Sorin Pavelesco knows how to tell a story with the right frame of mind

Owner Stories: Sorin Pavelesco, Creative Director/Owner, Sorin Media, Montreal, Quebec

We met Sorin Pavelesco through our membership in The Networking Club here in the West Island of Montreal. Sorin has had an important impact on our group and he regularly shares the importance of visual branding and storytelling to further a company’s message. He understands how vital it it is to not only listen to his clients, but distil the information he’s been given into beautifully shot videos that highlight the client’s business. Through the process of putting together this interview, we’ve gotten to know Sorin a little bit better too, seeing his meticulous thought process put to action via the answers to these questions. We encourage you to read all about Sorin’s business below and reach out to him should you have any video needs.

Our interview with Sorin is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. Also remember to support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Sorin Pavelesco, branding specialist (design, video and music)

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Sorin! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. So tell me a little bit about your business and core services.

Sorin Pavelesco: I am a digital content producer, which means that I create content for my clients to help them brand themselves on social media platforms and the web. Because of my vast experience in branding and advertising I realized along the way that I’m very good at listening to the client’s story, distilling the information and identifying the key points and messages that need to be brought forth. Having taken journalism classes way back and having collaborated with many talented copywriters throughout the years I also realized that I have strong writing skills and this has really helped me when I need to write a script or narrative for my clients’ promotional videos. The real skill is to say a lot with few words. Everybody is competing for your attention and you don’t have a lot of time to tell your story. Classic elevator pitch!

Once the script is solid and agreed upon I start filming.

10|20 Marketing: What kind of videos do you make?

Sorin Pavelesco: I have filmed corporate testimonials, product launches, events, concerts, business spotlights, music videos and short documentaries. The range is quite varied as you can see. The editing is the third part of the process and this is where everything comes to life. The magic happens here. I also happen to be an accomplished music producer with my own recording studio and so I naturally compose the music to all my videos… this is extremely rewarding!

10|20 Marketing: So tell me a little bit about how your business has evolved over the years.

Sorin Pavelesco: Regarding the evolution of my business I would say this: 20 years ago people said that if you didn’t have a website you might as well not exist. This is when the white and yellow pages were starting to disappear and the big shift was towards advertising online. And so people spent thousands of dollars on their website only to realize that they also needed to give people a reason to come back to their site. Consequently the LATEST NEWS section became trendy for a while because it gave website owners the ability to quickly make daily updates—they thought that would suffice but that wasn’t nearly enough!

Social media eventually came along and companies were happy because they could interact directly with their clients but they were also faced with a new reality: the need to feed the media machine! After a few years companies finally realized you couldn’t just post anything, they needed to provide quality content because, after all, their brand was at stake by process of association. Not a single company wants bad publicity or negative comments on social media. It is like a cancer… one unhappy customer can destroy years of dedicated hard work because his negativity will spread to others.

10|20 Marketing: And in comes video…

Sorin Pavelesco: And so now we are here. If you don’t have a good quality video content with a coherent message that is relevant to your brand and your customers then you might as well not exist. As you all know Google (which owns Youtube) gives priority to videos that are featured on websites. If you do not rank on the first page on search results you are in trouble. Most likely your competition has a video, either on their website, Youtube channel, Facebook business page or Instagram page. If you do not… well… you are severely behind! Business-wise there are so many opportunities to create videos today for my clients, it is the greatest time for digital content creators in history. Almost overnight online communications transitioned from a supplement to the main form of reaching audiences. There will be a reduction in business travel, conferences, trade shows, in-person meetings, and with the increase in working remotely it becomes quite evident that digital content will only grow exponentially.

10|20 Marketing: And let’s not forget about the potential of video post to Google My Business!

Sorin Pavelesco: Let’s not!

10|20 Marketing: Do you have some concrete examples of how your videos have helped customers increase awareness, sales?

