, which is about high quality couture Wedding Dresses in exquisite fabrics and beautiful cut. Ritva is using her own creative ideas, favouring, tasteful designs with clean lines that are understated, yet glamorous while keeping an eye on modern trends. She is known for meticulous construction, skilled craftsmanship, beautiful Italian and French fabrics and lace, and exquisite beading. Chenca Williams, her daughter joined Ritva Westenius
12 years ago and during that time has absorbed all the invaluable knowledge and skills required to become a professional Co-Designer/ Director, after a brilliant previous career as Principal Ballet Dancer in the Royal Ballet for 25 years! Chenca has brought her own creative vision and directional style to the Ritva Westenius collections and as you would expect Chenca is passionate and flamboyant and this can be seen in her designs, inspired by movement and dance. Brides looking for a red carpet moment will find purely indulgent styles with high fashion powerful dresses that whisper sophistication and glamour.
RAINE: Who is the Ritva Westenius woman?
C. WESTENIUS: Women with their own sense of worth & confidence in their ability to dress to enhance their own unique beauty.
RAINE: Chenca after a successful career as a Principal Ballet Dancer, what moved you to work with your mother at Ritva Westenius?
C. WESTENIUS: To be truthful I was at a loss what to do after having danced from the age of 2 & one forgets there is a real world out there that one has not been a part of! I couldn’t imagine myself not being 8 in a creative environment, therefore how could I not work with such a 8 talented Designer with the bonus of being my Mother?! I really am very lucky to have been given the opportunity & to have been trained by her with all her invaluable techniques & workmanship over the decades! Experience is the key to longevity!
RAINE: How would you say your sense of design differs from that of your mother?
C. WESTENIUS: I work more with the feel & movement of fabrics & how designs can change your personality & how they make you feel when wearing them- very much like when you play a character on stage your costume helps you!
RAINE: As a creative entrepreneur where do you draw your inspiration from?
C. WESTENIUS: Virtually everything surrounding one in life…it may be a picture, the sky, a tree, a flower, an idea during an appointment, history, ballet, music, art & my constant never sleeping brain which has zillions of creations ready to be created all the time!
RAINE: What are the foreseeable challenges facing your brand, and what steps are you taking now to successfully navigate those potential obstacles?
C. WESTENIUS: Counterfeits- fake websites selling your designs with your photographs using their water marks- 2nd hand websites- in fact anything that seems “to be to good to be true on line, IS!!!!!”
R. WESTENIUS: We have not released photographs online for the last 2 collections.
R. WESTENIUS: We are part of the UK Bridal Industry which is actively closing down “Fake” websites everyday
R. WESTENIUS: We also suggest reading “Brides Beware” set up on Face Book by the Industry
C. WESTENIUS: On the positive we are using other media platforms which we can control & engage with potential Brides to show our designs!
RAINE: To what do you credit your longevity and your ability to navigate the cycle of ups and downs that the industry is known for?
C. WESTENIUS: Ritva’s Finnish roots of purity of design with an eye for good clean well cut lines which never date! “Timeless”
RAINE: As an entrepreneur, what has been your biggest challenge and what steps did you take to successfully reach your goals?
C. WESTENIUS: I am still taking steps every day as the goal post moves forward all the time! I have many more goals yet to reach in my lifetime!!!!
RAINE: What one piece of business advice would you offer budding entrepreneurs that has helped you more than any other advice?
C. WESTENIUS: Believe in your own uniqueness. Believe in your own creativity. Believe in your Designs. Believe in truth. But most importantly be honest & treat mankind with respect.
Peter Max emerged as a powerful force in the Art World as an American illustrator and graphic artist with paintings on exhibition in hundreds of museums and galleries worldwide, Peter Max and his vibrant colors have become part of the fabric of contemporary culture.
His work speaks for itself as a part of the American pop-culture scene influencing generations of art enthusiasts. In addition to being called a Pop Icon, Max has been successively called, Neo Fauvist, Abstract Expressionist and the United States “Painter Laureate.” The artist has had the distinct honor of painting the last seven Presidents of the United States and the world’s best loved celebrities, among them the young sensation Taylor Swift.
So much could be said about Peter Max as an artist, but what comes across very clear is his immense love for American culture, and appreciation for the various art forms that have influenced his work.
RAINE: How has living in Paris influenced your art?
