Articles by: Alexandra GunnAlexandra Gunn
As Fashion Editor and Columnist for Ottawa Life Magazine, Alex profiles local designers, businesses and the latest fashion trends. Her column, 'Ask Alex' is a trusted source of advice and insight for lifestyle readers across Eastern Ontario. Alexandra is a former television anchor and broadcaster who took on a range of files, from reporting the news and delivering the weather, to presenting long-form features and moderating hard-hitting debates. Alexandra regularly volunteers her time with charitable organizations in her community. You can follow her at @OttawaStyle and @AlexandraGunn.

Style Made Effortless: Summer Guidelines and Power Dressing for Work

July 19, 2016 11:10 am
Style Made Effortless: Summer Guidelines and Power Dressing for Work

Photo by Valerie Keeler. Hair by Stefania Capovilla, Soceity Salon. Makeup by Christina Crosier. 

1. Don’t be afraid to add prints Be bold and master the office-appropriate pattern play. Floral prints and stripes are a safe bet for most work environments, especially when you stick to traditional suiting colours (black, white, and navy). Try adding a floral print blazer or blouse to your standard office look or try on this look for casual Fridays.

page15_Alex_Girlboss Style 32. Reach for White For summer, stock your work wardrobe with standout white pieces. Think of them as fresher versions of your classic navy and black favourites. If you’re worried about stains, wear white as an easily removable separate — like a cardigan or vest.

page15_Alex_Girlboss Style 53. Define your #Girlboss Style The look of the working wardrobe has evolved dramatically over the past 10 years from stuffy skirtsuits to a more flexible and fashion forward dress code. The modern executive style should be cool and commanding. In lieu of a traditional suit, the new power dressing is all about a mixing and matching separates to create a silhouette that says ‘stature’.

Read Between the Lines

Whether they’re vertical, horizontal, or a mix-match of both, stripes are the new-season style. Rare was the designer who didn’t send some kind of super stripe down the catwalk, but my top marks go to Missoni, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, who experimented with layered shades, bold stripes and even perfected the classic stripe. It’s the flexibility of the stripe that lies behind this current moment in the sun. We are all used to the traditional black or blue and white stripe which were strictly vertical or lateral and uniform in width. But in the Spring/Summer shows, designers incorporated stripes into the designs of two-piece suits and even evening attire. For the bold at heart, try mixing stripes of different sizes by sticking to the same colour palette. For simplicity’s sake, take a cue from designers this season and colour between the lines.

Flip through the slideshow below to see Alex’s suggestions for hot new clothes and accessories:


OLM_1372 By Valerie Keeler Photography

Photo by Valerie Keeler.

Ask Alex: Double Duty

Q: What can I wear to the office on Friday that will also transition into an evening outfit, so I can join my friends for drinks (or go on a date) without having to head home first?

A: Friday night is the best time to meet up with friends or meet interesting new professionals like yourself after work. By simply bringing a few different accessories to work, you can switch out your office look for a simply sweet date look. For the office, pair a date-night dress with a blazer, a pair of flats and classic jewelry. When the clock strikes 5, switch your flats for heels, add a statement necklace or earrings and grab a cocktail!

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Raising the Barre

July 14, 2016 10:57 am
Raising the Barre

If you’ve ever done a fitness challenge, you know how daunting just starting can be. All you can think about is just how long 30 days can feel and whether you’ll actually be able to stick with the process and produce the results that got you interested in the challenge in the first place.

BRIT_PREG_HEART_960x960It was an honour to be selected as a brand ambassador for The Dailey Method’s 30-day challenge for the month of June. What got me interested in participating was knowing how good a few weeks at the barre feels. A class at the barre is all about fine tuning. With all of the hard hitting workouts on the market, there is often the assumption that intensity, heavier weight and speed is key to a good workout. In most cases, that’s a fair assumption. However, if you’ve plateaued in your workout or are restricted due to pregnancy, age, or injury, you’ll appreciated the ever-evolving low-impact classes.

If you workout often or simply can’t muster up the energy to make it to the gym because it is so boring (we’ve all thought this at one point), then you’ll appreciate the focus on alignment and strength while incorporating the best benefits from the disciplines of Pilates, yoga and orthopedic exercise. Simply put, these disciplines combined offer an intrinsic focus on improving your performance at any fitness level without boring repetitions. TDM classes are upbeat (you’ll hear a range of music from hip hop to show tunes) and there is a surprising bond amongst the classmates. Maybe it’s because everyone is working at their own speed or that you’re often so focused on the tip and tuck that you won’t want to break concentration. It’s also relaxing to be present and focused on nothing else but your well-being for that short 60 minutes. This is especially important for Moms who rightfully deserve a portion of the day dedicated to themselves. Don’t worry about childcare. TDM has that covered and if you’re a monthly member, childcare is included.

At the end of the 30-day challenge, I noticed a big improvement in that lower abdomen ‘seat-belt’ area and how the simple full body fine-tuning actually helped to improve my strength and performance. Once you feel like you’re perfecting the moves, step it up with a Saturday Beyoncé Dance class.

Dailey Method Studio Shoot 2016-Complete Collection-0161What You Need To Know

1. Don’t Be a Hero – start with the lighter weights and take it easy for the first few classes. Starting slow will ensure that you can handle the recommended three classes a week. It doesn’t matter how fit you are – you’re going to be stiff.

2. Focus on Form – to get the best results, you need to take the time to do the moves correctly and that means that you’ll need to sacrifice the repetitions to ensure that you’re doing it right. It takes a few classes to really start feeling like you’ve got the hang of things, but once you do, you’ll start to feel how the small movements really work all the muscles you never knew you had.

3. Pick a Favourite – there are so many great instructors at The Dailey Method, but it’s human to pick favourites and that’s a good thing. Make the effort to find an instructor who makes you want to perfect your form and push you harder. I always like an instructor who is hands on and will walk around the room and correct improper form. I want to get it right (and right away).

For more information on The Dailey Method, visit

Glitzy Governor General Awards Gala 2016

June 14, 2016 10:12 am
Glitzy Governor General Awards Gala 2016

On June 11, The National Arts Centre played host to the 24th Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala (GGPAA), a star studded evening full of glitz and glam in celebration of an extraordinary group of Canadian artists.

