In Advance of the First Peterborough Fashion Week: Exclusive Interview with ‘Strutt’ Founder Christina Abbott!

The 4th annual STRUTT 4 Kids Fashion Show is Peterborough’s premier fashion event during the first EVER Peterborough Fashion Week September 21-27. On September 26th, enjoy entertaining guest hosts, live entertainment & this fall’s hottest styles from 10 fashion houses presented in a spectacle that will make you think you are in New York or Milan!
In advance of the first annual Peterborough Fashion Week … Here is an exclusive Interview with Founder of  STRUTT Central and Peterborough Fashion week show producer Christina Abbott!


1. Christina, first of all … you make all this hard work look easy! You effortlessly run STRUTT Central agency, travel the world and organize fabulous fundraisers, special events and MORE.  My first question to you is… how do you tackle your endless to do list? What drives your success?

“Theresa you are so sweet! I never realized I made it look easy! Running a business is hard work and takes passion and perseverance. Living with purpose and wanting to make a difference are the main drives for my success. If I am doing a project that I find purposeless I have a hard time completing it. Projects that I am emotionally attached to or creatively charged up about I often float through them and don’t realize how much sleep, money or time I am loosing trying to complete them! I have a passion to make a difference in the world and I despise giving up. My mom Cheryl is also a huge help, she has kind of turned into my personal assistant over the years. I really couldn’t accomplish a lot of what I do without her help! Sometimes my endless to do list involves working round the clock and sacrifice but the age old saying is “if you love what you do it doesn’t seem like work”. I often pull late nights and I am happy that I can do the things I love and still call it work.

2. I love that quote!!! You are the founder of the biggest and best modeling agency in the Kawarthas. How did you start in this business?

” Thank you!  I first started as a teenager, I always loved fashion and drawing fashion so I was naturally attracted to the modelling industry. My older sister Carolyn was into modelling so me and my younger sister, Katie, got involved. I started modelling when I was 16 and then quit for a while when I went to college for advertising and graphic design. I re-entered after I graduated College, I went on an interview for an advertising job and the woman interviewing me took me straight into a casting agency that was above her office because she said I should be modelling not working in advertising haha! It was called Jigsaw Casting! I went got my photo taken and they took my info and within a couple weeks they had called me about a modelling job! So I decided to re-enter modelling and acting as a hobby while still pursuing a professional career in the advertising industry. I quickly found out that I loved being a creative director and my passion did not lie in Modelling. I loved visualizing concepts and I started to have a yearning to direct shoots and be a director. I always had my own ideas on how things should be done! It was extremely helpful learning about the industry from a model/actress perspective. I learned a lot of valuable lessons and had a lot of fun for the most part. My most memorable accomplishment in the modelling industry was being chosen to be on the 2008 Canadian Life-Saving Society special edition stamp of Canada! My most memorable acting accomplishment was starring in Upper Canada Soaps presentation” The Awesome Canadian Woman”

3. The Awesome Canadian Woman is SPECTACULAR! Way to go Christina. I love you in this campaign! Now tell us about the biggest milestones at Strutt Central to date…

Launching Peterborough Fashion Week with such a great team is a big one.  Our PTBOFW team is fuelled by creativity and packed with purpose on a mission to nourish/establish a fashion industry in Peterborough Ontario. We have cultivated a culture that gives back to children in a creative way. It’s amazing to watch how one fashion show “Strutt 4 Kids” organically grew to a full on week! It’s heart warming to watch our community come together as a creative collective for such an awesome local charity that helps so many children. I feel like I am part of a movement.

Helping people achieve their dreams on the agency side of things. We have worked with
several models and actors over the years all of which have gone international. For example
it’s been wonderful watching you grow Theresa as one of the top Actresses we work with
now. Being part of your journey has been special and memorable. Every time someone
books a job from our agency and they get excited so do we and those are milestones as

Seeing Sebastian Deery on the big screen at TIFF for a short film he Co­Stared in called “Hole” ! I felt like a
proud MOM lol It was a special moment for me, I LOVE film and the Toronto International Film Fest, to have
an actor whose part of the strutt family in a premiere at TIFF was just amazing! The film “Hole” was
incredible as well and I think will go on to win awards. Sebastian demonstrated passion, determination,
hard work, persistence and talent and in just one year has managed to get to a spot most actors strive for
years to be!

