Thursday, February 24, 2011


I've been holding off on this one for awhile.  My early years were spent in Mitchell, South Dakota, and most dinners consisted of pot roast or chicken parts with cooked, frozen vegetables and mashed potatoes.  When  the family moved to California in my tween years, the Campbell's soup menu was in full force.  1000 ways to make an economical casserole with 1# of hamburger and a can of Campbell's soup. We were poor, so my mother embraced this fully. The one we ate most and despite everything I still miss?  Tater Tot Casserole.  Pot Roast was relegated to family dinners on Sunday.  To say my culinary experience was limited is an understatement!

When I decided to nest last December and head back to the kitchen, one recipe that intrigued me was Paella. There is a great write-up on Wikipedia that covers the history, the types of paella and actually includes three classic recipes.  I highly recommend looking at this first -  A quick overview includes the fact that there are three traditional types of paella - Valencian, seafood and mixed.  Traditional ingredients include: Italian rice, saffron and olive oil.  Another important fact for those that want to create a true Paella is that a layer of toasted rice should be found at the bottom of the pan. This is considered a delicacy in Spain and is essential.  I chose not to worry about any of this as I wasn't trying to be authentic, but come up with a new taste treat for my family that they would all eat.

I was a vegetarian for many years, so have
a "no face, no blood, no bugs in houses" (prawns, shellfish, etc.) rule, but I felt I could come up with an adaptation that would fit my requirements and that my family would eat.  The first problem was the pan.  A proper paella pan can be expensive and hard to find.  In a trip to Canadian Tire I lucked into a huge sale on T-Fal pots and found one that would work for me -the T-Fal Jumbo with lid. It was also the exact same diameter as one of my burners - a real plus for even heat.

Then I needed a starting point. I found a basic recipe through a web search I felt would adapt beautifully to my changes. I chose to add things my family and I would enjoy - chicken, sausage and the smaller scallops.  For the chicken, you can cook up a couple of chicken breasts or use the pre-cooked chicken found in the meat department at most grocery stores.  For the sausage, I chose to use Jimmy Dean's fully cooked breakfast sausage, but you could substitute anything your family likes from mild to spicy.  The scallops can be frozen or fresh, small or large, depending on what you like.  All meat should be browned in a non-stick skillet ahead of time.  Avoid the oil and you up the healthy value of the dish.  The last issue I faced was finding saffron.  There is a lot of debate as to how much flavour this adds and what proper substitutes would be, but I wanted to keep this traditional element.  I finally found it locally behind the counter at Galloways which stocks lots of exotic herbs.  So check your local listings for gourmet stores that stock herbs and call ahead of time to make sure they have it.

Sorry, not a picture of my dish - food hits the table fast here!
Here is the final recipe I came up with.  Be sure and adapt it to your own personal preferences, don't be afraid to experiment.  I am now working on a vegetarian version for get-togethers.  The vegetarians in the crowd can eat as is and the meat eaters can use it as a side dish - the best of both worlds.  Enjoy!

4-6 servings
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) saffron threads, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons (25 mL) olive oil
- 1 Large diced onion
- 1 Large diced red or orange bell pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms sliced and then coarsely chopped
- 2 cups (250 mL) chopped fresh ripe tomato
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) paprika
- 3 cups (500 to 625 mL) homemade or purchased low sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup (175 mL) medium-grain Spanish rice or Italian-style risotto rice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 300 to 400 grams Sausage (I like fully cooked breakfast sausage links)
- 400 grams small scallops, rinsed and dried
- 400 grams diced cooked chicken (about 2 chicken breasts)
- ¾ to 1 cup frozen peas

Place saffron in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons (25 mL) of boiling water and steep 5 minutes.