The prestigious tribute was led by returning host, actor Colm Feore and the laureates sat front and center in the mezzanine balcony. During the gala show, friends, family and colleagues of the laureates voiced their praises and the crowd of 2,000 gave numerous standing ovations to those receiving top honours.

Governor General David Johnston summarized the evening best when he took to the podium to say “the performing arts are a great way to tell the story of Canada.”

Ahead of the gala show, the red carpet lit up with a swarm of photographers hoping to catch some of Canada’s cultural community, style and media celebrities.

Style maven Suzanne Rogers arrived to the gala wearing a custom designed gown by Canadian designer Greta Constantine, Jessica Mulroney wore a strapless gown by Erdem and Suzanne Timmins wore a graphic print Emilio Pucci gown. Editor-in-Chief of Zoomer Magazine’s Suzanne Boyd wore a Zuhair Murad gown, political reporter Mercedes Stephenson wore a shimmering gold Aidan Mattox gown from Canadian company Rent Frock Repeat and singer Chantal Kreviazuk opted for menswear on the red carpet with a structured white blazer.

An obvious fit for Fashion Partner of the glamourous gala was The Hudson’s Bay Company. Liz Rodbell, President of The Hudson’s Bay was in attendance wearing a sleek gown from The Room at HBC. Rodbell, who has spent her entire career in fashion, said the gala was a natural fit to partner with. “Hudson’s Bay is proud to be the exclusive fashion partner of the GGPAA’s.  As with any event, fashion plays an important role. It helps to set the tone for the evening and it provides a perfect opportunity for attendees to show off their personal sense of style. I saw so many great looks throughout the evening – Ottawa has great style!”

The 2016 laureates of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards were:

  • Susan Aglukark- Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award
  • Michael Bublé- National Arts Centre Award
  • Marie Chouinard- Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award
  • Ben Heppner- Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award
  • John D McKellar- Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts
  • Robert Lantos- Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award
  • Suzanne Lebeau- Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award

Created in 1992 by the late Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn (1934–2002), then Governor General of Canada, and his wife Gerda, these awards are the ultimate recognition of Canadians whose accomplishments have inspired and enriched the cultural life of our country and showcased Canadian talent abroad.

Each year, five Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards for Lifetime Artistic Achievement are presented for outstanding achievement in the fields of theatre, dance, classical music, popular music, radio and television broadcasting, and film. Each award is accompanied by a $25,000 cash prize contributed by the Canada Council for the Arts, and a commemorative medallion.

Previous Galas have featured appearances by such stars as Measha Brueggergosman, Blue Rodeo, Diane Dufresne, Colm Feore, The Guess Who, Angela Hewitt, Guy Nadon, Michel Pagliaro, Christopher Plummer, Walter Boudreau, Serena Ryder, Martin Short, Veronica Tennant and Bryan Adams.

For more information on the GGPAA, please visit

OAG’s Sold Out Le pARTy Exceeds Fundraising Goal

June 10, 2016 4:04 pm
OAG’s Sold Out Le pARTy Exceeds Fundraising Goal

All photos by Simon Stiles. 

Art lovers, artists and Ottawa’s creative authority flocked to the Ottawa Art Gallery for its 20th anniversary fundraising auction.

Sold out in advance, Le pARTy was buzzing with close to 500 people eyeing up the bidding competition for the 65 original artworks from emerging and established artists. The auction showcased a variety of media including painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, new media and installation.

Le pARTy is the gallery’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Marking their 20th anniversary and last year at Arts Court, OAG staff joyfully exceeded their fundraising goal, raising $108,000. The funds raised go to support the gallery’s exhibition and educational programming needs. Unlike many fundraising art auctions, Le pARTy returns 40 per cent of the sale price of each work back to the artist.


A side note to the bidding action was the notable elements of food and fashion. Throughout the evening, Ottawa’s culinary artists from the city’s top eateries offered several courses of flavourful hors d’oeuvres and an array of cocktails were served from the open bar. Fashion and art collided with creative and style enthusiasts, bloggers and the fashionably cultivated who dressed to impress. If there was any doubt that Ottawa has an expansive art and fashion scene, there shouldn’t be now. Part of the social season of fundraising events, Le pARTy is another opportunity for the fashion community to come together to support a complimentary realm.

Le pARTy 2016 is the last auction to be held at Arts Court before the OAG opens the doors to its expanded gallery next door in 2017. Soon to be located at 50 Mackenzie King Bridge, the OAG expansion coincides with the revitalization of Ottawa’s downtown which includes the reconstruction of Rideau Street, the expansion of the Rideau Centre and construction of the new O-Train Confederation Line light-rail transit project.


For more information on The Ottawa Art Gallery and Le pARTy, please visit

Society Salon Celebrates Grand Opening

June 9, 2016 2:20 pm
Society Salon Celebrates Grand Opening

The newest blow dry bar and salon to come to downtown Ottawa celebrated their grand opening in front of city officials, longstanding clientele and friends on Tuesday.

Standing outside the Sparks Street location, Society Salon owner Stefania Capovilla unveiled the new blow dry bar featuring two blow dry chairs and three cut a colour chairs. Sketched by local artist Noah Venkatarangam, the blow dry bar menu features four signature Ottawa- inspired styles to choose from. Looking for silky, straight and smooth? Ask for a the Centretown Sleek. To achieve undone curls, ask for Westboro Beach Waves and when the red carpet calls, ask for the Hilly-wood.

Society Blow Dry Menu

With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Stefania is sought after by a mix of government workers and high profile officials. You only need to look to her wall of media coverage to see that her years of styling have include political elites of all stripes from former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Conveniently located near Parliament Hill, Society Salon is now welcoming clients from across the nation’s capital to join the roster of well-coiffed clientele. “My clientele has been expanding over the past five years and I wanted to bring my services closer to them as well as provide a much needed blow dry bar to the area,” said Stefania.  “Many of my clients attend work related receptions on the regular or they are simply pressed for time, which is where the blow dry bar comes in. We’ve already seen such a positive reception from the new blow dry bar and I’m certain that new clientele will see the value in the occasional blow dry when we are so accessible.”

