Media, Darling: Gracie Carroll

Gracie Carroll is a blogger and freelance writer who covers lifestyle, culture, fashion, beauty and events. After completing the four year Fashion Communication program at Ryerson, she packed up and moved down to New York City to intern in the fashion department of Teen Vogue magazine


After six months in NYC, Gracie hopped across the pond to London. Following some PR work and online writing, the stars aligned and she met with the Executive Fashion Editor of ELLE UK for a fateful coffee which turned into a role at the magazine – assisting their fashion features director.

For the last few years she has been back in Toronto working on her blog, writing for ELLECanada.comPostCity.comFILLERmagazine and Plaid Magazine. Sometimes she throws parties and organizes events too, because she likes doing those sorts of things.
Twitter: @GracieCarroll

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

I’ve always wanted to work in fashion. When I was a little
kid I hoped to be a supermodel, but as I got older that changed to wanting to
work for a magazine. Magazines always appealed to me because I thought they
were one great place where I could combine my love for fashion, photography,
writing and art direction. When I was a teenager I also tossed around the ideas
of being a lawyer, doctor, bartender and/or VJ.

Where would
you like to be five years from now?

I’m a Scorpio, and we’re very secretive, so I can’t tell you
that.

Any advice
for people getting started in your industry?

Work hard to get the internships you want, and work even
harder once you get them. The lessons you learn while interning, not to
mention the connections you can make, are often far more beneficial to you than
your education, or what school you went to. A lot of it comes down to who you
are, and who you know  – along with your talent, of course. Living and
working outside of Canada, not one person ever asked where I went to school. It
was about what I was bringing to the table.

What are
your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 

ELLE UK, Refinery29, Fashionista, Globe & Mail Style,
The Coveteur, ‘Thank You, OK‘. 

Best
interview you’ve ever had? Worst?

I fell in love with Giles Deacon when I interviewed him
last year. It was also fun to chat with Anna Dello Russo on the phone back in
London – I’ve still got her number in my iPhone contacts! 

Best advice
you’ve ever been given?

Believe in yourself (from a tarot card reader in Paris).

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

Go for what you want in life. It’s up to you to make your
dreams come true. 

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

Don’t pitch stories or clients that make absolutely no
sense for the publication. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and will help you
lose credibility very quickly.  

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

It actually just happened in Calgary over the
weekend. I told a Calgary PR I wanted to visit a spa and a restaurant for lunch
before I flew out the next day. Within two hours she had me booked and
confirmed with a full itinerary and transportation sorted. Aside from answering
any questions I had, or solving any problems I’d created, she completely left
me alone to enjoy the experience – bliss.

I hate?

Bananas. 

I love?

The special people in my life that make it so much
richer. 

Reading?

ELLE UK‘s October Issue and Life by Keith Richards 

Best place
on earth?

My cottage, but I’m biased. 

Dinner
guest?

My best friend, Rachel. She’s been the best dinner
guest since grade four. 

Hero?

My mom. 

Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

Instagram, Rocket Man, UBER, and Epicurious. 

Pool or
ocean?

Infinity pool into the ocean. 

Voicemail or
email?

I hate both but email if I have to choose. 

Fashion week
show you’re most looking forward to?

Lucian Matis. 

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JetSet: NYC

A few of us have been travelling quite a bit lately, so thought it would be fun to introduce a new blog category called JetSet. We’ll share our tips, ideas and insider info about restaurants, hotels, bars, attractions and anything else awesome we stumble across in our journeys!


When a Porter seat sale comes through our inboxes, we like to take advantage. One of our favourite weekend jaunts is to the Big Apple. New York City is just a short flight away, and there’s always something to do, plenty to eat and endless sales to check out. It was genuinely hard to narrow it down to a few, but here are some of our fave places to stop by while in the city that never sleeps. 

Where to eat
If you’re in Brooklyn and have a sweet tooth, we highly recommend you swing by DOUGH –
a doughnut shop with delicious, fresh creations including nutella, lemon meringue and hibiscus.


