Fresh Collective Style Profile – Katherine O’Neil

Name:  Katherine O’Neil
Occupation: Mom, wife and National Vice President & Ind. Consultant with Arbonne Intl.
Age: 42, but who’s counting?
Lifestyle:  Play dates, business meetings, beach time and lots of laughter

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Dress: Lexi dress – Studio Fresh $189
Necklace: Curious Oddities $28
Bracelet: Love Montreal $30
Boots: Katherine’s own

What’s a typical day like for you?  Up, down and all around!  All kidding aside, life with 2 kids under 8, a business to run, a household to manage and making room for me time can lead to some crazy days.  That said, being your own boss also means you get to take days off and vacation whenever you want 🙂  Probably my most stressful time is between 7:30 and 8:30 am trying to get everyone out the door.   Tack on a workout (need to be more consistent with that one!), a business lunch, catching up on emails, and shuttling kids to an extra-curricular activity.

That said I always make time for a cup of tea on the couch and just zen out for a bit and take in my surroundings.  Right now I love staring at the lights on the Christmas tree with a cat curled up on my lap.

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Top: Lexi top – Studio Fresh $135
Jeans: Second Denim $138 (now 20% off)
Bracelets: Ch-ch-ch-chains – BurfurtART $45
Boots: Katherine’s own

What in your life is really important to you?  I have so many things to be grateful for but the most important thing to me is my family.  My kids amaze me in the joy and wonder they see in the simple things and my husband keeps me grounded but also laughing all the time.  Together we’re a pretty amazing team if I say so myself 🙂   I’m also a bit of a foodie so I’d be remiss not to mention fabulous meals amongst friends.  Breaking bread with great conversation over an incredible bottle of wine is one of life’s guilty pleasures.

What would you like to be remembered for?   As someone who took risks and went after the unrealistic dreams, helped bring out the best in people, and laughed… a lot.  As my friends know, I want to leave it all on the dance floor.

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Sweater: Cordofolio Cardigan – Jennifer Fukushima $269
Skirt: Jess denim flocked skirt – Mandala Design $98
Necklace: girliepearlies – BurfurtART $56
Bracelet: Love Montreal $30
Boots: Katherine’s own

What role does fashion play in your life?  It’s fun and functional.  Fashion is something that can comfort you with a cozy sweater and boots one minute (I love the fall for that) and make you feel like Scarlett O’Hara ready to take on the world the next.  I think the older you get the more confidence you have because you know what works on your body.  On the flip side, confidence also comes from within and knowing who you are and it allows you to take more risks be it a bold colour or just a really different cut.

 

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?  Everything!  Every time I go in there are so many things that catch my eye.  Everything has a cool indie vibe but is also easy to mix and match with something new or what is already in your closet.  The fits are fantastic and super flattering, not to mention everything feels as if you’re wearing pyjamas. How they do that I have no idea!   The staff are knowledgable and fun and you can’t help but walk out with an outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks – the best is that you’re supporting local, socially-conscious talent.

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What do you have that you want to promote?  I’m pretty passionate about helping people realize their full potential and really figuring out what they want in life.  Coming from the corporate world where I had a very successful career in Communications, I never thought I would find myself in an industry that was so outside my comfort zone but like so many people today, I was searching for more time and more choices.  That said, starting an Arbonne business was the best decision I ever made.   I’d never experienced a company culture like this before, where you are truly valued and recognized, and the calibre of people is top notch.  While the products and income are phenomenal, working with and watching people take risks, learn, and become the best versions of themselves is really what it’s all about.   This business is all about paying it forward – the ultimate win/win.  I think we could use a lot more of that in the world today.

 Is there anything else we should know about you?  I’ve got a huge bucket list of things including ballroom dance lessons.  2015 might be the year to start working on that cha cha with my husband!

Where can people find you on social media?

  • fb:  Katherine Bruni O’Neil
  • LinkedIn:  Katherine O’Neil
  • web:  katherineoneil.myarbonne.ca

 

Love Letter From Laura-Jean

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One evening as we were winding down, my seven year old son Dexter got excited out of the blue and said, “Awesome!  The day after tomorrow is chocolate milk day!”  It was one of those gorgeous little parenting moments that brings tears to my eyes.  I just loved that he could be so excited about this little weekly treat they get at school, and that he looked forward to something so simple with such enthusiasm.

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That attitude stuck with me.  I really took it to heart, and started looking for all there is to celebrate in my everyday life.

Like most entrepreneurs, I still have my share of stress and worry about the juggling act that is my life and my businesses. I see how that stress and worry is just pretty much garbage.  Knowing that it’s garbage doesn’t make it go away instantly, but I can choose a different frame of mind in that moment.

