Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Why sky works: the launch process

This week I launched my third 'White Issue' since becoming the publisher in 2012.  I call it the ‘White Issue’ but it really just means Winter. It’s not ‘holiday’ because it spans December - March.

SKY does not have issues that espouse to contain the ‘best of the best’, or the ‘top this or that’; SKY is about good things from issue to issue, and the people who make them happen.  Every single issue is special, and every single square inch of content is like a jewel to me, whether it is an advertisement, a sponsored feature, or an editorial story.

The White Issue has special significance for me personally as it is an anniversary of sorts because this is where I began this journey into the magazine and marketing industry after leaving a 20 year career as a corporate planner and strategic communicator.

In order to provide good and inspiring editorial content, there has to be a strong value proposition for businesses to want to advertise in SKY.  In my research over the past three years, I have looked at what the big magazines are saying about this industry and their competitive response.  

In the magazine business, as in all business, it’s really an elephant and mouse situation.  There are advantages to being large (elephants), including more resources to invest in the business. By contrast, small businesses (mice) tend not to have resources at hand readily to invest in growth.  Elephants have a large infrastructure to move and may not be too nimble. Mice can be more nimble - if they see the opportunity and can organize efficiently and effectively in order to change the business on the run.

In the magazine business, it is generally felt that to be valuable to our clients - the advertiser - we need to provide good editorial content, high quality, beautiful pages, and be their marketing company, not just their advertiser.  

Over the years, I have been working to change SKY from a traditional print quarterly focused on advertising content only to a hybrid that combines print and digital mediums with a goal to increase my clients’ visibility.

Entering its third year in business under yours truly, SKY Magazine is now a quarterly publication that includes high quality, intelligent and targeted advertising content as well as editorial content with a marketing add-on.

Over the past three years,  SKY Magazine has grown to include a website and online magazine, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Linkedin.  SKY is also posted on issue.com, which has great options including downloading to digital devices, or clipping and sharing. We have an affiliation with Metro Living Zine in Vancouver, which not only increases opportunity for everyone on the pages of SKY, it can attract larger advertisers and ultimately assist in the expansion of the magazine. 

To be nimble, the key is to be well organized and be able to leverage the tools of this trade to communicate effectively. And I love to communicate. It’s really like breathing to me.

We print 32,000 copies of SKY.  While it is on the press, SKY is launched digitally. Soon thereafter Canada Post begins distribution of some 30,000 copies to high income homes in Regina,Saskatoon, Lumsden, Craven, Moose Jaw, Estevan and Weyburn.  I distribute up to 2,000 magazines to businesses featured on the pages of SKY Magazine as well as to subscribers.  

Here’s what my day looks like on launch day. 
1.  All social media sites are updated with new favicons and new imagery in the following order: 
  • Website 
  • Issuu.com
  • Tumblr 
  • Twitter 
  • Instagram
  • Pintertest 
  • Facebook 
  • Email 
  • Blog 
2.  Magazines are hand delivered (by me) to each of the businesses featured in the magazine.  After each delivery, I post their business and advertisement directly on Instagram, which is then uploaded to Facebook and Twitter.  To be honest, I love to see their reaction and it gives me a chance to chat further about their business and opportunities for marketing their business. 

3. Once all the issues are delivered to those featured or advertising on the pages of SKY, their content and other additional content is uploaded to myskymag.com, which is shared regularly through our social media sites. 

4. Throughout the quarter, I monitor social media and re-post my client’s posts. I also post additional content, including new products and services that my clients are offering, attend their events and post images and promote them at every chance. I do not charge for this service. 

SKY works for my clients because I work for them, personally.  I get to know their business, use their products and services, wear the clothes they sell, eat their food, wear their makeup, attend and sponsor their events, and rock their shoes and accessories.

I get to know their industries and their concerns, and I am always thinking about strategy as to how I can help elevate their awareness in the market place.  SKY is my passion and my love, but my clients are the reason I am here.  I believe in them or they wouldn’t be on my pages. 

So launching a new magazine is not the end of a process, it is the beginning and an opportunity to promote the people and businesses on my pages because I believe in them. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Beauty Gives Back

Our beautiful Dionne Warner, eight time cancer survivor and warrior.  Such an amazing woman.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Winter Issue: The Song Behind the Story

It's Friday, November 21 and I am drafting the layout for the Winter Issue of SKY Magazine.  This is my third Winter Issue, since I became the Publisher of SKY Magazine so this is even more special to me.