Place oil in a Large skillet over big burner (even heat is essential). Add onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomato, paprika and cook 3 to 4 minutes longer or until mixture is very tender and almost sticky. Add stock, rice, steeped saffron, salt and pepper. Simmer covered over medium-low for 20 minutes, or until the rice is firm/tender and still slightly wet (add a little more stock if it is not).
While rice is cooking, brown sausages in a non-stick pan the remove to paper towel to drain. Add scallops and brown in same pan in sausage juices. Remove to paper towel and drain. Just before rice is finished cooking add sausage, chicken, scallops and fozen peas to pan. Gently stir and cover. Let cook a couple of minutes more, then let rest a few minutes before serving. It can be garnished with lemon wedges if you like.

p.s.  Epicurean has a recipe that also looks amazing if you want another option -

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Event Producer Extraordinaire - Vernard Goud

Great events are built on a strong foundation and the person responsible for creating this is the event producer.  One to keep your eye on is Vernard Goud of LuvnGrace Entertainment.  He literally brings a "world" of experience to each event. Born and raised in Holland to South African parents, the family also spent three years in Saudi Arabia before immigrating to Canada. His father was a ship's captain who opened the doors to an even wider world view by sharing fascinating stories of all the incredible cities and countries he had visited in his travels.   

Although Goud was raised in Zwartewaal, a small town outside of Rotterdam, Holland, it was a lot different than the Canadian equivalent.  The people there are quite progressive - stylish and open minded - and even young teens are allowed to go to clubs and bars to hear progressive music. He was always curious and as a "tween" began to head into Rotterdam to explore.  He remembers, "I always wanted to know about life outside my immediate surroundings.  I'm a keen observer of people, trends and society in general.  Nothing fascinates me more than why people or societies do the things they do even though most of it is opposite of how I do, like or see things.  I am the nosiest person I know.  This curiosity is where I differed from most of the kids my age and it has never left me."  The time spent in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, also expanded his horizons.  Many an afternoon found him gazing out at the Persian Gulf in the distance, "...thinking and dreaming, mesmerized by the desert and camels between myself and the sea."

Zwartewaal, Holland                   Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
It was the family's move to Coquitlam, British Columbia, when he was 15 that proved difficult to adjust to. "I was just hitting my stride back home - going to clubs, wearing the coolest clothes, then all of a sudden was transplanted into Coquitlam. To say it was depressing would be putting it mildly." Goud boldly set about exposing Canadian students at his high school to the latest in imported music and fashion styles from Europe.  In 1982, he and his sister Saskia took a modeling course.  While they both modelled locally, it was Saskia who went on to international fame.  Goud was her mentor/driver and enjoyed meeting some of the finest local talent such as renown photographer Raphael Mazzucco.  Many become long-time friends.

After high school, it was back to Holland for six months and then in 1987 Goud returned to Vancouver and entered the film industry. Initially working as a stand-in and photo double, the jobs offered him an opportunity to explore acting as a career as well as to hook up with a large number of people in the industry including his future wife - Julia. Living downtown during this time provided that stimulating environment he craved. "The city has always been a great teacher.  Nowhere else can one meet so many different people from all different backgrounds and cultures."

With Raphael Mazzucco at the Lancome Event
In 2007, Goud was just finishing the EMB course at the Vancouver Film School.  He was beginning to reunite with industry friends on Facebook and they were encouraging him to create a reunion event.  "It was perfect timing.  I have a photographic memory and had saved everything to do with pop culture - photographs, posters, writings, etc.  There were pictures, playlists, etc., from the Luvafair Nightclub and it was all put to good use on a Facebook fan page.  I had about 1000 fans in six day."  Called the LuvnGrace Affair, this sold out event (his first) was held on September 25th, 2007. It proved to be the seed that grew to become his event planning company.  "I always knew I would be involved with either entertainment, fashion, music or public relations.  This was something I was good at and I had to continue."

With DJ Lady Starlight, Lady Gaga's best friend and tour DJ
LuvnGrace Entertainment has grown to produce 15 to 20 events a year - everything from fashion, to product launches, to European style club events with high profile DJ's including Lady Starlight - Lady Gaga's best Friend and tour DJ, to the Lancome Olympic Launch with friend and photographer Raphael Mazzuco. Goud is his hardest critic.  A perfectionist at heart, he wants every single detail planned in advance and finds his best reward a satisfied client. He is also very up-front in his dealings.  If he has a question, he asks - if you have a question, he answers it with total honesty.  Each event offers him the opportunity to use his extensive global experience to bring something innovative to the Vancouver scene.  "I love conceptualizing and visualizing events.  I love seeing what I can come up with for each and every event.  The only problem is when clients want to change ideas at the last minute, but hey- that's the name of the game."

