Alia Weston Jewelry Exhibition & Reception

Saturday, November 24, 2018 - 2:00pm

Please join us for a celebration on 24th of November, 14:00 – 20:00, at JJSTUDIO gallery 825 Bloor St. W Toronto


The full exhibition runs 19-26th November.

Venue & Address: 
JJSTUDIO Gallery 825 Bloor St. W Toronto
A portrait of a well dressed dark haired woman wearing a silver choker necklace enjoys the scent of a burgundy rose

Startup Open House

Startup Open House at Imagination Catalyst
Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 4:00pm to 8:00pm

Coinciding with this year’s Elevate Startup Open House event, come out to mix and mingle with startups from the Imagination Catalyst program - present and past - as well as network with our exceptional advisors, mentors and investors.

The event runs from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM in our new innovation campus at Daniels Waterfront: City of the Arts building at Queens Quay East and Lower Jarvis.


Venue & Address: 
Daniels Waterfront: City of The Arts 130 Queens Quay East Toronto, Ontario M5A 3Y5
416-977-6000 x4258
New Waterfront innovation campus

Gift-Commodity Conversations in a Transnational Philippine Market Trade

As studies have documented, the millions of men and women who have left the Philippines to find work across the globe regularly send cash remittances and in-kind gifts to family and friends in the Philippines. Filipinos working abroad are known as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or balikbayans (returning Filipinos) – Filipinos visiting or returning to the Philippines after a period living in another country. The cash remittances OFWs send to family and friends in the Philippines are renowned for the direct contribution these funds make to the country’s national economy. The in-kind material gifts OFWs send, however, can experience more circuitous life-histories depending upon whether recipients keep the gifted items, sell, or exchange them for goods that better meet their subsistence needs. The gifted goods, such as personal grooming and health products, clothing, and canned goods are packaged in standard-size cardboard containers (60 x 30 x 30 cm or 60 x 60 x 90 cm) known as balikbayan boxes. Overseas Filipino Workers can economically send these boxes via small freight-forwarding companies directly from pick-up at their residences and shipment via cargo container to the Philippine recipient’s home. Because these “gifted” goods contribute to the economic and social well-being of Filipinos in the Philippines, they enter the country tax-exempt and duty-free.

Given that the Philippine state has failed to construct the basic political and economic foundations that can provide the majority of people with viable livelihoods, both gift recipients and entrepreneurs operationalize this transnational flow of balikbayan box goods by diverting selected products into public market commodity trade – transactions that straddle informal/formal, gift/commodity and sometimes other-than-legal practice. The Philippine government, cognizant that such transnational gift-to-commodity transactions can provide income for residents across classes while acknowledging the commercial capitalization of these untaxed goods, issues vacillating by-laws that variably allow, prohibit, or restrict the duty-free entry status of this trade.

Within this political economic context my research project, conducted in Baguio City, northern Philippines, investigates the mainstream strategies and the edgy side roads through which Baguio City Public Market entrepreneurs selling the aforementioned balikbayan box goods sustain their livelihoods given municipal policies that periodically threaten their viability. I argue that these entrepreneurs, rather than emerging as passive and oppressed recipients, have established alternative businesses that service urbanites’ everyday needs and profitably contribute to the city’s economy. By sourcing goods across local-to-global sites through both commodity and gifting transactions, these merchants emerge as self-styled transnational entrepreneurs who connect different sectors of society in new and innovative ways while remaining firmly seated in their Baguio market stores. Their on-the-ground enterprises create new social and economic interstitial spaces within old ones thereby contesting local government livelihood constraints imposed from above. Traders respond to consumers’ changing consumption needs, foster personal ties with suppliers in global locations, transform part of their business profits into community outreach or gifting gestures, and consign goods on flexible repayment terms to part-time, often not-so-legal sellers. That entrepreneurs create such in-between or “gray spaces” of practice and that the city grants marketers formal and legal permission to pay rent to do so, highlights how the government “formalizes informality” and that both government and entrepreneurs are complicit in using informality and “extralegality” as urban organizing logics when these practices are to their mutual advantage. One Baguio City Public Market entrepreneur aptly captures the pivotal position of her fellow marketers when she describes her entrepreneurial practice as kapit sa patalim – “holding on to the edge of the knife.” She explains that the often unpredictable and potentially vulnerable nature of her public market work means that, “One just needs to forge one’s own way with it.”


