Power Couple: Ruby Brown and Richard Speer
She is an internationally renowned model, who decided to bring to canada what it had been missing for far too long: a luxury perfume house offering customized scents. he is the president of the academy of canadian cinema and television and the founder of attraction media, a key player in quebec’s media and entertainment industry. together, they form a powerful couple bound by a strong business sense, ambition, and a whole lot of love.
You are both in charge of a business. Can you describe your companies?
Ruby: I was a model for many years in Paris, and when I came back to Quebec, I decided to launch my own business of customized fragrances. Five years after the start of my company—Essence Workshop—I still offer made-to-measure perfume workshops, and I now have my own space at Hudson’s Bay in Montreal, where I offer luxurious scented candles made in Canada and also fragrances that you can personalize on the spot. My mission at first was really to shake up the very traditional world of perfumery and to offer a brand new concept. I’m glad to say that everything is working out very well and that we are now a leader in the field.
Richard: I am the president and founder of a company named Attraction Media, one of the biggest producers of media content in Quebec for the movie and television industry. We have approximately sixty television shows on air this year, and we also have a division for broadcasting, with 10 radio stations, along with one for commercials. It is an entertainment company with many divisions and missions.
We are curious to know how you two met.
Ruby: [laughing] Darling, you should go first; your story is more beautiful than mine.
Richard: I was one of the partners behind the restaurant Vauvert, and I had already seen pictures of Ruby since we had friends in common. One night, I saw her at the restaurant, and I decided to go for it. I was very subtle, maybe too subtle since she didn’t even realize I was trying to hit on her. That is how I introduced myself to her five years ago on a January night.
Ruby: It was a very cold winter night. There was a snowstorm outside. I used to hang out in the restaurant since my friend Abeille was the DJ there. I was standing alone behind her DJ booth, and I saw a man, who seemed a little bit like a poser, making his entrance. I was like, “who does he thinks he is?” And Abeille said to me, “be nice, that is my boss.” So right after she told me that, I went to try to sell him my candles [laughing]. And that is how everything started.
Richard: I just want to say I didn’t buy her candles the first night. I’m not an easy man [laughing].
So, you (Richard) could almost say that is was her business side that seduced you first?
Ruby: [quick to answer] That’s true!
Richard: It is important to say that Ruby is way more business than I am. She lives for her company. Every occasion she has of making it grow, she goes for it. I really admire that side of her. You could almost say she is my boss [laughing]. I am at her service!
Do you think that the fact that both of you have a lot of drive and care a lot about your businesses makes your relationship stronger?
Ruby: A lot! First of all, Richard is someone I really admire. I never thought I would say that on record [little laugh].
Richard: Make sure you keep that part in the interview!
Ruby: I am a big fan of the man behind the businessman, but I am also a fan of the businessman. I have the chance of sharing conversations late at night with one of the biggest entrepreneurs in the province. So, of course that drives and inspires me a lot. And Richard is a man that gives a lot. He shares his ups and downs and gives a lot of advice. But, he also knows how to listen. He helps me get rid of my doubts, and I feel very privileged to share my life with someone that is such a strong mentor.
Richard: On my side, you know, an entrepreneur is someone who knows how to live with risk and moments of doubts. And being two in that situation helps to bounce back on our feet. It also helps us in acknowledging what we can do and what our limits are. I feel very lucky to have someone in my life that can understand that situation. I receive a lot from being able to exchange with Ruby about that aspect of our lives. And I hope it’s the same for her.
What do you think is the most inspiring thing about each other?
Ruby: Richard is never negative. He is always in solution mode. When I am feeling down and like nothing is working anymore, he is the one that focus on finding a solution to it. Like I need to snap out of it and find a way of making it work again. He is the kind of person that knows how to turn a very complex situation into something positive in the end. That is what I admire most about him.
Richard: For me, it is Ruby’s quest in creating something new and innovative based on her passion. I think the fact that she can create a business from her passion that also reflects her personality is very extraordinary. It is very stimulating to see Ruby wanting to make her business work that much and putting all her energy into it. That helps me not take everything for granted. To be honest, my company started working better from the moment I met her. She is the person that stimulated me the most and who knew exactly what to say to help me surpass myself.
With all the work and time invested in your businesses, how do you keep time for each other?
Richard: We try to maintain the couple aspect. We are lucky to be able to travel together for our business when we need to. And, at the end, even if we talk about business, we are still a very strong couple, and we don’t lose ourselves in it. We can have a romantic night where she will talk about work, and it will only be natural. The fact that our passion is our work makes it possible to exchange about it when we are together. It is part of us.
What are your upcoming projects?
Ruby: I’m very excited about the growth of my company. I have big dreams and projects for it. I want to distribute my perfumed candles all over North America. It is very important to mention that everything is made in Canada since we don’t really have an industry here for more luxurious products. Normally, luxury products come from France or England, and I am proud of the fact that I found a way of doing it here.
Richard: My field of work is going through a lot of change. With new technology, the relationship between people and media has changed. With this in mind, I am currently rebuilding my brand with my team. I find it very stimulating. We are looking directly to the future.
What was your most romantic date?
Richard: I would say it was on New Year’s Eve three years ago. We went to see a live performance of Jay Z and Coldplay.
Ruby: We loved it so much that we decided to make it a tradition. Each year, during the holidays, we go on a road trip to New York.
The most romantic place in Montreal?
Ruby: I would say eating a pizza from Pizzeria No. 900 at home on a Friday night. We also love those Sunday morning brunches at Leméac where we talk about all and nothing. Or beautiful cultural places like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The most romantic place in the world?
Richard: There is a little restaurant named Somewhere Cafe in Turks and Caicos. It is located directly on the beach. You can eat the best fish tacos while having your feet directly in the water.