When deciding to move closSketch Artist Noah and Stefaniaer to the Hill, location was paramount and it was serendipitous that Esthetics by Lucie was looking for a tenant to share the 1120 square foot space. Lucie Rosano, owner of Esthetics by Lucie, is well known for her beauty bar services including waxing, a new brow bar and express shellac manicure services.

“I saw an opportunity to team up with Esthetics by Lucie and bring Society Salon to the convenience of downtown,” said Stefania. “Lucie has become a mentor to me. She has been in the business for over 34 years and it was obvious that our businesses would be a perfect fit to co-exist in the same space. We’re the one stop shop for all beauty needs. Sometimes I will book a client to come in to get highlights and a cut and then she will head over to see Lucie for a shellac manicure. Providing styling services to my clients has always been my specialty, but working alongside an esthetics studio allows my clients to gain easy access to other services as well.”

Guests enjoyed sugary sweets, champagne and snacks as they congratulated Stefania and Lucie while taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was in attendance to officiate the ribbon cutting and gave the small business owners an official letter to mark the occasion.

For more information about Society Salon, please visit

The Wellness Mom Workout – Q&A with Fitness Chameleon Kate Laird

May 30, 2016 3:12 pm
The Wellness Mom Workout – Q&A with Fitness Chameleon Kate Laird

Photos courtesy of Kate Laird. 

This isn’t your average fitness class. When you first walk in, you might be a bit taken aback by all the kids running around as the super-powered moms partake in CrossFit-like activity. Medicine balls, rowing machines and weights are just a few of the tools that will get your back into those pre-baby jeans and make you feel connected and empowered by all the other people in the class who are going through the same life changes as you are.

I first heard about Mom & Baby fitness from a close friend who, at the time, had two kids under two and was seeing great results from the class. I was told to bring snacks, toys and my runners. My first class was a striking reminder that I hadn’t visited a gym in a while and that if I wanted to get my energy levels back up, I needed to put in the time. What I didn’t expect was to enjoy the classes as much as I did. All of the exercises have different levels of intensity based on your ability, and of course, IMG_0027doctor’s orders. There were new moms with weeks old babies and moms who had all three kids in tow to attend the class. It was welcoming and surprisingly enjoyable.

If you are a new mom, it will take time to settle in to your new routine, but you will soon realize that the routine requires time for yourself as well. For the moms who are looking to find a combination of ‘you’ time and baby time – look no further.

Long-time fitness chameleon Kate Laird opens up about her fitness journey, creating a challenging and motivating environment in her Mom & Baby classes and how she became a better fitness instructor after having children.

Alexandra Gunn: Kate, you’ve been working within the Ottawa fitness community for years now. Tell me a bit about your fitness journey. 

Kate Laird:  As I was graduating from university, I realized that I was interested in helping people get healthier and feel good about their bodies. Fitness had been a big part of my life for years, so I started tackling a variety of fitness certifications. I began working in the little gym that used to be at the Westgate Mall, then moved to Dovercourt where I stayed for several years and enjoyed teaching everything from strength training, yoga, older adults, pre and post natal, aquafit and personal training. I left to manage and teach at Greenboro Community Centre, and then I felt a big pull to move back towards more yoga.  Currently, I’m teaching at Pure Yoga, Yogatown and I’m also teaching lunchtime classes in people’s offices.  I run a bootcamp for moms twice a week at Modus CrossFit in Westboro, as well as lunch time classes in offices around the community. I continue to feel so lucky that I’ve chosen a career that I’m so passionate about!

How did your most recent endeavor, pre and post natal fitness coaching, come about?

Well I started teaching Pre/Post natal back at Dovercourt eight years ago when I was pregnant for the first time. Having a baby is such a special time in a woman’s life and teaching this group was amazing. I strive to teach woman to be gentler with their bodies when they are pregnant and to move and stretch in a way that will lead to a more comfortable pregnancy and easier delivery. In post natal classes, I love the information sharing and community building that happens while we move back towards our pre pregnancy shape.

Why is it so difficult to get back into a fitness routine post natal? How do your classes differentiate from the typical fitness class?  

As moms, we tend to put everything and everyone ahead of ourselves and with a new baby to care for (and often older siblings as well), it can be hard to place ourselves high enough on the priority list. I remember being very overwhelmed with my first baby. Finally, I committed to 15 minutes per day of strength training, a 45-
minute walk and some stretching at bedtime. After the first few weeks, that 15 minutes quickly grew until I was back in my old pre-baby routine. My IMG_1817classes are different from other Mom and Baby classes for two reasons: Number one – this is a mommy focused class. This is your time!  Number two – we welcome all ages of little ones and any and all children that you have in your care can come. Another bonus is that this is a great way for moms to stay in shape through the summer when the kids are home for summer holidays!

What can a mother expect at one of your classes? What does she need to bring?

In my classes, a mom can expect a safe, balanced and challenging workout.  There is a strong emphasis on full body movements, large muscle groups and good form.  It’s safe for all levels and we can discuss and accommodate you with any pelvic floor concerns. You can expect a relaxed environment that you can tend to your little ones as needed.  During the workout, the babies watch and are often held by me and the toddlers and preschoolers play, explore and sometimes join the workout. It’s a wonderful opportunity for unstructured playtime!  All you need to bring is water and a few snacks and toys for the little ones.

What sort of results can the women expect? What is the goal of the session?

The number one goal for the session is to place an importance on self care. We can only take care of everyone else when we are taking care of ourselves. I cannot stress this enough. As a working, single mom with two young kids, I can tell you that this is key. We need to stop feeling guilty about it and realize that we are happier, calmer, more energetic and function better when sleep deprived if we can make this time for ourselves. Although I don’t place lots of emphasis on “results” because I don’t like being overly focused on weight loss, the results that most people experience are a more toned body, and your shape will begin to move back to where you were pre-pregnancy. I’ve even heard from many moms over the years, that after a session or two they feel like they are in better shape than they were before they had kids!

As a mother yourself, what sort of impact has fitness had on your wellbeing?