With Any Chu of Arc 2 Intertainment
Looking ahead to the next five years, Goud has big plans. His focus at this time is producing photographer Sasha Mazzucco's first big show, both here in Vancouver and then in New York City. Son of Raphael and Lisa Marie Mazzucco, this new talent has already photographed the current Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl Irina Shayk and Beats by Dre spokesperson Vildane Zenelli for his private collection. Plans are also in the works for LuvnGrace Entertainment to produce events in other areas such as the Bahamas, Belize and New York City. Goud would also like to move into producing films and documentaries, something he had a taste of when he worked with Raphael Mazzucco and Interscope Records  on the Vancouver section in the Culo by Mazzucco book. His enthusiasm and drive is evident when he states, "Watch out world!  I want my hand in everything.  Fashion, music, art film, charities, etc.  I have quite a bit up my sleeve, but I am just not telling anyone right now."

With wife Julia - photo by Neil Pelman
In closing I asked him if he had anything he would like to share with others thinking of entering the industry.  His advice was right on the mark. "Love what you do.  Be persistent.  Believe in yourself.  Set yourself apart from others.  Be curious, ask lots of questions and make sure you're always networking because you never know whom you might meet."

For more information on LuvnGrace events you can visit the website at Vernard Goud can also be found on Facebook at

Top 10 articles from the last 6 months

I have a new blog going up later today, but wanted to take a moment to look at the stats from the last 6 months and see which articles are in the top 10.  To make it in the top 10, it's about continuing to get hits on a regular basis after the initial interest has subsided.  #1 has received the most and they are listed in order down to #10.

My only disappointment is that those with more personal comment, such as the one on Mondo from Project Runway (, haven't hit more of a chord with readers.  It really is what I am most about - people of all kinds and their journeys..

Enjoy -

Nov 9, 2010

Nov 5, 2010

Nov 4, 2010

Dec 16, 2010

Nov 12, 2010

Nov 13, 2010

Nov 6, 2010

Oct 23, 2010

Dec 9, 2010

Nov 28, 2010

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How's The Air Up There? and other Stupidities!

Growing up I was 5'8".  People seemed to constantly mention I was tall. I worried about wearing heels and had trouble finding pants long enough.  Once I married my 6'5" husband and had 3 children - daughter 6' and sons 6'2" and 6'5" - I came to realize I was only average.  That said, I was deeply aware of the problems my children had to deal with and helped my daughter found the local Vancouver Tall Club (

What qualifies a person to officially be labelled "Tall"?  Tall Clubs International ( sets the minimums at 5'10" for women and 6'2" for men.  Why?  Only 5% of the world's population is that height or taller. I found that number astounding as I thought the percentage would be higher.  The general population seems to think a club like this is unnecessary.  What problems could they actually have?  Raising such a tall brood, I found many issues arose.  When I helped my daughter start the VTC, the hate mail that came in was unbelievable.  Really, why would they care?  Some people felt it was elitist.  For my daughter it was simple.  She just wanted to walk into a room wearing heels, look the other people in the face and not have anyone comment on her height.

Of my 3 kids, it was my daughter who had the first struggles as she started her growth spurt at an earlier age.  The issue for her was clothing. In high school she was only about 5'8", but still wore a child's size clothing with out of proportion super long arms and legs.  She could get shirts in the stores, but the arms were never long enough.  Pants were a disaster.  She wanted to wear tear-a-ways that were all the rage at that time, but there wasn't a pair that fit her.  She grew 4 inches a year at one point and I made her stretch jazz pants to keep her going.  No way to be considered hip when you couldn't fit any of the hip clothes.  At some point we finally found the Tall Girl shop and realized they had small sizes.  On our first shopping trip, she started to hyperventilate from excitement in the dressing room.  The pants fit her!!!!!  I wish I had a video.  I can't tell you what our bill was that day, but not small.

