Media, Darling: Briony Smith

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

Photo courtesy of Flare, by Max Kopanygin.

Twitter: @TheGridTO

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
Writing, editing, and styling stories and
packages that make people say to their friends, “Hey, I read the best piece
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.


Media, Darling: Kristen Vinakmens

Kristen Vinakmens is currently Editor-in-Chief of Cosmetics magazine. Vinakmens has been working as a magazine journalist since 2001, landing her first gig as a writer at documentary film industry magazine RealScreen. She moved to the consumer side in 2004, when she joined Glow as copy editor. Vinakmens has held staff editor positions at Elle Canada (where she was Associate Beauty and Health Editor), Today’s Parent and P&G Beauty’s Rouge, where she launched for American and Canadian audiences. Most recently, she was Beauty Editor at Glow and Flare magazines. She is also an accomplished lifestyle writer and has written for titles such as Azure, House & Home, Style at Home and Best Health

She won the Best Beauty Editor award at the 2011 P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards, along with her colleague Wing Sze Tang, for her work with Flare

Twitter: @Kvinakmens 
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
It took me a while to realize I wanted to work in media, even though I hoarded fashion magazines from a young age. I studied art history and English in university and thought for a while that I wanted to be an art gallery curator, but soon realized it’s a very niche field and jobs are hard to come by. After dabbling in some writing for the student newspaper, I enrolled in journalism at Ryerson and that clinched it. 
Where would you like to be five years from now? 
Working as a magazine editor in some capacity. I love having the opportunity to be creative on a daily basis and to collaborate with amazingly talented, creative people. 
Any advice for people getting started in your industry? 
Take every opportunity that comes your way and never say no. 
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
For news, the Globe and Mail and the New York Times (often via their websites). For fashion/beauty: Women’s Wear Daily, NY Mag’s The Cut,, Fashion/beauty magazines: Flare, Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Vogue and Vanity Fair
Best interview you’ve ever had? 
Taylor Swift. I’m not a huge fan of her music (although I can appreciate her talent), but she won me over with her charm and she genuinely seemed to want to talk to me, which is not the case with every celebrity. But I can sympathize somewhat with celebrities on the press junket circuit; I’d probably be cranky too after two straight days of non-stop interviews. 
Best advice you’ve ever been given? 
Work your ass off now and reap the rewards later. 
What rule(s) do you live your life by? 
Put yourself first and don’t try to please everybody. 
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros? 
Keep up-to-date on editor moves in the industry and study mastheads on a regular basis. It’s such a small industry and people are constantly moving. That said, keeping editors up-to-date on people moves on the PR side is just as important. As for press releases, it can’t be stressed enough that they should be clear and include all the relevant info (for product releases, that includes price, launch date, etc.). I’m also not a fan of book-length press releases – when I need info quickly, they’re tough to navigate to get to the “meat” of the matter. Keep them concise. 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins. 
My best experiences with PR pros are when they’ve taken the time to get to know me. We rely on each other so much that it’s important to establish a rapport and a sense of trust. 
I hate? 
Bad manners. 
I love? 
Getting a thank you note from a PR pro regarding a story they (or their client) liked. It’s a small gesture, but a welcome one. I once got a personal note from Dermalogica founder Jane Wurwand, thanking me for capturing the story about her FITE initiative so well. She was a great interview and a very inspiring woman, and the note really made my day. 
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.
Best place on earth? 
Dinner guest? 
Lady Gaga or Oprah. Both would be nice. 
Journalism-wise, Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC’s The Current. She’s always engaging and one of the best journalists in Canada. 
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? 
I’m an obsessive pinner on Pinterest. Also, I love a good game (or several) of Words With Friends. 
Pool or ocean? 
Ocean. Preferably in Greece. 
Voicemail or email? 

A visit from… Dr. Sandy Skotnicki

Nothing feels better in the dead of winter than a little cosmetic pick-me-up. Whether it’s a bright new red lipstick, quick spray tan or fresh head of highlights, treating yourself is a surefire way to up the cheer levels.

But sometimes we need a little more than a new tube of gloss. Lucky for us, Dr. Sandy Skotnicki at Bay Dermatology Centre, visited the fourth floor and offered us a few long-term ways to freshen up winter-weary skin. Here are a few of her top tips to help you look and feel great.