The central message behind the Winter Issue is Giving and my wish for all of us.  This is my song. Enjoy, and take a few minutes to think about what giving means to you.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Giving Awareness and the Season of White

Today I was on my way to the store to buy lights for the house in anticipation of the season of giving.  A very important person sped up behind us on the road, and passed us in the turning lane, and then proceeded to run the red light on his or her way onto the Ring Road.  I can only imagine how important that person must be to place at least 20 other families at risk at that very moment. 

As Publisher of SKY Magazine, I promote my clients and their businesses relentlessly. I wear their clothes, use their products, talk about them in my day to day life and on the SKY social media network, and when asked, I refer people to my clients because I know what they do, and I believe in them to the point where I would put my own reputation on the line.

Sometimes, I am surprised to learn that the people requesting a reference from me have never heard of the business that I am suggesting.  That always surprises me a bit, since many of them have been in business for up to 10 years, and of course, I am relentlessly talking about them.  But people are busy and often in a hurry, worrying about work and family.

Most of us forget what we had for breakfast, and sometimes we don’t realize how our decisions and choices affect others in the community.

Promoting the businesses on the pages of SKY Magazine is the easiest thing I do because I believe in them 100%. They are great businesses, run by great people with a very high level of integrity and ethics. They carefully curate their offerings so that people like you and me will look and feel unique as we walk about during our busy lives.

Learning to slow down a bit and take it in is a part of giving awareness.  How we walk about the world (or drive) says something about who we are. Making the decision to shop for those things that say something about ‘who I am’  is one way to slow down and think about it.  After all, every day begins with getting dressed, so you may as well put on clothes that say something about you.

What we wear, eat, and use does say something about us.  To shop at a local business says 'I appreciate and support my community’.  It says 'I like that we have these unique businesses, each run by an impassioned person who loves what he or she is doing, and is doing it for yours and my enjoyment.'

So, just like the very important person who blew the light this morning with no regard given to others, so do we when we blindly shop and buy without awareness sometimes. In all facets of our lives, slowing down can begin with a check in, by asking ‘Do my values line up with the values of the business to whom I am giving my hard earned money and time?’

The Christmas season is coming, and I know that the shops in Regina are full of amazing things for you to enjoy. I hope you take the time to seek them out and enjoy them, and that way, the Regina business owners can enjoy their Christmas too.

To find out where to shop, you can visit www.myskymag.com to download the latest issue.

Cheers and happy giving.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Born to be Wild: The Making of the Red Issue

By Lynn Armstrong

There is always a song in my mind with each issue that plays over and over again. A song that calls out to me, and eventually I start to sing along. From there, SKY begins to take shape. Stories are written. Photographs are taken. Pages are designed, and the story of living well begins to be told. That is my process. The Fall SKY is inspired by the song ‘Born to be Wild’, the feeling of the open road, the smell of leather and the freedom of fringes and good old-fashioned defiance. Thank you to Fallon Huffman who brings the spirit of the traveller and the feeling of the open road to life on the cover. The Fall SKY is inspired by all things wild and free, and to those who are ready to fly.  

Searching for a location for the photo shoot.  

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the sky that night. 

Testing the open road concept - that’s my husband behind the camera. That’s me walking. 

Had to stop and let the wind blow.  Gotta love the prairie at sunset. 

Twirl.  You would too.  

Now you know what a bird on a wire is. 

The Traveller’s Journey includes a really awesome car. Originally I was thinking motor cycles, but then I thought,
why not go with the most beautiful car in the world. This is our 1967 Mustang. It has a 390 under the hood and it’s original with matching numbers.  She is ready for her moment in the sun. 

She is a beauty.  

Choosing the angle for the cover photo. That’s where the SKY wordmark goes - in the upper left hand corner. 

Shooting the cover, with Fallon Huffman and Carey Shaw. 

The Traveller’s Journey.  #girlboss 

That’s Merv.  He came to make sure nothing happens to the car. #nervousfather 

Fallon Huffman - the Traveller 

Sun was beginning to set. The bugs were getting intense. But the process continues.  

