Today, December 12, marks one year since the passing of Nina Budman: mentor, industry maven and long-time champion of creativity, arts and fashion. Nina founded Toronto public relations agency Budman & Associates over 25 years ago, which continues today as Matte PR (publisher of Glossi Mag).
On the first anniversary of her death, we take a moment to commemorate Nina by sharing fond memories from friends and associates. We hope our reflections will serve as comfort to those who knew her and offer an opportunity for others to get to know her.
Nina had a pristine reputation for her business acumen and dedication to mentorship. Through her work at Budman & Associates, she provided clients with timely communications strategies and offered a wide range of public relations services. Her entrepreneurial spirit and hands-on approach in her role as president was a driving force behind the agency’s success.
Throughout the years, Nina forged long-term relationships with clients, journalists and media organizations across Canada. She acted as a trusted advisor to a number of organizations, including the Toronto Fashion Incubator and Ryerson School of Fashion. She was also a board member for the Design Exchange, and a long-time active member of Fashion Group International.
Nina’s zest and vibrance will not be forgotten and her spirit lives on through all those that she worked with and mentored throughout her career. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to enjoy her free spirit, sense of humour and creative mind.
Here she is remembered by friends and colleagues in the fashion, design and public relations communities:
1. Kathy Cheng, President & Founder, Redwood Classics Apparel | President, WS & Company Ltd.
“Nina Budman was the embodiment of what it means to be a trailblazer. Her philanthropic spirit and endless knowledge as one of Toronto’s leading communications professionals is nothing short of inspiring. I was always humbled by her willingness to share her expertise, time and support with me. She had this uncanny ability to balance uncompromising professionalism while making you feel like the most important person in the room. Nina’s courage to always speak her mind without compromising her trademark sophistication has helped shape me as a leader, mother, wife and daughter. I was incredibly fortunate to call her my mentor. But I was even luckier to call her my friend.”
2. Susan Langdon, Executive director, Toronto Fashion Incubator
“I remember the first time I met Nina; it was at a Fashion Group Toronto meeting at her lovely Rosedale home. She was Regional Director at the time and I had never before been inside a home in Rosedale (or Forest Hill for that matter). I used to drive an old Toyota Corolla that had seen better days, so in order to make a good impression on Nina and the other FGI board members whom I hadn’t met before, I parked far, FAR, away so no one would see my car! My concerns about “image” and “perception” quickly vanished the moment Nina greeted me. She made me feel welcomed and included. She was so warm, genuine and gregarious that I felt immediately at ease. As our friendship grew, Nina would go on to nominate me to the New York HQ as a “FGI Angel”. Her nomination and endorsement led to a front-page feature in the NY-based FGI membership newsletter and FGI Bulletin, for the work I do at Toronto Fashion Incubator. Nina continued to be a trusted friend and colleague, lending her support and encouragement all the way. I miss her dearly but remember her often.”
3. Laurie Sakamoto, long-time colleague and dear friend
“We were FGI colleagues and then TFI colleagues. Then we were Porter friends: we made a pact to take weekend vacays wherever Porter flew. There was shopping at Neimans and Bergdorf, dining at Cipriani and taking in Broadway plays. We had so much fun taking the architectural tour of Chicago. Now I don’t have any desire to take those Porter vacays without her … It’s not the same.”
4. Corrado Paina, Executive Director, Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario
“Nina and I worked together to bring Missoni to Toronto. There were other people involved in that project: Robin Kay, Laurie Belzak, Luca Viscardi and many more. It was the 50th anniversary of the Missoni enterprise and some of us thought that it was the perfect opportunity to bring a story, a family and a clothing line that spoke of creativity and elegance, of nobility and class, to Toronto. Nina was perfectly at ease.
Always elegant, she started every meeting with her trademark smile. Intelligence and irony vibrated in her and one could see a little touch of melancholy in her darting eyes, like an informal touch by Turner on his breathless landscapes.
Those days are in my memory. Nina was never hasty or careless. She worked well with the more theatrical personalities which, in the world of fashion, are not difficult to encounter.
We had a great show at the Liberty Grand, a presentation at Holt Renfrew and a masterclass at a trendy college. Ottavio Missoni, the founder, could not come. It was Vittorio, the son and the CEO of the company, who came to Toronto.
I met Nina a couple of times after that event. When I was told about her illness, I didn’t call because I didn’t want to disturb her, but I should have. I know one thing about Nina: even while sick she never lost what she had in her blood – a natural elegance, an inner class, an unbeatable vivid spirit.”
5. Laurie Belzak, Sector Development Officer (fashion & design), City of Toronto
“I was fortunate to sit on a number of advisory committees with Nina. Her welcoming smile, wealth of experience and sound advice made this a real pleasure. Working with Nina to help bring the Missoni Retrospective to Toronto and coordinate the master class was both a highlight and an incredible learning experience. I will always be grateful for Nina’s warm welcome and the friendship and wisdom Nina shared with me. I miss her.”
6. Al Matanovic, Owner, Jelly Studio
“Nina Budman was a special friend, client and respected professional who could always be counted on for her sage judgment and wise business insights. We shared office space overlooking Yorkville’s Cumberland Park and collaborated on numerous projects. Often, we planned our campaigns during visits to local galleries and over lunch at Jacques Bistro. Our last excursion was The Forbidden City at the ROM. Nina had been to China and wanted to share her exciting adventure.
For over 25 years, Nina’s team and the Jelly Studio group met for a celebratory party lunch in December. Festive and fun, Nina loved the holiday season and always had amusing gifts for everyone. For every December celebration she always brought holiday crackers containing prizes and colourful paper hats we all donned, to the delight of the entire restaurant. Those were joyous times. I miss her.”
Share your memories with us using #RememberingNina.
Heidi is president of Matte PR and a mentor with Toronto Fashion Incubator. She’s inspired by brutalist architecture, sculptural fashion, and Italian“Giallo” films. Influences include John Waters, Yoko Ono, and Suzy Lake.