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FashionOLM Q&A: Ottawa's own fashion legend revealed

OLM Q&A: Ottawa's own fashion legend revealed

OLM Q&A: Ottawa's own fashion legend revealed

Diffusing the shield created from his trademark oversized black rimmed glasses, fragrance and fashion consultant, business owner, charity worker and now host of Fashion 45 Central Sid Cratzbarg,  gave OLM a glimpse of the man behind the flamboyant style and vivacious attitude to discuss his enduring career and quest to bring affordable luxury to all in the Capital.

What was your childhood like? Where did your interest in fashion stem from?

I grew up on Wellington Street or the Village - my father is laughing in the grave because it was a rough area then. My dad owned a grocery store, my mother stayed at home and we lived above the store. They were hardworking and we had a good life. My mother always looked great but I got my passion for fashion from my great uncle in England. He owned 60 women's clothing stores in Manchester and he was my role model. I also look at what my dad accomplished - he never owed a penny to anyone and worked so hard and was an honest man.

How would you describe the evolution of your style?

I have always beat to a different drum and loved unique glasses. I'm a coward, I would never have eye surgery. I think if you're going to wear glasses, be different. People say I'm ahead of myself because I was wearing large glasses before most were. I have about 70 pairs of different brands. I also have this thing for watches - be big, bold and make a statement, then people remember you.

At this point in your life, where would you say you're at?

I'm turning 60 and I feel that there is so much to achieve. I'm getting a great deal of satisfaction from my television work because I love the media. I've worked with CBC, A Channel and CTV doing fashion segments and I feel I have achieved that goal. My second goal has always been to have my own show. I was really honoured when Fashion 45 Central approached me to host their lifestyle show. It's about a number of issues for women including fashion choices, divorce, career changes, etc.

How did you begin your career?

I started as a teacher and the teaching aspect has always been exciting for me and what has transferred into my other career endeavours. I was also a motivational speaker and traveled throughout the United States - it was the typical Canadian syndrome where you have to showcase your talents in the U.S. before you're accepted here. I spoke on how to motivate kids with pop music, literature and art. I was close to retirement but then I wanted to start something with fashion. I would put accessories together for my wife who started a fashion business. I made the decision to retire from teaching for the Upper Canada District School Board and to start Accessories by Sid. From that, everything took off. I work really hard and I'm happy. I laugh when people think I earn a lot of money - it's all in the image. I could make a far better living doing something else but it's my passion for fashion that drives me.

Why is it important that you focus on Ottawa's middle aged women who find themselves in a youth obsessed culture with limited fashion options?

I really felt the need to address my passion for women over the age of 50. I always thought they were my target audience because there is so much out there for younger women. I was getting a lot of feedback from older women saying there aren't many options and they want affordable looks. The "million dollar look after taxes" is what I call looking good without robbing the bank. Put together a few key items with inexpensive accessories and you have a 'wow' factor. It's so exciting to take people out of a box. These women are special because they have raised their children, may be getting back into the work force and want to look good.

Is a lack of choice for these women attributed to Ottawa's lack lustre fashion scene?

I don't really think it has to do with Ottawa but with certain demographics. The fashion industry is catering to the young - you see it in the models and clothing. We're seeing size 0, 16-year-old girls on the runways and to me they look like Barbies playing dress-up and the clothes are inappropriate for the mature client. Women are going through hormonal and body changes and their style changes. I want to show that the whole world is not a size 0 or 4, we have fabulous looking women who are a size 16!

What is it about launching exclusive fragrances that you enjoy most?

Fragrances are a wonderful way to introduce designers at affordable prices. Every woman and every man deserves to be part of Gucci, Galliano and Ferragamo.

You say you're an entertainer and make women feel good about themselves as a positive force - how would you say that has helped you get to the point where you are now in your career?

People have called me flamboyant, hyper (in a good way) and passionate with a capital P. I think if you have a strong passion and you share it with people, then you can really help them. There's too much negativity - look good, feel good and smell good! Five years ago, I was very sick and almost lost my life twice. It makes you change your focus and you realize different things in life are more important than success and money. It's family for me. I missed my work and in the back of my mind, I wanted to continue and pursue my passion for fashion.

People in the fashion industry are labeled as being elitist - why are you breaking that stereotype?

It hasn't brought me a lot of success financially but personally, it's important for me to be happy inside and out and love what I do. If I was the richest man in the world, I wouldn't change. I often think of my dad, Joe, who was not a wealthy man but talked to everybody. I'll always remember him saying: "it doesn't cost anything to say 'hello' to people." In my life, I can never say "I should have, could have" because I've done it all - taken gambles good and bad!

What do you see in the future for yourself?

I want to be doing this until I'm 90-years-old. I've always been a people person and this world of fashion, fragrance and media is what I love. I will also keep putting on fashion shows - nothing gives me more satisfaction then getting a call from a women's organization requesting I put on a show.

For more information, contact Sid Cratzbarg, Accessories by Sid: 613.825.6598 or cratzbargside@gmail.com.

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