Dr. Sandy Skotnicki. Photo by George Pimentel.
Twitter: @BayDermCentre

Hollywood Glow
Get your glow back with the amazing Intraceutical Oxygen Facial.

Image courtesy of Intraceuticals.
This facial is used by celebrities, high-profile spas and dermatologists worldwide. The treatment is gentle and non-invasive, using hyperbaric oxygen to hydrate (a must-have for Canadian winters) and infuse skin with vitamins A, C, E, and green tea extracts. All of these elements help fight free radical and environmental damage. The procedure also helps stimulate collagen and elastin production, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The best part is that results are pretty instantaneous and last for up to three weeks!
Before and after. Image courtesy of Intraceuticals.

Freshly scrubbed
Formulab is a brand new skin care line – cleanser, toner and acne treatment. The simple skincare regimen is made with the best ingredients to achieve specific results. While “natural” and “organic” are always seen as preferable, many people don’t realize that even natural ingredients like tea tree oil or lavender can cause allergic reactions. That said, the line does steer clear of unnecessary synthetic ingredients (like fragrance or dyes).

The line contains benzyol peroxide, still proven to be one of the best ways to treat acne. One of the best features of the line is that every ingredient included is listed, with an explanation as to why it’s there. Neat.

Email for where to buy or for more info. 

Go big or go home
If you want to look more trim, but hate the thought of a gym routine, we have something a little more instant and a little less work-intensive. We all know you can’t spot train pesky areas that just can’t seem to get as tight and toned as you’d like.

To solve this common problem, Dr. Skotnicki offers UltraShape Contour Version 3 fat reduction and body contouring. This very gentle, pain-free treatment uses ultrasonic waves to break down fat cells, permanently. You can target your abdomen, or inner and outer thighs with the 60 to 90 minute procedure, and you don’t even need anesthesia. There is also no recovery period, so you can strut out of the office. After three treatments, you can see an average of four to ten centimeters. Seriously!  

Dr. Skotnicki’s Bay Dermatology Centre has become a mecca for beauty junkies. Book one of these winter pick-me-ups, and start your year looking and feeling better than ever.

Media, Darling: Janine Falcon

Janine Falcon is a freelance writer and beauty geek. As a past beauty editor at Canadian Living and Homemakers magazines, she’s now the Face Kit editor of the new digital health-and-beauty mag The Kit, and the founder/editor of BeautyGeeks, an award-winning blog. She’s appeared on Canada AM, Entertainment Tonight Canada, and Steven and Chris; written for Best Health, Fashion and Glow magazines; and been quoted in newspapers such as The Toronto Star, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Citizen.

The Kit
Beauty Geeks
Twitter: @TheKit; @beautygeeks

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
It’s got to be an easy fit for one of the publications I write for. It also has to be unique or exclusive. Writing the same feature everyone else is writing is… uninspiring.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?

Good humour and a positive attitude. Plus, appreciation when a PR somehow comes through on ridiculously short notice!

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?

Incomplete press materials. Perfect press packages include newsworthy details, pricing, availability and product, if applicable. Pulling the old omit-the-price-so-someone-has-to-get-in-touch move makes us move on quickly to the next product instead, the one that came with all the information. (A 24-hour online source of high- and low-res images would also be helpful!)

When it comes to makeup and skin care, we need to examine texture, scent and efficacy to decide whether we can recommend it. Unfortunate things can happen otherwise: in a magazine several years ago, a beauty editor recommended a mascara designed to darken lashes for three days. She tried it after the magazine went to print and discovered the stuff was awful, super-tricky to remove after the three days. And when the story came out, she got letters from annoyed readers.

My pet peeve
More general than strictly PR-related: I’m a grammar geek as well as a beauty geek. “I wish I WOULD HAVE known” hurts me, it’s so wrong. I first started hearing it about eight years ago; now it’s terribly common. The correct way to say such a thing is “I wish I HAD known”.

I also have major issues with the misuse of the word “myself.” For instance, “just call Staff or myself.” Nope. You can’t call “myself” – I’m the only one who can call myself. But you can call Staff or ME.

Geez. I’m such a geek.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
I’m pretty lucky. I work with so many pros who are on point, crazy-smart and reliable, and I’m in an industry full of talented and supportive friends. Amazing.