Media, Darling: Briony Smith

Briony Smith is the writer and stylist
behind
The Grid’s fashion page. She was previously the fashion editor of
blogTO. Briony has also contributed to publications like ELLE Canada, LOULOU, Toronto
Life
, and glow. She recently appeared as a stylist on MuchMusic, and was named
by
Flare magazine as one of the Top 10 Best Dressed denizens of Fashion Week.


Photo courtesy of Flare, by Max Kopanygin.

Twitter: @TheGridTO
Website: thegridto.com 


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I still remember the day my dad told my
10-year-old self what a masthead was—and my immediate obsession with getting on
one someday! (Other careers I toyed with, believe it or not, were cop,
obstetrician, lawyer, and librarian.)
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
Writing, editing, and styling stories and
packages that make people say to their friends, “Hey, I read the best piece
today.”
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t. You will have to work ten times as
hard as everyone else, all the time. Forever. If you can handle that, and still
feel that passion for fashion, journalism, the arts? You’re in the right place.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
Vanity Fair, HBO, The A.V. Club, The New
York Times
, iwantapounddog.blogspot.ca.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
For crush factor (at the time), Will
Arnett. I behaved in a terribly unprofessional manner when I conned him into
repeating a line from a treasured Human Giant sketch.
Worst?
One musician scheduled a phoner immediately
after his dental surgery, while another actress scheduled the call during her
brief limo ride to the airport and kept barking what I should and should not
focus on in the piece. Oh, and Hawksley Workman.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
A common refrain in the Smith household was
“Life isn’t fair.” My corollary to that might be: “Failure isn’t falling
down—it’s not getting up.” Jesus, that sounds like something on one of those
inspirational posters. This quote from U.S. congresswoman Debbie Wasserman in
last October’s Vogue did, however, strike me recently: “I might not convince
you that I’m right, and I might not always win the day or be successful on
everything I set out to accomplish. But I’m never going to lose because I got
outworked.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
The usual things: Try to be kind. Smile
more. Work hard. Dress well. It’s the little things. This, too, shall pass.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
We know our fevered, last-minute emails
for products, images, and interview requests can be annoying, but super-prompt
replies are what make me really love some PR people—and loathe others.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
I cheer every time a PR gal sends me a
high-res, off-figure, on-white image just in the nick of time.
I hate?
Leggings as pants. Snobbery. Getting up
early. Sore feet. Bad TV. Bad style.
I love?
French 75s. Kindness. My friends. Work
ethic. Similes that give you chills. Trinity-Bellwoods. Great style. A
well-dressed man.
Reading?
Best place on earth?
Under the covers. Or maybe Thailand.
Dinner guest?
Louis CK. Karl Lagerfeld. Peter Kaplan. And
the Davids: Chase, Milch, and Simon.
Hero?
Roger Ebert.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Flixster, Shazam, and Instagram.
Pool or ocean?
The sea! It’s one of the great loves of my
life. (Full disclosure: I’m from B.C.)
Voicemail or email?
Email. Never, ever voicemail. Don’t call
me. Ever.


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Media Darling: Greg Hudson

Born and raised in Edmonton, AB, where he made his mother
proud by singing and acting in many high school musicals, Greg Hudson is now
the associate editor of
Sharp, Canada’s men’s magazine. He talks to starlets and
authors, and is the one you would pitch to if you want a story in the
magazine. He’s also written for Toronto Life, Elle Canada
and
Canadian Business. He has a wife and an incredibly cute dog named
Saunders



Website: sharpformen.com
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon? 
I always wanted to be in the media, but in high school that
meant being a subject of media. I wanted to be the first Canadian prime
minister who got his start as a world-renowned pop star. My heroes were Pierre
Trudeau and Robbie Williams.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
A place where I can look back and say, “You know, I am now in
a completely appropriate place career-wise vis-a-vis where I was five years
ago. I am therefore content.” I will say this from a bigger apartment.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Work hard. Editors—and hopefully readers, too—can tell when
you phone something in.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own? 
Of course, all the other men’s magazines, but also: Slate.com, TheAtlanticWire.com (I have a crush on Richard Lawson. You can tell
him I said that.), The A.V. Club.

These are shocking, considering my demographic.  

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Brooklyn Decker was surprisingly candid, when she really
didn’t have to be. George Saunders and Michael Chabon were dreams that came
true.

