Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?

Sarah O’Hara is a Burlington mother of two who realized that her degree in modernist literature wasn’t going to lead to work that had meaning or a decent pay cheque attached to it, so she sat down with her husband and worked out a plan that had  her recalibrating her career choices and now rides the GO bus to York University  (“get my reading done on the bus”) where she will earn a teaching certificate and hopes to be in a Halton classroom, maybe as soon as next year.

Sara is not exactly a community activist, but she cared enough about her neighbourhood to be part of a group that has nine people delegating to a City Council committee to get the Drury Lane bridge repaired and operational.

 Sarah expressed an interest in writing for us and because the publisher of Our Burlington wasn’t about to enter Tansley Woods where a couple of hundred women were looking at Botox and new make up and getting financial advice at the Burlington Woman’s Show – he knows when the territory is not man  friendly – so he asked Sarah if she would cover the event.  Here is her report.

By Sarah O’Hara

BURLINGTON, ON February 26, 2012  Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?  The Burlington Women’s Show, of course!  This afternoon I joined hundreds of other women at Tansley Woods Community Centre to meet dozens of local vendors promoting their products and services.  Upon entering I received a stamp on my hand of a “Sex and the City” inspired martini glass which permitted me to enter a world exclusively geared toward women and the things we love.

Tony Racco of Cosimo's Salon- a Burlington institution that has been in the Roseland Plaza for more than 50 years provided coupons for a free wash, cut and style.. That made our reporters day.

The first booth I stopped at was hosted by Cosimo’s Salon which has called Roseland Plaza their home for fifty years.  To celebrate their anniversary the booth was giving each visitor a coupon for a free wash, cut and style – valued at $79.10.  Wow – a great start to my day!  Tony Racco, the owner, did demonstrations on the main stage with two models, one in her twenties and the other in her fifties.  As he curled, brushed and styled, he spoke about the many eras his salon has been through over the past fifty years from the bouffant styles of the sixties, to the sticky back combing of the eighties, to the softer curls that are in fashion now.  He seemed confident and knowledgeable as he turned the older model’s tight cap of curls into a soft cloud of shiny waves.  Seeing him in action made me look forward to visiting his salon.

In the same area I spoke with Ken Arp, owner of Smart Betty, an internet-based daily deal company.  As an avid wagjagger, I was eager to sign up for their emails, especially after finding out that for each purchase made 10% goes to a local charity of your choice, including the ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids), the Burlington Humane Society, and Women’s Cancer Centres.

I followed this with a trip to the Booty Camp Fitness booth, where Sandy Cordeiro filled me in on the details of a Burlington-based women’s only boot camp.  This was only one of many fitness-oriented booths throughout the centre, such as golfing, karate, dance classes and yoga.  It was nice to be able to pick up their flyers amid the many chocolate and cupcake giveaways that were prevalent at the show.

Of course it wouldn’t be a women’s show without the latest in beauty and anti-aging products.  Slavica McIntyre, a certified Xtreme eyelash stylist, promises mascara-free beauty with her $150 eyelash implants available at I Love Lashes located in Queen B’s on New Street.  There were also demonstrations of Botox-free oxygenated facelift systems, and Carol Fysh, a face many would recognize from promoting products on the home shopping channel, was there with her new anti-aging line Red.

Upon entering one room I was approached by a woman named Terezia who asked me if I would like a free sample.  Thinking of the chocolate and toothpaste samples already abundant in my large purse, I happily agreed.  I was somewhat disappointed when she ushered me onto a high chair and swiftly removed my carefully-applied eye makeup from one eye with a wet sponge.  She gravely told me that I have inherited thin skin under my eyes and that only her Hollywood Eye Magic tuck serum could help me.  She coated my left eye with the thick yellow serum and told me within ten minutes I would see a change that I would not believe.  After advising me not to change my facial expression she informed me that I could buy the serum for $100.  I promised her I would think about it.  By now the skin under my eye was uncomfortably burning and tight, so I made my escape to the closest washroom to clean it off.

More costume jewellery than an average eye could take in was to be found at the Women in Burlington event at Tansley Woods.

By now I was quite hungry, so I followed the smell of fresh bread until I found the Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill table, where I was treated to delicious brushetta and a glass of Chardonnay.  Next to them was The Water Street Cooker where I munched happily on a turkey wrap while chatting with the cooks about the supposed haunting of the old building where Emma and her family succumbed to strange deaths before the Old Lakeshore Road home was turned into a restaurant.  This mystique, coupled with the delicious fare, makes the restaurant a popular Burlington destination.

The main event was the fashion show, hosted by City Line’s Lynn Spence.  The gym was packed with women (and the odd man) in a horseshoe formation around the t-shaped stage.  If one ignored the tucked-away basketball nets and fluorescent lights she could imagine she was watching the catwalk at a chic big-city show.  Spence hosted with confidence, knowledge and humour.  She showed clothes from Sears, J. Michael’s, Laura, Melanie Lynn, and other local (and affordable) stores.  Spence gave tips on what styles best suit body types, what colours are going to be trendy this season (coral and orange) and how to make an outfit diverse – for instance, pairing a wrap dress with skinny jeans or removing a belt to make a dress a tunic.  Her motto was “[this is] clothing you can understand – that makes sense.”  The audience was enthralled and enthusiastic, applauding and cheering after each model.  Cosimo’s provided all the hair and makeup.

