Virtual Surprise Birthday Celebration

It’s pretty rare that we work on a private event. Our usual clients are planning corporate events. But when one of our favourite corporate event clients approached us to help her host a surprise virtual celebration for her husband’s 60th birthday, we couldn’t help but say yes!

Autorickshaw from Toronto

We thought this would be simple…until we learned that there would be guests joining from countries all over the world; India, Japan, Singapore, United States, Canada, to name a few. Trying to find a time where everyone could come and not be half-asleep was a challenge in itself. We decided on 7:30am MST so that by the time the event finished, it would be just after midnight in Japan. And remember – this was a surprise party! We scheduled our planning meetings at times that he had staff meetings as both he and our client were working from home. Even with our best efforts of scheduling meetings when he should have been busy, there were still times that our client had to talk in code if he passed through her home workspace to grab a coffee. Ninja-style secret event planning at its finest! 

Wanda Baloyi from South Africa

The guest of honour is passionate about music and reading, so we used his eclectic taste in music and his love of books for inspiration. I found 3 incredibly different artists who all agreed to make a 15-minute personalized pre-recorded video.

Kate Blechinger from Edmonton

Wanda Baloyi, a jazz/r&b/neo-soul singer from South Africa, Autorickshaw, an Indian/pop/jazz fusion band from Toronto, and Kate Blechinger, a folk singer from Edmonton. It was great to see people dancing along in their little Zoom box. To celebrate his passion for reading, we asked guests to recommend their favourite book for him to read as part of the RSVP process. This list was shared with him and, as a tribute to his passion for reading, a donation of textbooks was made in his name to a school in India.

We had a fun “How well do you know the birthday boy” quiz and used Mentimeter so everyone could see the results live.

Guest speakers from across the world shared touching messages of appreciation and stories of how he impacted their lives. One of the honoured guests from Japan led everyone in a customary sanbon-jime, consisting of a series of three handclaps to celebrate the end of an event. The guest of honour was very touched that his dear friend and ex-colleague stayed up so late to celebrate and teach everyone this tradition.

Amazing stories, speeches, pictures, laughter, and tears of joy – all parts of a successful international virtual surprise celebration!

The Fath Group Holiday Party

We love working with The Fath Group and their holiday party is always one for the books. In our initial planning meeting with them, we give them options for a few different themes. Once one is selected, we hit the ground running.

Photos do not do it justice!

Knowing our venue was the Pioneers Cabin (formerly The Old Timers Cabin), we wanted to create a special atmosphere the moment the guests stepped into the beautiful, rustic space.  We were inspired by seeing a lighting design by Roy Jackson Design. They can create the Northern Lights on the walls and ceiling, so our theme became “A Night Under The Stars”.

We learned that if you are using a log cabin that was built in the 1950’s, be prepared for some power issues. Luckily, our amazing tech from Roy Jackson Design was able to make it work (after finding the breaker panel) and created a wonderful ambience, complete with shining stars.

We found some beautiful geometric candle holders from Knotwood Event Rentals that we completed with mirrors to help reflect the lights. Fresh cedar was placed on the tables to bring the smell of the fresh outdoors inside. We also rented a large, wooden farmhouse table that became the centrepiece of the room. Our amazing caterer, Creative Quality Catering, designed a beautiful grazing table with meats, cheese, fruits, and crackers that guests could enjoy as they began to arrive.

The incredible farm house grazing table

After dinner, a few speeches and prize-giveaways, we got into the entertainment. We are so lucky that we have such a thriving musical scene in Edmonton and were so pleased when Martin Kerr was available to do an engaging 45-minute set for our event. 

To close out the evening, one end of the cabin became a dance floor and the other end was set up for a paint nite! Smash Art created two paintings for us to fit our starry night theme. The two large groups that painted had a wonderful time and a lovely canvas to hang on their wall once they got home!

Who doesn’t love a photobooth?! Thanks for the fun memories Flashworks!