Café Cluny  in the West Village is a great place to stop in when you need a break between Maje and BookMarc. The cute French café/bistro is great for a light lunch or a glass of wine. Bonus: on occasion you can spot some celebs grabbing a bite. 


If you’re like us, food always tastes more delicious when it’s a little bit hidden, and totally unexpected. You know, like Mexican food from a basement restaurant marked only with Vietnamese signs in a Chinatown alley. Sounds random, but Pulqueria is all that and more. Be sure to call ahead for a reservation. Their taco selection and margarita pitchers, not to mention their tower of salsas, make this an awesome spot to have dinner with friends. 

Expect the unexpected in NYC.

Rosemary’s, also in the West Village, has a slightly higher price point, but delicious Italian food (with ingredients from their rooftop garden!) and a good vibe. Be sure to start your meal off with prosecco, for the true Italian touch.


Where to party
Le Baron is the NY incarnation of the Parisan hotspot, located in Chinatown. It boasts three floors and has banned photography (sorry, no instagramming) – but you can tweet at them here: @LeBaronNYC.

To get into the ever-popular Jane Hotel, be sure to make a reso or get on the
guest list. Otherwise you risk being among the masses huddled outside – consider yourself warned.


Swanky hot spot, The Jane.

Honourable mentions go to the Boom Boom Room at the Standard Hoteland if you’re a member, Soho House for poolside drinks and dinner. 
Where to shop
While Soho
is always a fun place for wandering, we recommend going on a weekday if possible, as weekends are a bit crazy. A few good starting points are Barney’s Co-Op, Neiman Marcus and the TopShop on Broadway to check out the sales. 

When in Brooklyn, stopping by Catbird is a must. Their adorable housewares, including an in-house line of candles, and beautifully curated jewellery makes this tiny shop a must-visit every time we’re in NY. 


For clothing, Bird in Brooklyn (no relation to Catbird) carries some great lines and does a great job editing which pieces are carried in-store. 


We highly recommend spending some quality time at Stella
Dallas
 a wonderful vintage store in Williamsburg. Bonus – there’s a houseware
store right beside it which is pretty neat, especially if you’re in the market for unique linens or blankets. 

There’s a reason we can go back to New York again and again and again, it’s because the city has endless things to offer. These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, so don’t be surprised to see us update you with our newest NYC discoveries. 

City Living: NYE parties

Two things happen once people stop trick-or-treating: Christmas lights go up and the question, “what are you doing for New Year’s?” is asked. Planning your night on December 31 can be stressful for some. That’s why we’re here to help shed some light on what is going on in and around the city on the last night of 2011. Here is where you’re most likely to find us at midnight on New Years Eve.

Dubbed “2012 DOOMSDAY”, the ping-pong club is letting folks hunker down for the catastrophic apocalypse. Their “survival guide” includes two bottles of sparkling wine, a shooter bottle of tequila, Jaegermeister or Jameson, a vat of punch, a case of beer and of course, a ping-pong table for the night. Gather 10 friends and shell out $1000/table (before Wednesday, December 21; after that it’s upped to $1250). Bookings can be made by emailing jessica@toronto.spingalactic.com.
Cottage Living
If you’re more of an escapee, we love getting a group of friends or family together and heading for the hills – you know, those big Ontario ones…

Prices can be steep at this time of the year, but a fire, board games and snow angels make it worth it. An awesome alternative to renting a hotel room is renting a chalet with a big group. Blue Mountain is a favourite of ours, because it also gives the option of hanging out in the village, a cozy area in the middle of the town, full of pubs, live music and yummy restaurants.

