For the kids on the cusp of Claus

A few years ago we discovered the ultimate, most incredible stocking stuffer. The solution for kids to continue believing in the magic of Santa Claus.     The best gift for kids on the cusp of Claus. 

Enter the Chocolate Santa aka Secret Santa Notes.  Deborah Torr is the owner, chocolatier and head Elf at Coco Organic Chocolates in Toronto.   Here’s how it works.   You write a personalized note from Santa to your kid and email it to her.  Deborah and her elves hand write the note (guaranteeing handwriting your kid hasn’t seen before).  The note from Santa gets rolled up – and here’s the magic part – gets sealed inside of a hollow chocolate Santa.   There is no marking on the chocolate Santa other than a handwritten name tag.  There isn’t any packaging to indicate this came from a store.  And the fact that the chocolate is AMAZING is bonus!

Chocolate Santa from Cocos Organic Chocolates
Chocolate Santa from Cocos Organic Chocolates









The email my husband and I write is highly personalized to our kid and reflects what’s been happening lately, whether it’s good or not so good.  One year he and his best friend had a little fight and Santa wrote “How disappointed he was to see him fight with his friend”.  Our kid was almost in tears.    He’s a smart kid and loves Christmas and believes in Santa Claus.  Chocolate Santa helps keep that magic alive in our home.

Click here for more information.  Hurry! You have until December 10 to place your order for a milk or dark chocolate Santa.



Last week Joe Mimran – this week Joe Fresh


If Joe Fresh were a boy he would wear size Large, which is for 10-12 year olds.  Next year marks 10 years since Joe Fresh has been in our closets. Ten years of orange tags, and rounded/even prices – a purposeful strategy to align pricing with the brand.  Ten years of fun, trendy, classic and always affordable fashion.

When the invitation came to join LouLou Magazine for an evening of shopping and cocktails at the Joe Fresh store on Queen and Portland, I RSVP’d yes please!    I arrived to a store that felt like girls’ night out on Boxing Day (minus the coats and boots because it’s summer in November!).  It was wall to wall people, and just about everyone had either a bottle of Mill Street or a glass of Barefoot Pinot Grigio.  A DJ provided the party soundtrack while servers moved effortlessly throughout the store with trays of yummies like mini chicken & waffles, and the tiniest tacos I have ever seen.  And of course, the ubiquitous cupcakes topped with Joe Fresh orange frosting.  I wonder if the original Joe would have gone with vanilla cupcakes & orange frosting to better complement the brand.

Joe Fresh cupcakes






Joe Fresh tiny tacos








I briefly chatted with one of the Joe Fresh girls and mentioned I couldn’t  help but notice how neat the store was.  I was impressed at how quickly the piles were replenished, and how despite the crowds, they were still able to help the customers, and how quickly the line was moving.  She said the staff at this location are amazing and I’d have to agree.  She introduced me to Claude Laframboise, LouLou’s fashion director, who patiently held my clothes while I looked for my pen.  Merci Claude!

Joe Fresh change roomJoe Fresh Holiday invites us to embrace the season of giving with collections full of holiday warmth and enchanting winter style.   With collections like Cozy Cabin Getaway, and the new Sweater Dressing, I wasn’t sure I’d find what I was looking for, but I did manage to find a few items to try on from the party-ready black and white themed area.    No matter the price, if the fit and/or cut isn’t right for me, I won’t buy it.    I ended up with one black top and a black skirt, neither of which look anything like the other black tops and black skirts I have in my closet.  I’m of the opinion you can’t have too many black clothes.  And since I got rid of most of my wardrobe, I’m stocking up.

I came away with an outfit, 2 pairs of tights, a sparkly belt, the coziest hoodie ever, 2 pairs of PJs, and a pair of pants for my kid.  Everything was 25% off AND I redeemed some of my PCPlus Points and saved another $60!

If Joe Fresh was a boy turning 10, he’d finally get to drive a go-cart all by himself.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Joe Fresh will celebrate being 10.