#morethanapartyplanner – Entertainment

Before I get into my #morethanapartyplanner bit, I feel like I need to tell you how I got started with ED. Some people may think that I’m an unlikely fit for an event planning company. I’m actually a professional musician and have been for about 20 years. I play piano and sing in various theatres around Edmonton, I perform on tracks for film, television, and video games, I work with choirs, and write and arrange music that has been performed all over the world.

4 summers ago, Erin was over having lunch with my husband, John and me. She mentioned that Kelsey was going on maternity leave in a few months and she needed help with ED. John was suggesting a bunch of his students when I finally piped up and said, “what about me?” Now, at the time, I had absolutely NO experience with event planning, but I was willing to learn. I felt the skills I use as an entertainer would contribute to ED’s work; skills like being able to juggle weird schedules, having a creative mind, and my ability to stay calm in busy and stressful situations. Plus I knew my connections in the entertainment industry would prove to be a useful resource.

Fast forward to today, and I know my background as an artist has allowed me to add a different viewpoint to events. And I love being the one that gets to source entertainment! 

Kelsey, Erin, and I have developed a great working relationship, each of us appreciating one another’s individual strengths for delivering a great event. After the initial discovery meeting with a client, Kelsey and I put our brains together to come up with some themes for their event. Once that’s selected, I try to find an entertainment option that fits with the theme. Sometimes our clients specifically ask for something (like a musical act) but often times the ball is left in my court. I usually pitch musical acts to clients (since that’s my background and I have many connections around Edmonton and across the country) but I love it when we can find something really original.

One of my favourite events was a Cirque du Soleil themed Canadian Western Bank gala. I reached out to one of my connections in the performing arts community and was able to book the local circus group, Firefly Theatre, for the event. Aside from doing a jaw-dropping performance for the CWB event, Firefly Theatre also poured champagne for the guests during the reception hour….while hanging upside down from beautiful red silks! This was spectacular to see and definitely gave guests an immediate “wow” factor the second they walked into the room. 

Some things to remember when choosing entertainment options:

  • Book early. If you want the best and you’re booking during a busy season (like Christmas) popular musicians and performers can book up months, or even years, in advance.
  • Confirm if your entertainment needs extra time to set up or tear down. Is this something that can be done before guests arrive? Or will it take extra time during your main event agenda?
  • Know your audience. Don’t book a performer just because YOU really like them. For example, if you have an audience full of young people that just want to get up and dance, maybe a quiet string quartet isn’t the right call.  
  • If you want professionals, build it into your budget. Exposure is never an acceptable form of payment.
  • Depending on your entertainment option, you may want to do a site visit at the venue with them. For the Cirque event I mentioned above, we needed special rigging to make sure the silks could be hung from the ceiling. We needed to coordinate with the venue so the performers could have early access to install the rigging.
  • With virtual events becoming so popular over the pandemic, you can easily include international performers and not have to worry about paying for travel! I just finished up a virtual event where I booked an artist all the way from South Africa.

At the end of the day, I am #morethanapartyplanner! I feel for Erin and Kelsey when they have to work around my crazy performance schedules but am so happy that I spoke up during our lunch and grateful that Erin took a chance on me! 

#morethanapartyplanner – Asking the Right Questions

“I hadn’t thought about that. That’s a great question” I hear this often when working with clients and I take pride in it. With all new ED projects our team holds a discovery session with the client to learn more about their business, their stakeholders and the ‘why’ behind the event or project. Some clients are taken back that we don’t start off with the 5 W’s; who, what, where, when, and why but instead focus on the last ‘W’ first. Why are you choosing to host this event? Why now? Why is this important to you and your organization? Stephen Covey says ‘begin with the end in mind’; starting with the intent and purpose behind the project is critical to then best determine the course of action for all other decisions to be made. 

