We may build the buildings, but it’s the people who live and work in them that bring them to life. People from all walks of life occupy our buildings across the city, and we want to get to know them better. 


Annie is an accomplished Biologist and a confident businesswoman. She’s the brains behind XO Treatment Room and XO Facecare, which just so happens to be internationally known. She also happens to be one of our tenants in COLOURS. Faith sat down with Annie to find out more about her story and her decision to locate her business in Victoria Park.


How long have you been in Victoria Park?

Just over five years. 


Why did you choose this spot?

I used to live in CHOCOLATE, I had a gorgeous condo, and I just loved this street so much. Vine Arts popped up when I lived there, Lola. You know it’s changed a lot over the past 5/6/7 years, but I was just so partial to this street. I lived in that condo until I got married and then when I got married we bought a house. We both sold our condos, but I missed this area so much. Then I saw this spot open, which used to be Atomic Subs, which everyone knows, and then it was a sandwich store, and then it was empty. So, there was this For Lease sign, right as the economy was starting to plummet but I was like, I should do something there, I should do something there.

What can I do that involves science, lasers and chemicals that isn’t illegal. I love skincare; I’d worked with tissue and skin for a long time. I have a biology degree, so I understand all this. Anyhow, I was like, right; I’m going to open and do laser stuff. But I’m not going to make it cheesy; it’s going to be legit and cool like real stuff that works.

And Barb (Barb runs our office) was amazing because I have no history of business, I’ve never done anything before. I just came to her with this grandiose idea, and I was like, ‘I would like to lease that spot please,’ and she said yes. And the way you see things open and close now, it’s like ‘why the hell did she listen to me?!’ but I’m so grateful that she did. I owe Barb for saying yes. 

So we opened up, and we grew and grew and grew and grew, and in November, we were in Oprah Magazine for crying out loud. It went from me, sitting in my garage wondering ‘what should I do?’ and now we’re in Oprah Magazine. 


Do you think the location of XO has contributed to your success? 

Yeah, it does. It’s funny when it first opened here I was convinced that every single person from every condo building around was going to come down here and have their face done. But it’s not necessarily the case, most of our clients are people that work Downtown. We’re nice and close, we have ample parking, and they come in, they have their treatment, and they go back to work. And I know they’re from the DT area because we used to be open Saturdays and it was our quietest day. So we’re now Monday to Friday. 


What changes have you seen on 1st since you’ve been here? 

It’s been all growth. I think people naturally go to mission or 17th, but this feels like a community. It’s not as intimidating; it’s not as busy with traffic. And honestly, this isn’t a street where I see things open and close, but you also don’t see Canadian Tire choosing this street. It’s entrepreneurs, and it’s a community, and it has been a successful growth. Like restaurants, for example, if you wanna eat out, then this is the area to be in — facial, cocktail, dinner. Perfect.


What changes would you like to see in the future?

Nobody loves change, right but the city has very thoughtfully planned this area. It worked, and it did improve, and it did get better. This (where XO is) was the nice part of the street, and then you got down to Mac’s Circle K… But they changed all of that too by putting the median in and putting the nice lamp posts in. They have improved that area a little bit now. I don’t know what I would say for more change. I like the way it’s going. I like the slow continual growth. Things that grow too fast implode. Things that grow too slow get stale. It’s just going at a nice pace. I’m really looking forward to this Underwood Food Court opening. 


Do you see yourself staying in this area?

Yes. I’m very emotionally attached to this area. I just re-signed my lease and did a full renovation in here. When planning the renovation, I felt like I should wait until I resigned my lease because that’s the sensible thing to do. So when my designer came in, he was like ‘right let’s do this,’ but I was a bit more cautious because I wasn’t sure if I’d be allowed to and he was like ‘well, there’s a lot more options out there’ and I was like no no no, I’m very emotionally attached to this spot. And he was like ‘just look,’ and so I did and nothing was like, just no. I’m happy where I am, I don’t want anything too big, I’m a 1,000 sqft, it’s super functional, I was able to do everything I wanted (Battistella were amazing, they just said yes!) and it looks super high end and awesome and I love the street. 


We definitely try our best, you know, people assume we’re a huge company, but we’re only 12 of us on the team. Just because we sell high ticket items doesn’t mean there’s a million of us. I guess it’s the same as you, with international recognition, people might think that you’re a big company. 

Yeah, for sure, we got a lot of people contacting us through the telephone (which is a weird way to contact us) from the Oprah feature. Stacey (Annie’s protege) would be talking, and I was like, tell them you’ll transfer them to HR or Marketing. It was very funny! It took us a minute, but then we realized they really did think they were talking to a big company. 


Are you selling internationally?

Yes absolutely. The UK is a very popular hotspot and, of course, the States and across Canada. But you know we formulate and create everything ourselves here, we physically sell in the store, products can be purchased online, and I have my treatment room where I do facials and laser and technology treatments on people. So everything just connects, and I have such a passion for it. I get to do the creative part; I get to do the science part, I get the human interaction, and I get to bring my dog to work. It really is a dream come true.