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Women of the week: Michele Romanow

For Michele Romanow, co-founder of Buytopia.ca, there are three words that easily describe both her and her business. “Fun, hardworking, and bold,” she says in her breezy, upbeat tone.

After speaking with her it is hard to disagree that her approach to business is one grounded in hard work. At only 27 this businesswoman has achieved goals that most people twice her age can only dream of. An entrepreneur starting from her days as a student—while completing her undergrad, she started the Tea Room, a zero consumer waste coffee shop—she is now at the helm of her third successful business venture with Buytopia.ca and the key to her success is hard work.

“You always want to be adding the most value,” she advises women who aspire for greatness. “If you’re that person making sure projects always get things done and driving the relationships — if you are constantly the most valuable team member, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or not.”

For Romanow, being bold is a second nature. “I think that we’re bold when we go out to find the best deals for Buytopia. We try to be innovative for brands and I think that’s a huge part of what has made us successful and a huge part of what makes our business work.”

But to her, boldness stems from her personality. Her strong interpersonal skills shine through in every situation, giving her the advantage of winning over others in every walk of life. “I think I’m just a naturally social person. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories, and I think that has given me an advantage in business.”

“I’m a natural extrovert, which means I come up with my best ideas by talking and sharing with people. What really balances my life are the people in it.”

And an advantage it has been. With Buytopia approaching 2 million subscribers the bond that Romanow forges between her company and Buytopia’s users is built upon the strength of communication, trust and, of course, great deals. By striking out to create the same kinds of bonds with national brands Romanow has successfully created a chain of trust from retailer to consumer that is unparalleled in Canadian business.

Romanow’s fun side is also displayed up front and centre. Her infectious laugh and easy demeanour puts others at ease. While many other 27-year-old women might balk at receiving a Mother’s Day note from an employee, to her it is a symbol of something more. “I think of my team at work as family.” As for her real family, she laughs as she explains the universally humbling nature of siblings despite the fantastic level of success she has achieved: “There’s nothing like a sibling to put you in your place.”

In her downtime she switches gears ever so slightly from running a business to running half marathons. For her, running is a calming, focusing experience. “Your body just falls into a rhythm,” she explains of her favourite pastime.

Buytopia is unique in the way it approaches the daily deals business, a field that can be tricky to master. By focusing on delivering quality unique experiences to subscribers they’ve managed to keep the colourfully decorated website in the hearts and minds of members even when they are offline.

“On Buytopia you should be buying things that make your life more wonderful: be it a spa packages or great restaurants, we want you to discover that gem in the city that you’ve never expected and try it out at half price. I want the website to have great pictures and be easy to use for a seamless experience. I don’t want you to be spending time there; I want you to be spending time in your life discovering these great services.”

On the future of web-based businesses, Romanow is looking up. “I’m optimistic the internet will have a lot of wonderful surprises in the years to come.”

Right now it seems like two lovely surprises, Michele Romanow and Buytopia.ca, are already here.

 

Win a McSorley’s night out

McSorley’s is offering one reader the chance to win the perfect Fathers’ Day prize: A set of his & hers McSorley’s T-shirts and gift certificates for beer and food for two.  Think of the fantastic bonding night this prize will let you have. Enter today for your chance to win.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Thursday, June 13th, at 3 p.m.

CONTEST CLOSED

Win a free copy of Mother of Invention

Win a copy of the brand new book, Mother of Invention: How Our Mothers Influenced Us as Feminist Academics and Activists, edited by Vanessa Reimer and Sarah Sahagian. This book takes on feminist theory by inter-splicing scholarly discussion with personal stories and anecdotes and promises to be one of the most interesting reads of the year in Canadian feminist circles, and beyond. Visit Demeter Press for more information.

Enter below for your chance to win a copy of the book. Entries limited to one per day per person.

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DENIAL: Mayor Rob Ford says he is not a crack addict

Rob Ford addressed the media Friday at 3:30 p.m. to address allegations of his crack cocaine use and the video that was viewed by Star and Gawker reporters.

In a prepared statement Ford, flanked by his brother Doug Ford, flat out denied the allegations of him using crack and also added that he is not a crack addict.

He used the press conference to express his displeasure with what he described as hardships endured by his family as a result of this scandal and thanked his supporters for “calls and e-mails” he received.

He noted that his week long silence was the result of advice from his lawyer.

The Mayor also took this time to continually thank the people of Toronto, along with Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday who he described as the best the city could ever ask for. This comes on the heels of Holyday expressing concerns over Ford’s state and expectations that he may have to fill the top slot should Ford step down.