Of the many things we gather in a discovery session, these three are crucial: 

  1. A Temperature Check: Before starting a project we need to understand what the climate is like within your organization and amongst your stakeholders. Take an employee event for example, if there has been recent structural changes, heavy workloads, layoffs or uncertainty, we need to know that in order to ensure the communications we write for the event reflect the tone and culture to the individuals reading them. You have the insight into your organization and how the team is feeling, we have the expertise to creatively write and curate an event that acknowledges the current state of morale while also moving forward, celebrating or recognizing accomplishments. Showing vulnerability to acknowledge the struggle will go much further than just glossing over it and trying to rally the teams for the next stage or goal. The answer to this question gives us insight into the current emotional state of your organization 
  1. Your Definition of Success: Have you ever considered what your definition of success is when you start a new project? It’s an interesting task and reveals a lot about how an individual sees and measures accomplishment. Not to mention, each person around the table might have a different definition of success- which is a good thing! In order for us to help you achieve your goals and ‘why’, we need to know from the beginning how you will determine if it was successful. Is it based on the number of leads generated, employee feedback, satisfaction surveys etc. As with any metric, we need to know what we are measuring before we start. The answer to this question gives us an insight into what is of most importance to you. 
  1. What Keeps You Awake at Night: Although you’ve hired us to work with your team to drive the project forward, there are still many other priorities on your plate that we are not aware of. We need to know your greatest stress point so we can help alleviate it.  For many clients, it is not related to the project, but if we know what the internal pressures are, we can help to plan the timeline around them. If we know you have a big board meeting in a certain week, we’ll do our best to get any decisions or answers we need from you well in advance or not bother you until after. On the other hand, if you are most concerned about the project, then we’ll send you weekly check in emails to update you in between meetings. The answer to this question helps us to communicate with you effectively and to be aware of competing priorities in our timeline and planning to ensure it doesn’t become too much for you or the team. 

Let me finish with a short story of a recent, brilliant, question that was asked during a discovery session- and no, it wasn’t my question this time! 

In working with a client for their upcoming podcast series, Erin asked: “If the podcast was a chair, what kind of chair would it be?” The look of surprise on the client’s face lasted for a moment but while they thought about it I was in awe at what an amazing question it was! Think about it, it’s simply a different way, a different perspective to think about the project. It challenged the client to think about the end result with how and where they envision their target market listening to their podcast. The answers they give us will tell us significantly more about how they envision it. Is it a leather recliner by the fireplace in a library or study? Is it an Adirondack chair in the backyard or by the lake? Is it a high stool at a noisy bar? Or is there no chair at all and it’s in the gym or on the river valley trails while someone is working out? 

We challenge you to not only strive to ASK great questions but then to truly LISTEN to the responses.


Do you have a job where when you tell people what you do they have a preconceived notion or stereotype about what that means? Let me give you a perfect example. 

Random Person: “great to meet you Kelsey, so what do you do for work?”

Me: “great to meet you Random, I’m a corporate event planner!” 

Random: “oh that’s cool, so you plan parties?”

Me: “well….I guess yes, sometimes, but there is so much more to it than that”

Random: “yeah, I get it, I just helped my community league host a bouncy castle and cotton candy day for the kids. You have such a fun job!”

Don’t get me wrong, I have planned a couple events that had bouncy castles and cotton candy but those are minor details compared to what we (ED Marketing) actually does. Yes, choosing the right caterer and entertainment is important to the guest experience but if those were your only 2 decisions to make then you could have your Aunt Susan do some research on Google and make it happen.

Over the next couple of weeks we are going to share with you some thoughts on why we are #morethanapartyplanner and how having strategy, thoughtful intention and a marketing mindset can take your event from being just a social gathering to a brand building, employee culture or community development opportunity. 

We see events as an opportunity to share your message, purpose, brand and unique characteristics in a memorable way. Events are a great marketing tool that beats out a traditional print or billboard campaign and can create lasting impressions- which is what you ideally want right? 

Erin, Jen and myself each have a unique background and current role within ED that when combined provides a fuller picture than just that of planning a party. 

I’ll be up first next week and I’ll share with you a bit about our discovery process that is our first step with clients when discussing their event. In the meantime, do you have a job that people tend to think they know what you do? Share a meme with us about your job and what people think you actually do!