There were unique issues in high school that you wouldn't think about.  The one that surprised me the most was socializing.  High school halls are packed between classes and at lunchtime with noisy students talking.  When you stand a foot above your friends, you actually can't hear what they're saying without stooping like an old person, craning your head down to put your ears on the same level as the person talking.  This caused them to have bad posture in general which I was constantly nagging to correct.  If you're feeling shy or being bullied in any way, you can't sink into the background. And god forbid you're not a talented athlete.  My 2 oldest weren't and they constantly had to respond to the question, "Do you play basketball?"  People also thought nothing of walking up to them and commenting, "My god you're tall!". DOH! We finally came up with a response that shut it all down without picking a fight - "Not in my house."

Clothing is always an issue.  I thought it would be easier for the men, but was completely wrong - especially if you are tall and thin.  Medium-Tall sizes rarely exist and even Large-Talls sell out very quickly.  If you are 6'5" and above you are actually considered Extra-Talls, something almost impossible to find.  My husband has to buy tall coats and suits and then have the arms tailored to as long as possible.  Cars are another thing I didn't think about.  It's not just fitting in the car, it's that your head is so high you can't see a traffic light when stopped at an intersection and the rear view mirror seriously blocks your visibility at times.  My husband finally found a car with an adjustable seat that went WAY down and WAY back, but for my tallest son, he had to spend a long time trying cars to find one that allowed him the most head space. Airline seats - what can be added to that.  There's not enough room for the average. Imagine trying to cram more legs and arms into that small space. Then there are doorways, beds, and the list goes on.  I am still awed by the 7' tall man I met who managed to drive a Honda Accord with his 7'3" friend in the passenger seat and 2 tall people crammed in the back.  Wish I'd taken a picture. My personal favourite OOPS was when I was helping my daughter set up a tall club social night and we booked a bowling alley.  The problem, most of the men couldn't participate because they didn't have any shoes larger than size 12.

If you meet someone unusually tall, you can help by just having a regular conversation with them.  They already know they are tall and do not enjoy having strangers constantly comment on it.  Here are a few gems to avoid (Not one is original, they come up all the time)-

1.  You're TALL! - My God you're TALL! - and the absolute worst that was said to my skinny daughter - My God you're BIG!!!
2.  You should model.
3.  Do you play basketball? or  Do you play hoops?
4.  How's the air up there? (Who thought this was funny?)
5.  How tall ARE you?
6.  How did you get so tall?
7.  You shouldn't wear heels, heels are for short women.
8.  What size shoes to you wear?
9.  Bad pickup lines - "You could wrap those legs around me twice" and "Now there's a tree I'd like to climb."
10. Are your parents tall?
11. You look like big Bird or You're the Jolly Green Giant.
12.  Is it hard to find a boyfriend/girlfriend?
13.  And don't ask them to pose in a doorway or with your short child for a picture.

Tallest couple - 7' and 6'5"
While this article is about a few things I learned as a parent of tall kids, these same principles can be applied to so many other groups.  You have those of shorter stature, those who are over weight, those with unusually dark or light skin (If one more person says to me, "My god you're white!", when I put on a pair of shorts I'll scream), etc.  So it's time to all grow up and realize when you talk with someone that they actually know they are tall, short, fat, skinny, dark or pale.

I want to close with a story I found on a blog I visited while doing a little extra research for this column.  This tall female blogger was sharing her experiences out in the world, mostly annoying comments. One day a guy was looking at her and when he went to speak she braced herself for one of the standards above.  Instead he surprised her by commenting how AMAZING her shoes were.  Let's all try today to be that person and surprise someone by stepping out of the box.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kicking Butt at Home #1 - The Firm

Trying to come up with an interesting title to make you want to look is always a challenge, especially when it comes to this subject.  In January I wrote a blog called The Post Holiday Body Wars -  Ruining my metabolism by not eating when stressed, the normal issues women face as they age and a choice to nest this last December all combined to make the after-holiday weigh in depressing.  I have always loved going to the gym, but found working from home I never seemed to have great follow through.  This year, I hit the post-Christmas sales and for less than my 3 month membership, picked up 3 home work out DVD collections.  As promised, here is the first review.