Mayor Ford left the room promptly amidst shouts of rehab related questions from the press and his brother took to the podium, giving a stern look to the press gallery, and answered a short few questions. When reporters shouted out to correct inconsistencies and factual inaccuracies  in his answers, he stuck to the trope that the Star is after the Fords. He asked that they ask the questions and he give the answers, covering no new ground with the press before ending the press conference.

This conference comes after more than a week of silence from Mayor Ford on the matter.

It remains to be seen whether Ford can recover from this scandal. As Councillors have urged him to seek help, co-operation at City Hall may not be possible for long if Ford remains mayor.

5 craziest tweets from Amanda Bynes from the last three days

While we here in Toronto have been watching a meltdown of our own over at city hall poor Amanda Bynes has been steadily losing it south of the border for quite some time.

The star’s Twitter account has been her outlet for a lot of her rambling and rantings, along with racy, sexy photos of herself, not to mention a blow by blow of a surgery she got for something involving her eyes and/or nose that we’re pretty sure no one ever noticed but her.

The starlet, who isn’t really doing much these days after retiring from acting, was arrested Thursday, May 23, in New York City. The cops were called when people complained that she was allegedly rolling and smoking a joint in the lobby. When the cops went up to her apartment on the 36th floor they reportedly saw a bong on the counter. According to the cops she ran to it and threw it out of the window right in front of them.

She says it was just a vase.

Um. Amanda. you can’t do that either.

Here are five of the combative, odd, and confusing tweets she sent out in the days before her arrest.

 

 

 

If you’re following the timeline here it would have been a few hours after that last rant that she allegedly chucked a bong streetside from 36 floors up.
 
You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

HAPPY FRIDAY: Here is a blog dedicated to photos of sloths

As you may have guessed from our previous articles, we here at WP had a love-on for sloths. Luckily we aren’t the only ones. That Sloth Blog is a Tumblr dedicated to bringing you photos of sloths doing sloth things and being slothdorable and slothcool. They sum it up pretty well by saying: “Us, we’re sloth people.” Yup.

Yes, there is a sloth-on-branch cursor on this website.

You are currently counting down the hours until you can use some of these relaxing sloth moves on your couch.

Here are some of our favourites from the blog.

Follow Travis on Twitter: @TravMyers

 

Spring detox day 8-10

I found the last three days to be the hardest of the detox since the food was limited. There were some restaurant quality dishes including the red lentil coconut curry, lentil chickpea sunshine salad, chocolate avocado pudding, and the poppy seed dressing, which was the star of the kale salad with grapes, avocados and almonds. I found these recipes to be the most flavourful. I will start incorporating my own fruit smoothies into my daily breakfast routine.

On May 20th, I had tomato soup for brunch and red lentil coconut curry for dinner. Throughout the day, I had almond milk and coconut milk. I’ll admit that the holiday was hard since I was out of routine and I did give in to three tiny pieces of california roll sushi with soy sauce. Although I did cheat a bit, I didn’t feel too bad since I feel as though I was slowly easing back into my regular diet. It was more of a slow transition.

May 21st was my ninth day on the detox. I decided to make my own cherry and unsweetened cocoa powder smoothie for breakfast and I had the red lentil coconut curry for lunch. For dinner, I had lentil chickpea sunshine salad. During the day, I had rice milk and coconut milk. Prior to class, my friend offered me skittles and I had two since I couldn’t resist. This is much less than I normally would have eaten.

On the last day of the detox, May 22nd, I had tomato soup for brunch and curried quinoa with raisins for dinner. My dessert after dinner was chocolate avocado pudding. Throughout the day, I had coconut milk and almond milk. There was the last teleseminar where the nutritionist talked about “what’s next” and how to keep your eating habits serving you for the long term. I made my own peach smoothie for tomorrow morning.
As I end the detox, I need to start incorporating all of the foods have been eliminated back into my diet. I certainly won’t have a huge cheesy pizza and chocolate cake, but I want to gradually go back to my regular, healthy diet. I will continue using my favorite recipes from the detox and it was great with the abundance of vegetables in every meal. Thanks for joining me through my BarreNourish 10-Day Detox series.

Mayor’s Chief of Staff Towhey removed from Toronto City hall

Mark Towhey is no longer working for the office of the Mayor. On May 23, he was escorted out of City Hall.

A longstanding ally of Mayor Rob Ford, Towhey served as an advisor on the campaign trail and helped to develop Ford’s economic platform.