Canadian Western Bank National Leadership Conference

The mission, should we choose to accept it (which we did of course), was to guide a highly functioning but busy team to launch day for their national leadership conference. The dates were set, the theme chosen and some of the session topics approved. The ED team was tasked with managing the project timeline, the committee and developing engaging, creative digital content as well as custom packages to be delivered across the country. Oh, and the launch date (aka conference start) was only 4 weeks away.

The conference name was Fueling the Future and with the graphic design focused on space, rocket ships and astronauts our team put on our flight suits and worked long days in mission control. There is so much we could tell you about this event, and are happy to chat more sometime, but for today we’ll keep it to 3 things.

  1. Conference Packages
You’ve got to have some sustenance! And who doesn’t love cookies?!?

Creating a personal, interactive and engaging experience was key for CWB. The social aspect of this conference in past years when it was allowed in person was the highlight for many as they would only see colleagues from across the country at this one time.

When considering what to send attendees, we knew they would be expecting the traditional printed conference program, maybe a branded water bottle and a hotel branded pen and we definitely were NOT going to be doing that! Come on, who really wants another branded pen…

Some light hearted fun included in the package!

In keeping with the space theme, we created 3 separate packages for attendees to open at specific times which were written onto the package labels. When guests opened their package, they first saw a welcome to crew members message from Chris Fowler, CWB President & CEO and Mission Control (aka Tech Support) contact information.

Package 1: Pre-Flight Check

Package 2: Day 1- Ignite: We have Lift Off

Package 3: Day 2- Accelerate: Reaching Light Speed

2. Digital Assets & Production

Some of the digital assets created, in partnership with the talented crew at invert720 Productions, were a countdown video to start each conference day and a blast-off video to start sessions. Attendees were surprised from the moment the program started and knew this wasn’t just going to be another ‘Teams meeting’.

Still from the countdown video

We used invert720’s studio space where the designed LED wall matched the other design aspects of the digital event and the printed packages people received to bring a cohesive experience to guests.

Sr. AVP Kate Lister in front of the branded LED wall

Another impactful piece developed was a video compilation of CWB staff answering the same few questions. These questions related to the session topics and were used as intros to the sessions. The response from staff was great and we had many submitted videos for every question.

3. Guest Communications

We helped integrate the theme in written communications to guests leading up to the event. The attendees enjoyed the unique mission control messages they were receiving and it created anticipation and curiosity. Here are a couple examples:

  • Every successful astronaut needs to prepare for their mission. Usually this involves years of physical, mental and emotional training to be in the best-pre-flight shape for the stress of space travel. We’re not asking you to do this much pre-launch work; however; you will be receiving a few crucial items that contribute to the success of each astronaut. Click this link and provide your current, accurate, complete SHIPPING address to receive your pre-launch package in time.
  • Before each flight, many astronauts pre-record messages or write notes to friends and family to read while they are in space. We would like you to do the same! As part of your mental training for your upcoming mission aboard the CWB Rocketship, Mission Control would like you to choose 3 questions from the following list and record your answers on your smart phone. Then submit your recordings to Mission Control to create a special video.
  • This is your final system check before blast off. The deadline to register for the Fueling the Future Leadership Conference (mission!) is imminent. The ship’s systems have been double and triple checked; the fuel cells engaged and the team is moving towards the launch pad….will you be among them? If you haven’t registered, now is your last chance to complete the pre-flight information to receive crucial mission sensitive information. IF YOU DO NOT register before the deadline #TeamTeal will launch without you. You will be left, helmet in hand, staring wistfully into the stars imagining the fun your fellow astronauts will have had WITHOUT YOU!

Things we learnt that you might want to consider in planning your next event:

  1. Sending creative themed packages is great but keep in mind that you might not have all of your employee’s home addresses. Or if you do, it might be from 10+ years ago when they started with you and you will want to confirm shipping addresses as part of the registration process. This can take extra time but is worth it up front to ensure accuracy in your shipping.
  2. As with an in-person event, the guest experience starts BEFORE the event starts and it’s a great way to build anticipation and help tie your theme together from beginning to end
  3. Packaging 350 boxes, each with 3 different packages inside of them takes a lot of time and man power!
  4. Virtual events provide different opportunities for people to attend. Maybe in the past, your in-person event was only for a certain level (ex: Senior Leadership & Executive) and that was partially due to budget in flying people to one location. Now, you can consider having Managers and up and coming leaders join in virtually. This is great, but does add to the complexity of getting your invite list ready and approved.
  5. A space themed event is OUT OF THIS WORLD!

