Olivia Newton-John, Xanadu and glamjulz

Olivia Newton-John and I? Heck, we go waaaaaay back… Waaaaaay back to 1980 to be exact!!

Well… that’s when I was first introduced to her.

She was my first female idol. I strolled out of the movie theatre smiling from ear to ear as I had just been struck by the magic of Xanadu. It was my 11th birthday, hanging on to my Daddy with my best girl friends in tow, not even realizing, at that time, that this little cult flick would change my world forever.

On I went, buzzing through life and believing in the messages of the movie, “Dreams do come true”, “Work at what you love”, and “Life’s journey is eternal”

These messages sunk deep into my being, and as I grew to be a teenager, my creativity began to blossom. When I was just 16 years old, to get me through the daytime hum drum routine of public education, I started an after school T-shirt business . I hand-painted anything and everything onto T-shirts, like album covers, movie stars, cartoon characters… you name it, I painted it.

Then in my 20’s, I found myself working 9 to 5 in the corporate world, desperately looking for another creative “escape” to fill my need for a greater purpose. I was now older and wiser and decided that I wanted to paint murals on walls, because it payed more money, and LOTS of people would see my work. It also happened to be what Olivia’s boyfriend Sonny, in Xanadu, did for a living and I thought that was pretty cool!

The late 20’s and early 30’s snuck up on me, and I found my true love…BEADS!!!

Wayne is here laughing and shaking his head. “True love?… I’m competing with beads?”

Beautiful shapes, colours and styles, and so many necklaces, bracelets and earrings to make with them!

I didn’t take any classes or receive any formal training, this was all in there inside me, waiting to come out and be real. I never picked up a paintbrush again (except for that time I helped Wayne paint the Kitchen).  I knew what I wanted to do and I was committed to working harder than ever before. I started to connect and network with amazing people and the business just took off.

How could I feel so much joy? How did I know which way to go? glamjulz was my purpose!

I created a brand and part of that brand was to express my “alter ego”, and so the glam girl was born. Big blonde hair, big eyes, playful and carefree (a combination of Kira from Xanadu, and Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics). Then came the glamjulz logo, Wayne designed it and I LOVED it!  To me the logo looks and feels like 1980, neon lights, disco balls, and roller skates.

The final “touch of magic” was to have a beautiful display for my glamjulz. I wanted the julz to glow with a life of their own, and with some white light boxes and a little splash of pink, the final piece fell into place…

…Aaaaaaaah! < that’s the sound of a hundred angels singing as the heavens have opened up.

It’s time for business.

It sounds crazy but I feel like my branding is more self fulfilling than anything. I go to work every day, surrounded by my favourite people and things and instantly connect with that 11 year old girl inside me as I work all day in my own world of dreams.

Can you imagine how my dreams came true when the administration at the Juravinski Cancer Centre asked me to design a special piece of jewelry for Olivia Newton-John? She was coming to Hamilton for a very important night and share the story of her own struggle with breast cancer, 20 years ago.

That evening I was getting ready for the show and Wayne gave me a copy of the Xanadu soundtrack on vinyl. It was in extremely good condition, much more so than the copy I’ve had since I was a little girl that had seen much better days due to being played hundreds, if not thousands of times. He told me that he had picked it up a few years ago and just in case I got to meet Olivia, I could get her to autograph it. I gushed at his thoughtful gesture and suddenly the possibility of meeting Olivia made little butterflies start up in my belly.

I blasted ONJ songs in my car, all the way to the gala event and arrived determined to get that album signed… somehow. I met up with my dear friend Nancy McMillan and we made our way to our seats.

The lights dimmed and in walked Olivia, beautiful as ever, changing the energy in the room with her presence. She began the evening by singing, “Magic” which was such a perfect song for the occasion, and then sat down and told her story. Olivia started by saying, “When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 20 years ago I never asked why me?  I asked, why not me?” She had such an incredible attitude, and her perspective really moved me as I’m not sure I could say the same if I were in her shoes.

