Some people’s creative lives are buried inside them, like a secret super power.
Aldona, on the other hand, wears her creative life for the world to see—and be inspired by.
That’s Aldona Barutowicz, aka the vivacious, dynamic proprietor of Aldona B Creative, Calgary’s one stop shop for those in a hurry to connect to their own individual creative life—but who may need a hand and an extra pair of stylish eyes.
Aldona B Creative offers clients a suite of creative services, including communications consulting, fine photography, social media expertise, editorial content, and personal styling.
She’s a journalism graduate—and Avenue Magazine columnist—who frequently gives workshops on how to draw eyeballs to your personal brand.
She’s a publicist who works with some of the city’s most cutting-edge culture companies, including Theatre Junction GRAND and Forte Musical Guild.
For close to a decade, she’s created a popular, beloved blog chronicling stylish Calgarians called Street Style Huntress.
And when she’s not juggling all of those balls, she’s flying to places like New York to schmooze backstage at Fashion Week, where she perhaps gets a few style inspirations.
But if all that sounds a little too much like a breathless Vanity Fair feature about some Instagram icon, Barutowicz’s philosophy and message to those yearning for a little more style in their life is that it need not cost a small fortune.
“Absolutely not!” Barutowicz says. “You can look good no matter how much money you have, and I really want to talk about this because I love shopping on a budget—it’s just a matter of having a good time with style.
“You don’t need to be wearing Chanel to look good.”
You just need style—which is not the same thing as fashion, remember.
Style is a manner of unique, individual presentation—whether it’s flowers, food, text or yourself.
In order to make style more accessible to a broader range of demographic groups, Barutowicz offers classes and workshops where she—and a few experts, such as her makeup artist sister—talk personal style in a way that won’t break anyone’s bank.
“It’s just something that I’ve always loved,” she says.
“When I was little, I would go into my mom’s purse, steal her lipsticks, paint myself, paint the kitchen, [get in trouble], and always have my nails done,” she says.
“Like seriously, I was four years old, running around with nail polish on!” she says. “I just loved it.”
Working with her sister, Barutowicz hopes to make Calgary a more style forward city.
“I want my classes to reach the average woman who wants to ask questions, or wants assistance,” she says. “I want them to be really fun and affordable and accessible.
“That’s my goal,” she says. “Just to get the average ladies who have questions, or don’t know how to update their closets every season, or don’t know what to wear for their body types. We’ll be covering a whole bunch of different things.”
Who does she count among her personal style icons?
The first person who springs to mind is her grandmother.
“She would take me sledding, and she would be wearing a giant fur coat, with a fur hat and stiletto boots,” she says. “No wonder I always wear fun fur!”
She says there’s no one way to be stylish, either.
“I’m a firm believer—as with the Street Style blog—to celebrate individuality and people’s personal styles. My personal sessions always start with a nice little meeting, so I can learn more about the person their lifestyle, and how I can help accommodate that.
“It’s not about wearing six inch heels when you’re running after children—it’s more about finding a cool, comfortable style that fits.”
And if Barutowicz seems more like the type of character you’d run into in London, New York, or Toronto, well, she finds that Calgary has its own unique brand of style.
“It’s definitely gotten better—and not even better—but I think it’s gotten more prevalent,” she says. “We’re actually seeing more fashion here. There’s more fashion events happening, more people putting themselves on the line and finding creative opportunities for themselves—which is also one of the reasons I’ve always loved Calgary.
“I feel like this is a city that is open and one of those cities where you can go for it and if you have that passion and drive, you can pretty much create what you want for yourself.”
All of which pretty much describes Aldona B.
“It’s a young city,” she says. “I feel like people are open and that really creates a great groundwork to do your own thing.”
That said, with a 27% vacancy rate downtown, Calgary is also a city in need of a bit of reinvention—so if Calgary was a person, what would Barutowicz’s advice be?
“It just needs a little makeover in spots—like downtown—to make it bloom,” she says.
What could downtown do to help fill those empty office buildings?
Well, for starters, it could be a little more cost conscious.
“Things downtown are really expensive and out of reach for artists. Rent is expensive. Parking is expensive,” she says. “We need to find a way to get people downtown, which obviously is a lot harder with our winters. So I don’t know if I have an answer. I would love to do fashion pop-ups all over the city.”
Why does it matter to live a creative life?
“Oh my god. How could you not?” she asks.
“Going back to the lipstick and nail polish [as a four year old]—that was just the start of my creative life, but I could not imagine living my life any other way.”
Get to know Aldona Barutowicz at one of her four upcoming classes this June at Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutique at The CORE. The Tuesday Style & Beauty Takeover with Aldona B takes place from 12:00 to 1:30pm and are free to the public.
About The Storytelling Project
On November 16, 2015, Calgary Arts Development hosted a working session with approximately 30 creative Calgarians from various walks of life. Many of the small working groups voiced the need to gather and share more stories of people living creative lives.
That need has turned into The Storytelling Project.
The Storytelling Project raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, effecting positive change and enriching others’ lives.
Have a story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.