Guest editor Christy Wright talks with entrepreneur Winy Bernard about marketing, WFH outfits, Paris and more...
Firstly, Cougar loves Winy! Her casual, yet thoughtful looks make her a perfect style profile, and that’s even before looking at her impressive work accomplishments. This engaging business-builder founded Deux Creative Agency, a socially minded marketing firm, as well as a digital youth camp and her own compelling bilingual website that merges technology and entrepreneurship with people and travel. We think you’ll love her and her Cougar picks for summer...
Before we delve into your dynamic career, let’s start with something completely romantic: Paris.
When I was 8 years old, I told my mum that when I grew up, I’d move to Paris, change my name to Virginie (the most French name I could think of) and become a photographer. I was attracted as a child to the beauty and architecture, and my perception of this magical life that Parisians lived. I did not change my name or move to Paris, but at that moment my love affair with the city began and it’s been like that ever since.
Perfect day in Paris?
A croissant from a patisserie in the 11th arrondissement where my friend Haleigh owns a flat that I sometimes stay at. A stroll to the Seine, while window shopping, smiling and saying “bonjour” to anyone who will take my greeting. A scheduled “déjeuner” with Parisian friends. A visit with my friend Benoît, the co-founder of perfume brand Ex-Nihilo, at his store where I’ll refill my perfume and body cream and pick up my favourite candle. Walking to le Jardin du Palais-Royal to people watch. Finally, meeting friends for an apéro and dinner, most likely in the 11th because it’s my favourite neighbourhood in Paris.
How would you style your Patent Pratos in Paris?
I love wearing dresses so I’d probably would pair my Prato sandals with a maxi dress – very flowy, very summer, very bohemian-chic which is what I think my style is.
Speaking of destinations, right now you’re in Haiti. For those who haven’t been to Haiti, what’s it like? What should they know?
I am Canadian-born and of Haitian descent and consider myself as much a Canadian as I do a Haitian. I’ve been going to Haiti since I was a few months old so it’s home just like Toronto is. Haiti is a beautiful country: it’s complex and full of history and culture. It’s a place that once you visit, you will never forget.
The pandemic has changed our lives. What have you learned from these unprecedented times both personally and professionally?
To be present in the moment: allowing myself to live fully and truly with no hesitation of where those decisions may take me. I also think the pandemic made me prioritize and focus on the projects that brought me the most happiness and growth.
Speaking of the pandemic, what’s your work-from-home Cougar pick?
The Liliana slides are perfect for the WFH look. I love Liliana’s faux shearling and just that they’re super cute. I could totally see slipping them on at home, especially back in Toronto where the air conditioning in the summer gets cold!
I love Liliana’s faux shearling and just that they’re super cute.”
Positive social impact is a driving force in your endeavours, along with fluency in French and English. How did that shape Deux Creative, your marketing agency?
I wanted to create an agency where social impact was at the forefront of everything we did. I want the projects we work on to be impactful and to serve people and I think you can do that and still make money.
Many of our Cougar followers have kids. Tell us about the digital youth camp you started and its inspiration.
I wanted to create a project where young people could learn, create and immerse themselves in tech, digital and media in a fun way. During March Break and the summer break, we host camps (now digitally) where our participants experience practical workshops facilitated by our partners, such as Publicis Sapient, NBA Canada, Radio-Canada Ontario and more, on different subjects whether it be UX, Digital Transformation, Podcasting+++. The camp was created in 2017 and since then we’ve had over 200 participants from Francophone school boards in Ontario. We’re just exploring how to expand our offer to a wider group of students.
What’s the podcast about?
It features entrepreneurs and creators from underrepresented groups from around the world – it focuses on highlighting their stories that are, unfortunately, not often told.
What do you love about the new Perla slide?
I love a good slide and Perla’s embossed Lycra strap elevates the comfort level – it is out of this world! I could stay in them all day and I do not often feel like that about footwear. Plus, they’re more than just lightweight and comfortable – they really have great style, from the fun sole to the padded strap.
The embossed Lycra strap elevates the comfort level – it is out of this world!”
The Prato is available in so many shades – why did you choose Shell?
I want to live in a world where everything is in neutral tones! It’s the perfect complementary colour to my spring/summer outfits and reminds me of the beaches of Haiti which I do not get to often (surprisingly since I have been here 7 months), but the colour is the perfect match to the treasures you find along the beaches here. Plus, I love being able to be comfortable, while staying stylish and the Prato is perfect for that.
With a size-11 foot, it must be hard to find shoes? How do Cougars fit and what do you like about them?
While they’re not easy to find, there are larger-size shoes out there. The problem is that very few both look and feel great. That’s the hard part. Cougars fit well, are quite comfortable (which is really important for me) and offer tons of stylish options and colours.
As a female entrepreneur, what advice do you have for other women?
Trust your gut, surround yourself with people you can learn from, share your knowledge and help other woman entrepreneurs whenever possible whether it be with your knowledge, contacts, time or money.
Written and edited by Christy Wright christywrites.ca.
Photos courtesy of Winy Bernard.