Toronto, According to Jaclyn Genovese

We were so inspired by Matt Alberts’ LIFERS series, we decided to launch our own. Meet Jaclyn Genovese, our very first #CityLifer.

Everything Jaclyn Genovese touches turns to style. It’s like the 29-year-old was born with the ability to look at something or someone and instinctively conjure up a unique formula for remodelling the subject. As an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, event coordinator and interior designer, she’s performed this ritual for Toronto’s most polished elites, exclusive shindigs and sought-after spaces. She’s even laid her magic touch on the city itself.

The past decade has seen Toronto undergo a fashionable transformation worthy of an Anne Hathaway flick, and Genovese was only 22 when she helped play the role of stylist in this metropolis-sized makeover. Her first contribution to making this city shine a little brighter was opening Jacflash, a luxury boutique in the Queen and Ossington area — which at the time was much grittier than the hip ’hood it is now. By bringing her savvy in the fashion and business worlds to this corner of the city, Genovese was one of the many business owners to elevate it to the popular spot it is today (just ask Vogue Magazine, which voted Queen Street West the second-hippest neighbourhood on the planet in 2014).

Despite her authority on Toronto’s social scene, there’s a lot we don’t know about Jaclyn Genovese. But if you look hard enough, pieces of her personality can be found sprinkled throughout her work. Some artists use canvases to channel their expression, and that’s what Jacflash represents for Genovese: the boutique embodies the entrepreneur’s multi-dimensional personality, from her secret tomboy status (“I was into every possible sport growing up, and I love the outdoors”) to her love of opera (“I am a classically trained singer — I sing in an orchestra”). Her style spans the entire spectrum, from trendy-boyish to red-carpet-worthy, and that’s exactly what Toronto’s shoppers find at Jacflash.

While Genovese’s life may look like a fairy tale to her Instagram followers, she says that when it comes to business, as rewarding as every breakthrough is, it’s rarely rosy — especially when you’re in your early 20s and running an operation on your own. In 2013, after eight years of Jacflash existing on Queen West, Genovese made the tough decision to close its doors and transition the boutique to an online fashion shop.

“I felt that I was no longer growing or learning anything as a person,” says Genovese. “The options I gave myself were to either open another store or move forward and expand the brand. As I love a challenge, I decided to expand Jacflash into a lifestyle brand to include fashion, spaces and events.”

And so began Chapter 2 of Jacflash, wherein Genovese not only digitized her brainchild but also introduced Toronto to her event co-ordinating services and her interior design firm, Spaces by Jacflash. It was a big step but a good call. In its online form, the Jacflash boutique continues to provide the balm to Toronto’s fashion-related aches, while the city has fallen in love with Genovese’s event co-ordinating skills. One of her most prominent projects is the weekly party she throws at Lost and Found on King West (Deadmau5, Karrueche and an array of major sports stars have all stopped by, and the bash even got a shout-out in one of The Weeknd’s latest songs). And while it’s less than a year old, Spaces by Jacflash has swiftly risen to the top of the city’s list of most-wanted interior design agencies. The proof is in Genovese’s schedule: right now she’s putting the finishing touches on a Queen-and-Bathurst-based clothing shop, Untitled&Co.; redesigning the men’s boutique Get Fresh Company in the same neighbourhood; and snazzing up a condo that belongs to one of the Toronto Raptors.

Genovese juggles her to-dos with a grace that is signature to many millennials. She has intelligence about her that evokes respect without demanding it, and an elegance that has the city’s stylish circles swooning. While she attributes her organizational skills to her sign (she’s a Virgo), she has some other secrets to surviving — and loving — a frenzied city life. She keeps her cool by working alongside her loved ones (happily ignoring the “don’t mix friends with business” rule) and smashes the stereotypes surrounding women in business by growing a thick skin and never taking no for an answer. And when you ask her for the staple that every young businesswoman needs in her life?

“Good friends,” says Genovese, who’s planning a birthday trip to Greece this August with some close chums. “As a businesswoman, you may lose superficial friends that don’t understand you not being available as often as they would like you to be, but having good, supportive friends that you can talk to and get advice from about everything going on in your life is a lifesaver.”

Now the darling of Toronto’s fashion industry is bracing herself for the transition into another whirlwind of a season, during which she hopes to make her city even prouder by bringing her creativity to an international stage. And, of course, she’ll be doing it in her summer-to-fall ensemble of choice: the suit. #Slay.

But no matter where her business takes her next — and we know it will be somewhere great — Genovese’s heart will always belong to her city.

“Being a city lifer is great because there’s not one day that I’m not excited to jump out of bed for,” says Genovese. “Every day I’m meeting new people, taking on new challenges and expressing my creativity through my work in the city.”

Trulli — distinct and ancient round stone huts with conical roofs — abound at Trullo Terra Dolce, as well as at Casa Romigi in Valle d’Itria
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Amanda Storey

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