The night went on and Olivia graciously and politely answered many questions from the audience, (exactly the way I always imagined she would be), and as the event came to a close, Olivia was presented with gifts.  Even though I knew she was receiving my necklace I NEVER expected that my julz would be presented to her on stage, in front of all her dedicated fans. I was on the edge of my seat as I saw Pearl Veenema, President and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, present her with the box that had my necklace inside. Pearl told her that it was made by a local artist and long time fan and as Olivia pulled it out of the box, she said, “It’s beautiful… Where is she?”

You can see in the photo, Pearl is pointing to me and Olivia is looking at me as I blow her a kiss from the audience.

This night just kept getting better and better. I just got invited to the after party, and those butterflies were starting to flutter again. Olivia wanted to meet the girl that made the necklace, and as I walked towards Olivia she put out her hand, “Monica…”. Her soft voice and beautiful blue eyes made me feel at ease and calmed those butterflies.

She was so grateful for the one of a kind, Orchid coloured, crystal and semi precious, 10 strand necklace, which I had finished off with a little silver roller skate. I pulled out the Xanadu album and politely asked if I could bother her for an autograph and a picture. It was no bother at all, and she was delighted to give me that and more, it read…

“To Monica with love, and thanks for the beautiful necklace”

and she finished it all off with a big hug!

That evening was a gift, and I drove home feeling the tingles of a life long dream fulfilled.

When I got home, Wayne was waiting up for me, “so, how did it go?” As I held up the signed album like a trophy, a huge smile came across his face, and he gave me a huge hug “Congratulations” he said “You deserve it!”

Who is the person that has inspired you to keep following your dreams? Please share in the comments below.



At this moment …. ‘YOU’ are! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story Monica. You have a special light that shines inside you and it touches everyone who has the pleasure of meeting you.


I loved this story, Monica! What an incredible experience. I have to say that my best friend, Carla, inspires me. At 38, she applied for and was accepted into the RCMP – she’s my hero for what she’s accomplished!


I agree with Yvonne…”YOU are! Everytime I read your BLOGS I am inspired in some way and whenever I see you I am happier than before because of the joy I see in your eyes and smile on your face.


I get inspired and encouraged every time we talk, e-mail, and meet. Your whole attitude is wonderful, you radiate positivity and it rubs off onto people around you. And your smile says it all. You deserved to meet your inspiration.


Oh Miss Monica…..I’m loving your nostalgic blogs! You are such an amazing person and all the wonderful comments of the people who wrote before me are all so true! I too have to agree that you have inspired me so much. I think of you as a person and all the wonderful qualities you have every time I put on your jewelry….which is like, EVERYDAY!!! You saw my jewelry organizer…..stuffed!! Thanks for your wonderful “shares” and keep following your dreams!

Amber Richmond

WOWZER, WOWZER, WOW, WOW, WOW! Monica, I love your blog first of all, I love your jewellery best of all but I love your attitude the most! I am so excited for you and your accomplishments! You inspire me! Having met you a few short years ago and watching your growth, it inspired me to keep pushing onwards! Things are great but it is always nice to know that things are great for everyone else as well. My family helps to inspire me as well. Now if I could only have had a conversation with the amazing Linda McCartney before she passed, well, that would be the icing on the cake. By the way, I loved Xanadu, I must have watched it a hundred times!!!


My two besties…Monica and Carolynn because when we are together, we are teenagers again….and when you are teenagers….your whole life is ahead of you and you feel like you can do anything! So many dreams to realize!
By the way…you look hawt in that picture xoxo


That was a night to remember wasn’t it! Every time I hear Olivia sing I think “WOW, we met her for real”!!! We are lucky girls Monica.

Monica Graves

Are we ever Nancy! All thanks to you my biggest dream came true that night! LOVE YOU LADY!!!!! XO

Jean McLeod

Love this story – thanks so much for sharing. Wonderful to hear about what inspiration, hard work and following your passion can do! ❤️


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