MAX: Well, I got influences from Paris, but also from everywhere—I was so lucky. When I was a little boy, maybe 2 or 3 years old, although he was very successful business man, my father used to draw a little bit. I thought I would fiddle around with drawing too and he liked it. I remember one day my mother got me these crayons, and to the left of where my father used to sit was a very big beautiful peach wall. I took my crayons and I went to draw on the wall, and my mother said, “no, no, don’t draw on the wall,” and my father said, “no, no let him.” He encouraged me. Thus, I drew and added to it every day and after four or five days, it was maybe ten feet wide. When anyone came to the house, my mother would show it off, and this built me up. It developed my love for art and being recognized for it.
RAINE: When you think of your art now, how does it influence present day art or the perception of the world?
MAX: Well you know it is interesting, we are living today of course in an age of media—media is all around us. You can’t go out of your house without being touched by media. As you walk out outside there are newspapers on the doorstep. As you go further there are cars with advertising on them. You go to the corner and there is a guy selling 40 different newspapers and perhaps 60 or 80 magazines. You go to your television set and you’ve got like about 1000 different channels.
When I was a little kid living in China, we got our first radio and there were two or three Chinese stations. One day, I turned up the radio, and they were playing American music and I asked my mother, “what is that,” and my mother said, “oh, it’s an American station,” and after that, I went to that station every day. That was when I fell in love with American culture!
Then American soldiers came to Shanghai. My father had a tenant who had a 19 year old daughter and the word was out, and people were talking about how she was going out with an American soldier. Then I saw him pick up the girl, and I guess he took her out and she introduced me to him. I remember that the guy was chewing gum, and he said to me, “hey kid, what’s happening!” I just liked the way he talked to me, it sounded so cool! that was when I fell in love with American soldiers and all the style that they had and the freedom they represented. I became the biggest American fan ever.
Also, my friend’s father owned a Chinese theatre and he converted it into a movie theatre, so I would watch movies, three or five days a week. I would go every day to the movies. I love American culture, I would watch Lionel Hampton and Betty Goodman, I enjoyed the way they would play music as well as American jazz. I was just completely taken away by what came out of this beautiful country called America—jazz, bee-bop and blues.
RAINE: How do you think your s art is influencing American Culture?
PETER MAX: It is right there with the music (talking about his art). I was very lucky, when 8 I was fairly young; I was maybe 23 years old when Life Magazine did a cover of me and it had 11 pages inside. Since Life Magazine, from when I was 23 until today, I have had 2600 magazine covers.
RAINE: What is your point of inspiration?
MAX: All that has to happen is that I have this wish and will to be creative. I put the canvas on the easel, I open my paints and there I am. I have a bunch of brushes and the music begins playing and I just go at it. I don’t even plan what to do. You know it’s like dancing on the floor, you don’t know what steps to take and what you will be doing five minutes from now. You just go at it and let it happen.
RAINE: What are some of your other interests?
MAX: I am very much into creativity, color, composition and yoga—meditation. I love all of that stuff!
Chloe Bellande is a Canadian Film Director and Founder of Blue Infinity Films. She recently produced and directed the film Will Of Fortune.
Chloe has also served as a juror in 3 Canadian film festivals in 2014, and conducted seminars on film distribution, how to prepare for a film market, and how to succeed as an independent filmmaker. Chloe as well as her latest project are both on the rise.
Following its World Premiere at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, and Canadian premiere at the 2014 Quebec Comiccon, the short film Will Of Fortune, is based on real-life criminal cases. The film had four screenplay nominations in the US, ranking in the top finalists at the Beverly Hills International Film Festival, the Holly Shorts Screenplay competition, the World Series of Screenwriting competition and the Richmond International Film Festival, where both the movie and the script received nominations.
Shot in New York City in winter 2014, the movie follows the real-life murder trial of Susan Wright, Texas housewife convicted for the 1 st degree murder of her husband whom she stabbed nearly 200 times. Bellande’s film depicts two parallel acts: a group of outlaws debating on the Susan Wright case and a vigilante who decides to take justice into his own hands. With a cast of 11 actors from New York City, the movie expresses the different opinions of society on criminal rehabilitation.
Controversial dramas and twisted-endings thrillers have always been Bellande’s niche. Will Of Fortune is her first Canadian- American production. Line Producer Dawid Pypec, and Executive Producer Joshua Friedman conducted the two-day production. Will of Fortune is Bellande’s 2nd movie screened at the Cannes Film Festival, as her last movie While the Village Sleeps also was accepted at the World’s largest film gathering in 2013, and won prestigious awards and accolades across the US.