Milgram's 2017 article "Recrafting in/formality, leveraging public market trade in Baguio, Philippines," published in Vol. 6, Issue 2 of Anuac

Milgram's 2015 article "Unsettling Urban Marketplace Redevelopment in Baguio City, Philippines", published in Vol. 2, Issue 1 of Economic Anthropology

Lynne Milgram featured in OCAD University's 2016 Annual Research Report: Transformation through Imagination


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: In the Philippines Lynne Milgram is a Research Affiliate of the Cordillera Studies Center (CSC), University of the Philippines Baguio. Lynne thanks the CSC staff and faculty for their ongoing support of her research. Lynne also thanks her current Research Assistant, Rose Busacay, and expresses her gratitude to the many public market entrepreneurs and consumers who answered her many questions.

B. Lynne Milgram is Professor of Anthropology at OCAD University, Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded research in the northern Philippines analyzes the cultural politics of social change regarding women’s work in crafts, the Hong Kong-Philippine secondhand clothing trade, and street and market vending. Milgram investigates issues of nationalism, “tradition,” and “authenticity” vis-à-vis crafts, and issues of informality, governance, and extralegality regarding local livelihood rights and food security. Milgram’s recent co-edited book (with Hansen & Little) is, (2013) Street Economies of the Urban Global South; and recent book and journal articles include: (2018) “Informality and Legality in Women’s Livelihoods in Baguio City.” In Routledge Handbook on Contemporary Philippine Culture and Political Economy, (Thompson & Batalla, eds.); (2017) “Recrafting in/formality, leveraging public market trade in Baguio, Philippines.” Anuac 6 (2); (2016) “Refashioning Global Craft Commodity Flows from the Central Philippines.” In Critical Craft: Technology, Globalization, and Capitalism. (Wilkinson-Weber & DeNicola, eds.).

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Photograph of Bagiuo City Public Market
Photograph of Bagiuo City Public Market, dry goods section
Photograph of Bagiuo City Public Market vendors working
Photograph of Bagiuo City Public Market vendors working
Photograph of Bagiuo City Public Market vendors working
Photograph of Bagiuo City Public Market vendors working
Photogarph of a large hall filled with shops: the La Trinidad Space vegetable trading post, Benguet Province, Philippines
Photograph of vegetables in market stall of Baguio City Public Market vegetable section, Baguio Philippines
Friday, March 2, 2018 - 12:30pm
Lab Member: 
B. Lynne Milgram
Embed Video: 

Entrepreneur BootCamp Deadline to Apply Feb 4th!

Open to students of all levels of experience the Entrepreneur Bootcamp runs 4 consecutive days, February 20th to 23rd from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

If you’ve ever thought of starting a business this workshop is a great place explore. It’s especially helpful if you’re thinking about applying to the Imagination Catalyst incubator to commercialize your thesis project after graduation - or take a business you’re working on to the next level.

Study Week BootCamp

Entrepreneur BootCamp

Imagination Catalyst Study Week Boot Camp Feb 20 - 23, 2018
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:45am to Sunday, February 4, 2018 - 11:45pm

Sign up for the Imagination Catalyst’s Entrepreneur BootCamp and learn what it takes to start a business using the lean startup methodology.

Over the course of four days (Tuesday, Feb 20 to Friday, Feb 23, from 930 am to 430 pm) you will -

  • find out how to sell your ideas to others
  • build your business toolkit using your available resources
  • learn how to identify and find your ideal customer

Open to students of all levels of experience. Ideal for those who want to experience what it takes to start a business, or thinking of turning their thesis project into a business. 

Valued at $250, this program is FREE to OCAD U students with a $25 deposit, refunded after completing the workshop. Lunch will be provided every day.

Deadline to apply is midnight (11:59 pm) Sunday, Feb 4th.

Only 20 spots available. Sign up online today!


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 100 McCaul Street, Toronto ON
416-977-6000 ex. 4364
Free to OCAD U Students $250 Non-OCAD U


Friday, November 3, 2017 - 2:00pm to 9:00pm

InnovateTO150 invites you and fellow innovation-minded entrepreneurs and changemakers to learn and engage with successful startups in Toronto and other experienced entrepreneurs. These enterprises and startup companies will demonstrate how their ideas, services, technologies, and products will shape the next 150 years for Toronto, Ontario and beyond. The InnovateTO150 Showcase will feature the best startups and entrepreneurs from Toronto, GTA and across Canada. Many of the showcased ventures are part of the 24 on-campus incubators and accelerators – components of existing academic entrepreneurship programming. These are the innovative entrepreneurship ecosystems currently serving students.


Keynote speaker: ANN MAKOSINSKI

Forbes 30 Under 30, TIME 30 Under 30, Google Science Fair Winner, Intel Science & Engineering Fair Winner, Inventor, Entrepreneur, Differentist


Visit for event schedule and registration information.