The Women’s Show of course boasted the expected accessories.  Jewelry, makeup, purses, scarves and belts were available from high priced designers, such as Breanne Morrow of White Feather Designs who studied how to pound copper in Mexico, to more affordable fun accessories such as those from Vixin, where I bought a Tiffany and Co. style bracelet for $10.00.

There were also booths I never would have expected to find at a Women’s Show, such as Investors Group.  Mark Murray, the consultant I spoke with, told me they are geared toward family planning and lifestyle goals, and why shouldn’t these be things women think about?  While I wholeheartedly agree that this is something that is important to both genders, I was more drawn to booths that concentrated on fun, beauty and glamour.  This explains why I did not even stop at the Funeral Planning booth, and I didn’t see anyone else do so, either.

Nickelbrook craft brewery was there, and its host, Kevin, told me that craft beer is now making up 20% of the local selling beer.  Coffee Culture was also present, giving away steaming cups of coffee and delicious looking squares for donations.

Of course, health and wellness centres abounded.  Premier Homecare Services offers PSW services as well as companion services to post-surgical or elderly home owners; Dr. Derek Jasek of Headon Chriopractic Wellness Centre told me about the importance of devoting time to flexibility and posture to dramatically increase your quality of life; the Healthy Self Clinic specializes in thermographic imaging to detect and prevent breast cancers instead of the more traditional mammogram option.  I was, however, surprised to see a booth called Brainworx.  Its owner, Patrice Shennette, told me that our brains are deeply affected by trauma, both physical and emotional.  She is confident that her method of converting brain waves to musical tunes, and then adjusting this music to reflect that which our brains made at birth, is key in allowing ourselves to maintain confident, strong and healthy lifestyles.

Several hundred woman spent Sunday at Tansley Woods enjoying all kinds of free treats and more advice than they could possibly use. A chance to get out of the house without the kids.

Sears Mapleview also had a table for the first time.  Carol, the marketing coordinator, told me their new, young CEO, Calvin McDonald, is attempting to make Sears more visible in the community.  On April 17 they are hosting a cosmetic and fragrance gala.  Tickets are $10 and $2 from each goes toward “Look good, Feel better,” for people who are living with cancer.  Canyon Creek will cater the event.

I left the Women’s Show with a bag full of flyers and samples, and a head full of ideas of how to look good, feel good and dress well.  The women at the show all seemed to share a camaraderie, chatting easily to each other while inspecting different products, comparing finds and generally just happy to be in a facility where everything is geared toward the wants and needs of most women.  The Women’s Show is a great way for women to get out and find local businesses that cater toward our needs.  I look forward to next year!

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8 comments to Where can one go to look ten years younger, lose ten pounds, learn how to invest, and plan her funeral all under one roof?

  • Michael

    This is a very perceptive and sharp-witted article. O’Hara includes some mischievous actions and quizzical comments that ad spice to the assignment.

    She has a good understanding of the displays and what the vendors undertake in order to make sales.

    I would assume that most of the women in attendance at this event had a most enjoyable few hours.

  • Carol-Anne Aulenbach

    I attended the Women’s Show on Sunday, for the first time, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. There was a diversity of vendors and generous samplings which was all great!
    I think it could only get better if the venue was one large area where you could see all the events in the same room.
    As it was, it was very easy to miss something going on if you were in one of the rooms, ie: watching the fashion show.
    It would also be good if a list of vendors was somewhere on one of the women’s show sites. I have been looking for a particular vendor that had a booth at your show and I can’t find a list anywhere. If one does exist, could you please let me know where I might find it.


  • Alice Fraser

    What a great article. It really captured the atmosphere of the event.

  • Paul Maurice

    A delightfully engaging report on an event that I know I could never attend (being a person of the male gender). I wonder what a masculine equivalent would add up to, aesthetically, socially, economically, and (even) morally? But my question, of course, has no answer. The report is very colourful and spiced with interesting details. Sarah O’Hara certainly writes well in a vivid and captivating style, treating her subject with a certain playfulness without sacrificing an ojbective and sober assessment of her experience of this special Burlington women’s event. My goodness . . . I wish I could have been there and yet must confess I am not at all disappointed that I wans’t. Ambivalence is so often the shape of our perceptions and desires. A most insightful and articulate report, Ms. O’Hara!

  • Great article Sarah! Unfortunately I missed the show, but your information helped me to understand what the show was all about. Hopefully I can attend next year.

  • Janice

    What a great article! I can’t wait until next year to attend the Burlington Woman’s Show of which until now I had not heard about. I look forward to more artices from Sarah.

  • Kerri

    Thanks for such great info Sarah! I will be checking this out next year for sure! I didn’t even know about it but if I did I would have loved to have gone! 🙂 Great read!

  • Christine Benallick

    Enjoyed reading your first article Sarah. Hope to see more of your excellent work in the future.