Carving Her Own Path
By The Get Leashed Doggy Style Team
Stepping into the Caras Design Atelier is like walking into a dream. The gowns, the historic architecture, and the fashion show footage on constant loop make you feel like you have a private appointment with a secret Parisian couturier. Greek-born designer, Stephan Caras, has found great success in both the Canadian fashion scene and abroad. His wife, Sharida Caras, both statuesque and sweet, helps handle the business side of the house, while his son, Kyriako (Kyriako Bow), is Stephan’s right-hand design man. His daughter, Dion Karas, however, is truly a breath of fresh air, stepping away from the family’s sartorial roots to carve her own path in the acting world. With her warm, confident, and approachable nature, plus her supermodel-like stature (she came alive for our camera!), Dion oozes charisma, and we are psyched to see where her career takes her next. We can definitely say she’s already captivated our hearts with her love for animals, in particular her very special rescue Greyhounds. Below she introduces us to her world of family, fashion and her dreams for the future.
Thanks for sitting down with us, Dion! Please tell us about yourself:
I’m a 24 year old Greek-Canadian, born and raised in Toronto. Working towards a profession in acting, I’ve been performing since I was little and recently graduated from Ryerson’s ‘Performance Acting’ program. I’ve always been an active person and recently took up horseback riding lessons, which have been amazing and the most fun. When I’m not working on my craft I spend my days at Stephan Caras Design. I would say I wear many hats in the business, as we all do. Most days I will either be in the storefront assisting clients (many of whom would have arranged for a special appointment), or behind the scenes packing and delivering orders. I also assist with events such as Toronto Fashion Week, taking a small part in the design process, music, photography and social media exposure. Each day can be very different from the last depending on what is going on in Toronto and globally.
Please tell us about these gorgeous Greyhounds and your love of dogs:
Back in 2008 we actually got our first dog, Cleo — a brown standard French poodle — who was just the most wonderful dog you could ask for. Tragically, in June 2012, she was diagnosed with Lymphoma at 5 years old and passed away that August. As a family we were absolutely heartbroken. What lead us to our Greyhounds actually occurred a few years prior, when I was online and stumbled upon the issues of dogfighting and dog racing. I felt sick seeing what these animals were going through, and at the fact that these events were still going on.
I can’t quite explain it, but something stuck out to me about Greyhounds, and I immediately fell in love with the breed after looking more into their situation. I constantly found myself searching online for information about the various Greyhound adoption associations in Canada. The main one is the GRA (Greyhound Relocation & Adoption) Canada, located in London, Ontario. So, about 6 months after Cleo had passed, I began to feel that it might be a healing experience for us as a family to rescue a dog that was in need of a loving home. Of course, Greyhounds came to mind right away so I gently made the suggestion several times, despite my family’s apprehensions about adopting another dog so soon after the loss of our first.
But then, out of the blue, my mom called to tell me she phoned GRA in hopes of visiting to check out some Greys the following weekend. I absolutely did not argue. We spoke to a man named Bill, who asked us a series of questions including what our day-to-day life was like, where we lived, etc. When we mentioned we had a closed-in backyard, he instantly replied, “Oh, good for two Greyhounds then!”, which we just laughed off, not planning on adopting two at all. He then continued with, “Well I have a brother and a sister that just came in and I don’t want them to be separated if I can help it. Look on the website, they are the only two white ones on there.” Once we made it up to London, Bill encouraged us to go and grab the same pair (at the time named Power and Paris), and take them out for a walk. Within five minutes of our stroll it was obvious that they were so happy to be around people and had so much love to give us. There was no decision to be made, they were meant to be ours! Right then and there we signed the papers and took them home one week later.
Having dealt with watching your dog become sick, and to be blunt, start deteriorating — an experience I would not wish on any animal owner — it became rather restorative for all of us to bring home our Greys. They were so horribly abused and malnourished that when we finally started to watch them learn to trust, love, welcome wellness and enjoy life every day again, we too began to heal.
As for their names, my mom wanted to name them Solomon and Esther. Solomon, after her grandfather, who was a farmer and always had an infinite amount of animals on his farm, and Esther, for my mom’s Aunt who also owned many pets and was an unquestionable animal lover. Now, personally I didn’t love the name ‘Esther’ for a greyhound pup, so my mom and I came up with a compromise. She could name him Solomon and I could name her something else. Since Cleo’s full name was Cleopatra, and Solomon is also the name of an ancient king, I thought it would be fun to keep the name in the same realm of ‘royalty’ without being “too royal,” if that makes sense. After some searching I found ‘Nyla’, the name of an ancient Egyptian Princess, inspired by the River Nile. I thought it was so simple and beautiful and it fits her rather perfectly now.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is generally quite simple. I own lots of black, grey, and white, with very few pieces in color or patterns. I love pieces that are simple but versatile, so that I am always able to mix and match many items with the other pieces in my wardrobe. I like to accent my outfits with a couple items rather than wear one statement look on its own. I would probably describe my style as something I can wear during the day but that is still acceptable to wear out at night as well.
How would you describe the look and feel of your home?
My home is very comfortable in my opinion, but that is also probably because we never moved while I was growing up – it’s always been my home. We have lots of windows and great lighting. I love our backyard in spring and summer because our lot has more green space than any other home on the block. It’s so beautiful and feels so secluded that you almost begin to believe you’re in a forest. All that said, I should probably also mention that my parents have many things that I was not allowed to touch while growing up, and that should probably still stay away from.
What does your ideal weekend look like?
Now that the weather is warming up I definitely have many plans in mind for my weekends. I enjoy hanging with my girlfriends and boyfriend for outdoor activities, or just chilling inside for movie days. I love to have a mixture of something fun and eventful as well as some relaxing, quality time. Speaking of relaxing, my boyfriend’s family home is on Toronto Island so getting to spend the day there in the summer is always a nice break from the city. And of course, cottaging with friends also never gets old.
What inspires you?
Like most people, there are many things in the world that inspire each one of us in one way or another and for different reasons. Most recently, I’ve realized that traveling and experiencing new places and customs has started to become very inspiring. Because those in my generation often live fast-paced lives and are extremely dependent on technology (not excusing myself from that opinion), being able to step out of that bubble for a bit and see how others in the world are finding their way has had a much stronger impact on me now than when I was younger. I love to be here, doing what I love, but taking small breaks is especially important in inspiring me to move forward. Furthermore, seeing the people close to me work very hard every day and reach the goals they had hoped to accomplish makes me want to push ahead even more so. I want to see what I’m capable of achieving.
Finally, can you leave us with a funny story about your dogs?
I don’t have any specific story about them that’s incredibly funny, but I do think that the two of them in their unique personalities are quite hilarious. Just looking at them, Solomon is this 115 lb small version of a horse, while Nyla looks like this tiny fawn a lot of them time, which I have started calling her. But Solomon is actually the biggest baby and often misunderstood in that way. When people come over he becomes so ecstatic that he starts jumping up on everyone, which can be a bit scary as he’s quite unaware of his own size. This might be the reason he knocks into EVERYTHING – he truly is the clumsiest dog. But he just has an overwhelming amount of love to give and is very excited about everything – and everyone! He loves his walks every morning and whines forever if you’re waiting too long to take him out. And when it rains or is thundering outside, he believes the world is ending.
Nyla on the other hand, is much smaller but very independent. She loves cuddling but will usually wait for you to come to her, and if she does come to you she will not let you stop petting her. She loves to lay out in the sun all morning and just enjoys exploring on her own when we go for walks. As for thunderstorms? She could not care less.
For more information on Greyhound rescue, visit GRA Canada.
Follow Dion on Instagram @dionkaras