Rave: Quick & easy spots for pre-event food, beauty and hair fixes

It’s not news – being a publicist goes hand in hand with working and attending events. With exciting days and busy nights, finding time to make sure we look and dress the part sometimes ends up on a lower rung of the ladder. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to us. It just means letting go of our usual haunts and finding new places close to the office that we head to for a quick fix. Here are some of our spots for a polish change, a blow-out, a quick snack, a new outfit and our favourite winter accessory to give any outfit some spiked punch.


We are so fond of Mosheta, the (fairly) new hair, nail and makeup spot on Queen St. W. The minute a chip is spotted, we hop, skip and jump across the street for a helping hand. With a nail polish change for $10, not only is time saved but money is too – we don’t always have time for the full manicure, so fake it with a shiny new coat of OPI’s latest and greatest. If you can invest one full hour on your lunch break, Mosheta also blows your hair out to perfection. We are regulars here and stand by the pink graffiti‘ed name. 534 Queen St. W., 647.344.3442

Falafel Queen

Don’t let the exterior sway you, or the smell of Smoke’s Poutinerie lead you next door (poutine pre-event is not the best idea). When time is not on our side, food inevitably gets put on the back burner. Our discovery of Falafel Queen has turned our hunger pangs around. For $2, a small container of their homemade hummus lasts for two days and is fresh and simple (read: good for you). Add a bag of baby carrots from the local Loblaw store and it is truly one of our greatest snack discoveries. Be sure to have some strong mints on hand after your snack. The hummus is delicious, but garlicky. 576 Queen St W., 416.504.9736
Yes, that is a Herve Leger mini that you can rent. 
Located (too conveniently at times) right in our building, Remix is one of the best places in Toronto to rent an entire outfit – they have shoes, accessories and designer dresses. In our industry, recycling the same outfits again and again is not an option, but we don’t want to buy a new outfit 3x a week either. Remix rental is a time and budget-saver.  If you fall in love with your outfit, you can buy it at a discounted price. 639 Queen Street W., 2nd floor

Take this tip and run with it : Joe Fresh has the greatest assortment of tights at killer prices. Black leopard print, grey cheetah print, an assortment of opaque colours – such a simple, and necessary winter accessory becomes a cool addition to an outfit. While we might be wearing black most of the time, we mix it up with every colour and pattern of tight under the rainbow and always have a spare pair on hand. Thanks, Joe. 585 Queen Street W., 416.703.3419

Fashion-able: Everyday Red Lips

Sexy red lips are essential to a glam evening look, but they can also be fresh and wearable for everyday. It’s all in the application and the attitude. Today we’re sharing our secrets for a casual red lip.
When you’re wearing red lips during the day, you need to get the application right. There’s nothing worse than an impromptu meeting when you’re wearing a bold lipstick and haven’t done a post-latte mirror check. Follow these steps and you’ll know your lipstick looks fabulous.
Tools Needed:
Lip scrub or exfoliator
Red lip liner
Red lipstick
Lip brush
Step 1: Prep Your Lips
Red lipstick can highlight dry or flaky patches on lips, so start with a smooth canvas. Prep your lips by applying a lip scrub or exfoliator. If you’re in a pinch, wet a clean toothbrush and gently scrub.
Step 2: Line Your Lips
The key to preventing a bold lip from bleeding is a good lip liner. Take your time with this step, carefully tracing the cupid’s bow and the rest of the lips. Next, fill in the rest of your lips to prevent the dreaded “ring around the mouth.”

Step 3: Apply Lipstick with a Lip Brush
Using a lip brush, paint your lips with your favourite shade of red. Rub the lipstick into your lips, really working it in. This is key to long-lasting colour.
Step 4: Blot
Fold a tissue in half and blot your lips.
Step 5: Reapply
It seems wasteful since you just removed some lipstick, but trust us. Using the brush or freehand from the tube, apply a second coat.
Step 6: Teeth Check
Have you read the ‘90s beauty tome, Cindy Crawford’s Basic Face? Cindy says it best: “To avoid getting lipstick on teeth, stick forefinger in mouth. Close lips around it and pull finger out. Any excess lipstick will be instantly removed.” It’s not pretty, but if it works for a supermodel it works for us.