Sorin Pavelesco: A few weeks ago one of my clients started manufacturing high-quality homemade masks to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. I realized right away what made his models different from many other local productions was that his featured a front pocket with a high-density protective filter. I knew this was the greatest selling point and I made sure to highlight this key point in the 30 second video. We arranged the safe-distancing pick-up of the product, the briefing was done by phone and it was all filmed at my studio without ever needing to meet in person. He has been using this video to advertise online locally and nationally (Toronto Star and Globe & Mail) and the feedback has been fabulous. He is delighted!

Another example is a corporate video I produced for BASF (Black Academic Scholarship Fund). This organization helps young black adults complete their post-secondary education by way of grants. This cause truly moved me as I realized how only a few thousands dollars can directly impact someone’s life. Yes, corporations donate millions of dollars to combat disease, famine and poverty worldwide, it is important and we will always need that, but on a small local scale, to be able to help a young adult obtain his/her University degree… well that resonated with me greatly!!! It turns out their main fundraising event is a yearly golf tournament, the Jackie Robinson Charity Golf Tournament. I couldn’t believe they didn’t have a corporate video to showcase their wonderful organization!!!

Then again I wasn’t so surprised… there are so many worthy and important organizations that simply do not have a budget for professional video productions and so I donated about 30 hours of my time to produce a video worthy of their cause. I met with the Director, helped her write a heartfelt message that eventually became the introduction to the video and recorded her in her beautiful backyard garden. The other portion of the video was me filming the entire golf tournament at the St-Raphael Golf Club, starting with the 8am golf registration process to the end of the dinner ceremony at around 9pm. It was a very long but equally rewarding day. If my first video example was about sales then this one was all about bringing awareness to a great organization by donating my time, talent and services to make a difference locally.

10|20 Marketing: That’s amazing, Sorin, and so great to hear. What are some of the goals you typically aim for when embarking on a new video project?

Sorin Pavelesco: As far as goals are concerned I always strive to make my clients look good by elevating the perception of their service or product and hopefully make them look even better than they are! That means finding the best camera angle, the most flattering light, the strongest marketing message, the most poignant narrative or story to tell. The end result has to be memorable and hopefully incite the viewer to respond either emotionally or physically by purchasing, calling or emailing. Obtaining likes, positive comments and sharing is also highly desired on social media as you have to be “top of mind” to your customers. This is in the case of a commercial video of course… if I am doing something more artistic and personal then my goals are less focused on the marketing message and the call-to-action. For example I am currently developing a web series on artisans and the primary goal is to capture the beauty of their craftsmanship through the music, the narration and the visuals. The episodes are about 12-15 minutes long and I want them to be entertaining so I can afford to be more artistic and have the camera dwell on certain beautiful details if need be.

10|20 Marketing: Can I ask you what your advice is for small business owners in this new COVID-19 climate we’re in now?

Sorin Pavelesco: It has become quite clear during this global pandemic that the companies who had a digital strategy in place have fared better than the ones who did not. Posting relevant content on a regular basis on social media helps businesses to remain “top of mind” to their customers and this naturally implies strategic decisions regarding tone and messaging. I have seen some local small businesses in the health & wellness industry selling online gift certificates with a 20-30% discount but redeemable at full value once their business reopens and this is a great initiative especially since there is a growing trend to support local economy.

Another example is the local restaurants who have delivered free food to hospitals and caregivers… this wonderful and generous gesture also helps these businesses to gain new potential customers and provides them with the opportunity to be featured on local blogs. People will remember the ones who were there to help during the hard times and I think there is still a potential for many businesses to be relevant during this crisis, they just need to deliver the right content with the proper message. A personal fitness trainer can give free tips on how to stay active at home… A wedding photographer can celebrate the one-year anniversary of a newly married couple by posting the pictures they took last year… A chef can share photos of new, exciting recipes they are testing at home right now while their kitchen is closed… these are just a few simple examples off the top of my head on how you can stay relevant and “top of mind” right now.

10|20 Marketing: And how have you adapted your business as a result?

