For this edition of our #LocalLoveMtl with the Philo Project meet Joëlle
Paquette, journalist and founder of the blog VeryJoëlle.com
. We explore the most popular neighborhood in the city and discover cute new cafes and local landmarks with the girls from Philo and photographer Goodbye Jane
. Joelle wears our Constellation bra
by For Love and Lemons in three different ways as well as the Pyramid clutch by Philo
. Scroll down for the full interview below and we hope you'll be as inspired by this talented, super sweet and hard-working boss babe as we are!
Any new projects coming up? What are you currently working on?
My blog is an ongoing project, so it’s always about finding new interesting people to interview, brands to cover or collaboration with brands that ring true to my blog’s identity and creative purpose. Being a freelancer also comes with its load of surprises; one single email might change next week’s course or your entire career. You never know what kind of contract might be around the corner which, as much as it can be a bit nerve-racking, is also incredibly exciting!
Where are we most likely to find you in the city? Favourite neighbourhood?
I moved to Little Italy last December and I don’t think I’ve ever been so in love with a neighbourhood. It has everything I need: good restaurants, microbreweries, cafes, boutiques, and mouth-watering ice cream shops. Since my boyfriend and I live in a small 3-bedroom apartment, I’m often in coffee shops, my go-to workspace.
What does your personal style comprise of? Are there key items that make up your style?
I’ve always had trouble defining my style — it’s too emotional to be put into a box. Sometimes, I feel like wearing a crocheted dress very Jane Birkin-esque with block-heeled sandals and other times, I just want to wear loose jeans, a hoodie, sneakers and call it a day. One thing that remains constant is the mix of feminine and masculine. If I wear something XL, then I’ll wear heels or a super bright lipstick and vice versa.
When did you feel you started to really understand your personal style? Was it a certain age or a certain time in your life that influenced you? Was it anyone in particular?
My seven-year-old me already knew she wanted to work in fashion (a fashion designer, more specifically), so fashion has been my playground as far as I can remember.
I went to a private high school with uniforms, which felt like my main creative way of communication was perpetually censored, so I expressed myself in any way I could find. I altered my ugly polyester pleated pants so they’d look cooler and wore the biggest jewelry to stand out from the clone-like crowd. The school even had to make up new rules, because they thought I was going a little too far. I was the most studious kid out there and never caused any trouble, so my teen rebellion mostly took place through my style.
My other aha moment was when I enrolled into the Fashion Design program at Lasalle College. My style had quieted down by then — my then-boyfriend was more into timeless fashion which had influenced me over time. One day though, something clicked. I cut my long good-girl hair into a pixie haircut. That big change felt like I was waking up my creative instinct: my style became super wild and colourful and I even eventually shaved both sides of my head, leaving just the middle part like a mohawk.
Since then, my style has become a bit more practical, though it hasn’t stopped me from missing the old bold-and-extravagant version of me. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up dying my hair pink one day and the eclectic Jojo will make a comeback?
What are your essential Montreal addresses?
I love Citizen Vintage for amazing reasonably priced vintage finds and L’intervalle for their bold shoes, also super affordable, especially considering that they are all made in Spain or Italy. In terms of local designers, I think Noémiah, Eliza Faulkner, Heirloom Hats, Ora C and Habits Jewelry all have something to say creatively that is worth listening to.
Food-wise, Montreal’s scene is incredible, which makes it really hard to pick only a few spots. For a casual yet delicious dinner accompanied with cocktails made with ingredients you’ve never heard of, Larry’s is one of my faves. L’Isle de Garde is also a weekday no-brainer: ever changing craft beers paired up with the best burger in town, rightfully called the Samuel L. Jackson — how can you go wrong? For a special occasion (aka if you feel like splurging a little bit), Marconi and Le Filet are amongst the best tables in Montreal.
In terms of coffee shops, again, it’s hard to pick. I’m surrounded by eight of them in a 10-minute walk radius. I often go to Le Cagibi, because it’s cheap and they don’t make you feel bad if you sit five hours straight at the same table. Otherwise, I have a favourite place for every neighbourhood I might find myself in. In Little Italy, it’s Les Oubliettes or La brume dans mes lunettes, on Le Plateau, it’s café Névé or Kitsuné, downtown, it’s Le Parvis and in the old port, it’s Tommy.
What do you think makes Montreal so unique?
Its community and creativity. Everything seems possible when you’re in Montreal. That doesn’t mean our standards are lower than in other big cities. It only means that it’s still an affordable city with lots of room for experimentation. Unlike cities like New York or even Toronto, your entire income doesn’t have to go into your rent, which leaves people with more energy and time for exploration.
How has the city impacted your style?
In the past five years, Montreal fashion has become substantially more interesting and diverse, from street style to local talents. By befriending a bunch of designers and fashion-industry players over the years, I’ve felt increasingly more connected to my city and what it has to offer. It’s a constant reminder that, behind all that fashion glitz, there are people creating it. I don’t dress 100% local, which isn’t necessarily my goal, but these human connections have made me more self-aware of where I choose to spend my money — I try to support local businesses when I can.
What is your best advice for aspiring creatives just starting out?
Be flexible. Up until 20 years old, my goal was to become a fashion designer at an international luxury house. After a brief stunt at London’s Central Saint Martins and a pretty stressful existential crisis, I came back to Montreal not knowing what my next move would be; not even knowing if I still wanted to be a fashion designer.
As life usually unfolds, I coincidentally bumped into a friend at a party who got me a part-time job at a fashion magazine. Slowly, my interest for fashion and writing got noticed and I started blogging for them and eventually had articles published. Since then, I’ve written hundreds of pieces that have appeared in over six printed magazines and newspapers, I’ve had weekly and monthly columns, I’ve traveled to Japan for work, I’ve interviewed super inspiring people, from fashion tech geniuses to Prince Harry’s girlfriend, Meghan Markle, I’ve launched my blog and so many other things! And the most important part: I’m professionally extremely fulfilled and happy.
At first, it felt like I was giving up on my dream, but seven years later, my unconventional background has undeniably become a strength: I’m one of the few journalists who have experienced the field they’re covering.
Look around you, make sure you don’t miss out on opportunities just because they fall a bit outside of your perfectly laid-out plan, and anything that might feel like a failure is truly just a step forward. Make sure you work hard at what you love everyday and you will inevitably follow the right path.