Articles by: Alexandra GunnAlexandra Gunn
Alexandra Gunn serves as the host of 'Hard News in 60' and 'Straight Talk in 60' for Sun News Network. With a passion for breaking news, Alexandra Gunn has interviewed the top newsmakers of the day, including business leaders and Canadian politicians. Alexandra's portfolio includes prominent roles in Sun News Network's provincial, national and international news coverage; from Ontario politics to The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and their Canadian tour. As the Fashion Editor at Ottawa Life Magazine, Alexandra covers Canadian fashion designers, local small businesses, and performance artists of all variety. Alexandra enjoys taking part is community events, judging fashion shows and announcing the latest designers and boutiques to open in the nations capital. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Alexandra holds a truly national perspective and will showcase Life and Style questions that are relevant to citizens from coast-to-coast-to-coast. You can follow Alexandra on Twitter @OttawaStyle and @AlexandraGunn

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

Holiday Glamour

December 21, 2015 1:09 pm
Holiday Glamour

Just in time for soirée season, fashion editor, Alexandra Gunn, shares her garment guide for Christmas cocktails, New Year’s Eve countdowns and everything in-between.


Overdress: Embrace winter’s opulent luxe with a striking emerald gown for a cocktail event. Eliza J emerald gown $208


My twist on the little black dress Add silver studding for a sophisticated style. Xscape black dress $249


Pajar fur hat $160


Sparkle and Shine Nothing says festive quite like a sequin party dress. You can never have enough sparkle! Ralph Lauren purple sequin dress $288


Red Alert Flirty meets feminine in a cutout long gown. Accessorize with bubbly. Xscape red gown $279


PHOTOGRAPHY Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging Inc.


CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS Tinseltown Christmas Emporium


With this Ring: The Heirloom Connection

November 27, 2015 10:02 am
With this Ring: The Heirloom Connection

All photos courtesy of Alexandra Gunn

The holidays are the perfect time to pop the question. You’re surrounded by family and friends and there’s something in the air that just makes that special moment feel even more memorable. But, before you buy the ring, make sure you consider all of your options. If you have access to a family gemstone and value that connection to your family, consider repurposing the heirloom to further continue that tradition. Heirloom stones passed down from family to family are perhaps the most meaningful, as they link the bride-to-be with generations of excited brides.

DE_WB4“Family heirlooms are what we have to remember our ancestors by,” says Erin Wright, co-owner of Magpie Jewellery. “Symbols of our heritage, they carry with them the hopes, the dreams and the energy of the people who wore them. Re-purposing or re-designing heirloom pieces is a way to prolong the life of your family legacy.”

You might have the ring and are ready to propose, but it’s important to remember that the family heirloom must appeal to the future bride and you have to be certain that the design is fits with your relationship and lifestyle. If you like the stone but dislike the setting, consider a simple reset. What’s most important when considering an alteration is to keep the stone — and the spirit in which it was given to you — intact for the next generation. Simply put, recycling family jewellery will not only cut down the cost, but it will also bump up the sentimentality.

“Re-purposing also appeals as a ‘green’ choice in jewellery right now,” says Wright. “Recycling your own jewellery and using diamonds or gemstones that have already been mined also fits into one of the major trends we’re seeing right now in bridal jewellery, and that is Vintage design.”

Whether you’re looking for a vintage themed engagement ring or if you’re simply looking to keep that family connection, you’ll want to review what’s best with a professional.magpie_vintage

In preparation for one of the year’s busiest retail seasons, on November 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. Magpie Jewellery in Westboro is introducing their Bespoke Bridal design service and teaming up with Anne Sportun to kickoff their Holiday Trunk Show & Launch of Vintage Bridal Collection with a “Diamonds & Cocktails” party.

“December is one of the most popular times of the year to get engaged,” says Wright. “With festive decorations, champagne and sparkly lights everywhere—plus plenty of gatherings with family and friends – it’s the perfect time to pop the question to that special someone. At Magpie, we want to help make that moment as unique as the person you’re presenting the ring to.”

magpie_custom2Whether it’s starting from scratch or re-purposing family heirlooms, Magpie’s Bespoke Bridal design allows clients to be a part of every step of the design process, from sketch to 3-dimensional wax mockup to final product. Working with all eco-friendly karats of gold, silver and platinum, ethically sourced Canadian diamonds and gemstones, it’s a guaranteed one-of-a-kind experience with a one-of-a-kind result.

