Many of you may (or may not) know that I spent about 4 years in Montreal where I was spearheading all the pr and styling for mega fashion retail brand, Le Chateau. While I was schmoozing it up with the fashion crowd, I met someone named Patricia Gajo, who I could not forget. Her genuine smile and sweet nature was just the tip of the iceberg. In the media and pr world, you often have to “play nice” with people who aren’t necessarily Mother Theresa, but meeting someone like Patricia, whom I call both a friend and confidante, is one of my favorite memories of Montreal. She’s a girl on the go (her list of current projects is longer than a laundry list of to do’s for fashion week) and preparing to move to PARIS!! (Hello jealous!) so I was honored that she took a few moments out of her day to chat with us.
VG: Who are you?
PG: I’m a writer. I’m mainly known for my reportage on Montreal (I blog for The Montreal Buzz, a Sid Lee project for Tourisme Montréal; I’ve authored two travel guides on Montreal and Québec City for Frommer’s, and co-authored a third called Far & Wide and report on Montreal restaurants for Gayot.com. I’m also the Montreal correspondent for FASHION magazine. In between all that, I freelance for a bunch of lifestyle titles like NUVO, Zoom Zoom (for Mazda), and Huffington Post Canada.
(Image of Montreal via Design Sponge)
VG: What makes you tick?
PG: What most people don’t know about me is that I’m also an editor. I’ve established a nice little niche for myself creating and revamping magazines which consists of compiling a team; writers, translators, copyeditors, graphic artists, photographers, the whole bit. My first big project like this was revamping the lifestyle section of enRoute magazine (for Air Canada). Then I went on to do the special-edition shopping guides at LOULOU, followed by working with ADVENTURA magazine.
My current project is as the National Editorial Director for Cadillac Fairview’s The Experience eMagazine, the online publication that accompanies each one of the company’s several shopping centres across Canada. When I’m not writing or editing, I’m usually cooking, eating, watching movies, or taking Instagrams of my cat Miggy. Somewhere in there I try to fit in fun freelance projects and at least two good trips a years. As you can see, I’m busy. But I’m happy that way.
VG: Why do we care?
PG: That’s a good question. I work in an industry that many would consider superficial: It’s always about What’s new? What’s cool? What’s in fashion? Recently I started to wonder what good am I doing with my life, how can I share what I have with others, and what can I do to make this world a better place. I’ve always wanted to volunteer for a women’s charity and this year I’ll be helping out with Red Door Shoebox Project, an organization that puts together gift boxes filled with little presents and goodies for women at the Red Door family shelter. The idea is to give them hope and love, and to spoil them a little right before the holidays.
I receive so many free make-up samples and skin care products, there just aren’t enough days in the years to use it all up. I’ve also gathered up other girlfriends in media that are as fortunate as I am, so I hope to put together a lot of fabulous shoeboxes filled with joy – and distribute them just in before Christmas, which can be a sad time for many women, particularly those staying at shelters. The Red Door is actually a shelter in Toronto which Jessica Mulroney runs there. I’ll be talking with her to learn from her experience and I’m looking to work with a shelter a little bit closer to home, here in Montreal.
VG: What makes you tick?
PG: Passion. Creativity. Talent. Honesty. Change. Ambition. The sun. The moon.
VG: Name your top 5 personality traits or characteristics that you feel have enabled you to be so successful.
PG: Perseverance. Patience. Naïveté. Curiosity. Resourcefulness.
VG: Where are you right now?
PG: I’m in bed because this is also my office. If you want to zoom out a bit, right now I’m in Montreal because I came here for love. Lucky for me, I’m still with that same guy.
VG: If you didn’t have to work to make money, what would you do?
PG: First I’d study to be a chef. Then I’d travel to the Philippines and work to make Filipino food an internationally recognized cuisine. Sounds crazy, I know. But there are some amazing dishes that most of the world has never heard of. If that went well, I’d write a book about it to spread the word. Second, I’d write a novel, or short stories (this time not about food, more biographical in nature probably), near the ocean or some other great view.
VG: Last charity you gave to, participated in, worked together with?
PG: Well there’s the new, yet-to-be-named charity that I’m working on, which I mentioned above. I’m really looking forward to that final moment when we deliver the shoeboxes. Otherwise, I’ve been mentoring a few young aspiring writers. I’m a great soundboard for ideas and feedback.
VG: Paste your last tweet here: I don’t remember my life pre-iPhone. http://fb.me/1f6LnmNpb
VG: Favorite social media forum?
VG: What is your secret for developing a following?
PG: Be passionate. Be genuine.
VG: So now what?
PG: Soon I’ll launch my personal website that will showcase my portfolio over the last ten years (I’ve been an editor at several prestigious magazines and have been assigned some pretty amazing freelance projects). I’m also launching another website that will outline my latest venture, a custom content business (the magazine work I talked about). It already exists actually, so I’m just making it official. It has a cool name, but that’s a secret I can’t tell you just yet.
VG: Famous last words
PG: “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” ~ Unknown
Pinterest (Loving her Black Book guides and photos)
(photo cred: David Giral)