A visit from…Kelly Cutrone: Fifteen “normal” minutes

Kelly Cutrone was recently in town promoting her new book, Normal Gets You Nowhere. The fourth floor had the chance to sit down with her for a quick chat before she headed out to her book signing at the Eaton Centre. 
We loved sitting down with Kelly. Not only is she hilarious, but she is a great mom, entrepreneur, boss and friend. It was a blast picking your brain for a bit – thanks Kelly!

Image via Mama’s Rolling Stone.
In the book you talk about not succumbing to being ‘normal’.  What exactly constitutes being normal, to you?
It really isn’t my definition as much as it is Webster’s definition of normal – of average intelligence. Who wants to be of average intelligence?

When you are growing up, people tell you, “act normal, sit normal, why aren’t you normal? Just do the right thing.” And it’s like, what is the right thing? What is normal? Why would  you want to fit it? Because most people that are really successful aren’t average, they didn’t fit in and they transformed themselves and their community – and, ultimately the world.

When you realized you weren’t normal, what was your reaction?
Well I tried to be… When I was young, I was skinny and pretty, I went to college, got a really good job doing PR, and then married a famous artist, Ronnie Cutrone (Andy Warhol’s protégé).

I did all the things that I was told would make me happy, and it just felt really wrong. I knew I wanted to be able to be myself, or otherwise I would die (a spiritual death). So I slowly started peeling off the façade, and arrived at this all-black, no make up look (laughs). I had to start demanding that I live my own life and do things my way.

How do you find people who have read your book are reacting?
The message is resonating. People can relate to the examples that I use. When young people walk down the street and see a homeless person, I want them to think, “This isn’t okay, this person needs help,” not look the other way, then walk into American Apparel and buy a tee.
Sometimes there’s a price to pay [with being your true self]. There was a gay kid, a student at Brigham Young University, who after reading my first book, went home and told his parents he was gay and his parents beat him. So you have to deal with those consequences. It can be dangerous, and there might be a price to pay. But at the same time, there’s also a price to pay for living a life in silence, following someone else’s rules. 

What does Ava (Kelly’s daughter) teach you on a daily basis?
She teaches me to be consistent, keep coming home. Before I had Ava, I was much more of a fly-by-night girl; but since having her, I’ve learned about consistency, and it’s weird – it almost feels like mother nature puts this chip in your head and you stop doing things. Like I cross at the light all the time, and I don’t get on motorcycles anymore.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
When things are bad, just pick your self up and keep going. The first couple of times things went wrong for me, I was devastated. I thought I was losing everything. My mother would say, “Get up tomorrow, hold your head up and do it (or fix it) till you get it right.”
Young people should know that however you are feeling now, things will change. We are not like the seasons, we don’t go from winter to spring. Sometimes we get winter, winter, winter, but spring eventually comes.

What golden rule or rules do you live your life by?
I need a Mary Poppin’s bag full of mantras. For work: time, energy, money. For business: what’s the problem, what’s the solution. Chaos always brings chaos, so I tell my employees “shrink it, fix it, grow it.” It’s really important to simplify things, get clutter out of the way.

Any career advice for someone starting off their career, and looking to construct their own path?
Just know that when your employer hires you, they want you to stay. It’s kind of a surprise to some people because they think they hired you to fire you. 

When you get hired at a company, the owner or management team pour everything into you, so you can become empowered to do your job, with hopes that you will pay it forward when the next new hire comes in. Most people spend half the day wondering in their busy little heads if they are going to be fired because of the emotional climate, or because someone didn’t say hi to them, or acknowledge them or whatever. They don’t want you to leave, that’s why they’ve devoted all this time teaching you about the company (ed note: it’s true. read this twice.).

Golden rules to remember: 
  1. They hired you because they like you, NOT because they want to fire you. 
  2. Be the first one in, and the last one out (within reason).
  3. Schedule time with your boss if you have a question. See their assistant, or request time to chat through e-mail. Note importance level: not urgent, within the next month, etc.
Any upcoming projects that you are excited about?
Yes! I’m starting a clothing company called Electric Love Army (ELA) with Chris Burch who is the founder of Tory Burch. ELA will launch September 2012.

I’ve also got a show developing on MTV, I’m a correspondent on the Dr. Phil show, and now I’m out promoting Normal Gets You Nowhere. Buy it here.

Anything else you want to add?
Yeah, I love rock-it. 

Thanks, Kelly. We love you, too.

To stay updated on all of KC’s projects, check out her website or follow her on Twitter: @peoplesrev

Yum yum: National Burger Month

It was recently brought to our attention that May has been dubbed National Hamburger Month, so in the name of research, we spent the month looking for our favourites burgs in the city. We love a good eat on the fourth floor and (almost) nothing can beat an all-star burger. If you have a craving, head to one of these spots.

Sustainable ingredients, quality flavour
This casual, cozy resto has two excellent burgers on their menu (along with some other mouth-watering, scrumptious items like the curry club wrap). Their burgers are made with certified organic beef, and topped with fabulous condiments like brie, spinach and roasted red peppers.