About Blue Infinity Films © Blue Infinity Films is a Canadian independent film corporation registered since 2008 and owned by Chloe Bellande. For a complete filmography and list of awards, please visit www.blueinfinityfilms.com
Born in Nigeria blind in his left eye due to a condition known as congenital glaucoma, Blessing Offer immigrated to the US at the age of 6. The youngest of 6 from a tight knit family, Blessing’s parents made the difficult decision to send him to America where he could be properly educated and treated medically. While this decision caused Blessing’s parents great pain (he hasn’t seen his family his family in 21 years), the decision was made in order to secure for him a better future that would not have been possible for him in Nigeria.
In a twist of fate, while playing in his backyard at the age of ten, he was shot in the right eye at close range with a water gun, causing the retina in that eye to detach. This effectively robbed him of his remaining vision, and he has been blind ever since. On top of dealing with the travails of preadolescence, Blessing found himself having to navigate a new world without vision. Says Blessing, “While most eleven year olds were figuring out which basketball player they wanted to be when they grew up, I had to learn the true definition of who I was apart from physical things, apart from vision or no vision.” Blessing attributes this time in his life with causing in him a hyper maturity and hyper awareness of what matters most in life.
“Right around this time, we got a piano in the house, and all the energy that I had used to play basketball and run around went into music.” Music became Blessing’s outlet for more than just energy. Around this time he began singing and writing songs, taking voice lessons, and listening to the singers and songwriters that would later impact his style.
With a genuine love of people, a zeal for networking, and inexhaustible energy, Blessing embarked on the arduous journey of making his dreams come true. To date, Blessing has opened for such legendary acts as The Temptations, Tower of Power, Average White Band, and Sony recording artist and winner of NBC’s The Voice Javier Colon. He has appeared on a songwriting competition show on Bravo television called Platinum Hit. He has performed at the John F Kennedy center for the performing arts numerous times, and is the recipient of a young soloist’s award for song writing from the JFK Center of Performing Arts.
Recently, Blessing was a contestant on Season 7 of NBC’s The Voice, where he has been mentored by Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine, Taylor Swift, and Alicia Keys. He is an artist with Sojourn Records, and his debut record entitled “Roots” was released on February 10th, 2015.
Star of the ABC drama Castle, Seamus Dever is in a league of his own when it comes to acting. As Homicide Detective Kevin Ryan, he proves to be a fan favorite; always imparting his charm, wit, and wealth of obscure knowledge.
In addition to “Castle,” Dever has played authoritative figures on the likes of “Army Wives” and “General Hospital;” both of which had him starring as a doctor. Other forays into television include “Mad Men,” “Drop Dead Diva,” NCIS,” and all three “CSI” franchises. He’s also appeared in such films as “Hollywoodland” with Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck, and the independent comedy “Ready or Not.” He most recently starred in and produced the Tribeca Film Festival short, “Sequestered,” and has just launched a fundraising campaign for “The Extraordinary Farewell” for which he’ll also serve as both producer and star.
Well known to theatre audiences, Dever assumed the iconic role of Alex in A Clockwork Orange for which he received rave reviews and nominations for an Ovation, Garland, and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award. Another highlight amidst his over 60 plays and musicals is his notable performance in iWitness at The Mark Taper Forum. This past summer, he starred in LA Theatre Works’ “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
He and his wife reside in Los Angeles with their two rescue dogs and are active in animal rights, environmental causes, and proud vegetarians.
RAINE: What has been your favorite audition and why?
DEVER: I’ve never really thought about that. Probably my favorite wasn’t even one where I actually got the role. I remember auditioning for the remake of the “Flight of the Phoenix.” I had a wonderful breakthrough with the casting director, Deborah Aquila, where I completely let go of the formality and gave into the situation of the part. I had done a lot of theatre and really was used to being in rehearsals for weeks before I could let go like that. It was a moment that gave me a lot of confidence that I could go deeper; especially in moments of scrutiny. I didn’t get the part, but I got something out of it.
RAINE; Do you have a creative process that you undergo that helps you to develop your characters?
DEVER: I really haven’t spent much time on the technique of character development lately. There’s a process when you’re in school and you focus on so much technique. Eventually the technique becomes invisible and internal. I feel like I am a character actor but I think all characters are an extension of yourself. It starts with you and that helps you make these imaginative leaps. But in general, I’m very obsessive about my work and it never really leaves me. In the shower, right before I go to bed, sitting in traffic; I’m always thinking about my character. I’ve probably been like that since I was a teenager.