Sorin Pavelesco: For myself I have had three live events so far that I was supposed to film that were cancelled: two fundraising golf tournaments and one very important gala showcase in June, the highly-publicized Strangers In The Night benefit concert with Loverboy.—quite disappointed with that!!! Consequently I have shifted my focus to products and services, connecting with people that are selling products and offering certain essential services.

10|20 Marketing: It’s been really good having you participate in our series, Sorin. We appreciate you taking the time to so thoughtfully answer our questions.

Sorin Pavelesco: It’s been my pleasure, Mark. Thank you and all the best to you!


Here are some examples of Sorin’s work:


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Brad’s financial advice is most certainly wise

Local Business Owner Spotlight, Brad Wise, Investment Advisor and Financial Security Advisor, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

We go back a long way with Brad Wise, having attended school together and now as a neighbour who lives down the street. Brad has always been meticulous in his work and developed a passion and knowledge for investments at a very young age. From as early as eight years old, he can remember listening to his father’s advice at dinner. His dad would often talk about the importance of dollar-cost averaging, compound interest and putting aside money for a rainy day. Brad believes that this dinnertime discussion resonated because he followed a career path to give the same advice to his clients.

This was a very interesting interview with Brad. And due to the uncertainty of our times, I’d encourage you to really listen to his advice. This interview is the result of several days of back and forth emails, plus some light editing. Our interview with Brad is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series, including our interview with Brad’s wife, Kim Hannah. Also remember to  support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Brad Wise, Investment Advisor and Financial Security Advisor

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Brad! Thank you for agreeing to participate in our series. So perhaps we should get started by having you explain your area of specialty.

Brad Wise: Thanks for doing this, Mark! I have been working as an Investment Advisor and Insurance broker since 2002 and am a fully licensed Investment Advisor. The products and services I offer include: mutual funds, low cost ETFs, stocks, GICs, and retirement planning. I am also licensed to offer insurance products, including life insurance, disability insurance, salary insurance, critical illness insurance, mortgage insurance, travel insurance, and health insurance.

Although I do work at Manulife Securities, we are a brokerage firm so we could place investments and insurance through many companies such as Manulife, RBC, BMO, Desjardins, Canada Life and many others! This allows us to be objective in our advice and offer our clients the best value on the market.

10|20 Marketing: Great! So how do you stand out from all the advisors in your field? What makes people want to work with Brad Wise?

Brad Wise: It sounds like a cliché but it’s my honesty. I am upfront with my clients in terms of the fees and commissions they are paying for the investments and insurance products that I offer them. Some products have higher fees and commissions and are not necessarily the best value for my clients. I am very transparent with everyone I deal with.

Another area that differentiates me is my customer service and response time. I always ensure I respond to my clients in an efficient manner. Whether I get an email at 10 o’clock at night or on the weekend, I will always respond to my clients the same day. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than calling an institution and waiting on hold for 30 minutes or waiting until Monday if you absolutely need a response on the weekend.

I am very passionate about my job and love what I do. Even prior to becoming an investment advisor in 2002, I would follow the stock market and read books on various financial investing techniques. I welcome all questions from my clients as I love sharing my knowledge and passion about the market and helping them choose the right financial services based on their goals and risk tolerance. For some advisors, this is just a job. Personally, I don’t dread Monday mornings as I love what I do.

Not all investment advisors are fully licensed to offer all types of investment products. I am also a fully licensed IIROC advisor, which means I can offer all types of investments including low cost ETFs and stocks. Of course I do offer mutual funds as well but many people would benefit from having both mutual funds and low cost ETFs in their portfolios. Although I do work at Manulife Securities we can place business with several investment and insurance companies which ensures that my clients are getting the best value on the market for all their financial needs.

10|20 Marketing: Very interesting. Let’s change gears here for a bit. How have you been handling investments in the current market climate? What advice have you been giving people as the economy starts to suffer as a result of the pandemic?