Worst?
Probably Amber Heard. She didn’t walk out or anything, she was
just too pretty to be at all enthused.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think I’ve forgotten all the advice I’ve ever been given.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I try to treat others as though they are, in fact, real
humans. Although, I probably fall short of the Golden Rule more often than I
allow myself to admit.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
If something is personalized to me, and backed up by a sense
that they know my publication, I’m going to look for ways to help them.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
When I feel like I’ve made an honest connection with a PR
person, whether it’s through hilarious email banter, or the reciprocated use of
ironic exclamation marks, it’s a win. Oh, and when people can hook me up with
books, gift ideas, or samples at the last minute for silly television
appearances? To them, I silently sing Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings.

I hate?
The word natch. I hate the word natch.

I love?
Validation.

Reading?
Everyone’s life would be improved by reading George
Saunders’ new book The Tenth of December. (I named my dog after the guy. He’s
like my new Pierre Trudeau and Robbie Williams).

Best place on earth?
Shuswap Lake in British Colombia. 


Dinner guest?
Ugh. I have to make dinner now? No. No.

Hero?
See answer above, under READING.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
These are all words I don’t understand. Like favourite appetizer? I’m a fan of
various dips, I think. Or, you know, a plate of wings. Pan bread and parm dip
at Earl’s is pretty great, too.

Pool or ocean?
Neither. Lake. But, you know, a clean one.

Voicemail or email?

Email. 





Media, Darling: Wing Sze Tang

Wing
Sze Tang is the beauty and health editor at FLARE,
and has been working in magazines for more than nine years. She started out as
a grammar cop (a.k.a. copy editor) and still cares about the smallest
details. Back in her freelance writing days, she contributed to Fashion, Elle Canada, Best Health,
Travel + Leisure and Marketing Magazine. She appreciates when
people pronounce her first name correctly (hint: the Sze sounds like
See, but calling her just Wing is
perfectly cool, too).


Photo credit: Adam Moco


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?

Looking back, I can see I was always
heading in this direction. Words make sense to me (numbers do not!). I studied
English at the University of Toronto, and all my “grown-up” jobs have been in
publishing.



Where would you like to be five years from
now?
My heart is in journalism. But I have a lot
of disparate interests and ideas, so who knows what the future will bring.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t assume that being passionate is
enough to set you apart. While it’s essential, know that everyone else
clamouring to work in this business feels the same way. Work harder than them.
If you feel insecure about your experience or skills (we all do sometimes), don’t
let that hold you back; use it to drive your ambition to get better. If you
want to write, read 
 everything. Figure out what makes great writing great. And
then write. Learn from your editor.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? (i.e.: what do you read/listen/watch?)
I look at the usual suspects in the
fashion/beauty and health beats, since of course I keep tabs on my competitors.
Beyond that, my reading list is eclectic – everything from Toronto Life, Wired
and Gawker to The New York Times, Outside and The Atlantic. I also love the
serendipity of finding a great story via the smart people I follow on Twitter.
I have terrible taste in TV.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Hard to choose. Since I cover beauty and
health, I get to talk to lots of different people  movie stars and scientists,
makeup artists and MDs, athletes and business execs. The variety keeps my job
interesting. I love interviews that feel like natural conversations, not
interrogations. And I love getting answers I didn’t expect and learning things
I didn’t know.
Worst?
Any interview where I’m allotted a few
minutes. Or where the interviewee delivers coached or rehearsed lines.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
If you want something, ask for it.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t let fear rule your life.
Try, try again.
Be curious. Be skeptical.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
1. Know who covers what. It’s not a secret
(see: the masthead). If you email your pitch to everyone on staff when I’m the
one who handles the section, I’ll assume you don’t read the magazine. Sometimes
we get packages addressed to people who haven’t worked here in YEARS.

2. Save trees. Keep press releases short
and sweet. Some of the ones I get rival book manuscripts. But deliver the
relevant details (e.g. specifically what’s innovative/new), not fluff or
over-the-top claims. If your pitch has a whiff of B.S., I’ll doubt if I can
trust any of it (or you).