RAINE: As the producer of your upcoming film, The Extraordinary Farewell, what words of wisdom can you share with aspiring producers?
DEVER: Oh boy…hire people you trust because you can’t be everywhere and can’t do everything. I think I’ve gotten lucky because I’m working with really competent and talented people, but I always try to do too much. You’ll go nuts if you try to handle too much by yourself.
RAINE: You also star in the film, can you talk about the challenges that you faced wearing more than one hat on the same project?
DEVER: Yes, absolutely. If you are wearing your actor “hat”, you must take off your producer “watch”. By that I mean you can’t be sitting watching the clock and getting all nervous that you’re not going to make your day or you’re going to lose your light, those administrative things. It will get in your way and you will rush your work. Now if you know a way to completely forget about being a producer while you’re acting, please be sure to let me know. Easier said than done.
Actress Annie Wersching is best known for her role as FBI special agent Renee Walker on the hit television show 24 opposite Kiefer Sutherland and most recently as the female lead on Amazon’s drama series Bosch which she juggles along with her role as “Lily” on CW’s THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. Wersching has previously appeared in memorable arcs on the likes of Steven Spielberg’s EXTANT opposite Halle Berry, BODY OF PROOF, DALLAS, and CASTLE, as well as guest star roles on REVOLUTION, INTELLIGENCE, and BLUE BLOODS.
Wersching portrayed the powerful Amelia Joffe on ABC’s General Hospital. Her other television credits include Supernatural, Cold Case, Hawaii 5-0, Rizzoli & Isles, NCIS, CSI, Star Trek: Enterprise, Harry’s Law, No Ordinary Family, Frasier, and Charmed among others.
Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Wersching studied musical theatre at Millikin University. Upon graduation, she worked for such theatres as Chicago’s Victory Gardens, The Marriott Lincolnshire and the Utah Shakespearean Festival, as well as performing in two national tours.
For this mother of two, Wersching is living the creative entrepreneurs dream and proving that you can have it all. She is seasoned veteran that understand the demands of her work but finds perfect balance between career and family life.
RAINE: You were the voice and motion-capture actor in the PlayStation 3 exclusive game, The Last of Us. How different is it prepping as a motion- capture actress for a hit video game versus acting in front of a camera?
WERSCHING: “The Last of Us” was such a great adventure. I had no prior video game or mocap experience…so it was a blast learning how it all worked. Instead of being in front of “a” camera…there were about 90 cameras capturing us from all over the room! The really great thing about this game in particular, and Naughty Dog & Neil Druckman our director, was that we approached the scenes exactly as we would have in a film or in a play actually! I got my start in theatre, so this was very familiar to me…it was almost like doing theatre in the round, but we just happened to be wearing crazy tight, unattractive outfits with dots all over!
RAINE: What has been the most surprising event that has happened to you on set while filming for TV or film?
WERSCHING: I suppose that I’m not invincible! Turns out it is surprisingly hard to swim in the freezing ocean with a leather jacket & jeans on at 5am after 12-hours of shooting…I learned this on Season 7 of “24.” I was a little too eager to do everything myself! And this particular near drowning experience was rather eye-opening.
RAINE: You are very much about family. How have you managed to work around the demands of acting and raising a family?
WERSCHING: It’s certainly not easy! But I feel like my hubby and I are both on the same page in terms of what’s important to us and we make a damn good team. That’s huge. You really basically take a whole year off for a pregnancy in this profession…which is hard. But oh so worth it!! We’ve both been pretty lucky to work mostly in LA., but knew that was too good to be true. I’ve been back and forth shooting in Atlanta for the last few months which is a first. Our 1-year-old has been traveling with me and my 4-year-old has stayed in LA with Dadda. Soooo tough! But we make sure to see each other as often as possible and, of course, FaceTime is crucial. I’ve even FaceTimed for my older boy’s tee-ball practice and the baby has FaceTimed with our cat! Ha!
RAINE: What one piece of advice has served you best in your career?
WERSCHING: Of course Spencer Tracy wasn’t speaking to me directly, but I’ve always loved the advice – “Know your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.” I like to think I come to a set incredibly prepared and incredibly low maintenance. Maybe it’s the Midwesterner in me, but I believe a low- key, hard worker is something of great value in this biz!
