What was your first industry job?
Working as a stockperson in the shoe department at Sears. My early morning shift allowed me to see the elf-like associates changing mannequins and adding seasonal decor. I would later find my destiny in visual display.
Retailers are being asked to do more with less now. What’s one way you create eye-catching displays on a tight budget?
I source and purchase materials for myself, rather than relying on a vendor. I use the Internet and gift shows to find products and I haggle on prices with my vendors. The key is knowing costs for materials, fabrication, shipping, etc., so you know what’s a good deal.
What about your job gives you the most pleasure?
Seeing customer reactions to our store and window displays. I often stand back and allow myself to hear comments, good or bad. And I get a kick out of seeing our projects published alongside other retailers’ work from around the world. I want people to see what great work we do in Canada.
What gives you the most stress?
My director, but in a good way. He sets the bar high knowing I will not only meet it, but surpass it. In the end, he is the yin to my yang.
Where do you go for inspiration?
When I started in this business, my first manager told me to keep my eyes open and see nothing at face value. So I attend visual, floral and gift tradeshows; watch movies; read fashion, home and trade magazines; and, last but not least, Google.
What’s your favorite prop or material to use in a display right now?
Vinyl. We’ve applied this material on glass and walls, even on props. I’ve used it in fluorescents and lenticular applications or to mimic ice, broken glass and wainscoting – its use is limited only by your imagination.
Describe your office.
Organized chaos. I’m surrounded by bits and pieces of props and inspirations from windows of the past, present and future, including the odd mannequin body part here and there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
I shift gears from “corporate” to “mom” and make the weekends all about relaxing and having quality time with my two kids.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
Linda Fargo, hands down. I have an autographed copy of her book at home. I’ve always admired how much work and attention to detail goes into her holiday windows, and yet, how impactful and playful some of her simpler windows can be.
- • Favorite hockey team: The Toronto Leafs. A corner in my office displays team bobbleheads, figures and trading cards.
- • Favorite food: Poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) – the solution to a really bad day.
- • Best kept secret Tim Horton’s Double-Double (a coffee with two creams and two sugars). The word was actually added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in 2004.