I learned early on that the key to functioning on next to no sleep was exercise.  My babies were not good sleepers. On the days that I didn’t make it to the gym that’s when I felt like I couldn’t cope. Exercise and feeding my body right gives me patience when I need it, energy (I still rarely have time for more than 5-6 hours of sleep) and I feel good about myself.IMG_0041

What do you love most about teaching Mom & Baby fitness?

Moms are amazing. It’s a very special group to be around. It’s very rewarding watching moms make time for themselves and are enjoying the changes that follow. Also, I really love when I get to hold the babies!

What goals do you have for your business in the next five or 10 years?

I would love to have a team offering what I offer.  My dream would be to have a team running this style of Mom classes and going into offices for lunch time workouts.

What would you like to say to the women who have babies and are hesitant to make the time for themselves to workout? 

Make the time!  If you can’t do it for you, do it for everyone in your life that you take care of. Do it because you’re setting a wonderful example for your little ones.  I often think, what are we teaching our little boys when moms put themselves last?  What are we teaching our little girls? They become what we demonstrate, so it’s incredibly important to show them that Moms don’t come last in the family.

Ready to workout? Register for Mom & Baby Fitness:

You can follow Kate on Twitter: @kateyogafit.

Boobyball Returns to Ottawa

May 26, 2016 2:24 pm
Boobyball Returns to Ottawa

Get ready to mark your calendars Ottawa!

Ottawa’s Boobyball Committee was at Inside Out Studio in Westboro to announce the date of Ottawa’s 2nd annual Rethink Breast Cancer fundraiser. Co-Owner Janine Goulet donated her time to instruct a class at the studio, allowing the Ottawa Boobyball team to raise $266 for Rethink Breast Cancer.

The Bobbyball team taking a class from Janine Goulet

The Bobbyball team taking a class from Janine Goulet

During the class, the Ottawa Boobyball Committee announced the fundraiser date. Ottawa’s Boobyball will be held on Friday, October 28. Other cities across Canada include Toronto whose fundraiser will be on October 14, Winnipeg on October 22 and Calgary on October 27.

Ottawa’s CTV Morning host Melissa Lamb was selected to be the fundraiser’s honorary chair.

This year, the Boobyball fundraiser to benefit Rethink Breast Cancer will take place at Lago Restaurant and Bar. At the event, guests will enjoy drinks, dancing and unique activations. Over 400 socially-connected young professionals are expected to mark the second year as another sold out event. Ottawa’s biggest influencers and trend-setters in the media and online community are expected to be in attendance.

Last year, Ottawa kicked off the first annual event raising $58,000 dollars for Rethink. The fundraiser theme for this year has yet to be announced. Previous years’ themes include a space theme, a varsity theme and a circus theme.

Bobbyball at Inside Out Studio

Bobbyball at Inside Out Studio

Tickets are expected to go on sale in July. All proceeds from this year’s event will go directly to Rethink Breast Cancer’s mission to empower young people worldwide who are concerned about and affected by breast cancer.

To learn more about Rethink Breast Cancer, please visit
For more information on Boobyball, please visit

Pour A Cold One: CRAFT Beer Market Opens in Lansdowne Park

May 12, 2016 10:28 am
Pour A Cold One: CRAFT Beer Market Opens in Lansdowne Park

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Gunn.

Could it be a coincidence that CRAFT Beer Market opens its doors on one of the hotter days this spring? Likely, but there couldn’t be a better excuse to head to Lansdowne Park to taste test one (or two) of their 100 plus beers on tap.

True to its name, CRAFT has an extensive offering of local, North American and European brews. You just need to walk by the Bank Street custom built keg room windows to see the impressive lineup.

DSCN0019CRAFT isn’t likely to fall flat either. With their state of the art draft system (twinned, thinner than average, draft lines to maintain the freshness of the beer) and an impressively diverse menu (yes, they have gluten free, lactose free and vegetarian options), including items like fast food sushi and beer can chicken, it won’t be long before they’re known for offering more than just great craft beer.

Did I mention gluten free beer? They’ve got that too.


Corporate Chef Paul McGreevy has created a menu billed as “New North American Classic Cuisine”. “These are timeless comfort dishes and traditional pub favourites mixed with modern fare and innovative combinations,” says McGreevy. “We pride ourselves on making all of our dishes in house from scratch and work with local producers and farmers as much as possible to serve only the freshest and most sustainable ingredients available.”

Ottawa is CRAFT’s first foray into eastern Canada after opening in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. “We’ve been keeping our eye on the Ontario market for a couple of years and see so much potential for a concept like ours,” says PJ L’Heureux, President and Founder of CRAFT Beer Market. “There are a lot of great things happening in the Ontario craft beer community and we are excited to help spread the word and be part of such a great community.”

When you pair craft beer, great food and a thoughtfully designed room, you have the formula that CRAFT has been using to achieve success in western Canada and perhaps, eastern Canada as well.

CRAFT opens its doors to the public on Thursday, May 12th.

Celebrating Style For The Working Mom

May 5, 2016 10:12 am
Celebrating Style For The Working Mom

Photo by Valerie Keeler Photography. 

working-mom1 working-mom2 working-mom3 working-mom4


Whether she leaves her home for an office or not, every mom works. The challenge is stepping out in a functionally chic outfit. Finding a balance between fashionable and functional is possible if you have the right pieces to ensure success.



Stuck in a rut? A tailored jacket is a secret weapon. It brings denim up a notch, polishes casual dresses, takes slim pants to the boardroom and can cover up a slouchy outfit. The trick is to find a jacket that suits your lifestyle and then have a local tailor nip and tuck your latest great find. Getting the perfect fit will elevate the final product way beyond its original price tag. As we transition to spring, a cropped trench or a bright blazer are two easy ways to add polish to any outfit.

Winners Cropped Trench



Let’s face it, it’s all about comfort. The key is to find a compromise between a trend and easy-to-wear clothing. A dress is perfect as it can be worn year-round with the addition of tights. Opt for a wrinkle-free material and a cut that is both polished and form fitting. I love the design of this two-in-one sweatshirt dress and it pairs perfectly with casual leggings or leather leggings for date night.

