Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hip and Urban Girl of the Week: Laura Serra

Our HUG of the Week is a well connected young professional in Toronto who reports for the Society Page of the Globe and Mail and she's also the Founder of Paws for the Cause.

Reporting for The Globe and Mail is already awesome enough but you also get to cover the hottest parties and events in the city! How did you land that dream job?

Luck and a smile. I worked at The Globe on the Advertising and dabbled in freelance writing for the Style and T.O. sections. One night, the society columnist couldn’t make her gig so I filled in on a whim. It’s been mine ever since.

What is a typical day in the life of Laura Serra?

Spend the day talking strategy for lifestyle brands at Narrative, which is the PR arm of super-fly agency Bensimon Byrne. I work with a crazy creative team so blue-sky brainstorming sessions are our speciality. After work, I usually hit up Totum Life Science, walk my beautiful Chihuahua Chloe, then either cover an event or meet friends for dinner.

What are some events that you attended in the past that really stood out? (Feel free to talk about the cool people you've met, embarrassing moments, juicy gossip, etc!)

TIFF is always a time to meet interesting people – at the 2010 Vanity Fair party I spent a few key moments with James Franco, which was pretty unforgettable for obvious reasons. The big charity galas are always impressive like the Bell Celebrity Gala, the Venetian Ball, and Scotiabank Innovator’s Ball. Last year’s Suzanne Rogers/Marchesa event was pretty swishy, too, and of course the monthly department store cocktails (Holt Renfrew, The Bay) always bring out a fun crowd and lots of friends – Anna Dello Russo at The Room was definitely one of the biggest of 2011.

Tell us more about your charity, Paws for the Cause!

Paws is a dream come true. I always wanted to do something for animals and to give back and poof! It just happened. My team of 17 and I arrange various events throughout Toronto to raise money for animal-related charities. In 2011, we raised money for the Ontario Veterinary College’s Pet Trust Fund via three events: a weekly lemonade stand in the summer, a dog-wash in Trinity Bellwoods, and our big gala in October.

What did you study in University/College? Would you have done anything differently?

I went to York and studied English Literature. I went to York because all my friends from high school went there. Looking back, I wish I followed my original plans to go to U of T. I think I would have enjoyed the experience more. I don’t regret taking English Literature, but do wish I did some sort of post-grad program for extra merit.

Favourite places to shop in the city?

Clothes/Shoes: Jonathan and Olivia, Holt Renfrew, The Bay white space and The Room
Food: Loblaws, Queen and Portland and Fresh and Wild
Stuff: Drake General Store and Teatro Verde
Art/Home d├ęcor: Vintage shops along Queen at Roncesvalles

Tell us about your neighbourhoods and what you like best about it.

I live/work in King West and hang out in Queen West. I like the separation so I feel like I live in two neighbourhoods, really. King West, where I live, is very quiet and residential, which I love. My office is on Wellington so I enjoy the walk to work, have tons of friends who work in the neighbourhood, and there is a wide selection of great lunch spots, which is important. Queen West is my hood for everything else. It’s where I get my morning coffee on the weekends (White Squirrel), stroll through (Trinity Bellwoods), shop (Ossingtion to Spadina strip) and usually dine at night (Terroni, The Beaconsfield, and The Swan are regular spots).

What advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to break into reporting and covering Toronto's social scene?

Pitch. And pitch more. If you have ideas, get them in the hands of the right people, don’t be afraid of rejection. A successful blog, a sound social media voice, and being good with a camera can’t hurt too. A lot of the media covering events these days are bloggers, freelance photographers, and freelance writers. Be aware of what’s going on in the city and have a unique take on how to report on it.

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