And it’s a wrap.  

We Are Going Places


Lynn Armstrong, Publisher
Photo credit: Greg Huszar
SKY Magazine: Living Well in Saskatchewan
Fall 2014 Red Issue 

never the same.  It moves with the wind and guides us. We look up to the sky, every day, and we marvel at its beauty. SKY Magazine is a living
brand that is enduring, intelligent and beautiful.

We exist to celebrate all the good things under the sun, and the people who make them happen. SKY Magazine does not stand still. It endures by continually reinventing itself, always striving to delight, inform and inspire our readers. This is the story of SKY Magazine: Living Well. We are fashion. We are lifestyle. We are business. We are health and wellness. We are a visual muse and a reliable source of own-able style. We turn the unexpected into the coveted.

SKY Magazine is a quarterly magazine about the people of and from Saskatchewan who are living in their vision wherever the road may take them. We tell the stories of Saskatchewan people and promote their businesses wherever they are. We produce SKY to be seen and read. Each quarter, 32.000 magazines are printed and distributed to homes and businesses in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Lumsden, and now Weyburn and Estevan.

We have our sights set on larger markets because we know there are Saskatchewan people out there with stories to be told and businesses to be promoted. 

For those on the go, SKY Magazine can be downloaded and read on line at https://issuu.com/myskymag.  Our online magazine, www.Myskymag.com features stories
and promotions in SKY Magazine as well as new stories and promotions.

To find out what’s happening under the SKY, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
for daily updates. We have begun taking subscriptions as well.

Thank you to Greg Huszar, Amber Moon for your creative genius.  We are pleased to welcome Bob
Hunko to the team as our Advertising Sales guru. We are going places. See you in SKY.

A Traveller’s Journey - The Red Issue - Fall 2014

Fallon Huffman, Entrepreneur
Photo credit: Carey Shaw
SKY Magazine: Living Well Fall 2014
The Red Issue 

Fallon Huffman, #QueenV #Phenom

“If you could do anything, and not fail, what would it be?” he asked. The traveller replied, “I would open a boutique, choose my own products and direct my own photo shoots. I would follow my values and be in control of my own vision and my own brand. I would be free.”

 THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME SHE HAD HEARD HERSELF SAY IT OUT LOUD, and from that moment forward she began her journey. One year later, her vision became a reality. In September 2012, Fallon Huffman (Mazurkewich) launched Queen V Fashion House on Broad Street in Regina’s Warehouse District. 
“I went in search of discovering what it would take to bring my vision to life after I heard myself say it out loud. I read books, did the research and followed my vision to Queen V.” 
“The Queen V muse is brave. She is unique and the creative. She embraces fashion as an expression of ‘who I am’. Queen V is for the woman who appreciates ripped jeans and sequins, statement making jewelry and accessories and graphic t-shirts. The Queen V collection is for the woman of any age who loves and lives style and standing her own ground.” 
“I chose the letter V because it is the Roman numeral for five, which is also represented as a five-point star symbolic of a woman. I also love the oppositional quality of words that begin with the letter v: virtue, vice, victory, villainous, virtuous, visible, vulnerable . . . these words are not for the faint of heart, and neither is Queen V.”
Fallon launched Queen V in the national and international market place in February 2012 first by creating the website, www.queenv.co and reaching out to the brands that she wanted to bring to Regina. First came Club Manhattan, then House of Harlow 1960, One Teaspoon, Religion, Spiritual Gangster, and Bardot Australia. Queen V Fashion House, the store, opened in September, eight months later in October 2012. November 2012 she launched the online store in Canada and in June 2013, she opened the online store to the United States. 

The Queen V vision led to the creation of the High Priestess brand – which started as an in-store brand exclusive to Queen V, with signature jewelry pieces. What began as a differentiation tool soon became a business and soon after she began selling select pieces of the High Priestess brand to a shop in Saskatoon.

