Jessica Mulroney on Style, Family, and Why She Will Never Listen to Ben about Dress Codes

One of the biggest style influencers in Canada, an independent PR and marketing consultant, and a wife of Canadian television host Ben Mulroney, Jessica Mulroney is also a proud mom of three adorable kids. Working with such big brands like Kleinfeld at Hudson’s Bay, Birks, and Sunwing, she’s immersed in bridal world, travelling to the most beautiful destinations and enjoying helping her clients, ‘I realized, I didn’t like planning my own wedding, but watching other girls experience it makes me really happy.’ Among many other things, she would be working with Metro [a grocery chain], for whom she came up with The 5 at 5 campaign, which is creating healthy and easy meals for families in a fast and efficient way with just 5 ingredients, that only take 5 minutes to prepare. Being a fashion expert, Jessica works on the City Line, ‘I love working with that team, with Tracy Moore. It’s just really fun, and I enjoy my work there.’

(Margarita): How do you manage to develop your career and raise three kids?

(Jessica): I’ve always been somebody who loved to work. When I was in high school, I just loved having a part-time job. From day one, I always enjoyed being in a working world. And when I had kids [first kids are twins] it was a little bit overwhelming and difficult to continue working. But I did. And then I had Ivy, and my career was even busier at the time. I am a firm believer that it is quality, rather than quantity of time you spend with your kids. And I think that women are now able to do whatever they want, whether it is to stay home and raise kids or go to work. I don’t think any woman really knows what balance is. We just all hope we are doing the right thing. All my kids are incredible, and it is never easy to leave them for work. But I think women have to do what makes them happy, because a happy mom is a good mom.

On Jessica: Smythe Blazer and Citizens of Humanity Jeans

What was your own wedding like and would you do it differently now?

My own wedding was in Montreal 9 years ago. I can’t believe it every time I think about it. Time flies! I don’t know if I would do it differently. There is so much choice of gowns nowadays, which I didn’t have back then. But it was a beautiful wedding. My mother and mother-in-law certainly did a great job with it. It is really hard for a bride to enjoy her own wedding, it is too much stress. So I want to help other girls with this process.

And what does your regular day at work look like?

It’s always different, it’s never the same. I am really lucky that I work as an independent consultant, because I’m never in the same place. Whether I’m going to Kleinfeld or Sunwing offices, whether I’m doing a photoshoot with a client or for myself – my days are always so different. It is a lot of conference calls and I am lucky to do them sometimes in my workout clothes in my kitchen. And that gives me more flexibility with my time with my kids. And there is really nothing like being in your sweatpants and talking to a board of important people, who have no idea what you look like (smiles).

How do you spend your weekends?

Weekends are usually for family time. Because my husband works now in the mornings – on the morning show – our schedules just turned completely upside down. He wakes up at 3am now. So weekends are the time we try to connect with our kids, whether it is bringing them to a soccer or baseball game or whatever activities they are doing, or just having time in our own house together. It is all about them. Because during the week we cannot focus on them as much.

Tell us, where does your style inspiration come from?

I am a really creative person by nature. Although I know what’s going on in fashion, I try not to look at a lot of magazines. I love to focus on Canadian designers. I work with so many of them. Ever since I started working with Sophie Trudeau, our biggest focus was really trying to encourage Canadian designers and retailers, and give them a bigger platform. So within these two years, I’ve discovered so many of them. There are also Canadian designers living abroad and doing incredible things. So it’s hard to choose favourites, as I work with so many. I’ve got my favourites that are good for me, and Sophie has got her favourites that are good for her. But I think I can respect so many of them, and I hope to continue to support them and give them an international platform.

On Jessica: Di Carlo Couture tuxedo dress

What would be your fashion advice to women?

Don’t follow trends too much. As women, we know what colours and shapes look great on us, we know what works for us. As long as you dress in what you like and what looks good on you, you will always feel good.

What do you think was your biggest fashion mistake?

Oh God, I had so many! One of the biggest ones would be when Ben and I just started dating, and he invited me to our first public event in Toronto. And HE – it’s not my fault! – heard that Diesel invited us to his table. Ben misunderstood and thought that Diesel [jeans brand] was hosting the event. But it really was that Diesel was hosting a table. So Ben told me to wear Diesel jeans to the event. It turned out it was a one by one gala, where people wear anything from dressy cocktail dresses to black tie attire. And here I come in with jeans and a top. And it was the first pictures we had taken of us. But thank God it was taken from the waist up, so I was looking like I was wearing a brown top. I was mortified, but Diesel was very happy! And I never listened to Ben about dress codes since then (laughs).

On Jessica: Mackage leather pants

That’s a funny story! I can imagine what it was like… I heard you are very much involved with The Shoebox Project, is that correct?