“Anne Sportun looks to nature for inspiration, all while combining the precious with the everyday,” says Wright. “The subtle beauty of organic asymmetry in her work has made her pieces a popular choice for brides-to-be with an appreciation for non-traditional designs.”

At “Diamonds & Cocktails,” guests are invited to browse and try on the newly unveiled designs while sipping on colourful drinks and snacking on light hors d’oeuvres. The Upkeep Shoppe will also be on-site r693_1024x1024treating everyone to complimentary manicures.

With some of the finest handcrafted pieces from designers across Canada, you’ll have lots of options to choose from, or get inspiration from, for your one of a kind redesign.

WHAT: “Diamonds & Cocktails” party in tandem with the Anne Sportun Holiday Trunk Show & Launch of Vintage Bridal Collection.
WHEN: November 27th from 7 to 9 pm.
WHERE: Magpie Westboro (430 Richmond Road).

COMMON Ottawa: The New Luxury Street Style

November 26, 2015 1:50 pm
COMMON Ottawa: The New Luxury Street Style

All photos courtesy of Alexandra Gunn

The fashion landscape in Ottawa is ever evolving with new boutiques opening their doors to the public with hopes that they can offer something different than what’s available at the new updated malls across the city.

Common2On Thursday, Ottawa’s media will be getting a sneak-peek at the latest store offering a distinctively different street lifestyle with luxury street wear and contemporary fashion, art, books and novelties all in one location called COMMON.

Located on 380 Elgin Street, COMMON will be opening it’s doors to the public on Friday. In advance of the grand opening, I spoke with the owner, Nader Salib about what style Ottawa has been missing out on… until now.

Alex: Welcome to Ottawa, COMMON! Tell me what your clients can expect when they walk through the front doors for the grand opening?

Nader: They can instantly expect to feel the culture we are trying to promote and grow here in Ottawa. There will be lots of different artists working at their crafts who all add something special to the space. Jesse Alberto from Le Petit Salon will be styling some of the models, who will then be modelling some of the clothes COMMON has to offer – a very strong brand mix ranging from high fashion to everyday accessible clothing. We wanted to make sure we offered different brands and a different style than the retail generally found in Ottawa.  All while in the background our photographers will be shooting our look books along side a group of artists, who will be working on a mural in phase 2 of the Common, which will be the eatery.

Alex: Why did you decide to open a common space for a variety of independent businesses?

Nader: I felt like malls these days are quite washed out and bland. Growing up, many of us spent so much time at the mall, but now wouldn’t dare to spend more time than needed whenever going there. I wanted to create one hub where it gives the vibe of an “anti-mall”. So odds are you can find what you’re looking for, but the quality and creativeness found at COMMON would be like no other. Even though we haven’t been opened very long, these businesses are already starting to feel like a family and we connect so well with he clients. It’s a one-on-one experience regardless of which part of the Common you’re in.COMMON1

Alex: Tell me more about this common space. How did everything come together? How did this idea get started?

Nader: I’ve always wanted to open a retail store but the market in Ottawa is a little tricky. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling and came across an anti-mall in California. I was immediately taken by the atmosphere there, because you didn’t limit yourself to just one business. There were a few shops, restaurants, bookstores, and without knowing I found myself there every morning starting my day. Grabbing a small bite, have conversation with all the different businesses and educating myself on all types of art and things I’ve always been interested in but never actually really took the time to learn about. Finally it was all there. So it stuck with me for a bit and I didn’t think much of it — just that I loved it.  Finally when I was in Ottawa looking for a space for a retail store and at the same time looking for a small restaurant space. I came across 380 Elgin. It was 5,000 square feet, way too large for any business alone to survive in such an expensive area, but when combining a few businesses together with like-minded owners, it all came together.

Alex: Who are some of the fashion designers that will be carried? What local brands will be carried in-store?