Step 7: Smile, gorgeous!
Smile, knowing that your lips look great. Red lips exude confidence.
Emma Watson’s fresh and informal red lip. Image source.
For daytime, it’s important to keep these tips in mind:
Keep the rest of your makeup simple. You’re already rocking a bold lip, so stay away from smoky eyes, false lashes, or anything that will over-sex this look. Stick with natural foundation and a few coats of mascara for a polished face.
Have a compact mirror at hand. If you’ve followed our tips, your lip should require minimal maintenance but it doesn’t hurt to do a quick lip check throughout the day.
Be courteous. Just because you’re wearing red lipstick doesn’t mean your colleagues or friends want to. Cheek kisses are a definite no-no. Be extra careful washing your coffee mugs or water glasses. 

Above all, enjoy it. A red lip brightens your face, whitens your teeth and is a classic look that is always in style.

Do you wear red lips at the office or to the grocery store? Tweet us your signature shade or a pic of your red lips @rockitpromo.

Media, Darling: Bahar Niramwalla

After many years stuck behind a desk, and her mind on the latest mascara and wondering which conditioner was worth the extra cash, Bahar Niramwalla decided to make a break for it. The very same day, she became the Beauty Basics Makeup artist and presenter with the Globe and Mail‘s Globe Life section and weekly Beauty Q&A expert for the Globe‘s Saturday Style section. A few months after that, Niramwalla began to step in front of the camera as the resident Beauty Specialist in the first season of the Marilyn Denis Show.

She’s since written for Yahoo! Canada, Sympatico.ca and has her own blog, blogbahar.com where she posts about beauty, travel and occasionally obsesses over perfume, as she owns more bottles than shoes, which is a LOT of perfume.

She is a makeup artist in Toronto and outside of playing with cosmetics as a job and, having recently conquered her fear of flying, she freelances as a travel writer and has had a chance to visit such countries as Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, India, Mexico, Slovenia and The U.A.E., just to name a few. Next on the list: Barbados or Belize.

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I recall loving theatre and having my folks say that was no way to earn a living. I also recall hating writing in high school after an English teacher told me I was terrible at it. I ended up taking a safer route post secondary to please my parents and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t die of boredom. 
Upon feeling like I was dying of boredom, I took a few courses in makeup to see if I could make some extra cash while doing something creative. Thousands of hours of writing, presentations, public events and ten years of marketing and promotions later, I found myself right where I wanted to be, which, as it turned out, was in front of a camera spewing my thoughts on moisturizer and flat irons and then being asked to write about them, too. Haphazardly, I ended up performing, in a way, and dishing out some not-so-terrible writing.

I’ve recently been told I don’t take good pictures. I figure if I give it a few years, I’ll be putting professional photographer on my resume, too.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’ve never been one to think about my life in terms of where I want to be in ‘x’ number of years, so my answer is always the same: exactly where I’m supposed to be.

That often doesn’t fly well with people who want a more concrete answer, though. I guess I’d love to find a happy medium between my passions and my skills. 

I love all things makeup, skincare and beauty. I love writing because it’s challenging and I’ve got eight years of marketing under my belt. In time, the two shall meet. Hopefully, that’ll be in around five years. That sound more concrete?

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be genuine with others, honest with yourself and sometimes, take risks that seem foolish. I’ve noticed the ones that seem foolish are the ones that pay off 10-fold.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I’m a sucker for funny, smart writing and BeautyGeeks delivers all the time. Janine Falcon is not only a great writer, but she likes to do what I like to do: figure out why or how a product works. It’s so important to know what is going on your body and how it is doing what it claims to, especially with the launch of a new product every two seconds. I’ve also got a thing for back issues of TIME magazine and The Big Bang Theory.

Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
The best and worst was a random chance to meet with Susan Sarandon a year and a half ago in New York. I had about 30 seconds to come up with interview questions and I had to make them relevant, engaging and not seem like I had just come up with them 30 seconds ago. Ms. Sarandon was genuine and super cool and, after we were done, she invited me to watch her play in a ping-pong tourney at SPiN Gallery Manhattan that night. That part was the best. If it wasn’t for the New York food poisoning I picked up, I would have. That part was the worst.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“There’s room enough for all of us”. It applied to the current industry I am in, but the woman who spoke those words didn’t realize how much they applied to everyday life. There’s never a need to slag someone off and there’s never a need to shove someone on the streetcar.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Be honest with yourself and those around you. If you’re being a shit, own up to it and if someone else is, you’ve got to let them know. Fake anything and, eventually, people will catch on. Oddly enough, nobody likes a fake.

Also, eat lots o’ candy.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
To be in the PR world, you have to love what you do. We can tell when you don’t. And if you don’t, stop and realize you’re not doing what you love.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Too many last minute, heart attack inducing moments have been saved by some of the pros I’ve had the pleasure of coming in contact with, but two people who made my life better are Adriana Lurz of Strategic Objectives and Courtney McGeever of Lush cosmetics. The former helped me to see travel writing as a serious avenue and makes me laugh hysterically. The latter has saved my butt in countless manic rush situations and also shares my love/secret shame of the hot mess that is the Jersey Shore.

I hate?
How negative people or energy can suck the life out of you if you let them/it.

And bad espresso.

And sugary, lame chocolate.

I love?
Laughing ’til I cry. Even more so the next day, when I remember what was so funny the night before and I randomly burst into a fit of giggles on the 504 Queen car.

And quality espresso. And sea salt, preferably in quality chocolate.

Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel and Marjane Satrapi’s Embroideries.

Best place on earth?
Anywhere I get to hold my niece and nephew.

Dinner guest?
Anyone who is willing to try some of my experimental baked goods is welcome.
I always offer a Nespresso coffee afterwards to wash it down, just in case I missed the mark.

My nephew. He saved me at a moment when I thought I’d lost myself and he doesn’t even know it.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
DailyHoroscope. I check it first thing every morning. It’s so accurate, it’s scary. Somedays, I think it’s watching me.

Pool or ocean?
Pool next to the ocean. That way, I get to enjoy nature’s splendor and avoid my toes touching the stuff I can’t see at the bottom.

Voicemail or email?
I once saved a VM from my nephew wishing me a happy birthday for over a year. If that didn’t exist in my world, email.

Media, Darling: Gabrielle Johnson

Gabrielle Johnson graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins with a Master’s degree in fashion journalism. Her dreams of becoming a muse to fellow alum Alexander McQueen never came true, sadly, but she did sit next to Stella McCartney at a café once, and that was pretty exciting.
She began her career as the associate editor of FQ and SIR magazines, where she worked with a fantastic team and was given a surprising amount of creative freedom. She spent a year as the beauty editor of Rouge Magazine before joining the Sweetspot.ca family, where she now very happily works as the editor of SweetLife, overseeing fashion, beauty and more restaurant/boutique/spa openings than you can shake a stick at.
Gabrielle lives in Toronto with her husband, their two cats and a small army of shoes. 

