Walking into Onyx Aesthetics Studio is like walking into a world where every day is a good nail day. It’s a place where beauty is continuously unfolding; a place to be primped and pampered in total tranquility. In just two short years Onyx owner and Blanche Macdonald graduate Linda Trang Ly has cultivated the perfect space to showcase her inimitable esthetics skills: an IG-worthy salon with a killer team of estheticians and an impressive roster of clients.
Although Onyx has already achieved great success in its short life, the studio was a long time in the making. After completing the Nail Parlour program at Canada’s Top Nail School, Linda spent nearly a decade doing nails in Ontario and Connecticut, until Vancouver’s nail scene was finally established enough for Linda to bring her skills back home.
“When I was trying to get into the industry after school, everyone here wanted French manicures on sport length nails. I knew that if I stuck around I would change careers again, so I moved to Toronto. Because of that, I’ve been perfecting my skills and doing crazy long nails with art for the last 10 years! And this was even before all the gel polishes came out. I always knew I would come back home, but I needed it to be the right time for what I wanted to do. Once I saw on Instagram how things were evolving in Vancouver, I knew it was time to come back.”
But having been out of the Vancouver scene for nearly 10 years, Linda had to quickly suss out what the new Vancouver had to offer to find the perfect place for the esthetics paradise she was planning to create. When her initial searches of Kitsilano and Kerrisdale proved unsuccessful, it was in a relatively unexpected neighborhood, on the suggestion of a friend, that Linda happened upon the ideal space for her studio – Gastown.
“The Gastown I knew was The Old Spaghetti Factory, The Purple Onion and some souvenir shops. But suddenly, Gastown wasn’t just Water St. anymore! I saw this space and the shape of it and I knew that it was exactly what I had been searching for!”
FASHION FERVOUR: GLOBAL FASHION MARKETING GRADUATE AMANDA WATT TAKES ON THE WORLD OF HIGH FASHION AT HOLT RENFREW VANCOUVER!
With their unique fashion voices, these Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing graduates are taking the industry by storm. Articulating their story to the world, our grads have navigated their way through fashion's ever-evolving terrain, bridging the gap between knowledge and success: from luxury retail brands and glossy magazine offices, to prestigious PR firms and leading buying agencies. Our grads are 'serging' ahead of the trend, climbing the ranks of local and international scenes, one fashion forward trend at a time. Meet these burgeoning fashion mavens that have become part of this thrilling community in our Fashion Fervour storytelling!
Set your mind to it and it may happen. Do it with heart and it's guaranteed. Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing graduate Amanda Watt has approached her burgeoning career with this doctrine, hustling (with heart) on her way to become Marketing Coordinator at Vancouver’s coveted luxury retail department store, Holt Renfrew. From setting up large scale events featuring the most buzz-worthy designers and mega-names in the industry, to coordinating intimate fêtes, prepping hundreds of swag bags and sourcing for what's to come next, she's always on her toes, ready to tackle the next big fashion moment. Meet Amanda Watt, gracious, accomplished and fanatical for Fashion.
Blanche Macdonald: What was your favourite part of our Fashion Marketing program?
Amanda Watt: All of it! It was such a truly amazing experience that I will always treasure. I remember being so inspired by [Blanche Macdonald Fashion Program Director and Instructor] Peggy Morrison’s passion that no matter what she was teaching I loved it; her stories and Show and Tell were something that I would have never imagined I would be fortunate enough to be a part of. I truly believe that I would not be where I am today if it was not for Blanche Macdonald and the opportunities and goals it helped me realize.
BMC: How did the Blanche Macdonald Career Department help you in pursuing these goals?
AW: Honestly, if it wasn’t for the guidance of [Blanche Macdonald Career Director] Mel Watts while I was in school, I would never have had the opportunity to intern with Holt Renfrew, and if it wasn’t for that, who knows where I would be today! I truly believe that my internship was the first and most crucial step in starting my career in fashion. I fortunately still get to see Mel from time to time. I really should stop into the campus more than I do, though!
