Alexandra Suhner Isenberg was born and raised in Vancouver. She studied fashion in Paris and London and worked for some big luxury brands there (lived in Europe 12 years). Eventually, Alexandra moved back to B.C. with Swedish husband in late 2009. They currently live in Brackendale, Squamish with their two kids (18 months and newborn). She is the voice behind popular fashion blog, Searching for Style, Founder and Creative Director of The Sleep Shirt, Fashion Editor at Vitamin Daily, Fashion Instructor at Visual College of Art and Design and a part time stay at home mom.
What characteristics define the Vancouver Housewife?
The typical Vancouver housewife probably has kids, wears yoga pants, practices some elements of attachment parenting, does outdoorsy stuff, buys lots of organic/natural food and beauty products, lives in house or apartment that is too small (this is Vancouver, after all), and most likely consumes way more Starbucks than booze. Also, I doubt she is a full time housewife, this city is too expensive for single income families.
Are you a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife? Why?
No, not really. First of all, I live in Squamish. While I love all the amazing talent, small companies, and creativity coming out of Vancouver now (this was not the case 15 years ago), I have no desire whatsoever to live there. I like that Squamish doesn’t even try to be cool, it is what it is: a great, affordable community with an incredible view, fantastic people, and an excellent place to raise kids and dogs. You will never see me wearing yoga pants unless I am en route to or in the middle of a workout. I’ll take the pub over a coffee shop any day. My idea of outdoor activities is lying in a hammock in my backyard. I like C-sections, don’t think topping up with formula is a crime, and I swear by sleep training. And, we are the only couple I know who have taken advantage of the fact that the father can take part of the one year parental leave, he took 6 months last time and this time he will take 9. So I’m not a good representation of the Vancouver housewife. But I do buy a lot of organic/natural foods and beauty products and my kids will be in a bilingual Montessori soon. Those things are quite Vancouver-ish, I think.
Do you feel that living in Vancouver in some way defines who you are? Please explain.
No, and it never really has. I am certainly not the typical West Side Vancouver girl. I grew up here, but moved to Paris when I was nineteen and then to London two years later. I spent ten years there, and I feel like that has shaped the person that I am (which might explain why I find myself surrounded by a lot of Brits, even here in Canada.) My Mom says I am not very Canadian because I criticize people/things/policies a lot, and I am not afraid to speak my mind even if it involves saying something that might be considered “not nice.” The typical Canadian, especially Vancouverite, is always too afraid of offending and is rarely straightforward if they are worried about being negative. I find that extremely frustrating.
Have you ever had cosmetic surgery, Botox, Restalyne injections, etc.? If so, please provide details. If you haven’t had any of the above procedures performed, would you consider it?
No, not yet. My mother’s family has good genes, and I still get ID’ed at the liquor store so that’s a good sign… but talk to me in ten years. I may have had a tummy tuck by then
Other than your children (if applicable), what is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?
Having managed to spend my twenties living it up in London (UK) and then successfully settling down back in Canada in my thirties, with a husband, kids, a dog, a house, etc… People are surprised I made the move from London to Squamish, but after ten years of bar hopping, rock concerts, fashion parties, and spending all my money on Jack Daniels and designer shoes, it sure feels good to live in a small town where you’re more likely to run into a bear than a famous musician. I believe that having made that transition successfully and without any regrets is an accomplishment. I am also happy in the knowledge that I won’t ever feel like I didn’t take advantage of my youth (not that I am old now, but you know what I mean…)
Has the desire for affluence/power/money been a motivator in the choices you’ve made for your life?
In my work life, yes, but not in my personal life. Last year I was very moved by an article with a list of the “5 regrets of the Dying” and I wrote a blog post about it (http://searchingforstyle.com/2011/12/new-years-resolution-2012/) and made a decision to try my hardest not have those regrets. Although it isn’t an absolute necessity, several of those goals require time (one of them was spending more time with your kids), and time is money. So while I do strive to do jobs that I love (and I like all my jobs right now, which is great), I’m not going to pretend that money isn’t the reason why I work. Power is also important, I want the power to make decisions in my work life that are best for me and my family, not for a company or a profit margin. Right now, I am on a mission to find a way for my husband and I to work 4 days week and take every second summer off to stay in his country house Sweden. Given the atrocious holiday entitlement in Canada, this is a big challenge. As far as my personal life goes, the main motivator is to find time to do the things I love.
Tell us about your stuff. What do you like to buy, collect, etc.?
Designer shoes. And it is safe to say I have way too many of them.
Do you have “staff” in your home? (E.g. nanny, driver, chef, etc.)
Absolutely, I am a huge fan of delegating. We have a cleaner, a dog walker (actually, he just quit, know any other ten year olds in Brackendale looking for work?), and since I only have daycare for my son three days a week, I have a Rent-a-Grandma who comes in for a few hours a week to let me get some work done.
Do you belong to any clubs, teams, groups or social organizations?
I’m in some Squamish Moms advice and buy & sell groups on Facebook, and I’m in the fan club of a Norwegian heavy metal band. I would like to get more involved in my community and intend to once I’ve gotten through the first year of my second child.
Finish this sentence: “My life’s motto is ….”
There’s a few… No regrets. Time is better than money. Leggings are not pants. You can never have too many shoes. Nap as much as possible. Your husband should also be your best friend. And one of my favourites (a song lyric from a great American metal band called W.A.S.P.) “to the altar of rock’n’roll you kneel” – even if that means blasting Judas Priest on the way to Walmart to buy diapers.
As a thank you to Alexandra for participating, Legacy Liquor Store will be providing her with a private wine tasting for 6. An elegant and modern 8,600 square foot space that includes a state-of-the-art wine cellar, Legacy is the largest privately-owned liquor store in the province. Home to thousands of beers, wines, and spirits, including exclusive and specialty items, with some of the most knowledgeable and friendly staff around. Legacy is the ideal venue for groups to host casual social gatherings. In-house catering is available with access to a beautiful kitchen and tasting bar area.