There is a huge market for home exercise videos right now, from the 10 Minute Trainer to Insanity to PDX 90.   Some are really way beyond what the normal person should start out with - you're risking some serious consequences.  A dancer for 10 years, I am all too aware of injuries from not training properly and some of these videos should be down the list for when you are back in shape and want to take it to the next level.  I personally feel you also need to have some body awareness.  If you don't know if your weight is over your heels when requested, if you don't know how to keep a pelvic tilt to protect your back and if you don't natually keep your knees over your toes when you do squats, lunges and plies; then you REALLY need to be careful to start with a very simple DVD that moves slowly and clearly reinforces these important details.  And don't be fooled by those that claim you can have significant change in 10 minutes a day - not going to happen.  You need that cardio sustained over a period of time.  I think 40-45 minutes is a good start and can be worked into most lives. 

Two assumptions I made from the start -  variety would be a necessary part of staying motiviated and the workout must be design to fit a small space.  My first purchase was a kit from the Firm (  This company is definitely focused on supplying a large variety of DVDs and work-out accessories.  This is a business, so don't forget it. It's easy to end up splurging on tons of stuff you may not need.  Even though you spend a bit more, I still the like kits with a variety of DVDs to try out, but you don't need the biggest one. The kit I bought at 40% off after Christmas included 4 DVDs and some hand weights.  There were some things I thought were great and some negatives that bugged me.  One real positive for me was that the work-outs are total body.  What that means is everything is done in combination.  You will be using weights to work the upper body while doing squats or lunges to work the lower body. It addresses strength, cardio and also improves balance by working your core. This is something I have tried to work into my rountine for years and really is the best development in training to come along in awhile. 
Another thing I like is the hand weights.  They are small 1 pound bars with 1 pound weights that screw on each end and hand straps. What I personally recommend is making a set with just 1 weight on each side and a heavier set with 2 weights on each side (the weights screw into each other).  This will give you a 3 pound set and a 5 pound set that will fill most of your needs.  When you need more than five pounds you just use the straps to grab 2 weights in one had.  The negative - the kit I bought came with 4 hand bars, but not enough weights to make the required combination - maybe why it was on sale.  To make the right combination you need 12 weights - and the above photos shows the kit as having 12 - but I would confirm that as my kit didn't have enough. 
There were 4 DVDs in this set and, if you're relatively in shape, only 1 will address your needs.  The Hi-Def Sculp and the Cardio Overdrive are both for introducing you to the program. The issue is, if you've worked out or are in half-way decent shape, you just won't find them enough of a work-out.  They could be used for an off day though.  Hard Core Fusioin is the one I have come to really enjoy.  It is a combination from the 2 and moves quickly back and forth between cardio segments and total body strength work-outs with squats and lungs.  Once I got the additional weights, I found I really started to sweat and the muscles are tired afterwards - both good signs.  I can also make it work in my really small space (although the low overhead light is occasionally an issue). 

As Hard Core Fusion is meant to be used after mastering Hi-Def and Cardio Overdrive, the combined weights they suggest may be too much if you start here.  Be smart and work within your limits.  The negative on this work-out?  There are a few instructor errors they didn't fix that throw you a bit. With today's editing capacilites, that shouldn't happen.  Also, you keep hearing, "If you're starting out just follow..........." and that person is placed on the side and is often off camera.  Last - I'm not a big fan of the aerobics banter.  It's not too bad on the Hard Core Fusion workout, but the last DVD - Cardio Party - is way too RAH RAH let's have fun for me to enjoy.

So some postives and some negatives.  Hard Core Fusion with hand weights is definitely going to be a regular work-out for me.  As I don't believe in crash dieting, I have not lost the weight I could have, but I have dropped a only a few inches and pounds, but have seen a great improvement in strength and balance.  I have 2 more workouts systems I am going to try over the next few months. It will be fun to compare them.  My ultimate goal is to have a few varied workouts to alternate between. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Angel Terrazas -Celebrity Stylist and a Shoe Designer to Boot (No Pun Intended)!

