As senior PR manager for beloved Canadian label Joe Fresh, Alison Lawler-Dean knows the importance of always looking your best. But the Toronto-based writer, stylist and publicist also displays her keen eye for design on her gift idea blog Gifted. And did we mention she works with the CANFAR Young Professional Council and holds a biennial fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation called Heartbeats for Africa? Beauty and brains–with plenty of heart to boot. Here she brings us behind the scenes of what it takes to make it all happen.
What’s a regular day like for you?
I manage public relations for Joe Fresh and all of the home and general merchandise brands in Loblaw stores. Basically, I introduce the media to the new products and collections and come up with ways to engage the public with our brands like Joe Fresh, Jogi, Everyday Essentials and PC Home. Each day I work with an awesome team planning and executing media outreach, events, store openings, fashion shows, and social media campaigns.
Best part about the job?
Every day is different. From writing a press release to producing a fashion show, I get to be creative and strategic in so many unique ways. Plus I love all the brands I get to work with.
Why the obsession with style?
Since I was a tween I’ve been interested in fashion. I started by sketching and sewing, then became enthralled with glossy fashion magazines. I started my career first as a photo editor, then as a fashion and beauty editor. Now I get to combine all my past experience for one of the most exciting and stylish brands in the world.
Person who has most influenced your approach to style?
My first real influence wasn’t a person, but rather a magazine–Vogue. The elaborate editorials covering the walls of my teen bedroom always had me dreaming. I got my career start interning with Susie Sheffman and Tammy Eckenswiller at Fashion Magazine, who taught me about style. And working with Catherine Franklin at Wish magazine showed me the importance of quality and easy elegance.
I’m partial to simple, classic fashion and beauty. Back in the day = Jackie O. Today = Carey Mulligan, Natalie Portman, Rachel Bilson and my fellow red Jessica Chastain.
What’s your beauty routine?
I can’t live without Joe Fresh Plump Mascara and a good base–Joe Fresh Sheer Tint and Duo Concealer. I’ve only recently begun playing with a little more colour on my lip for special occasions (Joe Fresh Cream Lipstick in Scarlet or MAC Lipstick in Most Popular).
My skin is really sensitive so I use gentle products and have simplified my routine. I wash my face (night only) with Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, then moisturize with Pure + Simple Collagen Elastin Serum and Skin Softening Lotion. In the a.m., I splash water on my face and apply a little more lotion followed by sunscreen SPF 30 or higher (often Kiehl’s or Neutrogena). I can’t use enough sunscreen on my pale complexion to protect against skin damage!
I try to get regular facials to rehydrate. I love the facials at Pure + Simple and often to go to see Sharon at Urban Retreat Spa for facials and aesthetic treatments. Massages are a treat a couple of times a year, often as part of a spa day with my mom or sister. And my very favourite spa in the world is the one at La Amada in Mexico–the water therapies are insanely good.
What about hair?
My hair is thick and and wavy so frizz is my enemy. I keep it really moisturized and use a light treatment oil to keep it smooth. I’ve fallen in love with Moroccanoil for shampoo, conditioner and treatment.
I can’t be bothered to straighten my hair every day so I use a curling hairdryer to help me manage the wave. I often hop around from salon to salon looking for a modern cut with long layers, but my hair pretty much always looks the same. (Mostly because I’m too scared to make a drastic change!) My last good cut was from Sharon at John Steinberg & Associates, but sometimes I just go to the Aveda Academy and try my luck with the students!
Best beauty advice?
Keep it simple. Use the least product necessary to make yourself look your best, but have fun with colour from time to time and play up your features for special occasions.
To dress your best, you need to know what looks good on you. If you don’t know, look for timeless, well-fitted pieces and only hit on trends with accent pieces or accessories. The fun of fashion is how much it changes each season, but the best clothing items will last for years.
Photo: Phil Birnbaum