The man with the brands: Joe Mimran

Joe Mimran c/o Gibraltar Company







My career has came full circle: I used to work retail at Club Monaco, and on October 30th I was at the Canada Post event, Think Inside the Box , listening to Joe Mimran talk about Building a Brand.  Yes, the man behind such Canadian brand success stories as Joe Fresh, Club Monaco and Pink Tartan.  And don’t forget the short-lived but beloved Caban – a retail concept clearly ahead of its time.  Joe Mimran was speaking to a room full of direct marketers about branding.   I worked at Club Monaco from 1990 when they were the near the end of their preppy era – think button downs and khaki shorts  and giant logo-fronted sweatshirts – until 1993 when it was leggings, over-sized Versace-ish shirts and scoop neck tops.   My superior folding skills date back to when I had to line up the M’s on all those sweatshirts.

via Sierra Rose Vintage
via Sierra Rose Vintage






Listening to Joe Mimran speak, it was clear where his passion is because the words came freely and from the heart.  He talked about coming to Canada from Casablanca at the age of 4 and living on Spadina Avenue.  His mom used to make his clothes and he helped make decisions about the designs.  Picture one of his favourite outfits:  yellow mohair sweater paired with brown corduroy pants.    I don’t think even Karlie Kloss would rock this #OOTD like 12 year old Joe did.

He intuitively decided against trying to license an American brand in Canada and instead chose to launch a fashion brand from the ground up.  He spent 60% of his time getting capital, while dealing with 28% interest rates.  But he persevered and the first Club Monaco store opened Queen Street in 1985.  Joe’s passion was only matched by his vision – with only two stores under his belt, he would tell staff Club would one day be a global brand.

His passion and his laser focus on details are what help set his brands apart.  Joe shared a story from when he was doing consulting.  He worked with a new company who wanted so desperately to launch their brand   At every meeting they asked when they would have a fashion show but Joe said they had yet to build their brand.  This continued until he finally said to them one day “If you really understood how to build a brand, you’d get rid of the dead plant in your reception area.”  Brands need to be consistent inside and out.

Joe said he had failure at every one of his successes.  When asked about his leadership style he spoke again about passion.  One of the design associates at Joe Fresh was responsible for socks.  She was capable and technical, but not really passionate about socks.  He shared his ideas and enthusiasm for what could be done with socks (again, way ahead of the current sock craze) and he got her excited about socks.   I found this funny as he’s now usually pictured without socks.

Joe’s words about building a brand are simple.  Brands need strength, flexibility and a clear vision.  Be prepared to take risks and embrace change while staying true to your brand ethos.


It’s a four-way tie!

You know it’s going to be a long week when  you start looking forward to the next weekend on Sunday night.    But what makes a long week worth it – little bursts of happiness surprises.

I am about six weeks into the Cityline Weightloss Challenge.  It’s been an incredible experience so far, with unexpected twists and turns.  My amazing gym The Motion Room has graciously upgraded my membership for the next few months.  This gives me unlimited access to bootcamps and co-personal training sessions which is just what I needed to help me on my weightloss journey.   So far my 2x/week workouts and the nutritional guidance from Dr. Joey Shulman has resulted in a 16 lb weight loss!  The road ahead of me doesn’t feel as long or as intimidating knowing I have even more tools in my weightloss belt.

My kid brought home his report card and I hate to brag but I will.   My hubs and I are proud of his work, and the student he’s becoming.  I especially like that he “enjoys taking a leadership role in group projects”.  I wonder where he gets that from?

I think I’ve seen just about every episode of What Not to Wear.  I have been watching Love, Lust or Run – mostly so I can see what Stacy London is wearing..  When I go shopping for clothes I hear Stacy’s voice in my head guiding my fashion purchases.   I adore her and ove her sense of fashion.  So when THE Stacy London, favourite one of my tweets this week, I had a day-long moment of fandom.


To have a four-way tie of happiness by Thursday morning, is a pretty good week!