3. Be honest and transparent. If you can’t
reveal the information because you don’t know it, or you’ve given another
publication the exclusive, I’ll understand. But I’d rather hear no than wonder
why I’m getting the silent treatment as my deadline looms.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
Once, an expert source flaked out right
before my deadline and decided he was too swamped to do an interview. Without
missing a beat—in fact, within half an hour—the PR reached out to two different
sources to see if she could secure an equally appropriate alternative for me. I
interviewed one of them later that afternoon. The PR deftly turned a
near-disaster into a win, and I couldn’t have solved the problem faster myself.
I hate? 
Going to sleep. Writing the first
paragraph. Dealing with people who are bitchy for no reason.
I love? 
Sleeping. Traveling. Eating.
Reaching the finish line. Collecting lipsticks and skin-care potions. Escaping
to the movies. Hanging out with my dude and my dog.
Reading? 
I’m slowly making my way through
my Instapaper archive of long-form nonfiction articles. I wish I had time to
read more books for fun.
Best place on earth? 
Depending on my mood:
home, or far away.
Dinner guest? 
Happiness is good food with a
great friend.
Hero? 
My mom, who raised my sister and me
almost single-handedly. We’re very different people, but she taught me that it’s
possible to defy the odds through hard work and sheer will.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)? 
I’m a news junkie, so Twitter is the most addictive. I
tweet sparingly but listen all the time. (Say hi: @wingszetang.)
Pool or ocean?
I can’t swim, though it’s a
life goal to learn. Till then, you’ll find me on the beach under an umbrella, dodging
the sun.
Voicemail or email? 
Email! Fastest for
everyone. I do answer my phone, but don’t call to read me the press release.

Media, Darling: Karen Bliss

Karen Bliss is an established music
journalist for various print and web publications. She is currently the
Canadian correspondent for Billboard.com, writes for RollingStone.com
, MSN, AOL’s
Noisecreep, Elle Canada, SOCAN’s Words & Music and more. Along the way, she
has interviewed everyone from Eminem to Shania Twain, Jimmy Page to Britney
Spears. Karen also created an anti-racism animated PSA, The Girl With Pinhead Parents, voiced by Nelly Furtado, Chris Bosh, Jully Black and others
.
Last summer, she started a record label, Daycare Records, with
musician/producer Luther Mallory 
(former frontman for Crush Luther and now bassist
and producer with Fortune, fronted by JD Fortune)
. Their first signing is woe-is-me indie-pop
act The Danger Bees (album out this summer). She also owns and operates SamaritanMag.com,
 an online magazine about people,
charities and businesses making a difference. She has interviewed many musicians
for the site.


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
I actually became a music journalist
because I have no talent. I wanted to be in the music business and this was the
only way I knew how. Of course, as a small child I wanted to be a veterinarian,
and later, briefly thought it would be cool to be a cop or a criminal lawyer, but that was before I discovered The Rolling Stones and started going to all
the concerts I could during high school. I still dream of being a race car driver and/or an astronaut.

Where would you like to be five years from
now?
Doing exactly the same thing, but to a
higher and more accomplished degree.

Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
I typically say I am in the music business.
I consider that my industry. But for someone who would specifically like to be
a music journalist, you have to learn how to construct news and feature
articles (take courses and also look at how well-written articles are
constructed) and become entrenched in music. Go out to see bands, get to know how
the business works, attend panels at conferences such as CMW and NXNE, and
network. In terms of the “journalist” part, I believe I make my living from
ideas. Without them, I would be broke. To me, I’m not interviewing musicians; I
am interviewing people — and everyone has a story. It’s your job to discover
that story from the interviewee and write about it in an accurate and
compelling way.

What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
I am obsessed with hard news, more than
music journalism. I watch all those one- or two-hour investigative reports,
such as Dateline, NBC Real Life Mysteries, as well as 60 Minutes and 20/20. I
also love Anderson Cooper’s interviews; he approaches them with heart and intelligence
and is not afraid to call someone out.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Too many to mention.
Worst?
I have talked about this before, but
don’t want to put it out there on the Internet, never to be erased.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
In terms of my writing, very early on an
editor was going over one of my articles and said to me, “What are you trying
to say here?” So I answered. And he said, “Well, write that. Stop trying so
hard.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I
don’t live my life by any one rule. Maybe thou shalt not kill.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
 
Try and work with the journalist, even if the
request isn’t part of your current schedule ie. if an interview is requested
but it’s between albums or a tour to promote. Also, please help when
fact-checking is needed. Too often, publicists’ main agenda is to set up the
interview and afterwards there are some who can’t be bothered to help to
double-check names, dates and other information. The ones that do are the best
in their field in my books because they care about the accuracy of the final
article. 



Often, when I transcribe an interview, there are holes that need to be
filled or things people say that don’t make sense. I need the publicist to help
check facts with the artist or management, so I’m not just regurgitating false
info from misspoken quotes or the Internet. When I know the person I
interviewed, and can call or email directly, they often say, “Oh, I meant such
and such” or “Oh, it wasn’t 2005; it was 2008. Sorry.” Some publicists only
care that the article comes out. 