Marshalls Two-in-One
Sweatshirt Dress $399.99




A large structured bag can accommodate all of your necessities. Ensure the top has a zipper to keep everything in place. You’ll often see celebrities opting for a large designer handbag in lieu of a diaper bag. If you’d prefer a stylish diaper bag, Kate Spade’s signature Stevie bag (LEFT) can be worn over the shoulder or tossed onto your stroller handles (thanks to special straps) and comes with a nylon changing pad.



Spring Trend Sneak Peek The Classic Shirtdress

Fashion’s current penchant for shirting brings the classic shirtdress back to the forefront. This classic style borrows details from a man’s shirt creating a sleek design whilst its clean lines provide an ideal canvas for spring’s bold botanicals and vibrant colour palette. Buy it now and wear your shirtdress with tights or knee high boots.

working-mom11 working-mom12 working-mom13
Kate Spade Sunny Daisy
Organza ShirtDress $598
Marshalls Printed Silk
ShirtDress $99.99

Nicolette Mason x Addition Elle Dress

Follow Alex on Twitter: @AlexandraGunn

Ottawa Welcomes the Colourful Alt Hotel to the Nation’s Capital

May 4, 2016 3:09 pm
Ottawa Welcomes the Colourful Alt Hotel to the Nation’s Capital

You would never guess that the Alt Hotel in Ottawa was having their grand opening Tuesday; dozens of guests were already staying at the hotel and enjoying some of the amenities offered in the café and lounge. In fact, the Alt Hotel Ottawa has been accepting guest for the past few weeks in advance of the grand opening as a soft launch, and the reception to the new hotel has been the most successful in the chain’s history.


The hotel café offers treats and a colourful place to eat in the lobby.

The show-stopping modern design of the lobby pays a special tribute to the Ottawa community with a colourful mural of photographs. Altexpo is a collective work of art created from the images of Canadian photographers and Instagrammers Jean-François Frenette , Zara Ansar, Christopher Ryan, Julia Leal and Katie Hession. The eye-catching installation is composed of 9,000 colourful photographs from famous Canadian landscapes and offers insight into the surrounding tourist attractions for guests of the hotel.

The Altexpo mural is made up of photographs taken of Canadian attractions, by local artists.

Staff welcome guests in front of he Altexpo mural, which is made up of photographs taken of Canadian attractions by Canadian artists.

This is the first hotel the Canadian hotelier Groupe Germain Hotels has opened in the nation’s capital but it certainly won’t be the last. Christiane Germain, Co-President of Groupe Germain Hotels attended the grand opening and announced that they have future plans to expand.

“This only the beginning as the property will soon have company: we will be opening a new Le Germain Hotel here in Ottawa in 2017,” said Germain.

Conveniently located on Slater Street in the business district, the Alt Hotel Ottawa is the Group’s seventh property under the Alt banner. The hotel’s design combines intelligent design, comfort and attentive service at an affordable price.


The hotel’s comfortable yet colourful design brings an exciting mix to Ottawa’s hotel scene.

Designed by LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture Design and Chmiel Architects, the 14-floor, 148-room Alt Hotel Ottawa boasts a wide array of features that range from thoughtful and practical to pleasantly surprising.

“Groupe Germain Hotels is a proud Canadian company and as such, it’s an extra-special honour to announce the opening our first hotel in Ottawa,” states Jean-Yves Germain, Co-President of Groupe Germain Hotels. “It feels as though we are taking one giant step towards becoming the first independent Canadian hotelier to have properties from coast to coast. We are now even more energized to continue expanding until we achieve our goal of 20 hotels across the country by 2020.”

For more information on Alt Hotel Ottawa:

Twitter and Instagram: @AltHotel / Facebook: Alt Hotels

Learning Graphic Design with Butter & Honey

May 3, 2016 3:14 pm
Learning Graphic Design with Butter & Honey

All photos by Alexandra Gunn.

Graphic design is all around us these days – from magazines, product packaging, websites and even social media. You can’t leave your home without seeing and – quite possibly – being influenced by it. In the ever expanding digital world, understanding the principals of graphic design and being able to create custom content is becoming an obvious way for small business to separate themselves from the other guys. Young professionals are coming up against the expectation that their generation will have a wide array of digital skills. They’re expected to be social media savvy and able to brand, market and create content that speaks to their demographic and beyond.

Graphic design has become an important tool that enhances how we communicate with one another. But here’s the thing, good design makes you look good and bad design, or no design, makes you look bad – sometimes, very bad. You only get one opportunity to make a lasting impression.

Wanting to learn the basics of design to stay ahead of the curve, I came across a company called Butter & Honey offering a graphic design workshop that was specifically designed for individuals and small business looking to tackle the fundamentals of Adobe Illustrator. The ‘Small Business Graphic Design Workshop’ was designed for someone like me – someone who only wanted to spend a day learning the basics and would leave with a collection of design templates and guides to assist me with more intermediate design.

On the day of the workshop, I showed up to a contemporary space called La Charrette and walked into the room to a group of women with their laptops open and coffees in hand. Owner and Graphic Design Teacher, Rachela Brisindi was set up at the front with a projector displaying her desktop screen and had folders of instructional content out for us to review. Many of the women in attendance were Rachela’s clients, and some of the other women were at the workshop to brand or rebrand their small business.

Rachela spent much of the morning going through the basics of Adobe Illustrator and walked us through the software until we were comfortable playing around with the various tools. We spent the remainder of the afternoon working on our individual projects. Some of the women wanted to redesign their business logos, work on promotional flyers and even create a convention banner for their booth. We were also given a lesson on social media graphics and the templates that we should follow to produce optimized graphics for the different digital platforms.

I spent much of that evening and the following few days playing with the software, browsing for new fonts online and sketching out designs for future content. It was a great opportunity to meet and learn more about the #613Design community and I hope to build on my skills in the coming months.

Q&A: Design and Creativity with Rachela Brisindi

I spoke with Rachela to find out what it takes to be a professional graphic designer, maintain her creative edge and why she started sharing her design skills with Ottawa in her workshops.

