Media, Darling: Carlene Higgins

Carlene Higgins started her publishing career as an
administrative assistant at Salon Magazine before joining Flare nine years ago. As
beauty director, she’s responsible for award winning photo shoots,
up-to-the-minute beauty stories and testing the latest products and trends.

Twitter: @carlenetweets

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

I graduated with an Environmental Studies degree with a
minor in English. I worked in advocacy for a bit but it didn’t suit me. I felt
good about making a difference in the world but ultimately, I wasn’t happy and I
don’t believe that’s doing anybody any good. I needed more structure and
creativity and once I stepped foot in the magazine world, I knew I was in the
right place.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Dunno. I’m really happy with where I’m at right now. I
love my work, I’m being challenged, I’m learning and I’m given the freedom to
push my work creatively in different areas I want to go. Sometimes I think
about being an editor in chief or starting a website, and other times I dream
about going in on an independent project with somebody and making trillions of
dollars on a really great idea instead of writing about other people’s all the

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Be really good at whatever it is you do. If you suck at
photocopying and filing, nobody is going to keep you around long enough to find
out what you really are good at. Make yourself indispensable, pay your dues,
and every once in a while, push to go in the direction you want to go. Also,
forget the attitude problem you mastered in high school. It won’t work in the
real world (my tongue bled from all the biting those first few years). You need
to quickly adjust to find new ways of settling matters. Hint: it involves
removing your feelings from any work situation. It’s tough. Practice your poker
face in the meantime.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I took a year long break from TV watching but television
seems to be having a moment right now. I’m pretty convinced Game of Thrones and
Girls could be the best shows ever to air, just comparing to a few years ago
when I actually thought Lost was a really good show.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Justin Timberlake. My husband still questions my
daughter’s true DNA.

I’d tell you, but I’d get in shit from the PR
company tomorrow.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Writing well is using the least amount of words to say
the most you want to say (thanks Dad).

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

Be brave and forgive yourself when things don’t always
work out. It was worth a shot.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Calling an editor to follow up on whether a package
arrived is the equivalent of telemarketers calling during dinner.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
I am so happy when a press release comes in with
A) the name of the product B) a description of its benefits including key
ingredients C) the price D) the launch date E) arrives 3 months before the
launch date. 

I hate? 

I love? 

A book that is so similar to Downton
Abbey it’s a bit scary.

Best place on earth? 

Dinner guest? 
Ellen DeGeneres.

Ellen DeGeneres.

Pool or ocean? 

Voicemail or email?

Rants and Raves: Dog walking

We love dogs on the fourth floor. Christina has King and Chauncho, Lisa has Angel and Roxy, and Ashley has Georgie. Sometimes they even come to visit – ain’t nothin’ like a cuddle from a furry friend on a busy day. But what we don’t like are irresponsible dog walkers. Sidewalks and parks are everyone’s territory, so take a little care on your next adventure with Fifi.

Please, please, please – keep your dog on a leash, no matter how well-trained you believe your beloved friend to be. First off, it’s the law. And we’ve run into enough off-leash dogs to know some of them aren’t as obedient as their owners think. We’ve had strange dogs follow us down the road, jump all over us and even be aggressive with our own pups. Not cool.
Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel know the drill. 

Stoop and scoop. This one’s a no-brainer (and another law), yet somehow there is still an abundance of dog poop on lawns, public grassy areas, beaches – you get the idea. It’s so, so disgusting to step in, and worse when your kid comes home covered in it because they were running around and fell down on top of a big pile. Gross.
On that note… respect people’s property. Gardens and lawns are not areas for your dog to relieve themselves. Avoid it whenever possible and try to train Spot to go on other grassy areas or, at the very least, the small stretch of lawn between the road and the sidewalk versus the nicely manicured lawn or blooming garden.
Dear other dog walkers: just because you have a dog and we have a dog, it does not make us BFFs. We don’t mean to be impolite, but sometimes we simply aren’t up for a chat – we may be struggling to control an excitable dog, working on training, or short on time. It’s definitely nice to exchange stories with a fellow dog lover and socialize our dogs, but this is one of those situations you’ve got to read people’s signals – if they seem to be inching away, maybe this isn’t the best time to chat. No offense.

