Boutique owner Marlene Shepherd: A class act

Businesswoman, volunteer and community activist Marlene Shepherd. (Photo: Bruno Schlumberger)

It was fitting that on the night Marlene Shepherd was hosting a fashion show to raise money for women’s mental health issues, she was honoured with a Jubilee medal. An entrepreneur for 35 years with three fashion boutiques under her belt, Shepherd is not one to bask in the limelight, preferring to work behind-the-scenes.

The longtime community activist and volunteer has worked with numerous organizations, including the Youville Centre, St. Joe’s Women Centre and is a founding member of Women for Mental Health at The Royal. On Tuesday night, she took centre stage — albeit briefly — at her Trainyards Shepherd’s store when Ottawa Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger presented her with the medal and thanked her for helping to raise thousands of dollars for those in need.

“Marlene is a successful business leader, entrepreneur and mentor. You can’t be in business for 35 years and not be involved with the community. When Women for Mental Health was being formed, she jumped at the chance to get involved,” Bélanger said.

Shepherd thanked her family — in particular husband, Francis LeBlanc, and 89-year-old mother Trudy — and loyal staff after accepting the award.

“I only found out about this two days ago. Thank goodness my husband gave me the heads up otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to pull together a speech.”

The evening also featured a fashion show curated by body-shape expert Sam Poole, which included six members of the mental health fundraising group, who each modelled three outfits.

Floor-length sequined gowns, summer casual attire, a reversible little black dress and neon-coloured jeans were just some of the outfits to appear on the runway, a permanent fixture inside the store.

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