Drake Hotel’s Stardust New Year’s Eve

Go to Value Village, find some disco sparkle and platforms and head to Drake for their Stardust New Year’s Eve party. Whether you want to start your night there with a feast, head over to toast in the new year at midnight or stumble up to a room post=festivities, various tickets options give you free reign to choose. Make sure to choose a ticket that lets you sample some of their tasty fare – it’s worth it. Package details here



Elliott BROOD at Lee’s Palace

A Toronto music scene staple, this country-inspired party lets one kick off your stilettos, throw on a loose tank top and sashay into Lee’s Palace for the fourth annual Elliott BROOD NYE show. Sold out year after year, this trio belts out alt-country hit again and again. Come get your honky tonk on.

Dinner/House Party

For the low-key night, gather your closest friends, choose a house and ring in 2012 with some champers, potluck eats and watching the ball drop in New York’s Times Square on the boob tube. An intimate night that allows for actual conversation and friendly banter, it will likely be a bit less sloppy and a bit more filling.
Wherever the night takes you this year, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy 2012!

Rave: How we’re spending our holidays

We’ve been counting down to this time of year since, well, last December! Whether we celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or something else, we’re all looking forward to a few days of rest, relaxation and time with our nearest and dearest. Everyone has different family holiday traditions, so we thought it would be fun to share what we’re up to over the coming weeks.
My fiancé and I are spending Christmas Eve with the in-laws, Christmas Day with my parental units and then taking off for the Dominican Republic (alone) for one week of all-inclusive bliss! After a hectic, fun-filled fall, I’m craving some time off to lay on a beach (wearing SPF 50, of course) and read a good book. I’ve been counting down the days – literally, with a white board on my fridge – to bathing suits, flip flops and snorkeling. Added bonus: we’re gone for New Year’s, eliminating the need to plan for the most-hyped night of the year. 
Michelle was so jealous of my plans, she’s bringing her whole family to a resort down the road. 😉 See you at the airport, Mich!
My family has had a home in Florida since I was very young, so we travel there every year during the holidays. We visit my dad (who lives there six months of the year), catch up on loads of movies and books, eat good food, shop and rest. We have a beautiful lake outside our door and egrets and ducks that run around wild. On New Years Eve, we make wishes off of the bridge over the lake. It doesn’t matter if the weather is warm, or cool – it’s just our very special escape. It’s one of my favorite places in the whole world. Our home away from home. 
Lara
I’m spending my holiday in NYC, my home away from home.  🙂
 
Okay, I lied a little. I’ll actually be staying in Brooklyn at my friend’s house, while she’s away visiting her boyfriend in Switzerland. My plans there consist of:

– Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at least once to commute into the city.
– Exploring the High Line


– Seeing one of my favourite bands on New Years Eve and Day (and maybe also on December 30 if I end up getting a scalped ticket once I’m there)! 
– Eating dinner at least once at a low-key restaurant I discovered (and am a little hesitant to share, but be that as it may, they deserve it), Alta in the West Village. 
– Trying the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. 
– Trying not to eat at all of the restaurants of every chef that I watch and love on Chopped, like Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sánchez, Marcus Samuelsson, Chris Santos (especially Chris Santos) and Geoffrey Zakarian. 
– Going to Eataly for ingredients to make delicious home-cooked meals in my Brooklyn abode. 
– Doing what I always do when in NYC:  just walking walking walking, looking looking looking, and smiling smiling smiling.

