Toronto can be an overwhelming place for newcomers. From university and college students to corporate world transplants and those choosing to raise their families here, this city has no shortage of things to do and people to meet! My attention was recently drawn to several events hosted by Embiria, a hyper-local events company that focuses on experiences in unique settings designed for individuals as well as groups.
Created by Palak Loizides, Embiria has been quietly offering events for men and women alike. “Embiria means ‘experience’ in Greek,” Loizides explains. “We offer unique and curated experiences/activities that allow you to disconnect to reconnect with yourself or others.”
We joined in one of the experiences that took place in the King St. West design district. Inside a peaceful design showroom, and to the trickling sounds of waterfalls, there were no more than ten people taking part in a restorative yoga session. We ended with time to chat over a delicious plant-based meal created by from local artisans. Most attendees came solo. Several had just moved to the city over the past year. There were even visitors on vacation who joined with an interest in a more local experience.
We had a chance to find out more of these experience gems with Loizides.
How and why did you start offering these experiences?
I worked in business/marketing corporate jobs for over 10 years in multiple industries before this and didn’t know I would end up with my own business one day!
I would spend a lot of planning fun things to do in city during evenings, weekends, etc. for myself or providing recommendations to friends. I found plans were getting repetitive – it was always brunch, drinks or coffee, and many times, people would make plans to hang out and end up just sitting together while spending a lot of time on their phones, yet they longed for connection. I thought why not create unique experiences that people could attend without having to plan it themselves. I wanted to build a sense of community – where they could come on their own to meet new people, or gather their friends/family to join – it’s a way to get out and either reconnect with yourself, or connect with others. After all, it seems that many are in agreement (and research shows) that spending money on experiences vs. material things provides more happiness.
It initially started as a yoga and healthy brunch club idea, and quickly expanded to be all sorts of Experiences – the opportunities and ideas are limitless which I love. Plus, I consider myself a creative individual (stems from my Marketing days), and I get to infuse so much creativity into each Experience as they are all unique. I had no idea I would become a “entrepreneur” one day….I just took some time to reflect on what my interests were in life, and I started paying attention to the areas that really resonated with me. Once I started, everything flowed so naturally and quickly that I only had a month to put together an entire brand, website, social channels etc. before I had picked and planned my first Experience!
Who do you mostly attract?
Our demographic is mostly female between 24-40, but our age ranges depending on the Experience and we’ve had people of all ages attend. We’ve had men attend barre classes (which is not something you see often) – and all of the women were so welcoming and happy to see a man who normally only weight lifts trying barre! I love seeing multiple generations attending our Experiences together sometimes (grandmother, mom, daughter).
We’ve even had people celebrate birthdays with us or buy an Experience to take a friend as a gift, which is great because the idea is to spend time connecting with people, while doing something you enjoy. We’re constantly evolving and expanding, so we’ve been looking at introducing some child/teen friendly Experiences and ones specifically for couples/dates in the future.
Tell us about some of the events you’ve been hosting?
We offer Experiences in four categories – Discover, Balance, Indulge and Sweat. Discover is all about learning something new – we’ve held creative writing workshops, calligraphy classes, tea education/tastings and photography workshops. Balance is about unplugging and reflecting – lots of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Indulge are foodie experiences – we recently hosted a cooking class which was fun! Sweat is exactly that – getting your sweat on, and is usually paired with a healthy meal or wellness goodies.
From a Concierge standpoint, we are currently planning an afternoon of wellness for employees at a global tech company with Canadian headquarters based in Toronto which we’re super excited about, and we also put together a plan for a unique foodie Experience instead of a typical baby shower for a couple expecting twins!
What’s the been feedback like?
One of our goals is to provide an environment when people can connect with one another over shared interests. The best feedback is having people come up to me right after the Experience thanking me and telling me how much they loved it and how they felt so welcome and connected to a group of strangers, all while trying something new. I’ve had people thanking me for giving them the space to meet new people since they just moved to the city, which is so great! We want to be accessible, not pretentious or super exclusive – we want people to feel welcome and a warm energy while they are there. ‘
Feedback about our brand has been awesome as well, which means a lot since I came from a marketing background. The brand was super important to me and it’s nice to hear people say that they thought this has been around for years because everything was so polished.
At one of our yoga + brunch experiences, two people in the group met for the first time and ended up chatting, and they actually became friends and planned an outing to another one of our Experiences which was the best compliment I could receive.
Tell us about how you choose the venues?
It depends on the Experience but I love finding local gems in the city. I look for unique spaces where it’s beneficial for both of us to host something there. I want to support other local business if possible so I often partner with galleries, studios, restaurants, etc. that I can introduce a new audience to.
Any tips for new comers to the city?
Get out there and explore – the best way to meet people is at events and meet-ups. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve attended events in the city not knowing anyone there, and left having made an awesome connection. And I’ve lived here my whole life! Condo boards often organize get togethers, and I think that’s a great way to meet your neighbours. Check out a local class, or sit in a cafe near your place and strike up conversation with the barista or person beside you. I also think having an open, positive attitude is important. Your energy will attract people.
So many exciting Experiences are in the works now. In September watch for Embiria’s Experiences led by experts including a Calligraphy Workshop, Yoga + Brunch, and Summer Flow x Healthy Eats event. October we’ll have a Mindfulness Workshop, Creative Writing as well as Zumba. November we’re looking forward to hosting “Let that Sh*t Go” experience and more.
Visit their website for details and how to register.