Have you ever seen a gorgeous room in a magazine and wondered how you could translate that same look into a truly personalized space in your own home, but you lacked the time, interior design expertise or budget to pull it off? nousDECOR.com helps solve that all-too-familiar dilemma, serving up the tools, community and professional expertise in a single destination to transform a dream design into reality.
Unlike other home decor sites, nousDECOR. com provides much more than beautiful images and links to products, but also all the resources you need to decorate a space, from intelligent search tools and a “Same Look Different Price” recommendation engine, to a moodboard builder and access to thousands of moodboards curated by design professionals and enthusiasts. In addition, nousDECOR.com offers a host of exclusive expert content from celebrity designer Mark Cutler, as well as an engaged community of users and professional designers to seek
out for advice, inspiration and collaboration. Finally, with its mobile app, nousDECOR.com offers a unique comparison shopping feature – the ability to snap or upload a picture of a furniture or decor item and then run a search across 8 million items in the nousDECOR.com library from hundreds of retailers and other decor sources online for items offering a similar look at different price points.
Launched in 2014, nousDECOR.com is the brainchild of CEO Heather Gillette, one of Youtube’s earliest executives who established and led several content and copyright teams from 2005 to 2010 as the company skyrocketed from a few thousand to millions of users around the world. The idea for nousDECOR.com came from Heather’s greatest passion outside of the office – building and enhancing interior spaces, from stables and tree houses to her own home – and the frustration she experienced in trying to source a matching chandelier for an antique fixture she was given as a gift.
Heather scoured countless websites, looking for a similar chandelier to fit the space and look of her rustic home. She quickly realized that searching for such unique items was an arduous task. By the time she finally discovered similar chandeliers within her price range on eBay Germany, she recognized that hunting for singular pieces such as hers must be an issue many en- countered.
Heather believed there should be a place online where furnishings from anywhere —not just mainstream retailers—were easily searchable by specifics such as size, color, price and category. A place that would not only help her find special pieces, but provide a community that could help her, or anyone else, solve decor dilemmas such as these. That’s when she decided to build nousDECOR. com.
According to Gillette, “nous” is the french word for ‘we’ – so nousDECOR loosely translates to ‘we decorate.’ Community is our namesake, and a critical part of what nousDECOR has to offer.” By the way, today, that gorgeous French gilded chandelier hangs in her home right beside an old western saddle, a reflection of eclectic high and low styling that contributed to the philosophy of nousDECOR.
Clarence “KD” McNair a Baltimore, Maryland native, started his career as an entertainer and entrepreneur at the early age of 2. With the help of his mother, McNair was able to pursue his dreams. McNair was discovered by Brian Dickens and the CEO of University Entertainment, Haqq Islam. Following his discovery, McNair was teamed up with his music group Majusty, later named Prophet Jones landing a million dollar recording contract with Universal/lnterscope Records, joining a roster of notable artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Dr. Dre and Mya. Due to changes at the record label, McNair, (then nicknamed “KD”), later moved to Motown Records with the assistance of Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records.
As a recording artist, he has worked with video director Gil Green, who shot for platinum artists such as Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, and Akon, as well as famed video director Jessy Terrero. McNair has also worked with Tricky Stewart from Red Zone Entertainment who has produced artists such as Rihanna. As a songwriter, he had the opportunity to work with Jazze Pha, (producer for Ciara), McKelly Jamison, (Faith Evans and Carl Thomas), Grammy Award winning songwriter Gordon Chambers. McNair is also featured on the soundtrack of the action comedy film Bait, starring Jamie Foxx. It featured a successful single, Mya’s “Free” which peaked at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.
McNair being equipped with entertainment industry experience and knowledge, has also been sought after to do consultant work for Box 10 Entertainment, whose roster includes Beenie Man, Andrew Tosh, Mavado, and Patra. His background includes acting as an entertainment management consultant, specializing in branded entertainment management and project development for a number of entertainment firms, concert promoters, and major video directors.
McNair is consistently in demand not only for his knowledge and experience but for his innate ability to be a brilliant strategist. Fie has a natural ability to problem solve, making him a sought after entity. Not only has McNair dedicated his time and attention to the entertainment industry, his skills in life and career coaching has helped inspire and redirect the paths of many. McNair is known to “see into the future” as it pertains to lifestyle and business. McNair has overcome many obstacles; however he refuses to stop moving forward because he firmly believes that God has something great in store for him. As McNair would say “No matter what….Keep going!”