From there, the young entrepreneur created Villa Fashion Agency + Distributors (villafashionagency.com), a jewelry distribution sister company to house and distribute across Canada the Club Manhattan and High Priestess brands.
In her first year of business, Queen V’s interactive social media strategy captured the hearts of 20-somethings, sparking a #QueenV cult following on Instagram. She quickly learned she had a knack and photographer’s eye for fashion, styling and buying. In just two years, Queen V Fashion House online has grown into a one-stop shop and online retail haven with a progressive following of fashion risk-takers.
“People Instagram beautiful pictures of themselves wearing the clothes they love from Queen V, and I am so honoured that they love them that much to share them with the world.” 
Today, Fallon’s bold style is synonymous with motorcycle jackets, rock tees, shredded denim and an occasional red lip— all elements of the fashion retailer’s intrinsic personal taste.
With a relentless obsession over all things web and social media, Fallon has propelled her brand’s unforgettable aesthetic on every channel including more than 5,608 followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined and growing. These carefully curated pages have translated ‘likes’ into sales. Fallon has revolutionized marketing with a business built almost entirely on unpaid social media from day one, drawing thousands of visitors back to the Queen V site every month. In addition, Queen V Fashion House has piqued the imaginations of fashion bloggers who help bring the Queen V story to life. 
In 2014, Fallon was a finalist for the Chamber of Commerce Paragon Award in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category. She was also nominated for the 2014 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the category of Entrepreneurship & Innovation. But there is more ahead for this traveller. Fallon Huffman is looking to the future with her eyes wide open, her vision fixed on the sustainable growth of the Queen V brand. 

“Learning what it takes to be a sustainable business is about understanding and managing risk, managing relationships and walking fearlessly and unapologetically. Our community has a way to go towards understanding how to build an entrepreneurial economy.”

“Local businesses help create a vibrant and unique municipal culture. In order for our city to thrive – we need to support local restaurants, boutiques and shops. ‘Every time you are spending your money, you are casting a vote for the world you want to live in,’ she says, quoting Anna LappĂ© - a widely respected author and educator. 
“Queen V is part of a greater vision. To have the freedom to live in that vision is part hustle and grind, part strategy and part courage. We are a force in the Saskatchewan retail world, and we hope to inspire people to expect and seek out creative and innovative style that local businesses bring to the market.”
Queen V Fashion House
#101 - 1118 Broad Street
Regina, Saskatchewan

A Raven, A Road and a Vision for Freedom - SKY Magazine Red Issue Fall 2014


Fallon Huffman, Entrepeneur | Photo credit: Carey Shaw
To walk through the doors of Queen V Fashion House in Regina’s Warehouse District is to find oneself in the heart of its creator, Fallon Huffman (Mazurkewich), who possesses the intellect of raven and the heart of a freedom-loving entrepreneur. Clear white walls and a well-appointed silver logo sparkling in the sunlight tell the story of a meticulously polished runway-like retail shopping experience. 

But the details reveal the soul of this entrepreneur’s quest for freedom. Inspired by Jack Kerouac, author of “On the Road”, Queen V is for “the ones who never yearn or say a commonplace thing . . .”. A curious collection of ravens, antlers, metals, denim, sequins, sweaters and dresses is carefully curated for the fearless and the vigilantly independent. 

The lone entrepreneur has held her ground in the local competitive market place formidably and created an online and real time destination shop for those seeking refuge from the noisy mundanity of every day fashion.  This is the journey of a traveller.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Dionne

“Today I am truly blessed and HAPPY to say I made it another year! Woo Hoo!  I beat the odds thanks to the love and support of my incredible Wingman G and all the Earth Angels out there who have kept us in their prayers and continued to support us on our journey.  I am officially 49 and feeling Oh So Fine!” - Dionne Warner, on her Facebook page.   

 Today is the 49th birthday of the most amazing person I have ever met in my life time. Dionne Warner is an eight time cancer survivor, but she is so much more.

I first learned about Dionne’s journey at the YWCA  Women of Distinction Awards night in 2010. I was first stuck by her fabulous earrings and her unmistakable beauty. She was wearing a strappy evening dress. When she got up to speak, I saw the scar that runs up the back of her head.  Somehow it made her more beautiful, more proud.  As she spoke about her journey through cancer, all I could see was her strength and an irrepressible spirit.  We all cried that night.

In 2012, I was to meet her at an event where I was promoting SKY Magazine. Dionne came by and introduced herself, but of course I already knew her name. She was smiling and looking more fabulous than fabulous. I asked her, ‘how do you do it?’ She replied, “I surround myself with only the most positive people.” And then she said jokingly, “You should  do a story about me.”  I replied, “I will someday.”