Image via blogTO.

Quirky Burgers

South St. Burger Co.
Very few quick-service resto’s can match up to the greatness that comes out of the kitchen at South St. Starting with their great service, their epic burgers are incomparable simply because of the huge variety of toppings available: chipotle BBQ sauce, olives, blue cheese, mango chutney and spicy ketchup are a few of our faves.

Image via Toronto’s Best Burger.

Best new burger
The Burger’s Priest 

Located off the beaten path (at Queen and Coxwell), The Burger’s Priest offers simple hamburgers with a twist. To be a true connoisseur of their burgs, order from the secret menu. Try the newest concoction, Judgment Day, in honour of the Rapture. On your trip, expect fresh ground beef, a soft bun and simple, classic toppings, all griddled to perfection.

Image via Yapping About Food.

Gourmet Burgers

The Harbord Room, referred to by NOW magazine as “the hottest bite in town”, sure knows how to cook a burger. The naturally-raised beef burger is a culinary dream. Seriously, just ask this guy. Served on a yummy Fred’s Bread egg bun, the combination between the beef, sharp cheddar and caramelized onions are sure to please every single one of your taste buds.

Image via WebLocal.
Unexpected – who knew?
Known for it’s tapas-style menu, Origin has one of the greatest burgs we’ve tried yet. This tasty bite is crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, and is brilliantly contrasted with creamy avocado, smoked mayo and arugula. Mmm-mmm, good.

Image via HelloToronto.
Boss’ favourite
Best BBQ around town. Get the ‘animal burger’. Two mustard seared 3 oz. patties, American cheese, sauce, lettuce, pickles, caramelized onion. Apparently as good as an In-n-Out, if that’s your thing. It’s definitely ours.

 Image via The Beef Whisperer

So, whether you are into quirky toppings, holy hamburgers, or gourmet renditions of this American classic, we sure hope you enjoy your next trip to any of these resto’s for a piece of happiness in a bun. Got a beef with one of our choices for best? Tweet us what you think is better (@rockitpromo).

Fashion-able: To ruffles or not to ruffles

Carly tackles the challenge of recreating a high-fashion runway look on a more realistic budget (i.e. $100). Can she do it?
If you are like some of us on the fourth floor (ahem…), you would skip lunch for a month to buy Elizabeth and James’ Laurette Blouse in Night Sky print. You wouldn’t hesitate to give up your latte habit for J Brand’s Mid-Rise Skinny Leg jeans in red. You’d do it again when you notice the blue ones are just as cute. 
If you are like us, your piggy bank is always empty by the end of the season. So when presented with a challenge to recreate a look from the runway that had all the fashion editors talking, you take it. 
With a budget of only $100, I’m aiming to make all my Jil Sander colour-blocking dreams come true. We begin with a look at my inspiration board (that’s right, Oprah is not the only girl with one of these).

Image Source.
Image Source.
Take notes: we’re going simple and white on top, bold colour on the bottom. The runway look featured a ruffle, while Kate Bosworth worked it without one.  Decisions, decisions…

Without the luxury of time to Shopbop my heart out, I head to one of my favourite places in the city, the mall.

After waiting only 30 minutes for a parking spot (score!), I set off in search of a maxi skirt in a bright shade, with a little volume. I find my JS-inspired skirt at Zara. Long, flowing, hot pink, and retailing for just $59, it’s a keeper. I hand over my card, and debate getting an Air Miles reward card. Wouldn’t this skirt look even better in Miami?

Image source.

With no ruffles to be found on my skirt, I take a trip to the store for wardrobe basics, Gap. There, I face a tough choice. Do I dare to replace the skirt ruffle with a top ruffle?

While usually I’m not one for truth or dare, this time I do dare. I choose Gap’s white tee with ruffle sleeves. Ticket price is $29.99.  At checkout, my bill comes to only half my expected total.  Lucky me, I’ve hit a half price sale. My horoscope predicted a three-star day, and I’m one happy Aries. 

Image source.

Back home, I toss on the basic top, add one colourful skirt, and end up with a look that totally says Spring 2011 Fashion Week. Not too bad for $85. Eat your heart out, Kate Bosworth. Fashion success.    

Carly’s version of the Jil Sander maxi skirt.
Pretty fashion-able, non?

Media, Darling: Karon Liu

Karon Liu is The Grid‘s (formerly Eye Weekly) resident food writer and he considers himself to be the luckiest guy in the world since his main task is to eat. Prior to The Grid, he has written for Toronto Life, National Post, Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun, and his photos have appeared in More, Zoomer, National Geographic Traveler and on TorontoLife.com.

Can you spot Karon’s hand?
In addition to backpacking, stargazing and trying new foods, Karon also enjoys writing about himself in the third person.

What was your favourite class in high school? Why?
Photography class was my favourite because it broke up the monotony of staring at a textbook all day. It was the one class where I didn’t fall asleep. I learned how to develop my own film, manipulate photos without Photoshop and find my way around the darkroom when the red lightbulb would break. I also have many fond memories of hallucinating in an unventilated darkroom full of chemicals at 4 a.m.