Brad Wise: With over 17 years experience as an investment advisor, I have helped my clients manage their expectations and concerns during extreme market volatility including the 2008 Great Recession. I am always there to help my clients make informed decisions during these difficult times and guide them to make rational and logical investment choices rather than decisions based on their emotions. Prior to this correction, we had the longest bull run ever so I have been preparing my clients for an inevitable correction in the market by ensuring they had sufficient exposure to asset classes such as bonds to help reduce their volatility. Diversification across several sectors and asset classes is the key to ensuring your portfolio experiences less volatility than the market. Some government bonds, for example, have made money during this downturn.

Some people tend to become very nervous during these corrections and look to sell all their investment when the markets are falling. This rarely proves to be the right strategy as markets are resilient and investors who stay invested will recover their losses and grow their wealth. Generally the best days in the market follow a downturn so you don’t want to be on the sidelines when this happens. For many of my clients, I highly encourage investing the same amount each month to benefit from dollar cost averaging. This strategy helps reduce the impact of volatility by spreading out your fund purchases so you’re buying more shares at a lower price and less shares at a higher price. Dollar cost averaging works incredibly well in volatile markets and helps take emotion out of investing.

I am always there for my clients to talk about their investments and help respond to any concerns they have about the market, their finances and their general health and well being.

10|20 Marketing: Smart advice, Brad. What would you say are the top three areas where you help people the most. In other words, don’t answer with what you can do, but rather with what kind of work you find yourself doing the most!

Brad Wise:

  1. Responding to inquiries about my client’s investments whether it would be something simple as providing tax slips or an overall analysis of its diversification and past rate of returns.
  2. Finding life and health insurance solutions for potential clients. I search the market for the lowest pricing and best value and see which insurance product fits their needs. Some people assume they can’t get life or health insurance if they have any current health issues but there are plans that give coverage to those who are traditionally hard to insure.
  3. Keeping myself informed on the latest updates on the markets as well as insurance products by attending several webinars on a weekly basis.

10|20 Marketing: And in terms of the products you offer?

Brad Wise: The top 3 Insurance products I sell the most are:

  1. Manulife Vitality life insurance. Both my wife and I are personally on this life insurance plan and love it! It gives us the opportunity to earn rewards like Amazon gift cards and hotel discounts and lowers our life insurance premiums. In addition we get a free annual checkup from a nurse who comes to our home. Most importantly it encourages us to stay active thus improving our overall health.
  2. Health Insurance plans for people who are retiring or leaving group health plans. Everyone is accepted without any medical underwriting, which ensures that everyone could get complete coverage. I offer these plans through Sunlife, Manulife and Greenshield.
  3. Travel insurance for snowbirds. I have several clients who travel to Florida every year so I find them the most competitive pricing on the market.

10|20 Marketing: This has been great, Brad! Any last words of advice?

Brad Wise: To my knowledge, there is no crystal ball to help foresee the future of the market. Instead, I make sure to work with my clients to find the right strategy by building portfolios in anticipation of market volatility, not in reaction to it. I help people stay on track with their short-term and long-term financial goals and provide guidance during difficult times.

There are thousands of advisors to choose from with incredible credentials. When choosing an investment advisor, you want to make sure you are working with someone that actually cares about you. Any advisor can sell you products but it’s essential to find someone you can truly trust in helping you plan for your financial future. Find someone who will put your needs first and do what is in the best interest of you rather than the advisor. Make sure to B. Wise with your decision.

I wanted to thank you for including me in your spotlight series. I have read all the interviews you have conducted the last several weeks and I think it’s an incredible initiative on your part especially during these challenging times.

10|20 Marketing: Thank you, Brad! It’s been our pleasure.

Brad Wise: Thank you!


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Helen Papazian’s work as a bookkeeper really counts

Owner Stories: Helen Papazian, Bookkeeper, Ville-Saint-Laurent, Quebec

Helen Papazian is a member of The Networking Club, a West Island based group that meets every second Tuesday. Helen is a Certified Bookkeeper and QBO Advanced Pro-Advisor who, having started and successfully run a wholesale/distribution company for 16 years and a bookkeeping firm for the last 6 years, is distinctively qualified to understand the plight of the entrepreneur. Having gone through learning about marketing, sales, HR, and finance, Helen is now able to share her knowledge with clients and support them with various aspects of their business.