If The Ghost of Christmas Past were to tell me anything, it’s that the first half of my vacation will be spent Christmas shopping. Every year I tell myself I won’t wait until the last minute, and every year I find myself scrambling. I’ll also watch lots of Christmas movies (It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer are some of my favourites). Then comes the really good stuff…
Christmas Eve
Dinner with my boyfriend, Jesse, and his brother (Kelly) and sister-in-law (Rita). We’re going to have a big feast at my house with lobster as the main course. Jesse’s cooking – he’s the best cook ever.
Christmas Day
Christmas dinner with my entire immediate family, plus Kelly and Rita. So like 10 people and two dogs in my tiny apartment. Turkey and the works. It’s stressing me out. I will definitely be drinking.
Boxing Day
A lunchtime visit with the grandparents (mom’s side). Afternoon/evening – visiting my dad’s side of the family at my grandmother’s house. It’s a tradition – we gather there every year, eat ourselves silly, drink lots of wine and exchange gifts. 
Aside from fitting in as much sleep as I can, that’s pretty much it. I’m sure more fun stuff will pop up, but I’m just taking that as it comes. Merry Christmas!
I live away from all of my family, so the holidays are really the only time I get to see them all at the same time, in the same place. My fiancé, Justin, and I are celebrating Christmas together in Toronto on December 23; then we’ll head our separate ways for family bashes. My family is really big, so it’s always loud and hectic, but lots of fun. Lots of kids, lots of laughs and the odd drink or two.
 Evidently, we are people that put costumes on our pets. 
I’m going to St. Thomas (Ontario, not the Virgin Island, unfortunately) to see my mom, dad, brother and sister at various places over the holidays. One of our Christmas celebrations is at a farm, so we will often hook up a wagon to a tractor and head out into the countryside for a snowy ride (complete with hot chocolate and sitting on hay bales). I guess I am a small-town girl at heart.

I am over going out for New Years Eve. Bars are too expensive, too crowded and ultimately disappointing. So this year, our good friends are having a house party in Leslieville. Everyone is bringing snacks and drinks, and I know it’s going to be a blast. 

I love that holidays mean quality time with people you care about (and, I also love getting gifts).
On December 23, my first day of holiday vacation, I will probably just sleep in and watch some holiday movies. Elf is a favourite.
On Christmas Eve, I am going back to my suburbian hometown, Pickering, to have dinner with my family, which is always entertaining. It’s become a tradition that later in the evening, a few of my girlfriends (who are also visiting back home) and I get together to enjoy some wine and giggles.
And this year, on December 25 at 5 p.m. (yes, I am also counting down), I will be heading south to the Dominican Republic with my mom and two sisters. I won’t be checking email for seven days, which will take a couple of days (make that hours) to get used to.  
I plan on relaxing, reading, tanning, exploring, dancing and potentially having a holiday fling (joking)! I am also happy to report that I will still be in the Dominican for New Year’s Eve, so will be ringing in 2011 wearing a little summer dress, sandals and bare legs!
 New Year’s Eve in the Dominican Republic will look something like this.
For the holidays, I’m a Miami girl through and through. There, I’ll be on a steady diet of Original Pancake House chocolate chip pancakes and Cheesecake Factory grilled cheese. 
 Delicious chocolate chip pancakes.
I can be found by the pool in a mismatched bathing suit, reading Cutting for Stone or Half Broke Horses. During tanning breaks, I’ll be shopping at Barney’s, Bloomies and Saks. Dinners and movies are with friends and family; the food is always good and the movies are always comedies. After a week away, I’ll come back relaxed, tanned and wearing a new Alex Wang outfit. Yesss.
My hubby, Ariel, and I are staycationing. The plan is to put our son into daycare (sorry Oliver!) and enjoy our time together (ALONE!) just doing everyday things. Movies, lingering lunches, massages, naps. You get the idea. Happy Holidays!
My holiday vacation will be filled with shopping, movies, coffee dates, trying new restaurants, cottaging and most of all, partying. 
 Christmas at Muskoka Wharf.
I’m most excited about a tradition with my dad and three sisters, where we spend the day together and shop for Christmas presents for my mom. We’ve kept this tradition going for 20 years, and it is easily our favourite day of the year. Especially since it gives us all time to enjoy lunch together, chat and take in the Christmas-y spirit!