In May 2014, I sponsored “Just Walk it Off”, a fashion show fundraiser. I was also a model in the show, along with three amazing women who were also cancer survivors, Jodean, Nicki and Leah.  They had never met each other before that day, but when they started to share their stories about their cancers, they could finish each other’s sentences.  I listened in awe, speechless, and humbled by these great women.

That night, Dionne was speaking, telling her story to a room of about 200. As we waited in line for the fashion show to begin, I thought - here’s Dionne, an eight time cancer survivor, and these amazing women, Nicki, Leah and Jodean who give of themselves so that others can hope. I have access to 32,000 homes, I thought.  I wanted to help them share their message.  And so I made a decision that night to dedicate the Summer SKY to their stories.  I asked Dionne to be on the cover, and she gratefully accepted. I called it the Karma Issue, because it truly is and was a labour of love to write their stories.

When the Summer SKY was published and distributed in July, the emails and social media response was incredible. Their stories touched literally thousands of people, all of whom could relate to their stories. Telling their stories gave way to more stories that continue today.  To measure the power of their stories is the measure the depth of hope.  It was as if their words had found their way to the people who needed to hear them, so that they could find the words to share the message of hope to other survivors.

Dionne is more than a woman. More than a cancer survivor. Dionne is a true hero, a warrior and a messenger of hope.

Sometimes people ask me what Dionne does for a living. I tell them, she gives hope, she fights cancer and she lives every moment of every day to the fullest.  Dionne is the epitome of strength, humility and grace.

Dionne changed my life just by allowing me to enter hers and tell her story. To walk alongside Dionne is to help carry her message of hope.  And I happily and gratefully accept it.

Happy birthday Dionne.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

I am too young for beige.

This week I attended Vancouver Fashion Week to see my daughter Sara Armstrong present her Spring Summer 2015  collection on the runway.  I was wearing a piece from her 2012 collection, suitably lived in rolled up Levis (circa 1996), and a pair Vince Camuto heels.  A woman asked me, 'who are you?'  I said,  I am wearing Sara Armstrong, and I am just her mother.

I later learned that she is a publisher of an online magazine here in Vancouver, and she was impressed by my style. She asked if I was a writer, and I said yes, and a publisher of a magazine based in Saskatchewan.

We talked about the untapped market for ‘women of a certain age’ in terms of style.  At that point, I realized the juxtaposition between being 52 and not wearing head to toe beige and elastic waist pants was what drew her to me.

Women of a certain age. What does that mean? I didn’t realize until that moment that I was one of those.

I do notice that women of a certain age are often styled in beige, as if she is about to disappear into the twilight of her life.  That is not my aesthetic.  Not my way.  In fact, I don’t own beige in my closet, and aside from my yoga pants that I wear exclusively to yoga and the gym, there are no elastics in my pants.

I might be somebody’s mother, but I do have a pulse. And so should we all.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Muse

She is outspoken.
She loves style and fashion.  
She will choose getting her nails done before buying cereal. 
She pays extra money for rips in her jeans.
Sequins call out to her from across the room.
She likes to sparkle.
High heels are a staple in her wardrobe. 

The Fall Song: Born to be Wild

There is always a song in my mind. One that plays over and over again. A song that calls out to me, and eventually I start to sing along.  This is my process. I am the publisher, editor, writer and owner of SKY Magazine. 

The Fall SKY is inspired by Born to be Wild, the feeling of the open road, the smell of leather and the freedom of fringes and good old fashioned defiance. The Fall SKY is inspired by all things  wild and free.  The Fall SKY is coming soon.  Watch for it.  

Vancouver Fashion Week: Can’t wait to see you.

Friday, August 29, 2014

I have a ‘still’ story

It is with great humility and gratitude that I am able to post this ‘still’ story with permission by Tango Warrior, three time cancer survivor. 

In the still of the morning light I still plant each foot down with a 'Thank' and 'You’.

My breath still reaches into each new day and your faces still appear to me as the smiles I met.

Thanking you still for being the beautiful spirits you are.

Still, everyday is a chance to get it right while stilling my chaotic life right now.

Am finally divorced and more freely, still me.

Still waiting to hear from PDAP regarding my claim re: flooded basement.

Still hope for having my own home mine for the winter.