Like we have with our other spotlight guests, we spent a few days going back and forth via email to discuss Helen’s business and where she stands out among bookkeepers. Our interview with Helen is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Helen Papazian, Bookkeeper

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Helen. Thank you for doing this with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your bookkeeping business and some of the philosophy you have that sets you apart?

Helen Papazian: Thank you, Mark, for including me as one of your spotlight businesses. I appreciate this opportunity. You ask what sets me apart as a bookkeeper, well, I work to empower my customers to make better, more informed financial decisions. I do this by continuously upgrading my skills. I regularly meet with my clients and review their goals and help them plan for profit, setup processes, and implement new technologies. I am not merely their bookkeeper. I am their advisor, their company comptroller. My clients tend to call me before making significant financial decisions. I treat their money as if it were my own. This is what sets me apart from other bookkeepers. I can give you some of my business background if you like.

10|20 Marketing: Sounds great, Helen! Please go right ahead.

Helen Papazian: I started my first business venture at the age of 7, it was not a lemonade stand 😊, but I can tell you about that some other time. I started several companies in my life, some with partners, most on my own. In 2002, I started a wholesale company. I grew the business working part-time for 14 years, building the sales to $500K a year, I was selling to Costco and Indigo Chapters, yes all that part-time. I did this purely on intuition, creativity and innovation.

Throughout those years, I had hired several bookkeepers and accountants. I realized that neither was giving me any information or financial guidance. I was ready to take the next step and needed advice. I needed processes, a financial plan. So I decided to go back to school and learn all about accounting and finance myself. That is when I realized I was less interested in building the wholesale company and enjoyed managing the financials of the business, planning for profit. I finished my classes, passed the test with the IPBC, Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada, and became a certified bookkeeper. I also got my certification as a pro advisor with Intuit. Then I started my firm some six years ago, we are now two in the office, and planning to grow.

10|20 Marketing: So you must really understand the entrepreneur’s mindset then.

Helen Papazian:

I understand the anxiety they feel around numbers or their lack of accounting knowledge, the stress around navigating Revenue, Quebec and the CRA. I intimately know how it feels to have a vision for your business but not know what it takes, financially, and how to plan to get there. Because of this lack of financial planning, most startups fail. And for those companies who have successfully operated and want to grow their business, they can’t because it takes a new and higher level of understanding to grow the business without becoming overwhelmed and losing control. Planned growth is essential at that stage.

I am their advisor, their company comptroller. It is important to me that my clients succeed. I treat their businesses as if they were my own. If I am not able to help, it weighs on me, and I try to find ways I can be helpful. That said, not all clients require or ask for this level of help, so I listen to them, I try to understand what their goals are, and I guide them accordingly. I train them if they want or need training. I help them with implementing new online technology.

10|20 Marketing: So what are your core values as an advisor?

Helen Papazian: My core values are gratitude, innovation, creativity and mindset. We are grateful for our client’s trust in us and respect our client’s goals and vision and work to support it the best we can through my life experiences, creativity, mindset and accurate, relevant financial data.

10|20 Marketing: This is great, Helen! Can you give us some examples of how you’ve made a difference for a client of yours? Something that you noticed that most bookkeepers wouldn’t flag?

Helen Papazian: I don’t just enter data and call it a day I analyze it, I pay attention to the customers purchasing habits. I had a client who had posted a job ad on one of the websites after he had hired his employee I noticed that the job site kept charging him a monthly fee of $500, I flagged it and sent him the information so he could have them reverse the payment. You can’t just assume it’s a legitimate expense and pass it through.

I also look at the income statement at the end of each month to see if anything looks like it does not make sense. I’ve caught many errors this way! Paying bills twice, for instance, even some credit card fraudulent activities. It’s important to ask a lot of questions! I don’t plug the numbers just to get the month closed. I ask questions.