Nader: We work with a lot of independent designers but I make sure that their brands are brands I strongly believe in. This is a passion project for me  and I wanted it to really reflect that. Some of the brands we carry are Stampd, knomadik, April 77, UNIF, Represent, Rochambeau, among many others. Our biggest brand is Rick Owens DRKSHDW.  I’m excited to have them all in store. UNIF is one that I think is a great fit for the city here in Ottawa. I think it’s a strong reflection of the people here. Then there’s DRKSHDW which is our most high-end brand. We’re so happy to be able to carry them because it’s very rare whether in the United States, Canada or Europe even that stores are able to hold that account. When they agreed to work with us we were ecstatic and it means they had as much faith in the store and concept as we did. Rick Owens is someone that many of us have looked up too and admired, so to carry his brand in the store is something to be proud of.

COMMON3Alex: What sort of style will be carried at COMMON?

Nader: We are going for a more luxurious street style. Even though we try to find something for everyone who walks through our doors, we try to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone a bit when it comes to their clothing. We don’t want people to blend in with the idea that Ottawa is a conservative government city. There’s lots of great and creative minds here who just need a platform and a little extra push to really express themselves in a way they feel comfortable. Fashion is a good place to start with that. We do styling for anyone who walks in because we put them in something they feel comfortable in that reflects their personalities as well.

Alex: What do you want local artists and shoppers to know about COMMON?

Nader: That everyone is welcome to come through our doors. We want to help young creatives get some recognition across some of the bigger cities in Canada and the United States. I’ve seen some locals here in Ottawa that blow my mind with the work they do, yet they never have a platform to display their work. Whether you’re into art, music, architecture, fashion, hair, or coffee — we’re here to help answer any questions and offer any advice we may have. We want people to know that their dreams are really achievable, sometime you just need guidance and to know where to start.  That’s what we’re here for.

Boobyball lands in Ottawa: Rethink Breast Cancer’s biggest fundraiser comes to Ottawa raising $58,000

November 24, 2015 12:56 pm
Boobyball lands in Ottawa: Rethink Breast Cancer’s biggest fundraiser comes to Ottawa raising $58,000

Images courtesy of Alexandra Gunn

12240211_10153699783427552_7746475842936239471_oBoobyball invaded Ottawa for the first time to raise funds for breast cancer support and education with this year’s ‘Planet Booby’ theme. Party-goers were transported to an out-of-this-world experience at Lansdowne Park with extraterrestrial entertainers, futuristic food and awe-inspiring open bar.

This year’s astronomical event committee was made up of Ottawa’s brightest young female philanthropists, who transformed Lansdowne Park’s Horticultural Building into a sold-out interstellar space party where visitors were able to wear their alien antennas, dig out their shiny leggings, and unleash their inner cyborg.

The fundraising goal for Ottawa was to raise $50,000, with proceeds allocated to help expand Rethink’s innovative programs for young women concerned about and living with breast cancer. Ottawa’s committee went over the moon raising $58,000 for Rethink Breast Cancer.12238263_10153699782247552_2258556352778485147_o

“Over the past decade, Boobyball has raised over $3.8 million dollars for our work for young women with breast cancer. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of all the people who come out every year, and we are thrilled that Ottawa’s first Boobyball sold out,” says MJ DeCoteau, Rethink’s Executive Director. “A lot of Boobyball’s success is due to the fun and creative themes that we come up with every year. Planet Booby was no exception and Ottawa definitely dressed to impress!”

Rethink Breast Cancer has been thinking differently about breast cancer since 2001 when they realized that the breast cancer “movement” did not speak to the unique needs of younger women. They are constantly rethinking the traditional discourse surrounding breast cancer awareness, approaching the cause in a way that is daring, fresh, and relevant — and boobyball is no exception.


It’s Time to Clear the Room

November 12, 2015 3:22 pm
It’s Time to Clear the Room

There are certain things that we just don’t discuss at cocktail parties. However, Rogers Daytime host Derick Fage is looking to change that on November 12th.

Derek Fage

Rogers Daytime host Derek Fage.

As the spokesperson for the Canadian Continence Foundation, Derek is looking to raise awareness and funds for an organization that deals with this taboo topic. ‘Clear the Room Cocktail Party’ will be a light-hearted and entertaining event with a focus primarily on the positive outcomes that donations provide; people living full, happy lives and getting the support they need.

How can you support this worthy cause? Attending the cocktail party held at Bistrofiftyfour will support both Voice Found and The Canadian Continence Foundation.