Yes. I really wanted to create something – not just be on a charity board. So with the help of my sisters-in-law, we started the Shoebox project in Toronto. Firstly, it was one shelter and we had called a bunch of girls, hoping they would fill up the shoe boxes with little beautiful things, that a woman in a shelter would enjoy (not need but love), especially during holiday season. People really responded to it, and in the first year we were able to help not just one, but four shelters! We knew we had something special. And now it’s going to be our seventh year, and we service every women’s shelter across Canada. We have an aboriginal fund as well, and a registered charity in the US and divisions across the world. So I’m really proud of it.

On Jessica: Di Carlo Couture tuxedo dress

Do you do any other charity work?

I started with Ben and another couple something called The Brain Project. It helps support all brain related diseases, whether it’s an Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or Parkinson’s [disease]. It’s about creating awareness. We’ve collaborated with all kind of artists, like sculptors, street artists, painters. Whatever medium they use, we accept. We gave them a brain and they came up with the most beautiful creations. This is our second year the brains are on display across the city. It’s great, as not only you can enjoy a beautiful work of some artist, but it also creates a discussion about brain health and how important it is. Although it seems to affect someone older, we need to be aware of it.

What motivates you to continue what you are doing and grow?

I’ve always been somebody who cheers success, so I am a bit of a perfectionist. I’m constantly trying to do better. It’s like something inside of me. I’ve always wanted to make sure I leave a mark in this world that is meaningful and worldwide. That definitely motivates me when it comes to The Shoebox Project. And personally career-wise, success is an important thing for me. I want to be a role model for my kids, especially for my daughter. I want to show her that hard work pays off, and determination can get you far in life.

On Jessica: Mackage leather pants

Have you ever thought of creating your own clothing or shoe line?

I have thought of it, and I’ve been approached a few times about that. Maybe, one day. I certainly don’t have time to do it right now. I would love to, and I think it would be really fun. But it’s so much work and a hard business to be in. I would love to do it, so I can create things for myself, to be honest (laughs). But at the moment, it’s not really happening.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Definitely cannot sing, that’s for sure… But I can do anything on my head! I don’t know how I learnt it, but I am able to do a hand stand, kick ball, anything. Other than that, I am pretty talented at looking at women and being able to figure out what would look good on them. Even if I haven’t met them, just by seeing a picture, I am pretty good at that. So styling at a distance I can do.

On Jessica: Smythe Blazer and Citizens of Humanity Jeans

Can you tell us one thing people don’t know about you?

Most people believe that I’m out all the time, all dressed up. But in reality, 90% of my existence is spent at home, in my pajamas. Well, maybe 60%. I’ve been an extremely casual person, going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 6am. I do not go out a lot. People are always surprised to hear that! Another thing people don’t know: I was awkward-looking as a teenager. Especially, in grade 7 or 8, maybe a couple years after that (smiles). That’s about it.

Looking at you now, this is very hard to believe. But, okay, let’s move on. Are you a foodie? What are your favourite places to eat at in Toronto?

I love food. And I love cooking, to be honest, though, sometimes, I don’t have as much time to cook. But I also love going out to restaurants, especially in Toronto. Unfortunately, we don’t get much time to go out and experience it as much as we’d love to. Some of my favourites are Boulud at Four Seasons [hotel] and Chabrol in Yorkville.

Do you work out a lot?

Yes, a lot. I work out about 5 times a week. I love weight training. And I was never like this in my twenties. I was very active in high school, but then, in my twenties, I worked at night, so was lazy during the day. But after I had kids, it just became something I was passionate about. I love staying in shape and being able to try new workouts. It’s a huge part of my life. And it’s another reason why I don’t go out at night. I like to wake up in the morning and do a workout.

On Jessica: Di Carlo Couture tuxedo dress

What are your favourite events to go to? (galas, fashion shows, etc.)

We used to do a lot of them. I’ve just become more selective, as we don’t have that much time. Ben hosts a lot of them, but, again, with his new schedule it’s become very different. If a friend is doing an event, then, of course, you want to be there and support him. But, unfortunately, it’s not always possible with our schedules.

What about TIFF? Are you excited for it?

There are so many ties we have to this festival, and the entertainment industry. I find it’s just too crazy for me. You know, I think it’s the time I try to hibernate as much as I can (laughs). Once you’ve done it, it becomes less interesting. Of course, the movies are incredible. If I can see some of the movies, I will. But all the galas…it’s just a little crazy during that time.

Photography: Margarita Menard
Makeup and Hair: Rachel Rose Renna
Tuxedo Dress on the Cover: Di Carlo Couture 
Location: Joan Kelley Walker‘ House