According to the official press release, “The Mayor thanks Mr. Towhey for his valuable service and wishes him the very best in his future endeavours. Earl Provost, Deputy Chief of Staff, will assume the role of Acting Chief of Staff until further notice.”

Although the press release makes no reference to Ford’s recent scandals, the timing of the dismissal raises a multitude of questions. What was the official reason for the dismissal? What does Towhey know about Ford’s recent troubles?

Towhey has chosen not to elaborate on what he knows, nor on the reaon for his dismissal.

Sarah Thomson, former mayoral candidate, head of the Transit Alliance, and publisher of Women’s Post made the following statement:

“Everyone knows someone who has suffered from drug and/or alcohol addiction. Allowing an addict to deny their addiction or ignore it, does more to enable them than and little to help them. This is why an addict will often cut off anyone who cares enough to try to help them.

That Mayor Ford has let his closest ally go may say more about Mr. Towhey’s strength of character than any of us will ever know.

I am sorry for the predicament Mayor Ford is in, and do encourage him to lean on friends and family for support and advice.”

Finally…a cookbook contest!

Women’s Post is giving one lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of Finally…Food I Can Eat! This is your chance to get your hands on a collection of delectable recipes to sample at will. Expand your kitchen and enter today.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Thursday, May 30th, at 4 p.m.

 

CONTEST CLOSED.

Toronto’s troubled transit: The future lies with Council and the time to act is now

Last year, Toronto City Councillors led by Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Chair Karen Stintz reaffirmed a transit plan that allowed the Government of Ontario and Metrolinx to move forward. But lack of action on it has led to mass frustrations amongst Torontonians stuck in traffic on the way to work, packed in subways and buses, or feeling cheated because the transit system does not extend into their neighbourhood or communities. Unfortunately, despite the claims of a number of Councillors and Mayor Rob Ford, change is not happening.

Metrolinx and the TTC have both come out identifying the downtown relief line (DRL) as the next transit priority. It will be a huge relief for TTC commuters from North York and Scarborough, taking pressure off of the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines.

Toronto is a great City, envied by many. But success in recent decades has created challenges. Phrases like “world-class” have little meaning when you are stuck in traffic or have no reasonable transit options to mitigate that traffic. Congestion has been identified by the Toronto Board of Trade (TBOT) and renowned think-tanks as Toronto’s single biggest competitive disadvantage, costing the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Region (GTHA) $6 billion annually. Manufacturers have delays in shipping and moving inventory. Companies with valued and valuable staff waste unproductive time in traffic. If the City does nothing it will be the reason employers and their employees will leave or stay away from our City.

Solving transit gridlock is more than just dealing with individuals’ frustrations. It is making sure this and future generations will available job opportunities, careers and establish roots in Toronto. Millennials coming up in this City are making dramatically different choices about how they want to live and work. The City needs to be able to react to this and we need to be able to build a City for the future.

The City’s elected officials must be honest with themselves. Toronto is now paying the price for having done nothing over the past 20 years. That price of “doing nothing” will only increase. How much more is Eglinton going to cost today than if we had not stopped building it almost 20 years ago?

What will the cost of inaction be for all of us?

Whether and individual drives a car, takes the train, rides a bike or walks, a good public transit network is a necessity for a City the size of Toronto. Transit, like health care and education, is a public good. Everyone benefits from a transit system that works.

A sensible government must realize that unlocking our City’s transit mess will not come cheap. There are no magic solutions; there is no transit fairy or money tree.

City Council recently voted to reject revenue tools. It is time to put this in perspective.

First of all, that phrase fools no one. This is a conversation about taxes and tolls.

I have long considered myself a fiscal conservative. I generally support keeping budgets slim, regulations limited, and taxes low. I disagreed with the previous Mayor’s wasteful spending. I believe Mayor Ford’s agenda of cutting costs and engaging the private sector in outsourcing initiatives to be in the best interest of the City of Toronto. However, when it comes to spending money on unjustified and unfunded transit projects, a self-identified fiscal conservative has to say, “No.”

So when it comes to calling for new taxes, not a single advocate is doing it lightly. I believe in frugality when it comes to government spending, however I know that transit and subways are not built for free. A revolution of common sense at City Hall would allow the current administration’s power brokers to realize that they must find a way to pay for the transit infrastructure we need.

As Chair Stintz proclaimed on Twitter following Council’s decision to reject dedicated revenue, ‘Saying something and doing nothing is still “doing nothing”.’

The City still has a chance to be innovators. Now is City Councillors’ chance to be city builders and help restore pride in a city that works. The only question is; will they have the political will, or won’t they?

 

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @JordanAGlass