Brianna Wood signing with IMG Models the top agency in the world and being able to be part of her journey. I got to accompany her to NYC where we met with IMG and I experienced Brianna’s first plane ride with her! It was a moment that I will never forget, the best runway experience a girl could ask for. Mike Rodin, Brianna Wood and Emily Verduyn going international! Watching the transformation of people and their attitudes towards themselves change when they accomplish goals. It’s like watching butterflies emerge from cocoons. I love helping people realize their full potential. The STRUTT program is a major milestone for me because we have done some amazing campaigns and helped improve girls confidence and inspired them to make a change in the world.

4. You had a big role in creating Peterborough Fashion Week and the search for Kawartha’s Next Top Model. How is the model search process going for that?

It’s amazing. We have found 13 great candidates. They are currently undergoing training. All applicants had to meet certain age and measurement requirements as stipulated by whats required for the fashion industry and high fashion modelling. We had lots of fabulous applicants but unfortunately at this point in time we were only looking for high fashion models.

5. The first Fashion Week in Peterborough is hugely significant. Congratulations on this exciting week of events.      What gave you the inspiration to do this?

The concept of PTBOFW was a collaborative effort spearheaded by Jocasta Boone, Emma
Cox Terry Guile of the DBIA, Dave Adams & Michael Taylor of Five Counties and myself we all
jumped on board to make it happen and we formed a Fashion Week Committee with
additional members and sub committees that has been the motherboard to making this
whole week possible. We have been having meetings since last year about this week! We
were inspired to do a full week after the success of our third Strutt 4 Kids fashion show. We
realized the potential of our community in the fashion arts as Strutt 4 Kids was one day that
put our fashion industry on display. We eventually want all of the world to respect and
acknowledge the fashion industry we have and will have in the future, but first we have to
start in our own backyard. There have been so many note able names in design, styling,
hair, makeup and modelling from our area yet not too many people know about them. It’s
about time we revealed to our community what a vibrant fashion scene we are developing
here. Also a huge inspiration is to raise more money for Five COunties Children’s Centre.
What they do for kids is amazing and having a full week of fundraising will allow us to help
more children from our communities.

6. Can you tell us about the events happening during the first annual Peterborough Fashion Week?

From Sept 1 to 25 we have a Dawn to Dusk Fashion Photography exhibit showing in Nata’s Cafe. The idea behind this was to showcase the local talent in Peterborough’s fashion scene. This includes designers, make-up artists, hair stylists, models, and photographers. Then we have the Sept 21 Style Insider Pool Tournament, followed by the September 22nd STRUTT Luncheon on Parkhill on Hunter, followed by the Sept 24th Never Too Old To STRUTT Fashion Show. I’m very excited for this one. We are trying to focus on the inherent beauty, grace, and wisdom in the elder’s from our community. Our society is terribly focused on youth and staying young. This fashion show is designed to pay attention to and respect the phenomenal process of ageing with strength, integrity, and confidence. This is than followed by Sept 25 Steam Punk Club Night follow by Sept 26 and our annual STRUTT 4 Kids fashion show.  Our annual STRUTT 4 Kids fashion show! Which I am so excited to see you Theresa, strutt your stuff on the runway for five counties children’s centre! We will also be hosting our special guests Cathy and Allison from Plutino, one of Canada’s top modelling and artist agencies. They will be judging the Dawn to Dusk Challenge photographs and be choosing the winner of Kawartha’s Next Top Model! To conclude fashion week we have onSaturday Sept 27th DBIA Shopping Event. Where 5% of all sales goes to Five Counties Children’s Centre. We have a goal of raising over $40,000 this year! Let’s hope we achieve it! 

7. You are an inspirational woman in business. Who has influenced you in your own life, and why?

My mom has been my biggest supporter and you need that when you are starting a business or
really starting any important chapter in your life. She has been a positive influence on me and
given me the encouragement I’ve needed to take on the world! I really think she thinks I can do
anything and that is an awesome feeling. When things get tough and you go through stress you
need someone who is there who is there to support you! We’ve gone through many stressful
moments together, and we’ve fought like cats and dogs about things but at the end of the day
we’re family and we move on past our differences. My mom has been the heel in my stiletto.
Also having a close network of friends who are positive influences and who encourage me has
been a huge influence. When you surround yourself with people who want the best for you it
makes life a lot easier.

