Wednesday, February 17, 2016

BRAND ALERT: LAPARKA


Canadian winter-wear design icon Linda Lundstrom went out of business in 2008 – a rough economic year for many. To the loyalists who donned her coats since 1974, no other brand has come close to filling her place since. 

Here's my good news of the day. Lundstrom's most popular design, the Laparka, is back. An entire brand in honour of this style has rose from its ashes offering a cozy collection of beautiful and classic, technically designed outerwear. I met with Laparka head designer Joseph Tassoni to learn how he has refreshed the brand right down to the smallest seams. The best way to learn about a collection? Try it on.

Each jacket is designed for warmth and comfort in mind with smart details from polar fleece lining on the insides of the collars to snug fitting wrists to ensure not a wisp of cold air sneaks in. My favourite style is the 3/4 Length Heritage Jacket – a classic black wool coat lined with down. With fur pom poms! And detachable hood! It's super warm and I don't look like a sack! Success! A brilliantly engineered stretch zipper down the front zips over my hips with ease, sans teeth-gritting. How has no one else though of this before? Stretch zippers are a revelation.

I was eager to share the love of Laparka and stretch zippers with Dress Me Dearly readers and they were kind enough to provide a special offer just for you! Use the discount code JANIS until March 2, 2016 for 20% off online orders. 

*Please note this collection is not currently for my vegan friends, but keep eye on Laparka as they will be releasing a spring collection soon!


Photos by photographer and printmaker, Leanne Olson.



Tuesday, January 05, 2016

SHE'S IN SIMONS: ELIZABETH BERNARDIN OF BLUSHED BEAUTE



She's in Simons is a blog series produced in collaboration with Canadian fashion brand, Simons. We're profiling inspiring Alberta creatives who celebrate style through their work and wardrobes. This instalment was photographed by Nicole Ashley at the Blushed Beaute Studio. 

A powerhouse in a pink tulle dress? A humanities major with a minor in philosophy becomes an in-demand makeup artist? When you speak with Blushed Beaute Founder, Elizabeth Bernardin, on the business of beauty you're hit with the musings of a thoughtful, logical and savvy young entrepreneur – and the recipe of her character begins to makes sense. 

Bernardin has been working as a professional artist for eight years. Her medium? Lipsticks, liners and powders. Her canvas? Hundreds of fresh faces. Her talent? Accenting one's best features, hiding the not so great. With the sweep of a brush she can give you cheekbones or hide a blemish. 

Just over one year ago, with not enough hours in the day and an ever growing client list of brides, professionals and socialites seeking smokey eyes and perfect pouts, Elizabeth launched Blushed Beaute. In her first year of business Elizabeth and her team brushed dewy complexions onto more than 90 brides, did makeup for Edmonton's high-profile fashion shows, collaborated with numerous publications for fashion and beauty features and launched a series of makeup tutorials on YouTube. 

The Blushed Beaute Studio is a bright, luxurious and feminine space – the kind of place where a glass of prosecco feels appropriate at any time of the day (and it is). The Blushed team boasts some of Alberta's best hair and makeup artists including Senior Artist Nickol Walkemeyer, well known in the fashion community for her impressive editorial work found in the pages of Vogue India, Harpers Bazaar Arabia and FASHION Magazine. The stylists and artists are also entirely mobile, meaning they can come to you – an attractive benefit for brides and socialites who are prepping for a big day, or big night out. 

As an entrepreneur, Bernardin knows what she wants and emits an admirable determination to get it.  She is bursting with energy, ideas and reflections – a perfectly complexioned factory of constant thought, strategy and goals. We love her business savvy and look forward to seeing her impact on Alberta's beauty industry in 2016. 


Elizabeth is wearing head to toe Simons. 

When did you know a career in beauty was your calling?
There was never really a moment where it was that clear. I was passionate about what beauty could do and how it could make you feel and I loved being a part of the transformation. The idea it could be a career was something that just slowly seeped into my consciousness as an opportunity that could combine my love of adventure and change – that's the business side – and my passion for making people look their best. Business gives me the opportunity to be as creative as I want and beauty is so diverse and always changing. Finding out that they didn’t just have to be jobs, like when I worked at MAC Makeup, but it could be a lifestyle, was when I started to think of it as a career.