Doctoring still with follow ups, next in October and December.

My oncologist still evasive, saying only, see you in 3 months, still living the 'no news is good news' and still believing the curb holds all I have kicked there. Finding joy, a continuous and welcomed process still.

I am in a financial stillness with whom my bank and debtors and I are still not liking, still the bare minimums met to buy me more still more time.

Keeping still my graceful strength in God Almighty for in all this stillness He resides in me and will always still be beside me.

Looking forward still to a future date with you four dynamic women! I am still okay. "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise" (still the best catchphrase of Gomer Pyle) Laughing still.

Still Spiral,

Tango Warrior, three time cancer survivor

Posted with permission by its creator.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Warriors Under the SKY: Summer 2014 Karma Issue

Dionne and Graham Warner:
The Warrior and her Wingman

 Dear Friends,

I am very proud to publish SKY Magazine and share it with our readers. Each quarter, SKY celebrates the amazing people who live in vision and who inspire others to live in vision too. Like the changing skies of Saskatchewan, the colour of the SKY word mark changes in each issue to reflect the central theme and message. 

This issue, the colour of the SKY is lavender, which represents all cancers. 

Dionne Warner, eight-time cancer survivor, graces the cover of the Summer SKY “Karma Issue”, so named because Dionne is the essence of ‘doing good things’ in her dedication to bringing hope to those fighting cancer. I am pleased to share the story of Dionne and her husband and ‘Wingman’ Graham. I am also honoured to share the stories of three amazing women, Nicki Bayfield-Ash, Leah Barnard and Jodean Howie in ‘Warriors Under the SKY. 

Jodean: Tango Warrior
Nicki: The Patient Nurse 
Leah:  Miracle Mother 

If you haven’t read it yet, please take the time. These stories are written to help raise hope among cancer survivors and their families.  

The Summer SKY digital version can be seen at www.myskymag.com and http://issuu.com/myskymag/docs/summersky_final2014.  

There are limited hard copies left, so please contact us if interested. 

Thank you so much for your ongoing support. I look forward to seeing you soon.


Lynn Armstrong, Publisher

Friday, July 25, 2014


Karma is a selfless act of giving back so that other good things may come.  

Dionne Warner is the essence of karma.  She is dedicated to sharing hope with cancer survivors and their families. 

Her message:  There is life before, during and after cancer. 

People call her Warner Warrior D.  I have never met a person more vibrant than Dionne Warner. She literally fills a room with her very presence. She is a beacon of hope for cancer survivors and their families, and she is kicking cancer's butt every single day of her life, like a warrior on a mission.

The love story of Dionne Warner, eight time cancer survivor and her undeniably handsome wingman Graham Warner  transcends cancer. Theirs is a story about living, loving and sharing hope.

In my journey with this amazing couple, both as a guest in their home and in the community, at the hospital when Dionne was signing books, and through the feedback that I have received from the story, I am taken aback by the wake of healing and hope that is possible when we care enough about each other.

"Every day is a gift. Valentines Day, birthdays, anniversaries celebrations are difficult to make 'special' because we really do feel like every day we share together is so special and a gift." - Dionne and Graham Warner, The Love Story of a Warrior and her Wingman. 

While I was writing the issue and talking about it in the community, one person said, "I don't like to talk about cancer. I think the more we talk about it, the more we manifest it."  I asked this person if she was speaking from the perspective of having had cancer. She said, "no, have you?"  "Not that I know of," I replied.

We are afraid of cancer because it touches each one of us.  As Graham said to me, it has no defining path - it just travels, and that is why is it important to live a healthy life.

Despite the education, the fundraising and the social marketing that surrounds the topic of cancer, there is a story that we never hear about.That is the story of the survivor and their experience. Stories are important because knowing the story validates the experience.

During my journey, I talked with many other people who are also cancer survivors, and they each told me that in treatment, there is a lot of support, but once treatment is over, the survivor is on her or his own. Nicki said, "life after cancer creates a new normal.  This is my new normal."

I interviewed each of these amazing people - more accurately I asked some questions, and then I just listened.  They talked. I cried (or tried not to).  Over the days of writing the stories, I dreamt about cancer.  It made me aware of the importance of regular check ups.  (I have been putting off my own breast exam  for two years, and I booked the appointment).