8. Taking in the big picture, what is in store for STRUTT Central in the coming years?

I would like to “STRUTT” the world and expand to have offices in other cities.  

A major personal goal is to produce and direct a documentaries on social issues and
have them entered in major film festivals. I love directing and I have a passion for the moving
image. There are several social awareness campaigns I have in the works, and others that I
would like to see through in the near future. We are also in the process of developing some new
innovative programs for youth that will help them explore the dramatic arts in a purposeful way. I
want to see our agency make a difference in the world and in peoples lives.

9. Tell us about the upcoming model camps and classes throughout the winter months.

I facilitate “The Strutt Program” which is a multi-faceted self development program for youth. [We focus] on social awareness, media, acting, modelling, fashion arts, self development and confidence boosting. I have developed the program to specialize in empowering young girls, through self development work and various media campaigns such as “I am that girl,”  and “The Just BeYOUtiful Campaign.” By integrating media arts, industry professionals, and the talent of our participants, we create, in each program or camp, a project that touches on a social issue. This issue could affect men and women of all different ages, sizes, and abilities within our community. I also focus strongly on anti-bullying initiatives and continually support anti-bullying awareness through media. Newly launching this fall is Indigo Academy of Dramatic and Media Arts is committed to helping youth reach their full potential. Through training in live performance and film acting our students will work together to create a social awareness short film at the end of a 6 week program. Indigo Academy will work with Kawartha youth to make a difference, build self­confidence, and engage in meaningful community activity.

We are on a mission to help change the world in a positive way through the moving
image of film! The instructors at Indigo Academy are all industry professionals. Our role
is to help guide the Indigo students through their creative processes in order to create a
meaningful film through acting and media.

We will also be running with the wonderful Niki AllDay for one Just Beyoutiful Campaign
Day Camp a month! The Just beYOUtiful campaign is about just being YOU, being a beautiful
human and creating more Beauty in this world. We currently live in a society where celebrity
plastic surgery makes more press than the beautiful creatures that inhabit the Pacific Ocean
dying due to pollution. It’s about time we come together and redefine the way we perceive beauty
focusing on inner beauty, what that means and making this world a more beautiful place.
Promoting people with purpose, who have compassionate, loving and kind souls and
encouraging more people to make a difference in the world around them. Humans have a natural
instinct to want to connect, share, love and feel loved. This campaign is a great example of
cultivating of a community promoting positivity

10. As a successful model yourself, business owner, and agent to several successful actors … What is your best advice for those who want to break into the business?

The absolute vital ingredient is PASSION and having drive to see your passion through. You
can’t be in this for anything else other than passion. People who are in it for the wrong reason
don’t last very long. Seeking out grassroots forms of being discovered is also very important.
You need to have drive and seize every opportunity you can. You also need to know that things
just don’t fall out of the sky on your lap. You have to put yourself in the path of receiving
opportunities. If you just sit on your butt and wait for something to happen it never will. You have
to take chances and put yourself out there. There are no mistakes in life everything is an
opportunity to grow and transform. Also educate yourself if you want to be an actor take acting
lessons and get involved with theatre groups!

Also try to have a career filled with purpose. Go into the industry with a goal to change it for the
better, because, if you don’t who will ?

Thanks for taking the time to talk about upcoming Peterborough Fashion Week Christina! It is thrilling to watch you continue to build enormous successes. Your achievements are outstanding; you are a proud part of the history of Peterborough; Your legacy is far from over! 🙂 Keep up the awesome work…


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About Theresa

Canadian Feature Film Actress & International Model. Qualifications include live television, feature film, radio experience, TV Host, event production, & PR. Theresa flexes her knowledge of brand development and marketing while pursing a career in the arts industry in the heart of downtown Toronto. Skilled as a strategic marketing & planning expert, Theresa Longo travels nationally and internationally as a Corporate Brand Ambassador and loves to write and record original music.

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