A&H Steel 50th Anniversary

A business’s 50th anniversary is a milestone worth pulling the red carpet out for! For A&H Steel, their 50th Anniversary celebration went virtual and was able to reach a number of people that would not have been able to attend an in-person celebration. Although moving to a virtual event wasn’t what the client originally had dreamed about, in the end it achieved all of their goals in recognizing the original founders, connecting current and past staff, clients and suppliers and looking forward to the next 50 years.  Read on to see what I think some of the benefits of a virtual event are.

The ED team had the pleasure of working with Glenise Harvey and the A&H family for their new building grand opening back in 2016. When Glenise reached out about needing help to celebrate this milestone we said YES immediately!


When we first started the planning, we could have had an in-person event for 50 people and streamed the event virtually- that is a hybrid event. After lengthy discussion, it was decided to do the event virtually only. How could they choose which 50 people got to attend in person? Hybrid events are more expensive because you are doing 2 events instead of 1. What if the restrictions changed between now and then? At the end of the day, it was the right decision for the client, their guests and the circumstances we were in.

I could write a book about each event, it’s always so hard to pick only a couple things to note. Once again, here are just a few highlights of mine:


Creating a theme and design that captures the character of the organization, their values and is unique to them is one of my favorite parts. We chose a classic chalk effect design and focused on A&H’s Raising the Bar tagline. They’ve been Raising the Bar for 50 Years in the Edmonton area!

A number of invitations were printed and mailed to some of the original staff and the rest were sent electronically. In addition to having a digital invite, we also had the invite animated into a short video. Yes! The bar was literally raised in the invitation! Call me a dork but these are the kind of things I get excited about.

We also wanted to capture the impact that A&H has had and is still having on the community and the industry. We created an infographic for them based on a number of stats about their organization and interesting things to know about the industry. This piece was intentionally designed to not reflect the event only, as this is a piece that A&H Steel can use for the next year or more to come. This can easily be included on their website, or put in proposals and much more.


A core value of A&H’s is Happiness and it is inspired from the author Jennifer Moss’s book on Unlocking Happiness at Work. As a way to give back to the guests, in an especially challenging year, A&H chose to have Jennifer Moss present a keynote address to provide tangible tips and tools for people and to also inspire them on how to choose happiness and choose joy even when we are facing challenges.

The keynote was very well received by attendees and many guests joined her in the Meet the Speaker networking room following the main program where they could continue the conversation and A&H gave away a number of books.


We wanted to capture elements of the past and present through different speakers and videos. Photos from over the years were collected and compiled with a heartfelt recorded message from one of the original founders. The comments were steadily coming in on the chat about people recognizing each other in the old photos.

Moving to the present, we worked with invert720 Productions to arrange a video shoot with the current owners. The end result was authentic, informative, engaging and, of course, entertaining! It hit the mark on event day when people became emotional at different parts and enjoyed the humour and banter between Glenise & Craig.

Lastly, as a way to engage the staff and tie into the Happiness theme, we asked staff to submit a video of them completing the sentence: Happiness is…..

We were overwhelmed with the number of responses and had to have a short version for the event and a full version that was shared afterwards.


  1. Your invite and attendee list can be infinite
  2. Your stakeholders that live in different provinces can still attend online. For A&H, this meant their BC team could be a part of the celebration
  3. If people cannot attend due to a date or time conflict, they can still watch the recorded event after
  4. In creating different media assets for the virtual event, you have content that can be reused on your website, for social media, newsletters, annual reports, etc.

Surprise, Epiphanies!