How did Blushed Beaute come to be?
I had been working as Makeup By Elizabeth for three years and I had outgrown the name. I was starting to look for a name that could encompass all the plans I had for my business. I was in the middle of setting it up to launch when I had a conversation with Nickol Walkemeyer, who’s now our team Manager and Master Artist, who recommended an artist management approach. This was a month before launch and we brainstormed how it would look and when we launched it was with two members on the team and an entirely different set of goals. It’s developed a lot since then as we started to realized the potential to really make a difference in our industry.

What do you love about working in the beauty industry?
I love that everyone is an artist and passionate about what they do. I used to work for the railroad and I rarely heard people happy about their job and now I get to spend time with a ton of people who are so incredibly talented and committed to their work. We are all small businesses and all so focused on our clients and our work that I am constantly being inspired as well as supported! We work together a lot and are always collaborating and it’s really exciting and fun! Plus there’s usually celebratory drinks after, and wine and snacks while we work which really helps. Its become hard to differentiate between work and lifestyle now as so many people in the industry have become friends and work really blends into fun.

What have you learned about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
Where to start? First I’m a workaholic. I love working and am way more ambitious and driven then I thought before; I have a hard time saying no because I always see an opportunity, even when I’m exhausted. I have always been passionate but I never had anywhere to funnel my interest before now. I’m very good at business on this small level, planning and organizing are things I enjoy, especially planning, having the ability to actually pursue success for my ideas is really empowering. I’ve learnt I think really differently from other people, I didn’t realize it before but I think from a solution or goal backwards to realize the steps I need to accomplish something, I didn’t know that was different until I started talking to other people about how to address problems. I find it makes things really clear.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t really have a “typical day” ever (she laughs). Every day is often so different, but my usual tasks include emails – I receive about 400 a month minimum not including junk, which I get about 350 per week to sift through, confirming clients, social media posts when I have a photo I want to share or an event people might want to attend. Most days I have a client in the studio or on location somewhere like a studio or home. This is usually my favourite part of the day, meeting someone new and hearing their story or seeing a returning client and getting to catch up! I usually try to fit meetings in there somewhere as I really enjoy hanging out or networking with people in my industry. Finally, more emails and time on my computer. Some days are more hectic than others travelling to different locations to accommodate clients, other days are amazing like when we get to do events like PARKSHOW and spend time creating then go out and watch the show and see your work live! My favourite dates are when I get to do a creative photo shoot and spend time with my team. In between all that I like to try to spend some time catching up with my husband or hang out with my new niece! Family is really important, so I try to make that a priority, but it’s definitely gotten harder as we grow.



How important is personal style in your line of work?
It’s hard to say! Many people hire an artist because they like what they project and part of that is your makeup style and part of that is your personal style, but it also depends on just who they have access to. Most people might not realize there are so many options out there and our personal preference and skill dictates the end result a lot! I personally love a smoky eye and nude lip so that’s where I usually end up if they give me a choice. On the other hand if you have a friend you trust you’ll ask them before going to a stranger and of course referrals are really important because people want to know they can trust you! So in the end it’s also about your network and client loyalty.

What's the biggest makeup mistake you see that drives you crazy?
(Laughing) Ooh scary question! When you can see that they tried to contour and didn’t blend and you can see the line. I just want to buff it out with my fingers.

What sets Blushed Beaute apart from other makeup and hair studios?
We are a really experienced team with really diverse styles. When I brought my artists on I wasn’t looking for people whose work was so similar to mine you couldn’t tell the difference. I wanted really strong artists who are customer service focused who also have their own style. Nickol is amazing at really soft dewy looks and Emily is a pro with colour! Lydia is so talented at Asian Eye makeup and Brenna nails every girls liner dreams. We also have a new team member Calvin and his technique is out of this world! My own go-to is a natural looking glamour. I’m not here to present a “blushed look” which works for other teams. I want clients to come to us because each artist offers something amazing that suits the client. Like shopping for a makeup artist at one location where the quality and service is guaranteed and it’s really professional from start to finish... we answer e-mails really fast!



What's your dream for your business?
To be able to travel around the world learning from other artists and bring that back here to Edmonton. I love learning and travel, and to combine that to help grow Blushed would be a dream come true.