How did you get your start as a writer?
After graduating with a journalism degree from Ryerson, I did a few internships and freelance gigs before becoming an editorial intern at Toronto Life magazine. They had just started a food blog called The Dish and I was pitching stories and taking every assignment that was handed to me. I didn’t know much about the restaurant industry at the time, so I had to do a lot of cramming. I continued to write for Toronto Life’s site for the next two years and then I moved on to The Grid, where I’m currently a staff writer.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Hiking in the Himalayas and avoiding work of any kind.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Sending folders and packages full of press releases, CDs and USB keys. Writers and editors usually throw them out immediately, or keep the USB key and delete all the files in it. If I need additional information, I’ll ask.

Sunrise or sunset?
Sunrise when I’m on vacation, sunset for the rest of the year.


My sister’s chocolate chip recipe.

Chamomile. Add hot water, some honey and you’ve got a party.

Yes. It’s why I broke up with Oprah.

Shower or bath?
Moist towelette.
Tie between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

I prefer C-plus.

First job?
Working in the stockroom at The Gap in the Toronto Eaton Centre. I believe every teenager should work at least two years in the retail or food service industry to appreciate the value of a dollar and learn how to deal with jerks.

Books, coworkers, friends, newspapers, an afternoon stroll, pretty much anything can spark an idea for an article, photo spread or what I’m going to have for lunch.

My Hood: Natalie

To continue our My ‘Hood series, Natalie dishes on her ‘hood – Dufferin Grove. 

Last September I moved from a condo at Queen & Spadina to a house at College & Dufferin. Initially, the move threw me off a bit – Where was my corner H&M? Why can’t I eat dim sum at 3 a.m.? Why isn’t there a movie theatre in my basement? – but I learned to embrace the area’s “slower” pace and discovered a number of local treasures. 

First and foremost in my heart is The Common. Purveyor of delicious coffee by day, cheap wine by night and the home of the best-valued charcuterie plate in Toronto, The Common is the quintessential date spot. If you ever want to meet me for drinks, chances are I’ll suggest this place (and not only because it’s 10 steps from my house).

Cozy interior of The Common.
Photo via
I love to cook, but some days all I want to do is pick up a cheap, home-style meal after work. Thankfully, I have Bairrada Churrasqueira in my hood. A haven of scrumptious Portuguese food, Bairrada is wonderful for take-out or dining in. They also have an INSANELY large back patio that can accommodate large groups. My go-to meal is their BBQ chicken, rice and potatoes. Whatever you order, please do not forget to get an extra helping of their spicy Piri Piri sauce – my mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

Image source.

Sure, there’s a No Frills at Dufferin Mall, but why buy their limp vegetables when the Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market is right across the street? Held every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. all year round, this farmer’s market is a fantastic place to access local and seasonal goods.

Delicious bounty of nature.
Image source.

Now onto my favourite: shopping. The lack of stores was the hardest thing for me to adjust to, but I’ve discovered some cute shops in the area (note: these places may not technically fall into the Dufferin Grove neighbourhood, but they’re close to me and I love them). 

Penny Arcade has a well-curated selection of vintage items and, just in time for summer, they’re now carrying vintage-inspired swimsuits by Minnow Bathers. Another vintage spot is the newly opened Magwood. The prices here can be on the high side, depending on what you’re looking for, but the pieces are truly one of a kind and span the decades. 

Interior of Magwood via Toronto Life.

And finally, the thing I love most about my neighbourhood is that the air often smells of chocolate, thanks to the Cadbury factory in my backyard. How great is that? 

Assembly line of chocolatey goodness. I like to imagine this is what goes on inside the factory.
Image source.

Have a favourite spot that I should know about in my ‘hood? Tweet me @rockitpromo!

Rave: Sample sale at Fred Perry, Oliver Spencer, Dunderdon

Up to 75% off clothing? That’s music to our ears. Standard Apparel, distributors of such amazing lines as Oliver Spencer, Fred Perry and Dunderdon, are holding their massive annual sample sale from Thursday, May 26 to Sunday, May 29.

Stylish apparel for men, women and kids will be practically given away. Buy some new duds for yourself, or pick up a surprise gift for someone you love. And while this is a “sample sale”, it’s not only sample sizes – there will be full size ranges.

Get down to 360 Dufferin Street (suite #106) and snap up some snazzy clothing for your wardrobe. Bring your cash or credit card – you will need it.

Just going to the sale enters you to win Filson luggage. Don’t miss out!

Hashtag: #fredperrysale

Happy Victoria Day Weekend

We would like to wish you a very safe and happy long weekend. Thank you Queen Victoria for giving us our first long weekend of the summer, a.k.a. summer’s unofficial kick-off.

Our top five things we packed for the weekend:

Sunscreen (one can always hope).
A case of beer.
Umbrella (let’s face it – it always rains on this weekend. Especially if you go camping).
Friends and significant others.
Image source
We hope you enjoy the holiday.

Bisou bisou from the fourth floor. xx