Also, sometimes I am asked repeatedly over
weeks to interview someone; I finally do, and the article comes out; I send the
link and I don’t hear a word back — not even a “thanks.” 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
Too many to mention. My best experiences
are with competent publicists who get you all the materials you need to make a
good interview, go beyond the call of duty if you need something for a
particular story, and, as noted, will help fact-check. And also actually do send
the interview request to management and don’t just say “No” without trying.
I hate? 
Laziness, incompetence, excuses,
cigarette smoke, the drunk next to me at a concert, and walnuts.
I love?  
Music, talent, drive, intelligence, British humour, exotic food, big
dogs, Withnail & I.
Reading? 
I most recently read Michael
Eisner’s Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed because I have two of
the greatest partners I could hope for: Farley Flex for The Girl with Pinhead
Parents
and another, still-in-the-works sports venture; and Luther Mallory for
Daycare Records. I know I’m not always the easiest partner so this collection
of stories on various successful partners — from Eisner and Frank Wells
(Disney) to Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger (Berkshire Hathaway) — provides
great insight into working together.
Best place on earth? 
I have climbed the steps inside the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt,
scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, but I still think home is
the best place on earth.
Dinner guest? 
Keith Richards, Martin Luther
King Jr., John Lennon, my friends and family.
Hero? 
Don’t have one. I admire many people,
usually those who are committed and hard working, don’t make excuses and go for
what they want in life.  I also admire
people who quit complaining about their jobs, quit, and pursue what they really
want to do.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Don’t have one.
Pool or ocean? 
Does one of these come with
the completion of this questionnaire? I’m not picky; surprise me.
Voicemail or email? 
Email for quick
messages or questions, but prefer talking on the phone for anything that needs
more in-depth discussion, clarification or brainstorming.

Fashion-able: Spring trending topics

Even though it doesn’t really feel like winter has even truly arrived, believe it or not, spring styles are just around the corner. We’re likely facing a few more weeks of cold fronts, but we’re starting to plan our escapes from this chilly climate in favour of warmer weather. Here’s a roundup of our fave spring 2012 trends (beyond the cats on cats on cats trend), seen on the runways in Toronto and around the world.

Pastel

We still love a good pop of neon (we were raised in the 80s, after all) but this season we’re making some room in our closets for pastels. Taking a cue from the Easter bunny, lighter shades were prevalent on the runways in various shows including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Acne and Louis Vuitton.


Louis Vuitton


Digital prints

This season we love a good, bold, digital print seen head to toe (think more-is-more). Although we were initially overwhelmed by the idea of so much pattern, we have to admit we’re now in love with the look. If you’re wary, stick to patterns with muted colors and more subtle designs, such as this look from Erdem from London Fashion Week. 
Erdem



Sporty/Athletic Chic

Break out the neoprene, spandex and racer-backs. Designers showed their athletic sides on their spring/summer 2012 runways. In time for the London 2012 Olympic Games, tracksuits are reinvented at shows like Alexander Wang, and can once again be worn out of the house (let’s all forget that this was OK for a hot second back in the early 2000s when Paris Hilton convinced us Juicy Couture track suits could be worn out of the house. This is not the same thing).

Alexander Wang


Peplum

Seen on the runways of Jason Wu and YSL, minis, blouses and second-skin dresses were seen sporting a bit of a protrusion, known as the peplum. Originating in ancient Greece and prevalent in the 80s the peplum is great to add a bit of drama to any outfit.

Jason Wu

The midsection

You have three months to do your crunches, so get cracking. This spring/summer get ready so show off your midsection. Whether your stomach is completely exposed, or through panelling, bellybuttons are taking center stage next season.  

Acne
We’ve got our wish list ready. Do you?

Media, Darling: Jill Dunn

Jill Dunn is an award winning Toronto-based writer and editor. She got her start working at ELLE Canada, and then worked as beauty editor at Glow magazine for several years. Currently she’s at the helm of 29Secrets.com, a women’s beauty and lifestyle site, and is a resident beauty expert on the Marilyn Denis Show on CTV. Her freelance work has appeared in Hello! Canada, Canadian House & Home and Sympatico.ca, among others.


Twitter: @jilld_tweets; @29secrets

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

For a time I wanted to be a lawyer; glad that didn’t pan out. Would have been bored to tears.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Would still like to be creating content – the exact platform, I can’t say definitively. As a true Gemini, I can’t commit to anything too far in advance. Would also like to get a few more stamps in my passport between now and then.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Be proactive and take every opportunity that comes your way. Competition is tough, so you really need to go above and beyond to shine and land the job of your dreams. Also learn as much as you can about video content (script writing/producing/editing). You’ll be that much further ahead.

What are your favourite media outlets?