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
When I was four, I wanted to be a cocktail waitress; I thought it sounded like an incredibly glamorous career choice.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Still working in fashion, but I’d eventually like to spend a little less time at my computer and a little more time playing with clothes (preferably in exotic locales).
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Show people that you’re a hard worker. Say yes to everything. Stay late once in a while. It absolutely sucks that we don’t pay our interns in this industry, but giving off an I’m-too-good-for-this attitude won’t impress anyone. We all have to start somewhere.  
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I don’t think I’ll ever stop hoarding magazines, and I never miss an issue of British Vogue, American Vogue, Lula, The Gentlewoman, Living Etc. and Elle Decoration UK.
Online, I get my news from the Globe and Mail, New York Times and The Guardian, my celebrity gossip from DListed, and my fashion and design updates and inspiration from too many websites and blogs to list here. I’m also obsessed with the Tumblrs of angsty teenage girls who like to post photos of Parisian cafés and crumbling castles and Sofia Coppola and macaroons.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
The best was probably Paul Smith, who was lovely and charming and made it seem like we were two old friends having a nice chat. I also enjoyed interviewing Andy Samberg when I had a huge crush on him about five years ago. Nothing wrong with mixing business with pleasure, right?  
I once drove out to the middle of nowhere to interview a flaky socialite at her faux-Georgian mansion. It was 30 degrees outside and she answered the door dressed in head-to-toe riding gear (including boots and a heavy tweed jacket) despite the fact that she didn’t own a horse and had no plans to ride that day – so of course I included that detail in the opening paragraph of my story.
She was friends with my editor-in-chief at the time, and for reasons I can’t explain, this editor broke one of the most basic rules of journalism and sent her a draft of the story before it went to print. The socialite threw a giant hissy fit and demanded we take out basically everything that made the story interesting.  
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t get too caught up in what other people are saying about you — even the good things. Other people’s opinions are usually more about them than they are about you, so don’t give them the power to make or break your day.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Also: you can’t make friends with salad.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Please, please, please read my website before contacting me so that I don’t spend half my day responding to irrelevant pitches. Please don’t call me 10 times in one day without leaving a single message; I have call display and you’re being kinda creepy. Please update your media lists on a regular basis so that you’re pitching to the right people (it helps if they’re people who actually still work at the company you’re pitching).
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve had a lot of fantastic experiences with PR people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, but honestly, as long as you’re friendly, helpful and get back to me quickly with the info I’ve requested, I’ll think you’re pretty awesome.
I hate?
Noisy neighbours, slow walkers, endless winters, confined spaces, Gwyneth Paltrow.
I love? 
Carbs, napping, fancy tea and freshly baked scones, Saturday morning quiet time with my kitties and a stack of books, new nail polish colours, being in London, laughter that leads to snorting, my husband’s mad breakfast-making skillz, taking pictures of trees, looking at pictures of trees, packages from Miu Miu waiting to be unwrapped, moody British period dramas and very long walks.
I’ve been reading The Beautiful Fall since 2006 and I’m determined to finish the damn thing this month; I’ll throw a party once I finally reach the last page. I’m also working my way through The Marriage Plot and Sophie Dahl’s new cookbook From Season to Season. I don’t cook, but I enjoy reading about food and imagining myself cooking someday.
Best place on earth? 
It’s a tie between the Four Seasons Maui and the swan pond at Kensington Gardens in London.
Dinner guest? 
Tilda Swinton.
Daisy from the 1980 Judith Krantz classic, Princess Daisy.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I’m an online editor with Luddite tendencies. Pass.
Pool or ocean?
Either, as long as there are no sharks around (yes, I believe in swimming pool sharks).
Voicemail or email? 
Unless we’re actually real-life friends, email.

City Living: The Curl Ambassadors

Finding that special hair stylist who makes all your hair dreams come true is a challenge for any girl but it can be especially difficult for girls with curly or thick hair. Some stylists just don’t have a sense of how to cut and style curly hair and don’t realize that these locks require specialized products (and maybe a little extra TLC, too).

Image source.

That’s why we love the gals at The Curl Ambassadors (159 Harbord St.). Founded by two ladies who have lived through all the trials and tribulations of having curly hair, (Betty and Caroline) the Ambassadors is located in a space that is Victorian-inspired and couldn’t be cuter. The cozy salon employs a group of stylists who specialize in cutting and styling all types of curly hair. 

