Recently I found myself packing up cold-weather gear and heading west to Calgary. Yep. Calgary. Forget a vacation of sunning myself under an umbrella and listening to the sounds of the waves while I snooze…No. This mom took her husband and two kids for an all-inclusive week of visiting friends in Calgary in the winter (admittedly, we had a few days for skiing in Banff thrown in). So, what did this self-professed city-girl do on those non-ski days? Well, this cow-town is full of surprises, and I located a few fabulous #momfinds I thought I’d share.
1. THE PINTEREST-WORTHY BEAUTY BAR
Tucked away in Calgary’s Marda Loop district is this gem that isn’t just for moms, but for people who like being pampered while sipping on a cocktail/craft beer/locally-roasted espresso (pretty much everyone, right?). Owner Lisa Maric had a former life in oil and gas and decided to reinvent herself by launching a full-service beauty bar. On the menu: blowouts, hair styling, manicure and pedicure, waxing, lash extensions, facials, and guy-specific services. As my bestie and I sipped on lattes (PS: they had almond milk), Lisa gave us the lowdown as to her design inspo: “I wanted it look timeless with a bit of a French-feel, and without being snooty,” she says. Cue polished concrete floors, marble countertops, wood detailing, paired with printed tiles, black accents and vintage stemware (she has a vast collection of antique bowls and champagne glasses, some even house manicure tools and cotton swabs). “It totally feels like my personality,” says Maric. “I’m a flat-out tomboy—not fussy—so I didn’t want it to be too feminine. And nothing matches, but I like that they’re unique in that they have their own story. It’s funny. One morning I’ll come in and I’ll see only women in the pedicure chairs, and the next day I’ll come in and it’ll be all men. I want the space to offer a personalized, premium beauty experience, but also create a community that welcomes everyone.”
The space is also home to bevy of cool beauty brands such as Living Proof, Odacité and Om Organics. While Maric likes to keep her offerings small and curated, she’s a huge supporter of local talent, stocking Calgary-based Bloom Handcrafted Lashes, Rosso Coffee Roasters and a selection of artisanal jewellery.
2. THE HOTEL-STYLED SKIN SPA
Full disclosure: I passed by this building a few times and was wowed by the exterior—painted white brick with swooping black lines spelling out the name—but sadly, never made it in. It may have had to do with being housebound after busting my knee skiing (but that’s another story…) but back in Toronto my thoughts kept shifting back to this beautiful building and what lay beneath. So of course, I began trolling their IG for interior pics and found a Hollywood-style, glam vibe, complete with a yellow velvet, scalloped bench and to-die-for, statement lighting that Elizabeth Taylor would have approved. Hello Gorgeous Skin Lab concentrates primarily on services for the visage, and owner Michelle MacPherson has an extensive resume which includes 28 years of experience working as an electrologist, cosmetician and laser technician, plus a stint at The Elmwood Spa in Toronto. Knowing that I missed out on revealing my inner glow, she’s at the top of my list when I make my stampede-city return.
3. THE HUZZ-FRIENDLY BOîTE
Make time for an adults-only dinner and book yourself into Bridgette Bar. Located in a former brick warehouse (think exposed brick, wooden beams and concrete floors), this resto oozed modern-vintage charm courtesy of the ‘60s BMW and Norton motorcycles dangling from the ceiling, plants in crocheted holders and retro-sport illustrations gracing the walls and menu. After days of waiting on kids, it was a relief to have the favour graciously returned thanks to our witty and attentive server. We even had a chat with Dewy Noordhof, Bridgette Bar’s General manager. Of course, we were there for the food and it didn’t disappoint. Some noteable dishes: charred brussel sprouts, eggplant fries, Waygu beef carpaccio (one of their most popular dishes, and with damn good reason), and my fave, the Maple BBQ Alberta Rainbow Trout with creamed kale. P.S. if you did bring the kiddies, there is a wood-fired pizza on the menu to satisfy any picky eaters.
4. THE UP-MARKET MARKET
Located next to Hello Gorgeous Skin Lab, Our Daily Brett shared the same fate and I missed going inside. However, I’m told by the locals that it’s a must-visit destination. A mini market offering fresh, local foods, owner Brett McDermott stocks his shelves with organic and raw wares such as Truebuch Kombucha, Matcha Ninja Cold-Brew (they’re from Toronto!), as well as their own signature line ODB (Our Daily Brett) line (psst—my friend’s neighbour says the duck confit is ah-mazing!). And if walking amongst all this specialty food has your tummy rumbling, there are grab-and-go, prepared foods such as vegan and diary free molasses cookies, Japanese-inspired tuna melt with cornichon, sesame wakame, avocado and smoked chedder, as well as yummy lunch and dinner take-away boxes. Perfect for carting all the yummy goodness back to the office, or home to the huzz and kids.
PS: Watch for Neighbour, a new café and specialty shop that just opened in the Altadore area. Showcasing many of the same goodness as Our Daily Brett, there’s a lot to see/eat/buy in their airy and bright, 500 square foot space.