Lights, camera, Yarmouth

New HGTV series Trading Up, filmed in Yarmouth, making its debut on May 12




SaltWire Network


The spotlight will turn to Yarmouth this week as a new HGTV Canada series makes its debut on May 12. “Being the executive producer behind the show and being a part of making the show, when I see the first episode … it's surreal, more so than anything,” says Yarmouth native Mandy Rennehan. “The part that makes me the most excited and proud is watching the tradespeople on the show.” The series, called Trading Up, was filmed in Yarmouth in 2021. It follows the renovation of three properties and also follows Rennehan as she mentors three apprentices in the trades – an industry, she says, that has seen a critical labour shortage over the years. She hopes to see that change. Rennehan has long been a champion of the trades and hopes the show will reinvigorate interest in people pursuing this important and much-needed line of work. The added bonus is she got to do all of this while also focusing attention on her hometown of Yarmouth, NS. “The Yarmouth piece of it for me is the part that's made me actually quite emotional,” she says. “I've always believed in Yarmouth's ability to attract more people that want to own real estate and ... I enjoy what it has to offer. So it's been emotional for me, with a big smile on my face.” Still, there were hurdles when it came to shooting the show, particularly since it occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We already have a trade shortage in Nova Scotia. It was shot in the summer in a pandemic where everybody was booked. And then on top of that, you add on a supply chain issue,” Rennehan says in highlighting some of the challenges. Although Rennehan knows all about the trades since she's based a very successful and lengthy career in this industry, being a part of a television series was new territory. She says it was incredible to be a part of, and witness, the large production crew responsible for pulling everything together, in addition to it being an interesting dynamic. “There were days that it was absolute 100 per cent chaos. One of the things that people have to realize is that the difference between Trading Up and other shows is we had a huge cast because we were actually training apprentices while we were shooting,” she says. Two of the apprentices – Dan Croft and Melissa Chenell – are from Nova Scotia. A third, Jaymin Luces-Mendes, is from Toronto. At a young age, LucesMendes adopted a passion for building and design while tagging along on house flipping projects with their mother and grandmother and says this HGTV Trading Up experience was invaluable. “Being mentored by Mandy was a lot of fun. She is definitely a character – always high energy and easy-going. She has her standards, but she always made a lesson of it,” Luces-Mendes says. “She was able to show us what went wrong and how we could have done it better or differently. It was a good experience overall and lots of fun. I've learned so much,” they add. “She obviously got to where she is because she knows so much. Being around someone like that, you learn so much and you're constantly inspired to do your best.” Luces-Mendes also enjoyed the experience of filming in Yarmouth. “I think it's absolutely beautiful. I'm a water person, I love being at the beach and you really can't go more than 15 minutes in Nova and not be at the beach. So I really loved that,” they say. “Everyone is very friendly and it was actually a lot more diverse than I had anticipated, so that was a very pleasant surprise. And I just love the East Coast vibe.” Luces-Mendes is pleased to see such an emphasis being placed on the trades industry through this show, saying, “Literally we would have nothing if it wasn't for the trades.” Someone else who has pursued the trades as a career is Julie Mood of Yarmouth, who served as the design and construction manager for Rennehan's Trading Up crew. Mood runs her own interior design business in Yarmouth and had worked with Rennehan in the past on some other local projects. “The experience as a whole was absolutely amazing – learning the ins and outs of everything was absolutely mind-blowing, to be honest,” she says about being a part of the Trading Up series, and also getting to experience the production side, in addition to the renovation side, of the series. “They made everything easy. If I had any questions at all, they would be there to say, ‘This is how it's going to work.' Seeing the filming for TV, it was really awesome to get an in-depth look into that,” she says, although she still admits there were stressful moments as well. After all, there were timelines to be met and there was a lot on the go. Mood says she and Rennehan have always worked well together, including when it comes to bouncing ideas off one another. She recalls one night during production, the two of them being up at 2 a.m. with the power flickering because of a heavy rainstorm. With the flashlights on their phones they were picking out and deciding on tiles for one of the renos, she says laughing. Mood fell into a trades career after making a live-edge table, with welded legs, for her brother as a wedding gift. After posting a photo online, she had 15 orders that same day from others. “I was like, oh my God, is this something I can actually do?” she says. “I just went with it…I started to realize every day as I was doing this that this is something I wanted to pursue.” As for the show, not only was it exciting for her to be filming it in her hometown of Yarmouth, Mood says, but she's excited for viewers to learn more about this part of Nova Scotia. “We're blossoming and I think that I think that the producers and the director really captured the heart of Yarmouth when they were here,” she says. Rennehan, meanwhile, has had another big moment in her life since the filming of Trading Up wrapped up in Yarmouth last year. She recently launched her book ‘The Blue Collar CEO,' which outlines what she calls her gutsy journey from a rookie contractor to a multi-millionaire construction boss. She says she hears from people who want to buy the book for their daughters and granddaughters, along with countless others. “People from marginalized communities, people from the LGBT communities, people from the entrepreneurial communities, it's incredible how this book is resonating with every walk of life. It's giving people permission to find that badass freaking lightning rod inside of them,” she says, noting often people don't give themselves enough credit for what they do or for what they've accomplished, or what they could accomplish. As for the Trading Up series, Rennehan hopes people will be as excited for it as she is. “It was a new challenge for me. I really didn't know what to expect until I got into it,” she says. “I want people to appreciate our town and bring more money into the town, more of a tax base, more people that want to open up amenities, and put Yarmouth back on the map.”