It’s into our third week of the Stock vs. Reality Challenge and let me tell you, I was NOT expecting an epiphany to come out of this challenge for me. I was expecting a few ‘real life’ action shots, some laughs at our collective reality and maybe learning to use the camera timer on my phone; but not an epiphany.

But isn’t that when epiphanies show up? When we’re least expecting them? Like when some out of town relative who is rarely seen or heard from drops by for a visit (pre-pandemic of course!) and I feel the need to whip up a fancy lunch and serve the ‘good’ pop. So what have been my epiphanies with this challenge so far?

  1. I don’t want to share my reality… at least not without an explanation. For each of the last two weeks I feel a dread in the pit of my stomach when it’s time to share my ‘reality’ theme picture. My reality needs words and explanation damnit! The first image I wanted to explain why my office was in such a bare-walled state of disarray. The second image was even worse! Why is my workout picture doing squats at my desk? My reality needs to be explained and justified because I’m afraid of being judged. Heck I JUDGE my own reality! But here’s the epiphany – letting go of my need to explain the image, has helped me let go of my fear of being judged. In marketing we often want to control how the message is received as well as when, where and how the message is delivered. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to control the receiver’s response to the message. In the stock vs. reality case – some people will inevitably judge our sweaty, red faced post-workout pics, or our messy, stand up in the kitchen dinner but that’s not for us to control. This challenge has been a reminder that letting go of the fight to control or explain is good for me.  
  1. Sharing our reality takes courage  – and there are a lot of brave souls who’ve joined us on this adventure. Being who I really am is an ongoing struggle and I am committed to continuing to show up to the battleground daily. The battleground is where I choose to  be conscious of when I’m preparing myself for judgement or wearing my armour as Brene Brown calls it. What does this have to do with marketing or events? In order to truly see, appreciate and execute the needs and desires of our clients, I need to see my own self, my own reality,my own vulnerability, my own needs. By knowing how I feel about something, I’m better able to translate my client’s reality and articulate their vision. 

Moving into this week’s meal image challenge I again brace for judgement, but with a new understanding of the reasons behind that fear. Meals with a toddler….what needs to be explained? Ha. I look forward to seeing your submissions on our social channels too and thanks for playing along. 

Prize Announcement – Outdoor Mini Photo Session for 6!

You may have been wondering what’s in it for you to play along with our challenge? Well we have partnered with a fabulous local photographer, Linda Purnell, to provide an outdoor mini session for up to 6 people in the Edmonton area. Check her work out on Instagram and get ready to post this week’s image! 

Prize Fine Print: Winner will be announced May 3, 2021 on the ED social media channels. Photo session must be booked directly with Linda and used by April 31, 2022.  Any location within 15 km radius of Edmonton, must be outdoors. Up to 6 people.  At least 10 processed image files supplied (high and low res of each). No Cash Value. Winner will have 1 week to reply and confirm with ED Marketing and provide their contact information, otherwise a new winner will be drawn.

All Weather Windows Sales Awards Gala

We get it, special events are nice to have, not the need to have and are typically the first thing to get cut when challenging times face an organization. In the hierarchy of business needs, events wouldn’t even make the top 10 for most organizations.

It’s because of this reality that we appreciate organizations like All Weather Windows that still take the time to host an annual Awards Gala for their sales team. This year’s awards gala was done virtually and although people said they wished they could have been together in person, many people commented that they were proud and happy to see the organization still host the event!

The All Weather Windows team has been doing this annual event for a long time and is a highly functioning and efficient team. With only 3 weeks from ED joining the team to event day, we assisted with the virtual world insights on how to produce an awards gala. What’s the best part of an awards gala? The live reaction of the winner of course! There are many ways to capture the reaction and what was best for this team and their event was to have fake meetings scheduled with the winners that the leadership then hijacked and shared the big news. Those meetings were recorded and highlight reels were created to share during the awards program.