Celebrity Stylist Angel Terrazas was working a corporate job when he decided to try his hand at commercial modelling. That first photo shoot changed his life. “I walked onto set and it was such a different world. I came from this cubicle environment into this creative atmosphere. Every aspect was amazing. By the end of the day I literally had the light bulb come on and I wanted to take over for the stylist. I could do this. I would love to do this.”

As an only child Terrazas spent many hours alone. One of his favourite pasttimes was running his own Miss Universe pageants. He would draw all the contestants, cut them out, make them banners and create the stage. His love of fashion was encouraged by an eccentric aunt who lived with the family. She frequented flea markets and had amassed an amazing collection of exotic jewellery, armour and antiques for him to explore. He considered a career in fashion design, studied poetry, spent a few years just being young in San Francisco and worked for non-profit organizations. Then he landed in Los Angeles.

During those first years Terrazas notes, “I always going to flea markets and finding these amazing things I would buy for my girlfriends. So all along I was styling.” A friend helped him to land an internship at Flaunt Magazine. While much of the work was uninspiring, he used the time to develop connections within the fashion industry that paved the way for what was to come. One shoot he assisted on was with Orlando Bloom's stylist Cher Coulter. “It was exhilarating. I went to all the appointments and pulled clothes I thought would fit the shoot. I got to have a say and be creative. It was this crazy Fellini-esque shoot and there was this bunny suit. When the guy didn't show up to wear it, guess who wore the suit!”

Then one day his cell phone rang and Terrazas heard this very posh British voice. It turned out to be InStyle UK's fashion editor Lucy Bond, and she was coming to Los Angeles to shoot Linda Cardellini. Would he like to assist her? Absolutely yes! He remembers, “The stuff that was coming out of her garment bags was amazing! I was just happy to unpack it all, hang it up and steam it. I had never seen clothes like this before. We were working with top level photographers and celebrities – it was a dream come true.” After working with InStyle, he began to branch out and do celebrity shoots of his own. He had to call ten garment showrooms before one would take a chance on him.

The fashion community in Los Angeles is not as large as New York's, so most stylists “do it all”. As a Celebrity Stylist, Terrazas works on a day rate locating “press samples” for private celebrity clients. “This is the icing on the cake. It's a great experience and you get good exposure. If you can give a celebrity 3 or 4 that they like, you're doing a great job.” He also works as a stylist on editorial fashion shoots, although they rarely pay more than expenses. “The fashion shoots you do in LA are primarily for your portfolio. We all do it to showcase what we're capable of. We do it because we love it.” 

Then there is work styling shoots for corporate advertising. This is the most financially lucrative, but the least rewarding creatively. “A lot of times you're given a list – it's almost like a scavenger hunt.” The boutiques that provide clothing and accessories for a commercial shoot usually require the company to buy 15-25% of the merchandise taken. Terrazas is very by the book on this because, “In this business it's all about your reputation. One bad incident and you can get blacklisted.” Throw in a few TV commercials and a couple music videos and you get the idea of the diversity of his work.

The economic downturn allowed Terrazas a chance to reflect on new directions. From the time he was young he had been sketching original ideas for shoes and decided to pursue designing his own collection. He headed off to London to enrol at the Cordwainers at the London College of Fashion (where Jimmy Choo studied) to study women's shoe design, but once there he fell in love with traditional men's shoes. “I couldn't believe the innovations that have already happened in men's fashion design haven't been applied to men's shoes yet. I want to be one of the first ones to push the boundaries of men's footwear.” The first collection will launch for Spring 2011 and he looks to fill a niche – cool, sculptural designs in a mid price range of $200-$400.

Along with this changed focus came a desire to specialize in fashion styling for men. “In the past, the bulk of the work was in women's wear, but that is slowly changing. There are a lot of male celebrities getting into the fashion industry. It's an exciting time to be involved in men's fashion.” When asked for the difference between the two Terrazas notes, “You can never go over the top with men's because of the masculinity factor. You have to always balance masculine elements with feminine. You don't want it to be too feminine, especially when you're talking about celebrities. I think Paul Newman is such a great fashion icon, rugged but sophisticated. I always try to strike a balance of masculinity and refinement. You have to be creative in different ways and a lot more subtle.”