What are you most proud of? 
Failing but not quitting. I have had many ideas that didn’t work, that cost money, that wasted time. I am not even close to perfect at any of the jobs I have to do as a business owner. It’s sometimes really overwhelming and scary, especially with all the financial risks I take. But I keep doing it, even on hard days. I have a core group of friends, family and team members who help support me and encourage me even when they are worried I work too much and am overwhelmed or trying too hard. But I’ve never had anyone tell me I can’t or shouldn’t which is amazing. I’m just proud that I stayed focused and kept at it even when it seemed like nothing was happening. I think that’s one of the core reasons I’ve achieved what I have. We have nine people on the Blushed team now: six makeup artists, one hairstylist, one spa tech and a lash technician! That growth has happened so fast and it’s intimidating but exciting.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

GIFT GUIDE: THE "IT" GIRL






What to get the super cool girl in your life. Basically, I made a gift guide for myself. Happy Holidays friends. 


1. The Socialite Package from Blushed Beaute $2,000
Hair & Makeup for a year's worth of parties? Yes please. 

2. DKNY Snake Print Backpack $476
My favourite purchase of 2015 was by far my DKNY backpack. Why hold a purse when you could be holding a cocktail? Gift the gift of a hands-free life. 

3. Faun Dr. Martens Boots from Union Jack Boots $169.99
Sleek, black patent boots that will be a go-to shoe for years.


4. BFF Emoji Pin from Simons $15
A cute stocking stuffer for your best friend forever. It'll look super cute on the lapel of her jacket – right over her heart. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

WEEKEND PLANS: LICENSE TO SCHMOOZE


This Saturday, November 21 The Fine Art of Schmoozy returns! Schmoozy is Latitude 53's annual super soiree and fundraiser with proceeds supporting the contemporary art gallery's exhibitions and programming. It's a guaranteed good time with live music (there's an inevitable dance party at the end of the night); great eats; cocktails (this year featuring the exclusive SPECTRE Vodka from Belvedere); a silent art and fashion auction; and a chance to party with some of Edmonton's finest artists, scenesters, philanthropists and art lovers – including me!

I'm the official Fashion Correspondent for License to Schmooze – this year's instalment inspired by the glamourous and mysterious world of international spies.


We're forever grateful to Schmoozy's presenting sponsor, Kingsway Mall for their support of the Edmonton arts community and we've been sharing party fashion inspiration from the shopping centre over the last few weeks on CTV Morning Live, SHAW TV and social media. Check out our Pinterest board for some awesome double-0-7 party looks>


Don't miss one of my favourite parties of the year. Get your Schmoozy Tickets here and support Alberta arts!>

Thursday, September 24, 2015

SHE'S IN SIMONS: MONICA GAULT OF POPPY BARLEY

She's in Simons is a blog series produced in collaboration with Canadian fashion brand, Simons. We're profiling inspiring Alberta creatives who celebrate style through their work and wardrobes. This instalment was photographed by the very talented Carmyn Joy at the Pinterest-esque Poppy Barley Edmonton Showroom. 

You might call Monica Gault the woman behind the brand. She's been with Edmonton-founded e-commerce success story Poppy Barley right from the beginning. Actually, even before the beginning. 

Monica works as the Brand Designer Manager at Poppy Barley – which if you don't know about, you should. It's one of our proudest Alberta fashion success stories, a revolutionary online bespoke shoe company that is changing the way we wear shoes by offering custom made footwear through the click of your mouse at affordable prices. 

The company's now iconic blue logo and minimalist poppy flower and barley stem were thoughtfully designed by Monica. After completing a post-degree design program in Vancouver, she was introduced to Poppy Barley sister founders Justine and Kendall Barber. Monica would eventually move back to Edmonton to mould a visual identity from scratch that would communicate a new online concept to shoppers – not an easy feat. 

As the lead graphic designer, Monica keeps extraordinarily busy creating and designing everything from packaging, ads, signage, the company's website, even the tiny engravings you'll find on Poppy Barley's shoe hardware and the hand painted blue flower motif inside the brand's new bag collection. From the moment you click to the homepage of the Poppy Barley website, to the branded box that arrives at your door with your new shoes, Monica has visually designed each step of your Poppy Barley experience. 

Monica is wearing an Icone Top, A.L.C Skirt and Simons bracelet all from Simons, and Modern Mary Jane flats from Poppy Barley.

When and how did you join Poppy Barley?
While I was still living in Vancouver my sister Caroline Gault actually connected me with Kendall Barber, Poppy Barley’s co-founder through Skype, because at the time Kendall was looking for a graphic designer to help design a logo for a boot company her and her sister were starting. This was a really exciting prospect for me, because in design it's rare to be given the opportunity to design a brand from scratch. When they were ready to offer me a position full-time, though perhaps a risky venture, it was a no-brainer to join them.