Not only do the Ambassador’s stylists understand curly hair (“we all know that it’s usually not about the length — it’s about the shape”), the salon also carries an unbelievable inventory of curl-taming products.

Most of the products they carry are nearly impossible to find in Canada. Products such as Mixed Chicks, geared toward women of mixed race is not available anywhere else in Canada. Other great products available at The Curl Ambassadors include  Kinky Curly, Uncle Funky’s Daughter and Carol’s Daughter. These products do an amazing job of wrangling curls for women of all ethnicities and they are all-natural and sulphate free.

The salon’s exclusive product list, plus the fact that every customer gets a free tutorial on how to style their new cut, definitely makes the Curl Ambassadors the curly hair experts in our books. 

Image source.
In fact, the salon’s dedicated clients love the Ambassadors so much that a new location opened this year at 9100 Jane Street in Vaughan.  
Want to book an appointment? Check out the Curl Ambassadors online. If you’re not in love with your curls already, you will be after your first visit. 

What’s in Your….Shower Stall?

On most mornings, our alarms go off, we hit snooze once (okay, twice), then shuffle over to shower. Being an office full of ladies, we love talking products, from the latest leave-in conditioner to the body butter discovered while travelling. 

Here some of the products we gotta have when we’re lathering up and getting ready to tackle the day.

The top thing I have in my shower is a comb. Brushing my wavy hair once it’s dry will take out the waves, so I comb in the shower to get the knots out. I love Goody’s Curl Wide Tooth Comb and Lift

Next is a good shower gel and loofah. Sephora’s Vanilla Cupcake body wash smells amazing and makes my skin nice and smooth.

Dove unscented soap is always in our stall. It doesn’t irritate and I can also wash my face with it. I get tons of free shampoo, so as long as it lathers, I use it. 

And I always have a very good deep conditioner for my hair. Aveda and Matrix Biolage are my go-to’s.

I have a million wonderful and girlie products all around my bathroom that help keep me clean, soft and pretty (many of them from gift bags). 

These are the staples that I use up and replace often: Dove Revive Body Wash, MoroccanOil Restorative Hair Mask, Victoria’s Secret Coconut Passion Hand and Body cream from the Secret Garden Collection.

I love Kevin Murphy’s shampoo for colour treated hair and his Angel Rinse deep conditioner. I’m not a natural blonde, so thanks to Ritual2 for introducing me to this awesome line. It smells fab, and my hair is the healthiest it’s been since Grade 8 (before I was introduced to the world of bleach, dye and CHI hair straighteners).

I also love Mary Kay makeup remover. The shower is the perfect spot to remove my mascara and MK is the only one I’ve found I’m not allergic to.

I always have a pair of exfoliating gloves in my shower; everything else is on constant rotation. 

My latest obsessions are two products that I discovered when I was in NYC over NYE: DevaCurl No-Poo shampoo and Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution. The No-Poo doesn’t lather and it makes your hair really knotty at first – but, when you rinse it out, your hair feels amazing and is tangle-free. It’s all natural, with no sulphites or other fake things. I’m in love.

Dove bath products, especially conditioner. I’m doomed without conditioner, my hair gets all bird-nesty.

Also, Formulab face cleanser, and a loofah.

When it comes to products, I’m a Kiehl’s girl through and through. Made from all natural ingredients, their packaging is also recyclable. It’s really the least I can do to help save the environment.

The Crème de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Body Polish has all the right ingredients to moisturize and exfoliate my skin. For a liquid body cleanser that’s oh-so green, I’m currently sticking with Aloe Vera Biodegradable Liquid Body Cleanser. 

With their latest limited edition bottles designed by Jeff Koons, any bathroom can be instantly updated in true contemporary MOMA style.   

What are your shower must-haves?