Nicki Bayfield-Ash, A Patient Nurse. 

The patient nurse, Nicki Bayfield-Ash, colorectal cancer survivor taught me about how vulnerable we are as people - even those of us who appear strong on the outside.

"Life after cancer is precious.  Do not put off your regular screening.  Have faith and hope.  If the people around you give up, it would be easy to give up. I've got four kids and my husband John who never gave up on me.  My friend Dianne who lost her battle to cancer told me, 'you have to fight this.'"

Leah Barnard, A Miracle of Marriage and Motherhood

Leah Barnard survived Ewing's Sarcoma, a childhood cancer that took her leg, but not her spirit. They told her she would never have children, and she has two miracle babies.  Leah taught me that 'never' is a word that should be stricken from our language.

"I believe I was given this because I could beat it.  It if was given to someone else, they may not be able to. So this was meant to be."

Jodean Howie, Tango Warrior

Jodean has kicked cancer's butt three times - thyroid, cervix and breast. This warrior poet is a true vision of strength, grace and an undeniable passion for living.

"I choose happiness.  I don't know that I wouldn't be angry if I didn't have the power to make life humorous.  There are moments that are not happy, but they are just moments.  Not life.  When I wake up in the morning, I put down one foot, then the other, and then I break out in a 'Thank You!' spiral."

Warriors under the sky.

I am so grateful to these warriors who invited me into their life and allowed me to share their story.

With over 31,000 copies of the magazine now distributed, and online I hope that I can help share Dionne, Graham, Nicki, Leah and Jodean's stories.

Thank you. 

I would like to thank the businesses and who are also part of SKY Magazine, because without their support, this story would not have been written:

  • National Crane Services Ltd., Lynear Thinking Strategy and Communications Ltd. (Cover sponsors); 
  • Barbara March-Burwell, RBC Dominion Securities, 
  • Swervin's Indoor Racing Inc., 
  • Zoes Boutique, 
  • Cuppa T Speciality Teas, 
  • Seed Sustainable Style, 
  • Queen V Fashion House, 
  • Metro Pet Market, 
  • Blush Beauty Bar, 
  • Sara Lindsay Makeup Studio, 
  • KitchenGear, 
  • Untarnished Memories, 
  • BeadPlus, 
  • Serenity Convalescent Care, 
  • Orr Centre, 
  • Children's Wish Foundation
  • Greg Huszar, Photography 
  • Amber Moon, SKY Magazine Designer

Call to Action. 

 Summer SKY Digital

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Warriors Under the Summer SKY

Staci Blayone, Dionne Warner
Spring SKY 2014
Photo Credit:  Scott Goodhill 
On May 24, 2014, I had the pleasure of participating in Just Walk It Off, a fundraiser / fashion show lead by Staci Blayone, owner of Lane Designs.  I was very proud to sponsor the event in the Spring Issue to help raise funds and awareness.  On that night, $6,150.00 was raised for Cancer research.

Dionne ‘Warrior’ Warner, eight time cancer survivor shared the journey that she and husband Graham Warner have lived. Their book, “Never Leave Your Wingman” tells a story of hope and love.

I was in the back room along with the other models, three of whom are also cancer survivors.  As we chatted over wine before the show, Leah, Jodean and Nicki shared their stories. Even though they had not met before that night, they could practically finish each other’s sentences.  I was taken aback by their courage and strength. They reminded me of my friends, Bijal and Chantal, who both lost their battles to cancer at a very young age.

I thought of my grandmother who fought valiantly after being diagnosed in her late 70’s and endured radiation and chemotherapy. She lived to be 89, and that was still too early for her incredible light to go out.   I gave the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral, and I remember saying, I can’t imagine the world without her light.

As I was waiting for Dionne to finish speaking, and for the Staci to give us the signal that the fashion show was to begin, I was thinking about Leah, Nicki, Jodean and Dionne, I realized that I had been given a rare gift - an insight into not just cancer, the disease, but into the human experience.  I wanted to help others see what I could see in that moment.

As a writer and publisher, I have this amazing tool that can reach thousands of people. Through the stories of people, words have the power to change minds and change behaviour. Words have the power to move us from complacency to caring, from inaction to action.

As soon as the show was over,  Dionne and Graham were signing books.  I went over and asked Dionne to be my next cover and she said yes.