10|20 Marketing: Do you have any other examples?

Helen Papazian: Of course! Another way I help my clients is by reviewing their data. I had a client who owned a corporation and kept trying to pin him down for a review meeting. He kept postponing it. When I finally got him to sit with me, we went through his financial statements I told him even if he was showing an $80K profit, his cash flow was in a bad position. He was offering terms to his customers and had no terms with his vendors, this was creating a cash flow problem since he had an immediate cash outlay, but his receivables were 30 – 90 days down the line. He was using his line of credit to keep him floating.

As a result, I implemented two procedures. First, I got him to collect from customers sooner since most of them were passing the 30 days. We implemented monthly reminders, every 15th of the month, a statement would be sent to the client reminding them of upcoming due dates, and if over 45 days, a phone call would be made. Secondly, I told him to work on getting terms with his largest suppliers to defer the payments. After the review, my customer understood how important it was to sit with me every quarter to go over his financial statements and make adjustments and corrections. He never postponed another meeting request since.

I also have smaller clients who are registered businesses. I take the time to sit with them as well and review their data and always start by asking them what their goals are. What kind of income they are looking for, just enough to be comfortable or do they want to grow their business and eventually hire employees? These questions are important since their answer will determine the strategy. I had a client who was struggling with her finances. She had no idea what kind of income she needed to be comfortable, no clue as to her expenses so I gave her some homework. I gave her a spreadsheet and asked her to fill it in, list all household expenses, credit card balances and minimum payments. We did some analysis to see how much income she needed to generate to be financially comfortable, pay all her bills, bring down her credit cards and line of credit as well as save.

I empower my customers to make better, more informed financial decisions. This is what sets me apart from other bookkeepers.

10|20 Marketing: This has been great, Helen! Thank you for taking the time to participate. It sure sounds like you really do make an effort to help your clients in real important ways!

Helen Papazian: My pleasure, Mark! Thank you for including me in your spotlight series.


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Kim Hannah really knows the art of woodworking

Owner Stories: Kim Hannah, Artist, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

We’re big fans of Kim Hannah and her work. Through her company Ampersand Designs, Kim works with wood in true artistic fashion to make gifts for her clients that have lasting emotional connections. And we should know, as Kim was responsible for reimagining our logo as a sign, literally taking our vision and making it come to life. While Kim does have an impressive roster of corporate clients, she also has a loyal and growing following among those who are looking for gifts for friends and family. Kim runs her business through her home workshop and has maintained a solid and consistent presence on social media to help her promote her work.

We spent a few days going back and forth with Kim via email to discuss her business, her favourite kinds of work and what makes her business tick. Our interview with Kim is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Kim Hannah, Artist

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Kim! So happy you’ve agreed to this interview! Can you tell me about Ampersand Designs and how you first became interested in woodworking?

Kim Hannah: Thank you for taking the time to spotlight local businesses, this is a great initiative! Woodworking has always been an interest of mine. I come from a long line of wood workers. My grandfather and his many siblings all did wood carving, and I grew up watching my dad carry on their family tradition.

I started Ampersand Designs almost three years ago when I found myself out of a job. I wanted something that would afford me the flexibility to be home for my kids after school, and that would allow me to do something I love. As a result, I decided the best way to have my own hours was to work for myself. I’ve always seen myself as being creative, in fact when my children were much smaller I had my own mural business called Off the Wall murals.

The question was how did I turn my passion into a profitable business? After some brainstorming I decided on making hand painted items in wood. I started making a few gift ideas for friends and family and slowly through social media and word of mouth I was able to develop a small following. Since then I have met a lot of great people and expanded my product offering. I am continuously teaching myself new techniques and tools in order to improve and expand my business.

10|20 Marketing: That’s awesome, Kim! Can you describe some of the items you make and which techniques you specialize in?

Kim Hannah: All of my work is custom. I decided to take this approach for my business model for two key reasons:

  1. It allows my customers to be able to create a fully customized, personalized item.
  2. It allows me to pour money back into my business instead of it being held up in inventory.