Q: As a graphic designer, is it difficult always having to be creative? Do most clients have an idea of what they want when they come to you?

A: It can be! I’ve been a designer for over 15 years so it can sometimes be difficult to find creativity all the time. When I hit a creative block, I do a variety of things to find inspiration. Like taking a walk, going to Chapters, flipping through magazines, etc. As far as my clients, some bring very concrete ideas to me and some have no idea. Most often, when a client comes to me with a blank slate, it’s a lot easier for me to design something than when a client has a set idea. When I listen to my clients’ needs, understand their target audience, get a feel for their brand and sprinkle in a bit of intuition, the results are almost always exactly what the client envisioned but didn’t even know until they saw it.

Q: What do most people not know about graphic design? Is there something that people take for granted?

A: There is a lot of work and detail that goes into design. I think most people think it’s something that can quickly whip together but there’s definitely more to it than that. The design process begins even before you open up your design software – brainstorming, research, and sketching are necessary planning steps just to name a few. Then comes finding and picking the right fonts, images and text to fit the overall mood and purpose.

Q: What was your inspiration for the Graphic Design Workshop?

A: The main inspiration came from my clients. Hiring a graphic designer can be quite costly, so many clients design their own smaller graphics, like menu items, monthly sales flyers, and social media images but without any real design skills or knowledge of software, the graphics they were producing were not inline with the caliber of business they want to portray. I found a need to teach these small business owners and bloggers the basic design fundamentals, as well as using the proper software.

Q: How has the community/your clients reacted to the workshop?

A: The reaction has been really positive. I’ve held 5 workshops since I started running them in September, all with 7 or more participants. The max is 10 people. The latest workshop was completely sold out and I have a large list of people waiting for the next workshop date to be announced.

Q: Why do you love teaching? 

A: There’s something about bringing complex design concepts to a group of people and seeing the lightbulb moments go off in their heads. I’ve also been in their shoes before – I started designing before I knew there were “rules” and structure, and a whole lot of technical know-how. I’d like to help as many DIY designers avoid costly mistakes in designing their own logos and graphics using the incorrect programs or files.

Q: Do you have any proud instructor moments?

A: Always. With every single workshop, I am completely blown away by the talent and quickness in which each student picks up the software. It’s pretty mind-blowing to see what they can do in just a single day. At the end of every workshop, I feel like a proud mama bear.

Q: What do you hope this set of students takes away from the workshop?

A: With every set of students, I want each to leave the workshop with a better understanding of the design process and a clear grasp of the software so they can successfully design their own graphics. Fully grasping the software takes a lot more time than what can be learned in a day but the workshop provides a solid foundation to start. If the students continue to play around and practice the software, there’s no limit to what they can do.

You can find their website at and for free design resources, upcoming workshops & guided practice sessions, please go to

The next scheduled workshop is Graphic Design for Social Media taking place on Friday, May 27th 9 am – noon.

For more information on workshops or private and custom group lessons, contact

Social Media:

Private Facebook Group for DIY Designers:

Twitter: @ButterandHoney

Instagram: @Rachela_Bella

Win Tickets to the National Women’s Show

April 11, 2016 2:46 pm
Win Tickets to the National Women’s Show

Ottawa Life Magazine wants to see you at the National Women’s Show!

Returning to Ottawa for its 14th consecutive year, the National Women’s Show is the ultimate girl’s day out. With over 250 exhibitors, you’ll find everything from celebrity guests, fashion shows, free makeovers, food and wine tasting, beauty and wellness secrets, cooking demonstrations, home renovation advice and travel ideas.

Here’s how to win tickets to the 2016 National Women’s Show in Ottawa:

Follow our Fashion Editor, Alexandra Gunn on Twitter @OttawaStyle and tell her who you would like to bring the show.

Contest runs from Monday, April 11th to Friday, April 15th. One winner will be selected each day.

The National Women’s Show is Canada’s largest consumer show for women.

What: National Women’s Show

Where: The Shaw Centre

When: Saturday, April 16th 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 17th 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information, visit

Great Communicators: Great Leaders

April 8, 2016 12:06 pm
Great Communicators: Great Leaders

What makes a great communicator? Is it situational and contextual awareness? Or does it simply come down to learning how to adapt your messaging to your environment?

There is an art to telling great business stories and it is the marketing and communications professionals in the business community that are changing the way we view strategic communications.

Associate Vice-President of Future Challenges at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ursula Gobel, will be speaking to a group of marketing and communications professionals about how she tackled the varied and diverse career path of marketing and communications.

On Monday, April 11, Gobel will hope to inspire business professionals during her talk ‘Great Communicators: Great Leaders.’ She will draw from her experience and speak to how great leaders must be great communicators to be effective.


I spoke with Tara Lapointe, Executive Vice-President at IABC, about why she chose Ursula Gobel to lead the networking event.

OLM: Why was Ursula Gobel chosen to be the speaker for the event?

Lapointe: Ursula’s career successes include Marketing Communications roles in the non-profit, private and public sectors. Her current role requires communications skills, foresight, strategic planning, leadership and great stakeholder relations. I thought this mix would be of great interest to our members.

How will professionals benefit from hearing about Gobel’s corporate journey and her success?

Ursula will have great insights to share about transitioning from non-profit to private to public sector, and how to use communication skills in new contexts.

How has her diverse experience in leadership and management made her an influential communications leader in the community?

Her diverse experiences have added up to a well rounded professional with a vast network with whom she creates meaningful connections and shares her expertise with generously. These qualities make her a role model in our community.

Why do you think it is important for leaders to be great communicators?

I don’t think you can truly be a leader without being a strong communicator. A leader needs to convey ideas, inform, convince and inspire in order to be successful. Connecting with people is at the heart of communications.


What is the role of IABC?

IABC is an international association of professional communicators, including the fields of marketing, public relations, social media and more. The Ottawa chapter strives to be the hub of that community, providing networking, professional development, a mentorship program and a podcast among the benefits to members.

Ursula Gobel was appointed associate vice-president, future challenges, at SSHRC in April 2014. In her role, she collaborates with the research community and partners across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to advance the contributions of the social sciences and humanities towards meeting Canada’s future, long-term societal challenges and opportunities.