Founded in 1996, the Canadian Continence Foundation enhances the quality of life for people experiencing incontinence by helping them and/or their caregivers to confidently seek and access cures and treatment options.

You can find out more about the foundation or tonight’s event at

Boobyball Giveaway: 2 Tickets to Canada’s most out-of-this-world fundraiser

November 10, 2015 2:07 pm
Boobyball Giveaway: 2 Tickets to Canada’s most out-of-this-world fundraiser

The final countdown is on for Ottawa’s first Boobyball fundraiser in support of Rethink Breast Cancer. This years event, Planet Booby, is one of the most coveted and high profile fundraising events and will take over Ottawa on Friday, November 13th beginning at 8PM.21781943489_bf190b34ca_o

Fashion Editor, Alexandra Gunn has tickets to this much anticipated event and wants you to enter for a chance to win two tickets to a night where you can expect to be transported to another dimension at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park.

How to Enter: Tweet Alex at @AlexandraGunn and @OttawaStyle and tell her why you want to attend @Boobyball. The winner will be chosen on Thursday and emailed their tickets to a fun filled night!

Run by Rethink Breast Cancer, the event brings together over 400 guests who will mix, mingle and enjoy flashy cocktails at the open bar, futuristic food, extraterrestrial entertainers, UFOs and of course, plenty of intergalactic fashion. Lansdowne Parks 21780753210_8febb43f1d_oHoriculture building will be transformed into an all-out, interstellar space party where visitors will feel compelled to unleash their inner cyborg with alien antennas and space suits.

This years goal is to raise $50,000, with proceeds allocated to help expand Rethinks innovative programs for young women concerned about and living with breast cancer. One small step onto Planet Booby can turn into a giant leap for those affected by breast cancer.

Boobyball was launched in 2002 by a group of dedicated young women in support of their friend Sarah ORegan 21346118594_732577bfc6_owho, at just 23 years old, was diagnosed with aggressive, advanced breast cancer. Fast forward 14 years, and Boobyball is now one of the most coveted and high profile fundraising events for young philanthropists in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg, and Sarah is a thriving mother of three.

For more information on the event, visit

Boobyball Comes to Ottawa

October 14, 2015 2:01 pm
Boobyball Comes to Ottawa

The 14th annual Boobyball, Canada’s most out-of-this-world fundraiser, kicks off next month across four major cities to raise funds for breast cancer support and education.

This year’s theme, Planet Booby, will take over Ottawa for the first time on November 13th, 2015 and will transport party-goers in to an otherworldly experience.

BoobyballRun by Rethink Breast Cancer, the event brings together over 400 guests who will mix, mingle and enjoy flashy cocktails, futuristic food, extraterrestrial entertainers, UFO’s and of course, plenty of intergalactic fashion. Lansdowne Park’s Horiculture building will be transformed into an all-out, interstellar space party where visitors will feel compelled to unleash their inner cyborg with alien antennas and space suits.

What should you wear? Anything metallic is a sure way to look like you’re fresh off a spaceship. Accessories are the easiest way to add some space flair to your outfit. I like the idea of wearing a space helmet or show up with a group of your friends wearing matching alien masks. Do you have a Stormtrooper helmet from a past Halloween? Perfect — just make sure your costume allows you to indulge in the open bar!

“Over the past decade, Boobyball has raised over $3.4 million for our work for young women with breast cancer. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of all the people who come out every year,” says MJ DeCoteau, Rethink Breast Cancer’s Executive Director. “A lot of Boobyball’s success is due to the fun and creative themes that we come up with every year. Planet Booby will be no exception – it will be out of this world!”

Boobyball 4This year’s goal is to raise $50,000, with proceeds allocated to help expand Rethink’s innovative programs for young women concerned about and living with breast cancer. One small step onto Planet Booby can turn into a giant leap for those affected by breast cancer.

Boobyball was launched in 2002 by a group of dedicated young women in support of their friend Sarah O’Regan who, at just 23 years old, was diagnosed with aggressive, advanced breast cancer. Fast forward 14 years, and Boobyball is now one of the most coveted and high profile fundraising events for young philanthropists in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg, and Sarah is a thriving mother of three.

The event is expected to sell out soon, so get your tickets ($100) at

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