What were your first steps in designing the Poppy Barley brand?
Company identity is very important for me, I’m not the type of person who can just design a logo overnight for a client. I need proper resources to truly figure out what makes each client unique and how I can best tell their story through design. So for Poppy Barley, rather than jumping straight into design, I spent a lot of time figuring out how Justine and Kendall envisioned their company. I did this through conversations and questionnaires, but also by getting them to share examples of brands they found inspiring, and also, hearing what they think the brand voice might be. I was gathering information from a spectrum of sources. These materials are what get me going. Once I had all this information from them I was able to design a few mood boards and then eventually create a few preliminary sketches for Poppy Barley’s logo. How has Poppy Barley’s logo evolved over time, or has it?
It absolutely has. It’s a lot simpler today. When Poppy Barley began we didn’t have lot to work with in terms of visual content, so I ended up designing something that had a lot of graphic style to it because when you don’t have a budget for lifestyle photos or models you have to convey that message in other ways. But gradually as we have been able to grow and tell a fuller visual story through photography we have pulled back on the logo, creating something a little more simple and streamlined. What is your design philosophy?
Design is never finished – after collaborating, tweaking and reworking in as many ways as you can think of, you have to decide when to stop and just put it out there to see what kind of response you get. Then you can take the results of real users and analyze the reaction to improve the next version, and the next and the next. Test, get smarter, tweak and improve the design. That is what Poppy Barley does every day — always trying to get better at what we're doing and knowing nothing is ever final.

What are you continually working towards or trying to achieve with your work at Poppy Barley?
User experience is super important for me. The design is not good unless it’s functional. Brand-story is also very important and carefully choosing how we tell this story. There is so much that can be done in terms of telling our company, employee and customers' stories. What is a typical day of work?
Everything I do is to support and drive forward our brand, website and community. Of course there are daily activities to maintain operations — social media, product development, website optimization, marketing, promotions, advertising, customer experience and concierge support — but the biggest part is envisioning with the team the possibilities for Poppy Barley, and prioritizing all our ideas so we can keep pushing e-commerce, transparent manufacturing and fashion-tech forward. Pushing it forward into something that is honest, fun, approachable and people-focused.

We have to ask... you work with your sister, Caroline Gault, how is that?
It really is great. Caroline and I are quite close, and it’s so awesome to work with someone who you are 100% confident with their ability to do something. That said, this goes for everyone at the Poppy Barley office. It’s so great to have co-workers who are uniquely incredible at their position. Is it hard being creative everyday?
It can be. There are definitely days when I’m just not feeling creative, but it’s important to take some personal time to really hash out ideas and get to that creative point. Creative group exercises can also be really helpful.


How has working for Poppy Barley changed your personal style?
It’s definitely changed the way I shop. I’m so much more aware that my clothing is made by actual humans, so I tend to invest in higher quality pieces that will last a long time, rather than just indulging in fast-fashion.
I also used to wear heels 85% of the time. I felt it was classier and more feminine and elongated my legs. But gradually, I tried out the flats and now have completely done a 180 — barely ever wearing heels. I think back to early days of walking 20 blocks to work in heels and just think how silly and painful! What I love about our shoes is that they feel professional, dressy and put together, but they are totally comfortable and practical.




Monday, September 21, 2015

#FACEFORWARD WITH CLINIQUE


Video by Jillian Schecher Studio  /  Music by Bebop Cortez

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working with Clinique and LOU LOU Magazine on their #FaceForward campaign, a Canada-wide storytelling project encouraging brave, bold and beautiful women to share their inspiring stories on how they put their best #FaceForward to reach their goals. 

While sharing my #FaceForward commentary on Instagram with posts on how I put my best #FaceForward and advice I'd give my future self , I’ve also been testing out some Clinique products at home, tailored just for me through the Clinique Diagnostics Test. Spoiler alert: I have super dry skin. Thanks, prairie climate!

My favourites from the bunch were the Foaming Sonic Facial Soap with the Sonic Cleanser and the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+. The face wash and cleansing brush helped polish my complexion and rid me of dry, flaking skin during this transitional weather. The lotion (which I’ve heard rave reviews about for years) is really the perfect under-makeup moisturizer. It’s light, long-lasting and kind to sensitive skin. This is a new favourite in my skin-care regimen.

How do you put your best #FaceForward?