Already well-established in the industry, Angel Terrazas' star is poised to rise ever higher. His recent editorial work includes celebrities such as Emmy Rossum, Krysten Ritter, Sophia Bush, Chris Egan and Kristin Cavallari, just to name a few and the upcoming launch of his shoe collection is in the works. What new doors will open? Only time will tell.

For information on Terrazas please visit his website at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where Are They Now #2 - Lauren W.

It has been so exciting to get back the questionnaires from fashion models featured in the first year of Vancouver Fashion eZine.  Their lives have taken some amazing turns and Lauren W. from the December 2007 issue is no exception.  Now living, modelling and doing a student exchange in Hong Kong, she's experiencing opportunites the rest of us can only dream about and loving every minute.

At 16, Lauren went with her high school to a career fair and won a free modeling course.  "I had always wanted to model and loved fashion, so when the course was over I found an agency, Richard's, and went from there."  THERE turned out to be a good place to start from.  Her first job ever was a European campaign for Wrangler Jeans.  Landing such a big contract right at the start gave her confidence that there was a place for her in the industry, but there were still moments of self-doubt.  "I felt a lot of pressure.  I really, really wanted to be successful and rejection bothered me.  I loved it though, and even then knew it was something I was meant to do."

After high school, it was off to Milan where she landed an editorial for a hair magazine.  "This was the first time I worked on a set where no English was spoken unless it was being spoken to me.  I have learned to get used to working in foreign countries, but will forever be curious as to what these people are talking about."   Over the next three years she travelled extensively, working in Milan, Barcelona, Vancouver, Seattle, Hong Kong and Shanghai.  Along the way several important lessons were learned:  you have to treat modeling as a business, a good relationship with your agency is a must and most importantly, you need to be a good agent for yourself.  "A model must sell herself in the industry, show them she is right for the job.  No one can prove to a client that you are the best for the job better than you can."

The thing Lauren loves most about being a fashion model is the chance to travel, meet interesting people and make money at the same time.  "It's truly been an education in itself."  Most frustrating is waiting for a job during an unexpected dry spell.  She wants to be challenged, so looks forward to the opportunity provided by each new assignment.  Her favourite job so far was working the Gucci showroom in Florence for three weeks - it was steady income, the models were taken very good care of and she got to wear beautiful clothes.   Surprisingly she has no favourite designer or photographer, but her reason is simple. She loves the variety of a working with diverse clients.  It keeps the job interesting and she enjoys everyone she works with.

When approaching any new booking, Lauren tries to think outside the box.  "If there was no camera or crew and I was in these clothes, how would I feel and what would I do."  She also tries to remember images from other shoots that have inspired her.  There are also a few personal beauty secrets.  "A good hydrating face mask can give you a glow that will last for days.  If you struggle with breakouts, a simple bar of Dove soap and spot treating the really dry spots with moisturizer will help."  She also recommends that you put olive oil in your hair overnight to make it silky and shiny, drink lots of water (I hear this from absolutely every successful model) and eat a proper diet rich in vegetables.  "If you're healthy on the inside you will show it on the outside."

Starting in September 2009, school has been added into the picture.  Home base is Toronto where she is now signed by Ford Agency and is enrolled at Ryerson Univesity studying Business Management and Marketing.  However, she is currently living in Hong Kong and studying on a student exchange at a university there.  A visit to Vancouver for a week or so is managed 2-3 times a year.  Lauren comments, "There are too many new places in this world to see and not much time to visit home." When asked if she has any advice for those just starting out her answer was, "You have to love it.  If you don't, move on.  Modeling requires a lot of dedication and it's not always rewarding.  LEARN - from the industry, from your experiences, from others.  Recycle that knowledge back into the business and you will only get better.  And be open minded to new experiences."

For information on booking, etc., you can contact Ford Toronto at 416-362-9208.  To read Lauren's article in our 2007 edition go to -
Her personal blog can be viewed at -