This event was 100% pre-recorded and produced in advance of the event, which pushed the planning and timeline up even more. The in-studio recordings were done 1 week in advance and the rest of the content came together just in time to preview the entire show the day before. Having the event fully pre-recorded was partially a decision based on health and safety of their staff during COVID and also it allowed the MC and other speakers to fully engage with attendees in the chat and networking rooms during the event.

I had the opportunity to move around the networking rooms before and after the awards presentations and the energy around meeting new team members, seeing colleagues from across the country and celebrating the award winners was an honour to see. The team is committed, resilient and as their mantra has been, they are ‘All In’!  Congratulations to all of the winners.

Stock vs. Reality

While working on ED’s website, our team had an enthusiastic discussion about whether or not to use stock photos or ‘custom’ photos on the site. I mean we all have a phone with a camera, how hard could it be to take a few ‘true to life’ photos for the website? Can’t be that hard. 

Turns out it’s not that hard (HA!), but we liked stock images better – mostly. 

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Who doesn’t have 2 large bowls of fruit in their kitchen? Tell me, where’s the dirty dishes in the sink? The mess on the counters? The screaming kids yelling that they want apple juice, not orange juice? This does not look like my house at all!

Stock images have been used in marketing materials since the 1920’s and are mostly fictionalized versions of real or ‘real-ish’ situations meant to circumvent paying a photographer to build or create a true-life shoot to capture an actual situation. Instead of paying a photographer thousands of dollars to build that specific product shot or commercial office tableau, we marketers often choose to pay a few dollars per picture that captures ‘close enough to reality’ to work in a particular design. The irony is that often there is very little ‘reality’ in stock photography. A quick search of ‘parenting’ on popular stock photography sites will show the stark contrast between the reality that parents know to be true and the clean, mess-less, highly staged, slightly unfocused stock photos of calm, polished parents and their pristine children. 

BUT the conversation around stock vs. reality inspired a powerful discussion about the reality of our lives; the messy, beautiful, productive, loving chaos in which we live and work. We had a good laugh around the idea of a stock vs. reality photo series on our blog and social media. When the laughter died, in true Erin-stir-the-pot style, I said let’s do it. The silence on the Google meeting was stark. *cough* “Um. You want me to take a picture of my ACTUAL desk?”

The vulnerability of showing our true spaces and faces is terrifying. We are a team of very different, highly accomplished, driven women. We each wear approximately 100 hats EACH, on any given day. That’s a lot of hats, and they’re everywhere, well at least mine are. Why in the world do I want to bare my shit show of a soul to everyone!?

Here’s the deal though, we’re bad asses. No really. I didn’t say we’re perfect. I didn’t say we’re not business blouses on the top, fuzzy pants and animal slippers on the bottom. I said we’re bad asses. We are dedicated, driven, passionate and REAL. The REAL in us is what we love about each other and what we want our clients to see and appreciate in us. 

Are you ready to get real with us?

April Stock vs. Reality Challenge

Each week in April, we’re going to share a stock photo on social media. It might be work or life related –  ‘home office’,  ‘bosses’, ‘healthy lifestyles’. Each Tuesday we’ll share the stock photo and pair it with a shot of our reality and we invite you to join us. At the end of the month we’re going to do a draw for a prize from the names of those who participated. More details on the prize to follow shortly!

Rules of Engagement:

  • Be nice. Reality is ducking vulnerable. Don’t be jerks. If your reality is being a jerk just keep scrolling
  • Share 1 reality photo for each week’s stock photo as a comment or tag (Instagram) on the social media post for that week. Social media posts will be on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. 
  • 1 entry allowed per person per weekly photo shared. But if you share your photo on all 3 social media platforms, you can get 3 entries!
  • Contest closes April 30th, 2021. The winner will be announced on May 3, 2021 by random draw. 
  • Disclaimer: your submitted photos will not be saved, used or shared by us for any reason. This contest is not sponsored or administered by any of the social media channels. Sharing the post is not required for an entry. (But we’d certainly appreciate if you do share!)

As usual I’m kicking myself a bit for my big mouth, but I’m committed to the outcome. There’s enough ‘stock’ in this world. Let’s get real.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels
Why are some stock photos so weird?

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