Ursula joined SSHRC in 2007 as director of communications. In that role, she oversaw the development and implementation of strategic communications for SSHRC, as well as for several international programs, including the Canada Research Chairs. Ursula brings over 30 years of experience in leadership and management across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, including many years as Manager of Communications at the National Gallery of Canada.

She has extensive Board and volunteer experience with national and regional organizations, including the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Ottawa Economic Development Corporation, Ottawa Tourism and the United Way.


Event Details

Where: The Velvet Room, 62 York Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 5

When: Monday, April 11, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

To register for ‘Great Communicators: Great Leaders’ visit

Originals Spring Craft Sale Celebrates 30 Years

April 5, 2016 9:59 am
Originals Spring Craft Sale Celebrates 30 Years

All photos by Alexandra Gunn. 

After 30 years of spring success, the annual Originals Spring Craft Sale came to our Nation’s Capital for another season of live demonstrations and unique offerings. The artisan marketplace held at the EY Centre featured the works of over 180 artists, artisans and designers from across Canada.

Notable artist Andrea Kolpaska of ‘Originals by Andrea’ featured bold and beautiful jewellery designs. Woodworking masters of ‘Behind the Woods’ displayed carefully crafted silhouette art and ‘Reiner’s’ featured their beautifully handcrafted quality leather ottomans in various animal designs.

For many first-timers, the Originals Craft Sale was an experience in the handmade. With an array of quality Canadian handcrafted products, including fashion, home décor, natural body care, fine art, stunning jewelry and specialty foods, it was a truly unforgettable show.

John Ladouceur, founder and president of Signatures Shows Ltd, said that the 30th edition of Originals is “dedicated to the brilliant artisans and loyal visitors who have helped define our Canadian handmade community.”

Each exhibitor at the show designs and creates their own work, and their items are 100 per cent handmade in Canada.

“We strongly emphasize the tangible elements of our shows and always look for new ways to offer them to our visitors,” said Ladouceur. “By showcasing the incredible talents of our Originals artisans in a live setting, we are not only bolstering the quality of our show experience, but also offering visitors a new glimpse into the unique world of Canadian handmade.”

Annemarie Glebe, of Reiner’s Original Quality Leather Ottomans, sought out the opportunity to appear at the show because “the Signatures Show is a high-end one that profiles Canadian artists and crafters goods. People know the show for its quality and the original product that is offered year after year.”

For Canadian artisans, the show is an opportunity to reach a broader market and to reconnect with former clients.

“By attending this event, the public is able to become familiar with our product for its quality and originality. The opportunity of receiving clients’ favorable feedback first hand is very rewarding. We have been well received by individuals who are home to Ottawa and the neighboring communities and we are always excited for new opportunities to expand our presence,” said Glebe.

Signatures Show Ltd. is Canada’s largest producer of fine craft shows, with over 36 years of experience and over 300 shows produced. Each year, Signatures welcomes over 400,000 visitors to its 16 shows in 12 cities across Canada. Based in Ottawa, it is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned and operated business.

For more information, visit and

Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH Officially Opens in Ottawa

March 24, 2016 10:08 am
Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH Officially Opens in Ottawa

Shoppers in Ottawa are about to get a taste of what Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH has to offer as the Kanata location opens its doors at Tanger Outlets. Shoppers looking for the ultimate “thrill of the hunt” will need to look no further than the brand new 28,000 square foot store boasting a compelling mix of more than 800 designer brands at discounted prices.

The grand opening of Saks OFF 5TH will take place on Thursday, March 24th at 9:30 a.m. Clothing designers such as DVF, Hugo Boss, Pink Tartan, Rag & Bone and Vince will just be some of the luxury brands carried by the Ottawa area retailer. Shoppers can also expect to see brand names such as Coach and Rebecca Minkoff in the purse department as well as some vintage purse offerings.

saksGone are the days of needless trips across the border in search of discounted high end luxury brands. Instead, bargain hunters now have the convenience of visiting Tanger Outlets to source coveted brands and on trend designs.

Alexandra Gunn spoke with Jonathan Greller, President of Outlets, HBC about the store opening.

What can shoppers expect to see when the store opens Thursday?

I believe shoppers will be really excited when they see the huge selection and size of our store.  Saks OFF 5TH is true luxury off-price shopping.  We offer more than 800 designers brands, all at amazing prices every day.

New merchandise arrives almost daily…we call our shopping experience the “thrill of the hunt.”  Our customers love to explore the store to discover those amazing finds.

Why was Tanger Outlets the right fit for the first store location in Ottawa?

Tanger Outlets is already a great destination that shoppers know and love so it was a natural for us to become a major presence at this mall.  HBC already operates in Ottawa, we know the market, and believe the customer demand is strong.

In fact, we have announced a second Saks OFF 5TH for Ottawa set to open in fall 2016, to be located within Hudson’s Bay’s flagship store at 72 Rideau Street.

Can Canadians expect to see similar brands as carried in U.S. stores?

Same great brands that customer would find in our U.S. stores, including some great Canadian brands as part of the mix.  We have new merchandise arriving almost daily, so customers can expect to find something new every time they shop.  There are incredible finds throughout the entire store – we have thousands of pairs of shoes, an incredible handbag selection, and an amazing assortment of apparel for both men and women, including key in-season trend items.

How will the prices at the Canadian outlets vary from its U.S. counterparts?

Prices are in line with and very competitive for the Canadian market.


Recently in Ottawa, we saw Holt Renfrew close their doors and Nordstrom open theirs. What are your expectations of the Ottawa market for Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH?

The off-price retailing segment is one of the fastest growing segments in the U.S. and yet in Canada it is still underdeveloped.  Saks OFF 5TH offers shoppers true designer fashions at amazing prices – this is a big differentiator for us.

The leading off-price retailer recently opened its first three Canadian outlet stores at Vaughan Mills, Halton Hills and Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario.

Hudson’s Bay Co., which acquired Saks two years ago, plans to open as many as 25 OFF 5th locations across Canada by 2019.