We’re Not Just Pretty: Carmite Cohen

Carmite Cohen knew from a young age that she’d somehow do something in the entertainment industry, because she was always filled with useless pop culture trivia and seemed to know everything about movies and TV shows.
She grew up in Israel, and spent her childhood in various countries, including Iran, Haiti, Rwanda, Niger and finally, Canada. Movies and TV shows were always a fascination, no matter what language they were delivered in.
After graduating from The University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Film Studies, Cohen moved to Toronto and completed the Seneca/York joint program for Radio and Television Production. 
Working (for free!) on commercials, TV and film productions in order to gain experience, she was hired at Alliance Films in 1997 as a production assistant. By 1998, she moved to Licensing and Merchandising, and secured and developed book, toy, apparel and video game deals.  
In 2001, Cohen transitioned to the Home Entertainment department as director of Marketing & Promotions (DVDs were just entering the market – exciting!). She was promoted to vice-president of Marketing, Publicity and Promotions of Home Entertainment in 2005, then joined the Theatrical Publicity and Promotions department as vice-president.
Some of her favourite things: hanging with family and her two awesome kids, travelling, good friends, magazines, The Biggest Loser, a good burger, shoes, New York, and going to the movies, of course!

Alliance Films
How long have you been in your current position?  
Just shy of four years.

How does your company leverage PR?
Alliance has a very diverse slate of films, from commercial fare to smaller art films, so we approach each one as if it’s a product launch and assess its needs. The question we always ask is, “how do we start the chatter and generate as much awareness pre-release as possible?”


Depending on the film, we try to generate opportunities for awareness with tastemaker and word-of-mouth screenings, stunting events, grassroots efforts and promotions, on-campus programs, strategic third party partnerships, and now, more than ever, engaging with our audience through various social media opportunities.
 

Access to talent and content is the easy way for us to generate press for our films; building a PR campaign that will get everyone’s attention (including media) is always the challenge. But, that’s what makes it fun and if we’ve done our job well, the proof will be in the ticket sales on opening weekend.

  

What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?  
Industry experience is a given, but as important: confidence, passion for what you do, the ability to think on your feet, a great personality and a sense of humour. Because, lets face it, when you’re wrangling talent at 3 a.m. on day five of the Toronto International Film Festival, if you can’t laugh about it on some level, you’re in the wrong business.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
I’ve been fortunate throughout my career, having worked in various parts of the film business, to have met some incredibly talented and creative people – marketers, publicists, filmmakers and studio execs. I’ve learned something from all of them. I’ve learned to really listen, be a sponge, and absorb as much of their expertise and advice as I can, and hopefully use it to benefit my own personal and professional growth.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows? 
It’s fun to watch, but I think it’s a little misleading because most times, the job is glamorized and perceived to be one big party after the next. You never really see the grunt work it takes to put together that event. PR has many perks, but the reality of it is that most of the time it’s highly stressful and not glamorous, it’s hard work and long hours, but if you’re committed, you’ll succeed.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior? 
No matter what the situation, always be professional and remember that it’s not personal, it’s business and “crazy and unreasonable” come with the territory.

What do you love most about your job? 
I love that I get to go to work everyday and my job is to promote movies! I still get giddy with excitement when I see a new trailer for a film that I’ll be working on. After all this time, it’s still fun, I’m still learning something every day, and I get to do it with a great group of people.

A little more from the fourth floor (a list of your favourite things):
Website: Deadline Hollywood Daily, Huffington Post, InStyle, and for my trashy gossip fix, Perez.
Designer: Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney.
Store: Want, Kitsch Boutique, Zara and anywhere that sells shoes.
Book: They Can Kill You But They Can’t Eat You by Dawn Steel (first woman to run a major U.S. movie studio), Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Snack: Apples with loads of almond butter.
Season: Summer.
Sexy: The look and style of the women of Mad Men.
Inspiration: New York City.
Drink: A really nice Malbec.
Motto in two words: It’s all about convenience (that’s four, I know!).
Idea of perfect happiness: Glass of wine, stack of magazines and a quiet house (even if it’s just for a little while).
Indulgence: Boots.
Celebrity crush: Bradley Cooper.

Favourite tweeter to follow: Denis Leary, Eat This Not That, Dr. Oz, Skinny Jeans, Funny or Die, OMG Facts.