I get a lot of headlines via various journalists I follow on Twitter, therefore the news outlets I read vary from day to day. Generally speaking, for hard news my go-to pubs are: thedailybeast.com, globeandmail.com and nytimes.com. Magazines: Grazia, British Vogue, various versions of ELLE, Flare and Fashion. Juicy stuff: xojane.com, fashionetc.com, and dailymail.co.uk. TV: 60 Minutes and E! Fashion Police – equally informative.

Best interview you’ve ever had?

This is going back about eight or nine years, but Oscar de la Renta. He had anecdotes for everything. You would think he would be so bored of media interviews, but he was gracious, charming and generous with his answers – we talked for 30 minutes, which is kind of unheard of with someone so high profile. And recently, I met Pat McGrath in New York. I didn’t get to interview her one-on-one, but she did apply my lipstick. For a beauty editor, that’s about as good as it gets.

Worst?

Christina Aguilera.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?


Do what you said you would do when you said you would do it.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?


Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” – Elizabeth Taylor

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?


Build personal relationships with editors, tailor your pitch and take it easy on the exclamation points. Also, educate your clients about ways to leverage online opportunities. I find a lot of PR pros and their respective clients think that online coverage is “free” or somehow less valuable than print. In a growing number of instances, online outlets are just as influential as print pubs. Plus, you reach a wider audience, for a longer period of time, so there is inherent value in that. 

 
Also very helpful for agencies: updating editors semi-annually of which clients you’re representing and the key contact for each. The nature of agencies is that they’re constantly changing clients/staff, so keeping editors in the loop is always good practice

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.


I love it when I write an email request and I get a prompt reply back saying: “Working on it; will keep you posted.” That acknowledgment puts my mind at ease and shows that the PR pro respects my deadline. Overall, I have very good experiences with the PR pros I deal with regularly.

I hate?


Embargos. I think they serve little to no purpose in this day and age of instant information. If I’m excited about something, I want to talk about it at my leisure (within reason, of course). Often I go to events months and months in advance of something launching, but by the time it hits shelves, I barely remember what I was excited about in the first place.

I love?

Kitchen parties, Three’s Company reruns, Jeopardy!, sharp wit and Skype dates with friends who live too far away.

Reading?

Just read The Marriage Plot. Up next: Half-Blood Blues.

Best place on earth?

A stretch of secluded beach on PEI during the summer.

Dinner guest?

The entire cast of Bridesmaids. I’d be flanked by Chris O’Dowd and Jon Hamm.

Hero?


My mom (doesn’t everyone say that?).

Favourite app?

Obsessed with Pinterest (follow me: @jmdunn00), Songkick and Words With Friends. Also like OneSpout – app for consolidating daily deals.

Pool or ocean?


Ocean. Salty air is good for the body and mind.

Voicemail or email?

Email, please. It’s efficient, and I like having a copy of correspondence to refer back to. 

Fashion-able: Twitter accounts to live and dress by

There are tweets that make us laugh out loud (LOL if you will, as per 140-character Twitter standards), those that make us cringe and those that we cannot help but click on the shared link or image every time. Especially when they’re fashion-related. We’ve rounded up a list of our favourite and fashion-able Twitter accounts that we rely on for style inspiration, or just a good laugh.



While not strictly fashion-related, all tweets deal with the “trauma” of a spoiled woman, be it a scuffed Manolo or not being able to get a reservation at Balthazar‘s. Example number one: ‘They just tried to kick me out of the gym for smoking on the treadmill. ‘. Example number two is the true epitome of this poor little white girl: ‘I literally just ate so much water. ‘. A must-follow for a daily laugh (and reality check).


For the skinny (fashion pun intended) on top tier designers – think Miuccia Prada, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs – and their latest collections and collaborations, this is the account to follow. NY-based and best at spilling the news before it can walk down the runway, @Fashionista_com will always keep you in the trendy know.

Our Canadian fashion publications are our number one fashion news source. Featuring local designers and stores, Dorothy said it best: There’s no place like home.


People Magazine’s style guide lets us kill two birds with one stone – celebrities and designer duds. Can’t beat getting our celebrity fix and fashion fix, all in one.

Both have a way with words and work in PR. With content that makes us laugh and updates on their respective brands, we are forever entertained by these girls. Based on their huge amounts of followers, we garner that everyone else thinks so, too.

One of the happiest people we know (or wish we did), Betsey’s upbeat attitude, inspirational quotes and fashion-centric twitpics always leave us smiling more and wanting to do cartwheels.

For those into more funky fashion finds, this might tickle your fancy. Always sharing the most interesting collaborations and keeping us on our toes (when not wearing heels), this account will keep you ahead of the trend and #WQW ready.



There are so many more fashion tweeps that we follow, but we can’t list ’em all, so share your comments on who is your favourite of the fashion Twitterati.