Peruse this famous list and see if you can work out what they all have in common: Simple Minds. John Logie Baird. Kenny Dalglish. Sir Alex Ferguson. Billy Connolly. James McAvoy. Gordon Brown. Groundskeeper Willie.
Yes, that’s correct — they all hail from Glasgow, Scotland.
Now you can add Gail McInnes to that exclusive club, because she has finally peaked in her long career and made it on our site as a Successful Brit in Toronto!
In our opinion that’s a real peacock feather in her haute couture cap, but Gail is also the owner of publicity agency Magnet Creative Management and co-owner of the exclusive fashion showroom Stylist Box.
Prior to launching her own successful businesses, Gail founded the groundbreaking The Style Box, Canada’s first-ever Canadian fashion designer rental showroom which catered exclusively to high-profile celebrities, dressing them for the Toronto International Film Festival, Emmy Awards, Gemini Awards and Toronto Fashion Week.
We wanted to ask her “who she was wearing,” but quite frankly that doesn’t make sense, because you usually wear the clothes physically made by the designer rather than the person themselves, which would look really stupid, so we didn’t ask her that.
Instead, we asked her about what makes Toronto her home …
What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?
My family moved to Oshawa from Glasgow in 1989. Fashion Television was the main motivation for me to move to Toronto; it showed me that Canada had a vibrant and growing fashion industry.
I moved to Toronto when I was 18 to attend Humber College’s Fashion Arts Program in the mid-’90s and started my career in fashion.
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
Toronto welcomed me with open arms. I had two goals when I moved to the city to start my career: become a model agent or a fashion show co-ordinator.
Within my first year of school I was offered — and accepted — the position of assistant model agent at one of the country’s top agencies and was also assisting and dressing fashion shows with the city’s top fashion show co-ordinators.
The simplicity of telling people what my goals were helped me get to where I wanted to be.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
I cannot rave enough about how many talented people there are in the fashion and arts scenes in Toronto.
Everyone comes from different backgrounds and upbringings which makes for a very open-minded and creative mindset. Those passionate and driven are the ones who are pushing this city forward and showing how progressive we are as a city.
It has been exciting to see how far even our own fashion community has grown and expanded over the past two decades; and there is still so much more room for even more growth.
The worst aspect of living in Toronto is the winter. Those last weeks seems to drag out and by early March you almost feel like giving up and just staying home forever … but then spring comes and the city suddenly becomes alive and active.
Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?
When I first came to the city, it was hard for me to even find treats from back home. (I can never resist a Cadbury’s Double Decker or an Irn-Bru.)
The Caledonian on College has been my home away from home for the past five years and I’ve since been introduced to so many ex-pats simply by sitting at the bar there. They also serve the most delicious haggis.
I would also recommend The Bristol at Queen and Dovercourt — my inner Whovian just loves that they have a Tardis as their phone booth.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
Toronto is one of those cities where from the outside, it just seems like any other city, but once you open a few secret doors you will discover so many areas that you never knew existed … from art gallery openings, fundraisers, fashion events, great restaurants, shopping, etc.
Getting out there and talking to people about where they go is the best way to unlock the city — and everyone is open to sharing their favourite places to go.