I have been lucky enough to now be heavily involved with the internship program here at Holts. It is an incredible way to get your foot in the door! The Internship Program is something that I hold very close to my heart and I have had the opportunity to meet some extraordinary Blanche students along the way.
There’s no substitute for genuine glamour. Which is why, when Blanche Macdonald was seeking a venue to host the 2016 Fashion Design Graduate Show, once we set eyes on the Grand Ballroom at the historic Hotel Vancouver, the decision was easy. The contrast of Imperial Russian style elegance with the bold, ultra-modern debut collections from some of Canada’s most promising new designers was too tempting to resist.
The result was Neon Dreams, the most spectacular – and to many attendees the best – Blanche Macdonald Graduate Fashion Show in the School’s storied history.
“The Hotel Vancouver is such an iconic piece of this city,” explained Fashion Director Tyler Udall. “They’ve done an incredible job preserving the original designs and over the years the hotel has been peppered with bits of luxury. Incredible fashion houses like Dior, Gucci and Louis Vuitton are now occupying retail space in the hotel. It seemed like a fitting space for our show.”
Under the sparkle of Vancouver’s most magnificent chandeliers Blanche Macdonald’s grads’ collections shone, as two glorious fashion shows unfurled on a chilly November afternoon and evening, the first for graduates’ friends and families; the second for the city’s assembled fashion media. For Tyler, presenting collections that could hold their own in the most extravagant surroundings was a testament to a special group of graduating designers.
“This group had more than a few extremely focused students. There are always a handful who come in and treat Fashion School like a military operation: up at 5am, working until 11pm and really pouring their blood, sweat and tears into their collections. There were several of them this year and it was a treat to see how well they worked and how much they bonded as designers and friends.”
Canada’s film and TV industry had one of its biggest and busiest years in 2016 and Vancouver, AKA Hollywood North, was at its epicentre. The city played host to superheroes and villains, monsters, romantic leads and sci-fi fighters, along with some of the world’s biggest stars playing them. And none of them were coming for the weather.
There’s a long list of reasons why Vancouver has become the ideal location for some of North America’s most popular and best-regarded productions. Hollywood studios and networks love our architecture, our close-knit TV and film community, and the laid back atmosphere in a city that understands that even movie megastars are here to do their jobs.
They also love that Vancouver is blessed with some of the world’s best TV and Film Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists, a once-select group growing exponentially as demand for their skills continues to boom. Our beautiful city’s Movie Makeup family was beyond busy in 2016, with more than a few Blanche Macdonald graduates and instructors taking starring roles.
They're the pruners of our strands, the keepers of our secrets and the masterminds behind those picture-perfect balayages. These Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair graduates are just getting their feet wet in the whirlwind world of Hair, but already, they're making waves in their new careers. Spanning the scene from stylists and barbers to Pro-Educators and entrepreneurs, our grads own their very own hair salons, hold the hottest seats in top salons, and work behind the scenes to create stunning editorials. Armed with the knowledge of our internationally recognized training, and a pair or two of super-sharp shears, these remarkable individuals have heard the entrepreneurial call of the Hair world and they have answered back. With Contessa Awards and other prestigious national and international competitions under their collective belts, our grads are climbing the ranks of local and international scenes one snip at a time. It can be hairy, but they're ready for anything!
Sure to be sporting a mane of many and different colours, razor sharp liner and specs of glitter wandering randomly about her person, Ali Smith is not just the creator of unicorn hair – she exudes an essential ‘unicorn-ness.’ Having graduated from the Pro Hair program at Blanche Macdonald a mere 4 months ago, Ali has found herself behind the chair of one of Vancouver’s premiere chop shops, Artel Salon. Owned by fellow Blanche Macdonald graduate Eliza Trendiak, Ali spends her days honing her skills, learning from fellow Artel stylists and crafting the latest looks for her burgeoning clientele. A flurry of retro Disney prints, witticisms, and perfectly timed meme humour meet the whirling dervish that is Ali Smith. Or as she puts it “Ariien. Brat. Kitty. Facial hair admirer.”