Looking forward to chocolate milk day, metaphorically speaking, is a perfect trick to displace stress, worry or boredom and create a whole new way of being.  We all have tons to celebrate in our lives.  Really, tons.  Take a look right now in your life and see.  What is already there to celebrate?  And what could you create to celebrate?

For me, there’s my amazing business and the people in the community who help it thrive; the designers, staff and you, our wonderful customers – who all believe in this dream I made up 10 years ago – this is one of the best things on my list of things to celebrate.

I have Stuart, my little rescue dog, snoozing beside me as I write this.  He just sighed and snuggled a little closer. Him being this cozy and cute, and our family having found him to adopt is something to celebrate.

Today, everything worked out so that I could pick up my son from school and complete this blog from home.  His friend Jacob was coming with us, and entertained me all the way home with stories about how he is the only seven year old in the world legally allowed to work for money, but right now they just pay him in cookies (it sounds like he helps his mom at the restaurant she works at but it’s hard to know how accurate his story is).  That little joyous walk home with two boys is something to celebrate.

There has been some sunshine today after a lot of grey days.  I picked up some great cheese from Kensington Market which I forgot about, so I had a surprise awesome snack when I got home.  My mother-in-law’s pasta.  Wearing pink.  A call from an old friend out of the blue.  Brand new socks. Uninterrupted bubble baths.  Family game night.  Coffee dates with girlfriends.  Playing old records.  A Saturday matinee with my son… Once I start listing things, it’s hard to stop!

So really, anytime you’re bummed out, bored or stressed, just take a moment to look at what you have to celebrate.  Remember to create your own chocolate milk days, and then don’t forget to look forward to them!  Dexter may have just hit on the whole secret to happiness in his own awesome seven year old way.

XO

-Laura-Jean

The Swagger Coach: Mating Season

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“Hoo boy, you can really tell its spring. I need to find me a girlfriend”

– My best friend

He’s right. Spring is here, and thus begins strolling-while-holding-hands season, and ice-cream-sundae-for-two season, and lemonade-with-two-straws season and watch-fireworks-with-that-special-someone season. There must be a gene in us somewhere that beat the evolution model and has traveled with us all the way down until it smacks us right in the face here and now, as civilized people of dignity and decorum. But I’ll be darned if spring doesn’t spark something inside of us which puts us on the hunt for a mate.

I’m a big fan of Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker. I’ve had some pretty interesting jobs, but one of my most memorable was a high-end matchmaking agency. It used a simple software to sort clients by location, age, body type and interests among other attributes, making our jobs easier by eliminating anyone who possessed traits which were not desirable to the client being matched du jour. I drove my boss nuts, because I would often deviate from the “typical” matchmaking formula, matching my clients based on sense of humour or first impressions. Boy howdy, you can bet your best hat I had more successful matches than any other matcher there. I’ve got a pretty no-nonsense approach to dating and mating, and although I’m happily claimed by my awesome fiancee Fern, I’m still very well aware that dating truly is a game, and there are some crucial strategic moves that can be executed to level up.

This is me and Fern on our first date, fresh out of high school. Weren't we (almost as) cute (as we are now)?

This is me and Fern on our first date, fresh out of high school. Weren’t we (almost as) cute (as we are now)?

 Exhibit A, a tall, athletic and handsome guy named Mark*. Mark worked in finances, was pretty well-off and had a beautiful home in the west end of Toronto. Mark, although 32 years old at the time, had never been in a serious relationship. He had submersed himself in work, fitness and “building his empire” so much so, that he had forgotten that yeah, sometimes having someone to curl up and watch Scrubs DVDs with, is nice. When Mark and I met, he said he would only date females from twenty to twenty five, they MUST be petite and either blonde or red-headed and (brace yourself) they must ALSO have never been in a long-term or serious relationship. He genuinely believed that anyone who had been in previous relationships would judge him, discount him as inexperienced, and that his time would be wasted. Needless to say, matching him was rather difficult. Eventually we had to sit down again and discuss expectations and being open to amazing possibilities and people. We attempted to match him many times, and despite the women having a good time, he refused to pursue any girls who had either maintained previous relationships, or were taller/darker/less athletic than himself. After more than a year, Mark left the agency, and I was so sad to see a great guy like this left empty-handed. I knew he would have found the gal of his dreams if he had been a little more open-minded about love.
"Standing alone with a bag full of requirements often results in simply standing alone."

“Standing alone with a bag full of requirements often results in simply standing alone.”

