Aldona Barutowicz is the influencer we need right now. From her signature bold lipstick and colourful outfits to her penchant for sharing inspirational goodness (“Happiness is not by chance but by choice”), the publicist’s Instagram feed is a feast for the eyes and the soul. That’s not by chance, either.
Barutowicz knows style. Though working as a publicist has been her main gig for the past 12 years – she helps everyone from theatre companies and female entrepreneurs to the Calgary International Film Festival tell their stories – Barutowicz is known as Calgary’s street style huntress.
For years, she’s chased down Calgarians in fashionable outfits and photographed them for local publications. Lately, she’s been turning the lens on herself, capturing her outfits of the day and inspiring followers to get creative dressing from their own closets. More than wanting women to just look good, Barutowicz is on a mission to help them feel good, too. To that end, she offers styling services – virtually, at the moment – focused on body positivity.
“The foundation of my styling is about dressing for your body,” says the 40-year-old. “I encourage women to feel great no matter what size they’re in and to get rid of clothes that don’t fit them. We should all feel amazing, but we’re so hard on ourselves.”
As someone who struggled with her weight for a long time, Barutowicz knows what it’s like to feel uncomfortable, even shameful, in your body. She was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder at 21 and has spent the better part of two decades riding a health rollercoaster. During the most difficult times, she gained weight, felt sluggish and put her eating habits under a microscope. “I was so focused on losing weight,” she says. “I used to feel bad for having a muffin.”
Everything changed for Barutowicz a few years ago when she came across Bright Line Eating, a weight loss strategy that encourages people to cut flour, sugar and snacks from their diet, among making other lifestyle changes. She credits the diet with impacting much more than her weight. “It’s taken me getting to 40 years old to turn things around for myself and be grateful I’m alive — I have this body, I can move.”
Now, she’s passionate about helping her clients find the same gratitude and confidence. As she writes on her Aldona B Creative website, where she offers a range of media-related services a la carte, “I want you to be excited to get dressed in the morning and show the world your incredible self through your personal style.”
Of course, getting dressed during the pandemic has been less exciting than usual. “After being at home and not doing much for the past year, it’s been a lot of leisure sweatsuits and comfy clothes,” she says. “But everyone is ready for a change, even if it’s just being able to get outside more.” The proof: for the first time in a long while, Barutowicz says demand for her styling services is on the rise. She, too, is looking forward to adding a few fun pieces to her wardrobe.
“I’ve bought some cute, new T-shirts from Zara and a pair of denim shorts,” she says. “I’m going to add a summery blazer because I love having good toppers and being able to layer, which is a great way to play around with things. You can even add a silk scarf to your summer outfit.”
As for summer, Barutowicz is eager to spend a lot of time outdoors. She’ll bike, relax in her backyard and “attempt planting some things” in her first garden. But don’t expect to see her out and about. “I think we still have a long way to go (with this pandemic),” she says. “I will not be the first person to show up when the gates are open.”
She may be cautious about the months ahead but that won’t stop Barutowicz from dressing with intention and sharing her good vibes on Instagram (@aldonabcreative). “I really try to go in with as much positivity as I can, no matter what I’m doing,” she says. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have down days, but it’s like I tell any woman starting a new business: keep going. Always keep going.”