Venue & Address: 
Design Exchange 234 Bay Street Toronto, ON M5K 1B2
Free - Register to skip the line!
Innovate T. O. 150 poster showing keynote speaker Ann Makosinski, $50,000 worth of awards, and event information.

Art, Design & Independence INFO SESSION

Art, Design & Independence Info Session
Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:15pm to 8:15pm

Curious about how to start your own business or what it takes to become a freelance artist? Interested in meeting and learning from others who have?

Join us for a presentation, lively discussion, and networking!

WHEN: Thursday, October 19, 6:15 pm to 8:15 pm

WHERE: Lambert Lounge, Rm 187

Refreshments included.

Please RSVP -

For more information contact, Kathryn Ellis, OR Miles Collyer,

Photo Credit: Anna Peng

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street, Lambert Lounge, Rm 187
416-977-6000 ex. 4364

Smooth Commerce CEO Brian Deck's best advice for artists considering entrepreneurship

Image of Brian Deck working on a mural
Image of Brian Deck's mural
SmoothPay App image

We caught up with Brian Deck, successful entrepreneur and CEO of Smooth Commerce to talk about his business and the lessons he learned in art school. Brian is also an OCAD U alum and mentor for OCAD U's startup incubator, Imagination Catalyst.

Tell us about Smooth Commerce. How’s the business doing?

The Smooth Commerce platform powers white label apps and SmoothPay, a loyalty app for independent merchants. Our focus is on branded apps similar (but better than) the Starbucks app. For example, we developed the app for Balzac’s Coffee Roasters which has been a tremendous success, enjoying a 14 times increased adoption over their previous card-based loyalty program. We are excited to be rolling out two very well-known brands this fall so stay tuned!

The SmoothPay app is available to download and use at coffee shops or restaurants. It combines payment with a loyalty program. You pay with your phone and save money at the same time. For businesses, it increases exposure and sales. We already have a couple hundred businesses across Canada and most relevant to OCAD U is nearby, Red Eye Espresso on McCaul Street.

How did Smooth Commerce get started?

My previous tech company was successful developing loyalty programs for Fortune 500 companies. Before I sold that company, I saw an opportunity to do something even bigger in mobile and consumer-facing loyalty programs - enhancing the way businesses and consumers engage. The major players in several well established industries (retail, payments, loyalty, and marketing) had not kept up with technology and the changing consumer. With most of the giants sitting on their hands, the opportunity was huge and it was the perfect timing to start Smooth.


When you were studying painting at OCAD U, you started a mural company. What lessons did you learn about starting a business?

Running a mural company taught me how to work well with people, which is key to being successful. I had to deal with different personality types and different levels of professionalism. Being a success in any business means getting along with people and genuinely motivating people along the way.

I will never forget being a student and working in an art store. One day I picked up a book of interviews with successful artists talking about their careers and lessons learned. Each artist said the exact same thing – that hard work and perseverance was the most important factor in their success. Lessons learned from that book and from running my mural business taught me to always work hard and to persevere even in the most difficult situations. For artists, remember that your success is a direct result of what you put in.

What makes artists and designers good entrepreneurs?

The training an artist receives can translate very well to entrepreneurship and business in general. Having an art and design background has given me a unique perspective that the majority of people don't have. It has been a tremendous benefit for me in many aspects of my various business ventures including: product development, marketing, presentations, communications, and my overall perspective on things. When you’re creating a painting or sculpture, you have to step back and see the bigger picture. It’s a huge life lesson to look for patterns, to have a vision, to commit to the process and see it through to completion.

What’s your best piece of advice for young people who want to start their own business (especially if they didn’t go to business school)?

I mentioned earlier the importance of hard work and determination - this is number one in my view. In addition, while at OCAD U and over the years, I’ve found that a common trait among many artists is that they have difficulty being comfortable with the idea of making money. There is a fear of being labelled a sellout. For most artists, that holds them back. The sooner you become comfortable in valuing your time and work, the better. My last piece of advice is that following your passion is the best way to position yourself for success no matter what you may do. Whether its business or art, at times it is going to be hard. But, you have to find what you are passionate about and go after it. I wake up every day wanting to do what I do.


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Jason Goodman, UX Instructor

Jason Goodman is a Sessional Instructor at OCAD University, having taught UX Design & Prototyping at the Masters Level, Toy Design at the Undergraduate level, as well as corporate training with both continuing education and OCAD Co. (the corprate/business training division).