Flipside, Exhibit B. An older gent named Bryan*. Bryan was from a small town in North Ontario, and although he travelled down to the city often, he had a hard time meeting ladies who shared his love for small-city living, fishing, and dogs. Bryan had been married for over 30 years and had a son in his late thirties, but lost his wife to cancer a few years before he came to the agency. He was looking for a Heather Locklear type without “all the glitter and face crap”. When we first met, the first thing I noticed was his uproarious laugh. He was hilarious, if not bordering on inappropriate at times, but he had a great sense of humour and positivity and joy oozed out of every pore he had. He was like that awesome, crazy uncle everyone has. Bryan was a favourite of mine. He called the office on my birthday to wish me a happy one, and when matched with his first two ladies, both reported having an amazing time and said he was a true gentleman, but no romantic connection. Oh no, the dreaded friend zone! A few months after meeting Bryan, I met a woman named Claire*. Claire was short, in her 60s, fuller figured with dark auburn hair and had a penchant for mustaches (seriously). She had a high-pitched laugh that made me think of Bryan, but physically, she was looking for a Burt Reynolds type, and Bryan was more of a Danny DeVito. She herself was closer to a Melissa McCarthy, definitely not a Heather Locklear. I met with each of them several more times to review past dates and tailor preferences, and although both of them were popular in the system, neither one of them had found love. During a check-in with Claire, she mentioned that one of her boys lived in the town where Bryan was from, and then I discovered that she was actually from the same town!

Each time we matched a client, they were charged. I had a great idea. I called Claire and told her about Bryan. She was hesitant, but once I told her that the match was on the house, she agreed. I called Bryan and told him the same, and was pleasantly surprised to find that he was really excited! It was rare for him to meet someone from his area who knew the lifestyle, and she could very well work out to be a great friend, if not a love match. The day after their date, I got an email from Claire to tell me that they had met, and not only had they had a wonderful time, it turns out that they went to the same high school! After graduation, Claire’s family had moved to the Toronto area and they had never seen or heard from each other again. To my delight, they both pulled their profiles from the system a couple of weeks later, after becoming monogamous and deciding that they were no longer on the hunt. SQUEEEEAAAAAL!

"Love is the truest form of friendship. Sometimes Mr. or Mrs. Right is actually the person right across from you!"

“Love is the truest form of friendship. Sometimes Mr. or Mrs. Right is actually the person right across from you!”

Knowing what you’re looking for in a partner is crucial. Knowing what you DON’T want in a partner is just as crucial, and being able to confidently communicate this is often perceived as being narrow minded or superficial. I disagree. I know that I would have a very difficult time forming a relationship with someone who’s lifestyle is radically different from my own, and I’m okay with people having physical preferences. For example, I understand that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I are a perfect, perfect match and am relatively confident that our lifestyles would be an identical match. You know, because I love him and all. But in all seriousness, I have a type, and I’m someone’s type, and I understand that everyone is different in this respect. I will say, however, that during my single days I’ve been pleasantly surprised when I don’t let that type rule my decisions, and I leave myself open to possibilities of new people and experiences. Physical attraction is definitely important, but I’ve found super-hot guys who seem to be totally void of a brain, and other guys who may not be my type at first, but their cute smile or quirky sense of humour has grown on me, increasing their dateability.

Dateability is totally a word.

So friends, my advice to you during this beautiful season is as follows. Make an effort to meet people. I mean REALLY meet people, don’t just meet eyes in a bar. Involve yourself in activities you are truly interested in, and you’ll find a swarm of folks who share common interests. Don’t bash yourself during social situations. If you tell a potential partner that you’re not _____ or are too _____, chances are, they’ll believe you. Think of meeting new people as you would a job interview. Present the best parts of yourself, sell your strengths and be genuine, warm and authentic. Laugh at pickup lines, and strike up a conversation with the geek who’s brave enough to use them on you. Its probably the bravest thing they’ve done all week. Drop two of the things on your “dating must-have” list. Really, your dating candidate may not sleep in a bathtub full of money and speak four languages, but they may be a sweet, caring and truly compatible person. Be tolerant of set-ups. Your friends may set you up with the perfect someone… or you’ll have a hilarious story to tell and are one date closer to finding the perfect one. Before a date, remind yourself that you’re simply meeting someone new, and that there is NO way to tell if they are THE ONE at this point, so the goal is to have fun, share an amazing conversation, and maybe a drink or two.

Dating is fun, folks! Kick back, unwind, and get to know the cool, unique and fun person sitting right in front of you!

-Jamie xo

* individual’s name has been changed

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