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Taking Care of Business With Janice McDonald

January 5, 2016 1:46 pm
Taking Care of Business With Janice McDonald

Photo courtesy of Paul Couvrette

Janice McDonald is a powerful entrepreneur. So powerful, in fact, that McDonald has made the top 100 in Women’s Executive Network’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women List for the past three years. After congratulating her for such a feat, McDonald chuckles.

“I can tell you this, though, nothing really changes at home. That’s just real life.”

McDonald may be humble, but she has plenty of ambition. She began her career in the music industry in 1991 as the co-creator of CD Warehouse. After a remarkable 24-year run, CD Warehouse recently closed its doors. Fortunately, it didn’t close until after McDonald had already created her own record label and a t-shirt design business.

It is safe to say that McDonald’s resume is long, impressive and growing. Currently, she serves as the President of The Beacon Agency; a boutique advisory firm based out of Ottawa that helps companies build social strategies.

“Beacon (Agency) is a benefit corporation, we are interested in people and the planet,” McDonald explains. “The focus of the company is to work with innovative brands to make the good they do count.”

Photo courtesy of WXN

Led by McDonald, The Beacon Agency has also spearheaded a national study that looks to examine the links between women entrepreneurs and their approach to risk. While access to capital is sometimes difficult to attain for any entrepreneur, it is especially difficult for women. Many female entrepreneurs are believed to be risk averse, but McDonald says that is simply not true.

“I can tell you that there are women entrepreneurs who want to grow their business, and they are excited to do so. If there’s a perception that they are risk adverse, then there is an increase in difficulty to get capital. You need money to start and grow your business.”

The study, which will be released in spring of 2016, examined female entrepreneurs across the country and in different stages of business building (from small startups to mega companies).

McDonald recognizes that female entrepreneurs often face enormous difficulties in the male-dominated business world. However, McDonald is doing her part to make the road for woman entrepreneurs a little easier to travel.

McDonald recently stepped down as chair for Women and Communications in Technology, a national organization that is dedicated to advancing women in comms and tech. Her work there has been monumental.

“(WCT) is full of people who understand what you’re going through and can give you advice,” McDonald says.

During her work with WCT, McDonald said that the organization recognized that there was a lack of women on boards or in executive and CEO positions. To change this, the organization began the Protégé Project, which is now in its second year.

Working with Shaw Media and Catalyst Canada, the Project aims to increase the number of top performing women in Canadian telecommunications boardrooms by expanding their network. The Project takes executive level women working in communications and technology and matches them with a CEO across the country, as well as across many industries.

“It is going beyond the idea of mentorship, and eventually morphing into the idea of sponsorship,” McDonald explains. “It is like having a champion in your corner.”

As we chat, it’s clear that McDonald is a business champion herself. McDonald tells me that she keeps a pad of paper on her nightstand that she uses to write down ideas.

“I have more ideas than I can act on,” she laughs.

McDonald is currently in the midst of writing a book that will be released in 2016.

I ask her if she has any advice for women in business or those who are looking to become entrepreneurs.

“Go for it. Ask for help, you don’t need to do things alone. There are so many people who are truly willing to give you help, but you have to ask for it. Look in your community, see who is in the space that interests you. Pick up the phone or send them an email. Hunt them down and ask for a couple of minutes of their time.”

How I Got My Name Back

10:55 am
How I Got My Name Back

By Justina McCaffrey.

For me, fashion is a journey that defies the constraints of the runways around the world. It’s an industry to which I have given myself for over twenty years. However, my journey as a designer and entrepreneur has not always been easy, and like fashion, I too defied constraints to find my way to where I am now. To help explain my journey, I feel compelled to tell the story of my name.

I was my parents’ first-born child and was given the name Justina Antoniuk. My grandfather had immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine and my namesake was my grandfather’s wife. As I grew from a child into a young woman, more than once I would change the name that was given to me. At four years old, I made a deliberate decision to change my name to Nina, and I stayed Nina for many years. As a pre-teen, I studied acting and played the role of Juliet. It was then that I realized that a name can divide families, despite Juliet’s proclamation, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2, 1-2). As a teenager reading Vogue, I saw that the names on the labels of clothes could signify luxury. And during my time at the Fashion Institute in LA, I discovered that no one in Southern California could pronounce Antoniuk. For all of these reasons, by the time I got married, I took no issue with taking the last name McCaffrey, but I kept something that had been so lovingly given to me twenty-three years before – my first name, Justina.

Why write so much about my name? I did not know as I portrayed Juliet that one day, my own name would be such a big part of a familial divide. Following my divorce, on the fateful day of February 18, 2008, I was locked out of a business in Ottawa that bore my name. My designs and materials were put away in a secret location and the constraints of being separated from my creative property weighed heavily on me. The store became a place with “my name” and “my stuff ” that betrayed me. Every day that my name was on that building was in some ways a broken day. I had to fight for and protect my name – my brand, and eventually, the Sussex store was rebranded to a different name. I began working from the bottom of my new life, consulting for bridal companies in Los Angeles and New York and beginning my collection, Justina Bridal, now sold at Neiman Marcus and Kleinfeld in New York.

As I focused on my current company in Toronto, I did not predict that circumstances would circle me back to “my long-lost stuff ”. A good friend notified me of the bankruptcy sale of the same business that had locked away my designs and thrown me out. With this friend’s support, I returned to Ottawa and finally saw this mysterious place. I was driven to tears as I saw the once-happy dress forms, now worn and misshapen, and was able to purchase back patterns, fabrics, and machines. I visited the sale every day and when it was over, the manager approached me with what looked like a bag of bones and said, “Justina, this is yours.” Inside the bag were the letters that spelled my name that were once attached to the Sussex store. She had given me my name. And just like that, I was free of those past constraints.

As I explained earlier, fashion is a journey that defies constraints and needs continuous giving. I am anticipating an imminent move back to Ottawa, with a desire to give. My new facility, a gorgeous Victorian home in Gatineau, will give clients a very different experience than the pressures of “Say Yes To The Dress” or my Sussex store. Clients will bring their friends, drink champagne and stay a while, like a bridal shower. It will be a retail experience as comfortable as purchasing online, but without restraints, as women will be able to touch and try on dresses. And so, like clockwork, my journey in fashion continues, and I welcome the women of the Ottawa area to join me.

A Corporate Stay is a Cozy Stay

January 4, 2016 1:57 pm
A Corporate Stay is a Cozy Stay

Whether you’re travelling for business or for pleasure, homesickness is out of the picture with Corporate Stays. With multiple options in every major Canadian city, as well as locations in NYC, Miami, Mexico, Europe and South America, a Corporate Stay’s executive apartment provides you and your family with a comfortable, luxuriously furnished and equipped home away from home. Travellers, workers and families no longer have to put up in small rooms without any warmth and pay exorbitant rates for it. With the services that are provided by CorporateStays.com, travelers are now able to enjoy the luxury of feeling at home away from home. Furnished homes and apartments, full kitchens, spacious living as well as dining spaces and bedroom spaces, you may find yourself never wanting to leave.

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

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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 beautyboutique.ca.

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