Tweet us @rockitpromo

Media, Darling: Michelle Villett

Michelle Villett is a Toronto-based beauty and health writer and the founder of BeautyEditor.ca (winner of the P&G Beauty & Grooming Award for Best Fashion or Beauty Blog in 2010). Previously, she was beauty and health editor at ELLE Canada and beauty editor at The Look. 

Villett has contributed to Flare, FashionGlobe and Mail, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Glow, Today’s Parent and Best Health; has been interviewed in the Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald and Zink; and has appeared as a guest on Canada AM and Breakfast Television.


How did you get your start as an editor?
My first magazine job was with Chatelaine, but I was on the publicity side, not editorial. At the time, I was also taking courses in Ryerson’s magazine publishing program (since I have a degree in business, not journalism), and so I’d taken the job with an eventual move to an editor role in mind. I soon realized, however, that I was just going to have to suck it up and do an internship.

I was lucky enough to land one at The Look under the great David Livingstone (whose tutelage was probably equivalent to, if not better than, a stint in journalism school). David hired me on as beauty editor not long after that, and then, when the magazine folded in 2006, I went to Elle Canada as beauty and health editor. In 2008, I decided to go freelance full-time, and in 2009, BeautyEditor.ca was born.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?

Friends and family laugh at me because I probably rearrange my furniture at least once a month, maybe because I work from home now and spend so much time staring at it. So I’d probably be doing something décor-related. I’m madly jealous of this woman, who buys up old furniture at thrift stores, paints it white and adorns it with shiny Anthropologie knobs, and then sells it. That would be my idea of a good time.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Email, always. There was a great article in the Washington Post last summer about how people in their 20s and 30s avoid phone calls because they feel “rude and intrusive.” I totally agree.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
I think what’s interesting about my experience is that over the years, I’ve been on pretty much all the different segments of the PR lists: A-list, B-list, freelancer, blogger. And while I obviously understand that some publications are considered more valuable to a client than others, it’s quite off-putting to be showered with attention, then cut from a list, and then inexplicably put back on again, for example. This business is truly all about personal relationships and the brands repped by publicists who’ve been consistent with me are the ones I’m most inclined to support. I have a long memory!

Publicists could actually get more coverage, I believe, if they were a bit more inclusive of freelancers. I know we can be hard to find, since we’re not on any mastheads, but we’re also the ones pitching and writing the lengthy features. And that’s where, I believe, a product mention holds more weight as compared to a tiny news piece.

That said, press trips can be dicey. I loathe receiving “conditional” invites, where the brand wants me to promise coverage up front in one or more outlets in order to go on a trip. I think it’s an unspoken rule that of course you’re going to try your best to write about the brand if they’ve been so kind as to invite you someplace. But unless you’re giving me some big deal exclusive story (which, being a freelancer now, it never is), to ask me for specifics up front is kind of tacky.

And speaking of tacky, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been asked to post what amounts to free advertising for a brand, whether in the form of a product review, giveaway, discount code, video clip, special event or promotion they’re running. There’s a fine line between adding value and taking advantage of a group that is probably seen as the low-hanging (and non-media-savvy) fruit. One marketer even went so far as to tell me her company “wants to leverage the bloggers.” Cringe.

Other than that, it’s basic PR 101 stuff. Send press kits that are actually relevant (and aren’t missing dates, prices, contact information or product samples). Respond to my request right away to let me know you’re working on it, even if you don’t have an answer yet. Never let me see how much stress your client is putting you under. And even though I know I’m annoying you, don’t make me feel bad when I’m late for your event or have to cancel. It’s a deadline-driven business.

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Scent? Child. So good that random strangers will stop you on the street—no lie.
Cookie? Rainbow.
Flower? Lilies.
Ticklish? Yes.
Shower or bath? Bath (because then I get to use my Hauschka bath oils).
Film? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Crush? Jon Hamm, of course!
First job? Special events for Nestle.
Inspiration? Right now, I’m working on my Tim Ferriss 4-Hour Body.