Exception: If your dog is as adorable as this, we’ll stop and chat even if we’re running late for something.
A note on off-leash dog parks – they’re a great social spot for both people and dogs. Just don’t get so caught up in your conversation with the hottie who owns the retriever that you’re not keeping an eye on your own little pal. Make sure your pup isn’t getting into trouble or jumping all over someone, and is playing nice. Remember, you’re hanging out with strange dogs and animals can be unpredictable.
We know these tips seem like common sense, but we speak from experience. Love your pup and others will, too.
Now, check out some of our favourite dog parks around the city:

High Park – Escape from city life amongst the trees and trails at High Park, with designated off-leash areas.

PawsWay – Dog- and cat-friendly. Events and activities frequently take place in the 3,500-square-foot indoor Pet Park. (Especially amazing for winter).

Wychwood Barns Park – No need to worry about losing Toto; this park is fully fenced in for off-leash fun. A touch on the small side, but great for city dogs to stretch their legs.

Sunnybrook Park – Scenic on-leash hiking trails combined with a designated off-leash area make a nice afternoon for you and your pup.

Kew Gardens – A fave of The Beaches ‘hood, the off-leash area here is quite large. Plenty of space to get your dog tuckered out.

Monarch Park – It’s not fenced in, but it’s huge with lots of opportunities for chasing squirrels. Doesn’t take much more than that to make a dog happy.

Meet our team: Amalia

Amalia is one of our newest team members, and has been a lovely addition to the fourth floor. She’s just graduated from Algonquin College, after studying Public Relations for two years. Previously, she graduated from the same college with a degree in hospitality management.

The only child (she wishes she had a sister!) is originally from Bogota, Colombia and moved to Ottawa with her mom in 2003. She loves to travel, and has visited eight countries so far. She secretly loves reality TV, especially any show on MTV. When she grows up, she wants to have dinner parties every weekend, a walk-in closet and a career in PR. We say she’s off to a running start.

How long have you been part of the team?

Two months. 

What do you love most about living in Toronto?
I’ve only been living in the city for two months, but I can easily say that I really like the diversity of the city the best. Everything from the architecture to the people you see in the streets, from the west end to the east end, everything is so unique. (I love you too, Ottawa!)

What song gets you out on the dance floor?
Anything by Justin Timberlake. Wanna see me dance? Throw on Sexy Back and you will witness this girl jamming like it’s 2006 all over again.

Favourite movie of all time?
I think I’d have to say a toss between The Holiday and any of the Harry Potter movies. As far as The Holiday goes, there’s something romantic about the little cottage in the outskirts of London, and Jude Law is very easy on the eyes. Harry Potter and I go way back. My best friend and I (hi Steph!) even made a point to go to the midnight showing of the latest movie (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows). We totally geeked out, and stood in line for almost five hours.
How do you like to relax?
Sitting in my backyard, and listening to the sounds around me. It’s funny how little attention we pay to our surroundings, and every now and then, it’s good to be reminded of all the simple things around us.

Best part about being a publicist? 
So far, I love that I am always doing different projects. My best moment to date has been interviewing Carly Pope for On The Fourth Floor.

A little more from the fourth floor: 

Website: Hands down, Lainey Gossip.

Designer: I covet all Steve Madden shoes. Boots. Heels. Name it, I own it.

Store: Harnn and Thann (in Ottawa). They sell amazing skincare products.

Book: Into The Wild. Though I only read this book a couple of months ago, it’s still haunting me (in the best way possible).

Snack: Granola bars.

Season: Fall, nothing beats crisp mornings and sunny afternoons. 

Sexy: Silk.

Inspiration: My mom and grandma.

Drink: Chamomile tea, as an iced tea. Try it, it’s super refreshing. 

Motto in two three words: Love it All.