I have been very fortunate to have dealt with many customers over the years and have created over 500 custom items. They range from personalized signs to commemorate the birth of a new baby, decorative trays, family trees, growth charts and more! Last year I invested in a new tool called a scroll saw which has allowed me to expand my offering to now include three-dimensional wood cutouts that are very popular for room decor and company logos.

If I had to choose one item as my specialty I think it would be the scroll saw items. The market of handcrafted wood items is growing each day, and a lot of these small businesses produce very similar items. I am always watching what the competition is doing, and part of my focus is on differentiating myself from the rest.

10|20 Marketing: Two follow up questions: 1) Would you say that you’re primarily in the gift-giving business and 2) how has business been over the last months or so with the lockdown in place? I would think other than the challenge of getting supplies, you should be able to turn out orders. Safe assumption or not?

Kim Hannah: Without actually crunching the numbers I would say it’s 50% gifts and 50% of people are purchasing for themselves.

At the beginning of COVID I saw a huge drop in business. Which to me was understandable given that many people were becoming unemployed and with the economic uncertainty. As the weeks have progressed, and people have more free time, business has picked up. I am still accepting orders as long as I can obtain the raw materials that I need to complete my work.

10|20 Marketing: So what’s the most creative things you’ve made? What is your favourite?

Kim Hannah: Wow that’s a tough question! I would say everything I make requires at least some degree of creativity, it would be more of which were the most challenging. Logo signs always test my skills because I am trying to replicate a businesses’ existing logo.
And any new woodworking project where I have to create the design build from scratch.

The word scrambles really test my creativity because I have to incorporate many words in various fonts and sizes to come up with an overall design that is pleasing to the eye. The sound wave was like nothing I’ve ever done before so it is one of my favourites, but
I would have to say my all time favourite project was the replica I did of my grandmothers recipe in her actual handwriting. That one hangs in my office. 🥰

10|20 Marketing: These are amazing, Kim. So well done. Well thanks for all these great answers and pictures and, of course, for doing our logo as well! Any last words?

Kim Hannah: Just a special thank you to you for not only supporting my business this past year, but for taking the time to spotlight it on this platform!

10|20 Marketing: It’s our pleasure! And by the way, this is the sign that Kim made for us!


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Carolyn Auger inspires others to live healthy

Owner Stories: Carolyn Auger, Health and Wellness Entrepreneur, Pointe Claire, Quebec

Carolyn Auger is one of the easiest people to talk to. When we met over a year ago, we just seemed to hit if off and what amazed me most was her ability to listen and add value to our conversation. What spoke to me was her understanding of health issues, especially as they relate to the role of your stomach in maintaining a healthy, balanced feeling of wellness. Steve Blagrave, Carolyn’s husband, is also a friend of 10|20 Marketing. As a fitness trainer, Steve fulfills the other half of the healthy living lifestyle and, along with Carolyn, the two make a dynamic duo for those looking to keep well.

Over the last several days we’ve gone back and forth with Carolyn via email to touch on her business, keeping well during the COVID-19 lockdown and generally staying in good health. Our interview with Carolyn is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Carolyn Auger, Health and Wellness Entrepreneur

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Carolyn, thank you so much for agreeing to do this. We met over a year ago and connecting through our discussion about health and wellness. Can you describe some of your basic beliefs about eating, wellness and how it all connects to feeling good?

Carolyn Auger: Hi Mark, thank you so much for inviting me. As you learned quickly when we first met, I am passionate about the importance proper nutrition has on overall health. From personal experience and being someone who used to have a poor diet filled with processed and junk food, my health began to decline in my late 20s. When I was told I had and pre-cancerous cells, then diagnosed with many “diseases” including, hypothyroidism, I knew it was time to make changes.