Dionne and Graham signed my book:
“Dearest Lynn!  Let’s keep hope alive, my earth angel friend!! :)  Enjoy. Dionne.
 “Never say whoa in the middle of a slough!” wrote Graham.

The following Monday, I asked Leah, Nicki and Jodean, and they too agreed. I am honoured beyond words.

Today is National Cancer Survivors’ Day. The Summer SKY is dedicated to the warriors fighting cancer, past, present and future.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Designer's Strategic Intent

My strategic planning / journalist / publisher / fashionista diva brain was on overload this weekend at Saskatchewan Fashion Week, which I was pleased to once again attend in Regina.  This is the third year  of the event in Regina. Earlier this year, I also attended Vancouver Fashion Week.  

Saskatchewan Fashion Week (SFW) is an entrepreneurial venture, brought to life by three entrepreneurs and a team of talented and committed people.  Over the past days, it has been described as a show, a party and an experience.   It had all the trappings that fashion shows tend to have:  designers, models, a runway, lights, cameras snapping, bloggers and writers. The hope is that something on the runway will create a buzz and attract attention.

I love fashion shows for the fashion. I have a soft spot for the designers, as many on the runway are people I have come to know. I am also the mother of a fashion designer now living in Vancouver, so I understand a little more about what it takes to be seen on the runway.

The audience seemed to enjoy and appreciate the event.   One woman said, "We need to do more of this.  It's so nice to see who our designers are and what they offer."  I suggested she visit the designer after the show and shop their lines.

Integration with the retail industry is an important part of the designer's world, since that is ultimately how a designer can one day make a living as a designer.  In 2013, SFW hosted  27 designers on the runway.  A city-wide Katwalk of more than 20 independent retail destinations and specialty services providers offered a premier shopping experience with exclusive promotions in celebration of SFW.

This year there was no formal Katwalk, per se.  Instead nine retailers and 20 designers shared the runway over three nights at Saskatchewan Fashion Week. As a strong advocate of local independent business, I believe every opportunity to remind people  about our independent retail is a good thing.

Fashion shows are really job interviews or trade shows on runway.  Some say they are about the art of fashion and design.  Fashion shows are the place where designers present what we will be wearing in the coming seasons.  From the fashion show to the racks of retailers they go, and the circle of life is complete when we buy the designs at our local retailer.

Fashion shows are the designer's opportunity to present their products and vision to potential buyers.  It's a big commitment for the designer.  Each look that walks the runway represents the heart and soul of its creator.  Designers do what they do out of love and vision.  But how does love translate to making a living?

Speaking from a business strategy perspective, I couldn't help but think about the level of financial risks the designers had taken to walk the runway and how long it would take for them to see a return on their investment (ROI) in Saskatchewan, and how the rest of the world would find them.

 Ester Knight's Moon Star Designs at Saskfashionweek on May 8, 2014

My inner accountant emerges as I start adding the looks on the runway.  If one where to quantify the full cost of a collection, including: the designer's time to conceive, create and manage from the outset to the packing up their cars after the show, the hours of time that their supporters / helpers gave to their cause, materials, transportation, entry fees, model fees, food and residual costs and the opportunity to attract fashion buyers, would the business case be there?

My daughter has presented her designs in Regina's 2012 and 2013 shows and Vancouver's show in 2014.  I can say from experience that conservatively each designer spends a minimum of $5000 to be seen on the runway for those brief moments.

The runway is part of a broader marketing strategy. Pre and post marketing activities, including film production, look books, website, branding and post production (assuming there are orders) are additional costs to be considered in the equation.

Realizing Return on Investment (ROI) in a timely manner is the key.  At some point, the designer needs income to begin the cycle of investment again.

The business of Fashion Design is business that requires a strategy and money.  The designer's strategic intent (his or her why) must be clearly defined and understood in the designer’s mind. If the designer's goal is to create a custom design market then the local runway show is a good place to be seen.  If the designer's strategic intent is to expand into broader markets and move to mass market production, their runway needs to attract buyers, and their marketing efforts will need to be tailored to the people who can make the connections.  Whatever the strategic intent,  somehow the runway has to be part of the ROI, unless it is purely entertainment.

Visit www.saskatchewanfashionweek.com