“What drew me to fashion was how it kept moving. Nothing’s iconic any more. It’s always, ‘What’s next? What’s next?’ I like that!”
KT Auleta’s high velocity love affair with fashion continues to take her around the world. The New York City-based photographer and director is in perpetual motion, travelling from country to country shooting with clients like Hugo Boss, Sephora, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs, and titles including Vogue, GQ Style, Elle and Glamour. But on a layover en route to China she somehow found the time to visit Vancouver, Blanche Macdonald and her close friend, Fashion Director Tyler Udall, to give an engrossing presentation to students at Canada’s top Fashion School.
Over the course of a fascinating hour KT revealed her journey from intern to globetrotting photography superstar, the changing face of fashion imagery (including why she now shoots stills and video simultaneously) and the art of building a great creative team.
“I’m looking for good communicators,” she explained in response to one of many questions from the floor. “I want people to take pride in their work. I want people I can trust to do their job well. I want them to feel empowered. I love working with new models, giving them wings and watching them blossom.”
FROM EXCELLING AS A STUDENT TO SHINING AS A DESIGN MENTOR ANAHITA MONZAVI FINDS HER CALLING AT BLANCHE MACDONALD
With thousands of artists, stylists and designers soaring into our halls from around the world each year, our classrooms have become dynamic global communities under the unitedly diverse banner of our Blanche World – a United Nations of creativity! In a glorious culture clash, our International students import a vibrant collection of new customs, insights and inspiration that colour our world in exciting new ways. The leap from their home countries to our corner of Canada comes with big change, courage and incredible journeys. Speaking in the international language of passion, we sit down with our global talent to talk the dreams that brought them here, the challenges they overcame, and all about the power of being an artistic representative in a new country. Meet the burgeoning stars that have joined us from around the globe in our UN storytelling!
"Fashion Design is my passion. I never get tired of what I do. It’s hard to put in words, but I never imagined I would love fashion and design the way I do. It’s just the right thing for me."
Though Anahita Monzavi graduated from Canada's Top Fashion School in the spring of 2015, she was immersed in the world of Fashion Design well before that. Originally from Esfahan, Iran, Anahita worked for over eight years in fashion before moving to Canada, with five of those years spent running a showroom and designing custom evening and bridal gowns for a myriad of A-list clients. With an inherent knack for design, Anahita is proof that talent and fate so often fall hand-in-hand. When she walked through our doors on her first day at Blanche Macdonald, we knew she was exactly where she was meant to be.
"When I first came to Canada,” she says, “I spent a lot of time researching and talking to people about which school I should go to. I already had experience so I didn't want to go back to Fashion Design school for four years. My friends and family who are from Vancouver said that I must go to Blanche Macdonald, that it was the best school. After that I did not look anywhere else."
After spending a mere two years in Vancouver, Anahita has gone from excelling as a student to shining as a mentor and instructor for budding designers. She's been impressing the fashion community since she first enrolled at Blanche Macdonald, so her accomplishments have come as no surprise. Investing the same attentiveness in fashion instruction as she does with her professional career, Anahita credits the mentorship of Senior Pattern Making and Construction Instructor Brenda Swinglehurst as well as Program Directors Peggy Morrison and Donna Baldock for her academic successes.
"Studying here [at Blanche Macdonald] was the best decision I ever made,” Anahita says. “I loved every minute of it and appreciated all of my teachers so much. I'd have to say that Pattern Drafting and Garment Construction with Brenda were two of my favourite classes. I also loved Fashion Awareness with Peggy and Fashion History with Donna. I wanted to absorb everything they had to say."
MAKEUP GRAD-TURNED-INSTRUCTOR DAEMON CADMAN BOLDLY GOES TO THE BIG SCREEN WITH HER EXQUISITE AIRBRUSH ARTISTRY!