**WIN! ** To celebrate the grand opening, shoppers can submit their email addresses in-store for a chance to win a $50 Saks OFF 5TH gift card on Thursday, March 24th and Saturday, March 26th.

The Ottawa Baby Show: What I Learned, What I Saw, What I Wish I’d Known!

March 22, 2016 11:52 am
The Ottawa Baby Show: What I Learned, What I Saw, What I Wish I’d Known!

Whether you’re thinking about having a baby, are a first time parent or on your second kid and counting, the Baby Show at the EY Centre offered something for everyone.

You know you’re in the right place when the first thing you see as you step inside the Baby Show is a booth dedicated to offering free massages. Anna Belanger & Associates treated exhausted parents and pregnant women to well deserved massages throughout the weekend, while new moms gathered around booths that offered informative sleep advice by companies such as WeeSleep.

the baby show

Here’s what I learned:

Not all advice is the same. I received very different sleep advice from the three consultants I spoke with at the show. However, if you’re a new mom, being able to find the best qualified person to get your baby on track is priceless. If you’re not able to afford the (sometimes costly) advice, the price to attend the Baby Show is well worth the free 15 minute consultations you can find. After all the advice, I found that what I was doing was just right.

What I saw:

Everything from baby clothing, nursery furniture to more long-term decisions such as setting up an RESP with an institution. Bottom line — you’ll see it all.

What I wish I’d known:

Book your newborn photographer before you have the baby. After touring the show, I was surprised to see all the newborn photographers. I had no idea most were even out there. Don’t make the decision to book a photographer after you have the baby. Most of the time, the photographers are booked in advance and might not have space. There’s also only a short time frame when you can get those perfectly posed shots, so you’ll need to do your research, decide on a photographer and book your session all before that timeline expires. As a new mom, this will be the last thing on your mind, so be sure to plan ahead.

Here are a few of the talented photographers I came across at the Baby Show.

Little Wagon Photography — Located in Kanata, the home studio offers classic shots for newborns and families that will stand the test of time.

Urban Bent Studio — Located in Greely, ON (20 minute drive South of Ottawa) the home studio offers a barnwood backdrop with natural light and unique props (including a merry-go-round horse).

Pure Natural Newborn Photography — Offering birth, belly and baby photography with a wide range of luxury print products that you can personalize and customize.

kathiKathi Robertson Babies — A newcomer to baby photography, Kathi is an award winning photographer and has been featured in Wedding Bells, Chatelaine and Flare Magazine for her wedding photography.

If you missed the Ottawa Baby Show and want to attend, they will be in Toronto on April 2nd and 3rd.

Shoppers Drug Mart’s Enhanced BeautyBOUTIQUE is the Rideau Centre’s Latest Big Upgrade

January 4, 2016 12:02 pm
Shoppers Drug Mart’s Enhanced BeautyBOUTIQUE is the Rideau Centre’s Latest Big Upgrade

Beauty lovers arrived at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre for the grand opening of Shoppers Drug Mart’s latest Enhanced beautyBOUTIQUE on December 2. Beauty bloggers and experts were invited to explore the store’s luxurious new environment and its prestigious brand assortment, featuring Chanel, Dior and Paul & Joe.

The upgrade comes as Shoppers continues its commitment to give Canadians the best beauty experience in the retail environment. The 4,000 square-foot beautyBOUTIQUE features new fixtures, digital signage, enhanced fragrance and skin care areas and provides customers with a beautiful retail environment complemented by 16 prestigious brands.

“Our goal is to offer a unique and inspiring experience, leveraging our customer insights in beauty while also integrating emerging customer trends,” said Mike Motz, Shoppers Drug Mart’s President. “Shoppers Drug Mart has always pushed the envelope when it comes to the beauty category and as a result we have become the market leader in mass and prestige cosmetics, fragrances and skin care products and the beauty destination of choice for Canadian women.”

Beauty Expert Lyndsay Craig was on hand to unveil the Spring Collection from Parisian-born, cult favourite Paul & Joe. Each season, Paul & Joe launches a limited edition capsule collection featuring a unique colour palette and custom packaging inspired by that season’s fashion line.

Craig shared her favourites from the upcoming spring collection and what she chose for those on her Christmas list.


Beauty expert Lyndsay Craig (far right) applies makeup to a customer at the BeautyBOUTIQUE’s grand opening.

Alex: Tell me about the Paul & Joe collection that you’ll be bringing to the newly renovated Beauty Boutique.

Lyndsay: Exclusive to Shoppers Drug Mart, Paul & Joe Beauté is a brand that stands out in the newly renovated Enhanced Beauty Boutique. The Parisian born, cult coveted brand is fun-loving, sophisticated, and infused with a relentless joie de vivre. PAUL & JOE products feature luxurious textures and on-trend colours all in unique, retro-modern packaging.  Named after her two sons, Sophie Mechaly launched PAUL & JOE in 1995 as a menswear company. In 1996 she introduced womenswear and in 2002 launched the Beauté collection which includes colour cosmetics, skin care, body care, nail, tools and fragrance.

Paul & Joe is also recognized for releasing beautiful limited edition collections called Collection Sparkles. These are capsule collections featuring a unique colour palette and custom packaging inspired by that season’s fashion line. “Papillons de Printemps” or “Butterflies of Spring” is the next capsule collection launching in Spring. This collection is inspired by the delicate, brightly coloured wings of a butterfly, introducing vibrant pops of colour just in time for the warmer weather. The collection also includes interchangeable packaging for lip and cheek that highlight the Spring Paul & Joe fashion prints.

Alex: How does Paul & Joe stand out from the other brands carried in-store?

Lyndsay: The incredible high-quality and versatility of the Paul & Joe make-up in addition to its nostalgic yet trendy packaging, makes this brand very unique and a coveted favourite.

Alex: What are some of your favourite items from the collection?

Lyndsay: There really are too many to choose, however here are some of my most favourite items from the collection! The Moisturizing Foundation Primer S – This primer has a very unique, hydrating texture that ensures your make-up will last all day! The Gel Foundation, Eyebrow Pencil and Illuminating Touch Pen.

You can find out more about BeautyBOUTIQUE and it’s products at

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