Name: Bill Baker
Home Base: Toronto
Occupation: Founder and CEO of Consonant Skincare
After more than 20 years working on the client and agency sides of consumer products and services businesses (including Bristol-Myers, AT&T, CIBC, Molson and Microsoft), Bill Baker was no stranger to positioning and branding Fortune 500 companies and their brands.
But in 2007 his world changed when he discovered the virtues of healthier, natural personal care products. Having suffered from skin issues that required prescription intervention his entire adult life, a friend suggested he try natural skin care products as an alternative to the conventional products he had been using, and his skin cleared up overnight.
For the next two years, with the help of cosmetic chemists, homeopaths, herbalists, and other experts in holistic health, Bill learned the truth about the ingredients in personal care products, and became an evangelist for less toxic choices.
Since then, the line has gained a loyal following across Canada while garnering critical acclaim in the fiercely competitive beauty industry. In 2011, Consonant won Best Canadian Beauty Product from Chatelaine Magazine for their Firming Eye Cream, and Top Canadian Beauty Product from http://beautyconnexion.com/ for their Foaming Face Wash.
Bills works hard to keep Consonant on the leading edge of the fast-emerging “healthy skin care” space in Canada. Consonant recently became a marquis and founding Pledge Member of the Environmental Defence Just Beautiful Campaign, and the company has raised several thousand dollars to support education for the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund.
Q: Most visited destination for business
A: Over the course of my career, I have most often traveled to New York for business.
Q: Local knowledge tip
A: Having trouble getting a table at a hot new restaurant? Tell them you’re visiting from out of town. In my experience, they will bend over backwards to accommodate you.
Q: DIY vs. travel agent
A: It has been a long time since I have used a travel agent. I love planning trips online because you can immerse yourself in the destination before you even get there.
Q: Most impressive airport
A: Dubai. At what other airport can you buy a car and gold bars?
Q: Preferred luggage
A: Not a brand, but a colour: black. Always with some sort of ribbon or unique attachment so I can identify it among the sea of black suitcases spinning around the luggage carousel.
Q: Preferred airline
A: I wish Porter Airlines flew everywhere in the world. They understand what a difference quality customer service makes. When Porter isn’t an option, I love Qantas – the flight attendants look like they actually enjoy their jobs! One time I asked for another glass of wine and they said, “Well, here, why don’t you just take the bottle.” It was a great flight!
Q: Aisle or window
A: I never get tired of looking out the window during takeoffs and landings, so it is a window seat for me all the way!
Q: What three things are on your must-pack-or-will-suffer-a-meltdown list?
- Dental floss is number one. I will always go out and buy it if I have forgotten it.
- iPhone and laptop chargers.
- HydrExtreme, the most potent, persistent and effective skin hydrator that exists on the market.
Q: Jet lag strategy
A: Traveling to Europe, I resist the urge to nap when I get there. If I can manage to stay up into the late evening, I can get a great sleep and all but eliminate jet lag when going east. Coming home is a different story: from east to west, I just tough it out.
Q: Staying in shape on the road
A: If I can help it, I don’t stop working out when I’m traveling. In fact, one of the pleasures of being on vacation is being able to work out without being rushed. When I’m traveling in Canada I make sure my hotel is close to a Goodlife Fitness. They’re in every city across the country so I know I can always get a good workout. If I’m away for an extended period, I’ve been known to buy a one or two week membership at a local gym. When I was in Barcelona after the Summer Olympics, I joined the gym they built for the athletes. It was phenomenal!
Q: Preferred in-flight activity
A: My first choice is to catch up on movies I haven’t had a chance to see. If there aren’t any good films, then I read.
Q: Your preferred conference hotel
A: Without question, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Everything about the experience is always impeccable, without exception.
Q: Best hotel bar for networking with other entrepreneurs
A: Right here in Toronto, the bar at the Ritz Carlton. It is fun, cool, and they serve house-made potato chips!
Q: Best hotel for makeshift office options
A: With my iPad, as long as a hotel has WiFi I’m set. Not long ago, I managed an online promotional program that was crashing our website in real time from a stool in a hotel restaurant.
Q: Time & money saving tips
A: As much a health saver as a money saver, I pack my own meals for the plane. My own food looks better, tastes better and is better for me. And it is way cheaper than buying food on board.
Q: Brushes with greatness: Most famous or interesting person you have spotted or bantered with on your travels . . .
A: I worked out beside Matt Dillon on vacation, I’ve shared a seat with Ivana Trump (she spent the entire flight reading gossip magazines, “They’re my friends!”), and I’ve spotted more celebrities than I can count, but the most gracious famous person I have met was Vanna White at Pearson Airport in Toronto.
Q: Tell us about a great little place you recommend to friends
A: Schiller’s Liquor Bar in NYC.
Q: Confess to one thing you've nicked from your hotel room
A: For me, it’s more about what I leave behind. I’ve forgotten hundreds of dollars worth of skincare, books, and technology.
Q: What hotel has truly lived up to the hype?
A: I love the Chateau Lake Louise, one of the grand old CP Hotels in one of the most beautiful natural settings in the world.
Q: On the flipside, a hotel that has been a crashing disappointment?
A: At the Grand Hyatt in New York I booked a room on an executive floor, but I was put in a room that adjoined a room with four young guys who stayed up partying all night. I didn’t sleep for even one minute. The hotel was booked solid so when I asked to be moved, they offered me a cot in a utility room. Seriously.
Q: What do you enjoy finding most in a mini-bar?
A: Grey Goose Vodka.
Q: Describe your guilty pleasure when traveling
Q: What foreign phrase do you most enjoy tossing about?
A: I can ask for a cup of black coffee in about four different languages.
Q: Favourite island
A: In Hawaii, Oahu. It is like the world’s most beautiful beach dropped at the intersection of Bay and Bloor in Toronto. Great shopping, great restaurants, and great people watching.
Q: UNESCO World Heritage Site that blows your mind
A: The Rocky Mountain Parks are pretty stunning. We have some of the best hiking, camping and skiing right in our backyard.
Q: The coolest hotel you've ever stayed in
A: The Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. There was a steady stream of celebrities and models the whole time I was there. And the pool bar at night was insanely hip.
Q: The best spa experience of your life
A: The Freeze Clinic in Toronto has an incredible diamond microdermabrasion treatment they combine with Cold Laser that leaves your skin feeling phenomenal. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it!
Q: A travel themed film that has really moved you
A: I recently saw Philomena. Such an incredible story, made more moving by the fact that it is true.
Q: A beloved travel book, fiction or nonfiction
A: Ernest Hemmingway, The Sun Also Rises.