Daemon Cadman’s classes are always full of creativity and laughter, but that doesn’t mean she’ll ever accept less than the very best from her students. Behind the incredible artistry, positive attitude and ever-present smile, Daemon possesses a tenacity that she routinely passes on to her students at Canada’s Top Makeup School.
“I treat people in the classroom the same way they’ll be expected to work outside of school,” she explains. “You’ll have days when everything goes wrong. It happens to all of us. I tell students, if you’re going to have a meltdown, go to the bathroom, have a cry, then come back and do your makeup. On my first day in the Effects Shop working on Star Trek Beyond I sat in the bathroom three times because I was so stressed out. But you either quit or you do it. You look yourself in the mirror, go back out and do your best work.”
That stressful first day in the Effects Shop blossomed into seven weeks of work painting prosthetic appliances for aliens for one of this year’s guaranteed blockbusters. Which is remarkable, as Daemon doesn’t consider herself a Makeup Effects Artist. But it makes perfect sense once you understand that her entire career has been a series of unexpected triumphs. She never even set out to be a Makeup Artist.
“I grew up in a very artistic environment in Vancouver,” she recalls. “My Dad played in bands and my Mom was a writer. It was a very free environment. My Mom bought me face paints when I was about seven, which was also when I found some David Bowie and Kiss albums. I would roller-skate around the block with blonde pigtails and my face painted, usually like Ace Frehley.”
Everybody loves a trip to the spa as part of their wellness routine. But at the same time, not everyone has the opportunity to get out and give themselves the attention they deserve.
That’s where Blanche Macdonald Esthetics graduate Tessa Patko and Mojo Mobile Spa enter the picture. If the people can’t come to the spa, Tessa will bring the spa to the people.
“I’m providing services that clients might not otherwise be able to enjoy,” she explains. “Mojo Mobile Spa is aimed at people who don’t have the convenience of going to the spa, like busy mothers, people with health issues or people who don’t have transportation. We’re working regularly with seniors’ homes now, which I love. I began receiving calls from grandchildren who were looking for people to go into the homes and give services. The need was there, so I started doing what I could to help. It really warms my heart to do those services. We’ll do a soak, a massage and a polish and these seniors feel revived! They are really appreciative, love the attention and love to talk – as do I!”
Mojo Mobile Spa’s reputation is growing fast. She was a finalist for the Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, named as one of Richmond Review’s 30 Under 30 business stars, and has been nominated for a business excellence award by the Surrey Board of Trade. Taking treatments to private clients, hospitals, hotels, pamper parties and corporate events across Metro Vancouver, Tessa already employs her own team of Estheticians, many of who come to her directly from Blanche Macdonald.
These honours and achievements haven’t arrived by accident. They’re the direct result of years of hard work. Luckily, Tessa is doing what she’s always loved.
“I’ve always been interested in beauty and skincare,” she continues. “I started experimenting with fashion, makeup and taking care of myself in my early teens, and I always loved going to the spa. Before that, when I was a little girl my Dad used to travel a lot and would bring back lotions from the hotels he’d stayed in. I’d tell my friends that if they put the lotions on their faces every day they would look like Barbie!
“After high school I studied business and began working behind-the-desk at administrative jobs. That wasn’t for me so I went backpacking for a couple of years to think about what I wanted to do with my life. On the last leg of my backpacking trip I visited my grandparents in England. I was getting a pedicure with my Mom and she suggested I look at the world of esthetics. I was mulling it over with my grandparents and thinking about how they’re so caring and how they always go the extra mile to make people happy. Their names are Morris and Josephine – which inspired the name of my business, Mo-Jo! I’m continuing the family heritage! As soon as I returned to Canada I registered at Blanche Macdonald. I was passionate about esthetics and liked the wide variety of things the program covered. And I knew from reviews that Blanche Macdonald was the best Esthetics Program in Vancouver."