The Thursday Q&A with communications guru Karen Wood

Karen Wood (Photo: Wayne Cuddington/Ottawa Citizen)

For more than a decade, Karen Wood has lived a life of live entertainment, going out for dinners and being the savvy owner of Knock on Wood Communications + Events. Downtown was her home, she was always surrounded by friends, and enjoyed casually travelling.

She never expected to move back to the neighbourhood where she grew up, but now that she has a five-year-old son, she loves having her own house that backs onto a schoolyard, providing the same opportunities she had as a child.

Wood took time out of her busy life of balancing work and family to talk to Style intern Laura Green.

OCS: Who are your style icons?

KW: Well, I have a local style icon, she’s a client of mine, Bernice Rachkowski. She’s the marketing director at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre. I just really dig her personal style. It’s not over the top, she buys good brands and really good, classic pieces and she always puts them together really well. It looks effortless.

OCS: What are some of your favourite websites and blogs?

KW: Recently, I have subscribed to Azure and Dwell. We have some clients who are real estate developers and condo developers and they have a really slick urban esthetic that I like. So from a business standpoint, we need to stay in the loop with these things, but personally, I love design.

OCS: What is your best recent fashion find?

KW: I got a Kenneth Cole trench coat when I was in Florida visiting my parents. It was end of season there, so I got a really good deal.

OCS: What is your biggest fashion faux-pas?

KW: One time, I had this gorgeous retro-vintage rhinestone bracelet. It was a rhinestone cuff, a real statement piece. I was wearing it with this Alfredson cocktail dress that came to just above the knee, and I just saw this bracelet and thought ‘this is perfect’. But because it’s vintage, some of the claws on the rhinestones were loose, so I went through about four pairs of nylons that night.

OCS: A person/place/thing that makes you proud or happy that you live in Ottawa?

KW: I love doing business in Ottawa. I like that we just won an award from MoneySense magazine, it’s because we’ve got all the big city amenities but we’ve got a real small-town charm. It’s a really friendly environment for my son. I guess my son makes me proud that I live in Ottawa because he has all of the advantages, and we enjoy a higher quality of life than any other place in Canada.

OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?

KW:  There’s lots of good ones. D’Arcy McGee’s for St. Patty’s Day, Manx pub on Friday nights with the girls.

OCS: What is your favourite piece of furniture?

KW: I don’t own it yet. We just did an event at Mikaza Home and I was coveting this beautiful sectional sofa, and this beautiful dining room table made from reclaimed wood. So both of them are on my wish list.

OCS: Favourite home accessory?

KW: I’m going to say it’s my Bowhaus dog crate. It’s a designer dog crate for urban environments. It was designed by a friend of mine, a graduate from Carleton architecture (Katrina Herrndorf). It’s brushed aluminum and it’s got a microfibre chartreuse cushion in the bottom.

OCS: What qualities do you admire most in a person?

KW: I like people that are smart, sincere, straight-shooters, and I like people with a sense of humour.

OCS: Fine dining or plain-old diners?

KW: Both. Everything has its time and its place. I love to have a greasy spoon breakfast from a hole-in-the-wall diner, and I enjoy a nice meal out. We’ve got a great culinary scene in Ottawa.

OCS: Who would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?

KW: I’ve been asked that question before and I think my answer changes every time. I like comedians. Although I know that a lot of comedians aren’t as funny off-stage as they are on, I still think Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Denis Leary, those are the kind of people that I think I’d like to hang with.

OCS: Favourite food?

KW: Barbecued steak, Caesar salad and corn on the cob. That’s what we have for all of our (big) family dinners.

OCS: Wine, beer or both?

KW: I’m a wine person. It’s Pinot Grigio in the summer — and during the day — and then Cabernet Sauvignon at night.

OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?

KW: I love art that’s done by my friends. There’s my friend Katrina Herrndorf and my friend Justine Owen. I love to be surrounded by art that was created by somebody I know.

OCS: What is on your bedside table?

KW: A glass of water for me, a glass of water for my son when he comes in (during) the middle of the night, the book that I’m reading, my readers and my iPhone.

OCS: What is the most played song on your iPod?

KW: I like radio. I’ve been interested in listening to radio for a long time, and I’m really digging CBC Radio 2 right now.

OCS: What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

KW: I would say Game of Thrones.

OCS: What is your guilty pleasure?

KW: What is my guilty pleasure? (long pause) Margaritas.

OCS: What is your favourite place to spend time?

KW: Quebec City centre, where I have a lot of family, or my own backyard.

OCS: What is your perfect day off? It can be anywhere in the world.

KW: I think it’s anywhere as long as it’s on water. No agenda, just relaxing with friends, having a few drinks, eating good food by the water, whether it’s by poolside, looking at the ocean or being at the cottage.

OCS: Mac or PC?

KW: Both. Our office is on a PC network, but I am lovng my iPad.

OCS: What is your earliest memory?

KW: I remember going to a friend’s birthday party, and I couldn’t have been more than Grade 1. It was a neighbourhood that we lived in, in this townhouse development that we were growing up in. And I went to somebody’s birthday party on the other side of this really big hill but I don’t remember whose birthday party it was, but they had a money cake. And it was chocolate.

OCS: Proudest moment?

KW: I can’t bring it down to just one moment. I think I’m proud every time I meet with new client that says that our reputation has proceeded us, I’m proud when I get a call from somebody saying how wonderful one of the people on my team is to work with. I’m proud to have made the decision to move back to this neighbourhood, and to be able to give my son this lifestyle.

OCS: How would you like people to remember you? What would your eulogist say?

KW: The things that I said that I admire most in a person, they are smart, are sincere and have a sense of humour. I only hope that people still say that about me. And being rich in friends. It’s not all about monetary wealth.

Connect with Laura Green |lgreen@ottawacitizen.com