Everybody knows how important it is to have a mentor – someone to look up to and admire, a person who has risen to success. Lisa Tant, Editor-in-Chief of FLARE Magazine, is one of these admirable individuals. With a history of seizing opportunities and going after what she wants, she inspires people to pursue their dreams. Her strength, determination and vitality has led her to where she is today, traveling the world, attending fashion shows and sending positive messages to women across the country. Lisa is living a life that many dream of, and is truly someone who all can learn from.
What were you doing prior to working at FLARE Magazine?
I started my career in Vancouver as a freelance writer. Among my various gigs, I was a columnist with the Vancouver Sun and the West Coast contributing fashion editor for FLARE. I moved to Toronto to become the beauty editor at Chatelaine. I left seven years later as the Executive Editor and joined FLARE as Editor-in-Chief.
Most important career lesson you learned early on?
I learned how important it is to recognize a great opportunity and then jump on it. I never waited to be invited to apply for anything. If I heard of an intriguing freelance job or full-time position or a great story lead, I was usually the first in line.
What has been the most difficult part of your career?
The most satisfying part of my job is managing a great team but it’s also the most challenging and has the most heartache. When the recession hit, I had to lay off some very talented colleagues. Those were some of the worst days of my career.
What is the biggest motivator in your life?
I’m motivated by seeing the final results of the team’s work in the magazine and online. I love seeing someone’s idea start at square one and then be improved by everyone else on the team – art, copy, editors.
Who do you turn to for inspiration?
I don’t turn to one particular person. I’m most inspired by my team. They give me ideas for style, music, pop culture – pretty much everything. I’m also inspired by my environment. There are few places more motivating / exhausting / exhilarating than Paris during Fashion Week.
In a world where “reality” tv promotes negative body image ideals for women, how is FLARE Magazine instilling positive messages to young women?
We help our readers edit all of the style messages they’re bombarded with and make it work for them. Expressing one’s own style is the most important message for us.
Being very active on Twitter, what is your advice for best practices?
Think before you tweet. What you type is a reflection of you. I never Tweet anything that I wouldn’t be comfortable seeing on the desk of Rogers president.
What is the most important aspect of a great first impression?
Confidence. I’m not impressed by a posturing fashionista dressed in head-to-toe designer labels. I always note a conversationalist who is compelling and engaging.
Who would you love to have an intimate dinner with?
I’d love to have dinner with Marc Jacobs. I think he’s fascinating and his career trajectory has been really impressive. He doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously either. I LOVE that.
On an evening you have all to yourself, what do you do?
Read magazines, seriously!
Where in the world would you love to live for a month?
That’s a tough one. There are so many places I’d love to live for a while. I guess I’d have to pick Paris, it’s my favourite city. I’ve been there dozens on times and never get tired of its beauty and richness.
Where is your favourite bar stool and why?
What do you love and miss about Vancouver?
I miss the great outdoors in Vancouver – the fresh air, the mountains, Stanley Park. I used to meet friends and go for a walk. If I suggested that in Toronto, they’d look at me like I had two heads.
What book would you like to reread?
I don’t want to re-read anything. There are so many great books piled up by my bedside and on my iPad. Right now, I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’m a voracious reader. I’ll read everything from pop fiction such as The Hunger Games series to Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and the classics.
Top 3 favourite fashion trends of all time
Impossible! I love the classics – anything by Yves Saint-Laurent and Chanel, but it’s the one-hit wonders that make me smile. Shoes without heels – fantastic! Not that I’d ever wear them.
If you could only wear one designer’s clothes for a year, who would it be?
Impossible! That’s like picking your favourite child. There is a handful that I really love – Prada, YSL, Miu Miu – but I couldn’t decide on just one. Plus, it would bore me to death after one week.
What was your most star-struck moment?
Having dinner with Madonna during the Toronto International Film Festival in September checked off a major point on my bucket list. The Bay organized an intimate dinner to celebrate her new film, W.E., and I sat across from her. I’m a HUGE fan (I dressed like her when I was in school) and talking to her was just like catching up with a girlfriend from high school.
How do you give back to the community?
For the past few years, I’ve been on the committee of Suzanne Rogers’ Foundation to raise funds for children’s causes. This past year, we raised approximately $900,000 with a fundraising dinner and fashion show by Marchesa. The year before, we hosted a gala with Oscar de la Renta.
What is the most important message you want to send to women?
To be confident, to be yourself, to express yourself.
What three things would you like to accomplish over the next 5 years?
Launch Flare’s first iPad app, launch another magazine and travel to more places I’ve never been. Barcelona is one of my must-visit destinations!
Lessons learned from Lisa Tant:
1. Be yourself and be confident with who you are. You don’t need to put on airs to impress anybody.
2. When you fall in love with a city, keep going back to foster the relationship and learn all its mysteries.
3. Always be grateful for the people you work with. You can learn so much from those closest to you.
-SA & WT
Read more Interviews from a Bar Stool.
FLARE Magazine cover: Max Abadian
Lisa in leopard print: Norman Wong
Lisa with Madonna: George Pimentel