News & Announcements

A blue print for success

White Avenue Mac's

Mount Royal University students don’t always take the conventional route but success is always the destination.

Cariosa Donaleshen started her studies in an emergency room, then found herself in a bakery before settling on Mount Royal’s Interior Design program.

Now, two years after graduating, she has won two major awards for her work, most recently Best International Store Design and works in the world of convenience stores with Mac’s Convenience Stores.

“I was actually away at a conference when I found out,” recalls Donaleshen. “My boss played it up like something was wrong and he pulled me aside and said, ‘we’ve got to talk.’Cariosa Donaleshen

“Then he showed me the message on his Blackberry saying we’d won and I was so excited I was shaking.”

That success shouldn’t come as a surprise.

As a student, she was granted the rare opportunity to work on Alberta's internationally acclaimed Sol Abode.

Then she turned a Student Work Term into a career with Mac’s.

The job is not all Frosters and gummy worms.

“I am Mac’s only interior designer for Western Canada and I am responsible for 299 stores that we do renovations on and I also work with our architect and contractors to design the layout of about 10 new stores we open each year.

“Once we have an empty box, I work with our marketing team to design and lay out everything inside of it.”

The winning store

When Mac’s Corporate decided to open a store last year on Edmonton’s famous Whyte Avenue, they knew it had to be different.

That’s where Donaleshen entered the picture.

“The Whyte Ave. store is one of our more unique spots. We’ve never done graffiti in a store before.

“I describe Whyte Ave. as urban-bohemian with a real boutique style we really wanted to reflect in our new store there.”

Donaleshen’s idea was to finish the store in materials you would typically see spray-painted on. Then she hired an artist from Calgary to go up and do graffiti all over the store.

What foes into a store besides pop and chips?

One aspect Donaleshen really enjoys about her job is the freedom to be creative in the way she was with the Whyte Ave. store because Mac’s tries to tailor characteristics of its neighbouring community to its stores.

“There’s a new store that will be opening soon in Sherwood Park that I would describe as an upscale Sherwood Forrest,” says Donaleshen.

“The finishes are a lot of wood and stone and the glass on the mezzanine has a grass feel to it and the floor tile looks like hardwood, so it has a very foresty feel to it.

“I’m doing another one in Edmonton that’s near a park where there are a lot of geese so the store is going to reflect that in its design. One thing I thought about drawing on for that is the flying geese in  Toronto Eaton Centre."

Steven Noble, June 28, 2011