Through proper nutrition, supplements, and exercise, at 55, I have become the healthiest I have ever been. I no longer worry about pre-cancerous cells, my thyroid is under control with a natural supplement, I’m free from the pain and discomfort from both fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. With more protein in my diet, I have more energy and don’t suffer from the energy lows of hypoglycaemia.

10|20 Marketing: Wow, that’s amazing Carolyn! So in what ways has this affected or changed your career path?

Carolyn Auger: It was so difficult for me to find solutions, often being offered medications. I didn’t want to go that route. I took many nutrition courses, and did my own research. I struggled for many years. Now I can help others find solutions because of my experiences. Part of my journey towards wellness, included massage therapy, exercise and nutrition, which offered me a holistic approach to my overall wellness. Although I had graduated from McGill University in Physical Education in 1988, I made a career change in 2006 and became a Registered Massage Therapist. Helping people hands on to relieve stress and pain has been extremely rewarding.

With what is going on in the world today, I feel so grateful that I had made the decision in 2012, to begin my home-based business in Health & Wellness. My different career paths combine all my passions for helping others towards overall wellness, reducing their stress and physical pain, as well as a healthier overall lifestyle. With my home-based business, we offer an amazing nutrition program, very similar to the one my naturopathic doctor had me do many years prior. I have lived through the struggles, with the positive impact of making changes in my nutrition, so I can relate to those who are suffering, and offer hope and solutions.

10|20 Marketing: So walk me through how your approach with new clients. What’s your process?

Carolyn Auger: First and foremost, I make sure that new clients have seen their medical doctor, and don’t have any underlying health issues.

It’s important that they share their story with me. I need to know what they want, or need help with. For example, I would want to know have they been diagnosed with IBS, (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), have low energy, or want to lose weight. This way we can monitor changes, because ultimately it’s not just about weight loss. People need to realize that making changes to a healthier “diet” will lead to weight loss.

To be honest although many people suffer from low energy, gas, or bloating, and may have many other symptoms, their ultimate goal is usually weight loss.

The great thing about the program we offer, is that it’s a sustainable way of eating. It’s a 30 day commitment to make healthy, mindful changes. We exchange certain foods that may be creating issues. For example, as I experienced, I used to get easily congested, and once I switched from dairy to a non-dairy milk and cheese, those symptoms went away.

It’s not about deprivation, but learning to make healthier choices to fuel the body. We incorporate supplements along with healthy, nutritious foods that enhance the body’s performance.

Diets don’t work. Healthy eating does.

10|20 Marketing: And when you talk about health, you’re talking about overall wellness too. Can you describe the products you work with, including the beauty line?

Carolyn Auger: Absolutely Mark. Once I started my business, I quickly learned that what we put on our skin is of the upmost importance to our overall health and wellness. Our mission is to offer people Healthy Living from the inside out. Our skin is the first line of defence, and what goes on our skin, gets absorbed into our body. This is why nicotine, and hormone patches work so well.

The product line is extensive and offers everything needed for every day use from baby products, makeup, hair care, body care and skincare for all types of skin. We have two flagship lines: Nutrition and Healthy Aging. In the nutrition line, the vegan protein shakes are my favourite. My husband and I drink them daily! At 55, you may guess that the “healthy” agin skin care is my other favourite. 😉

The personal care and nutrition products are PETA certified, which means certified cruelty free. This ensures that the products do not contain any animal by-products and are absolutely, NEVER tested on animals. All products are also free of harsh toxic chemicals, some of these include but are not limited to parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, paba, dyes, perfumes, and fragrances. All products are also non-gmo, as well as, free of gluten, dairy, soy, and more. I could list all 2000 toxic ingredients that are banned from the formulations in the entire product line, but you may nod off.

10|20 Marketing: Any advice for people looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle while stuck at home during the lockdown?

Carolyn Auger: While it is so difficult to be stuck at home, I highly recommend finding healthier versions of foods and treats you may love. Eating too much sugar, processed foods, drinking too much alcohol, will only lead to feeling worse. There is a huge correlation between the gut and brain. So if you are feeding your gut with unhealthy foods and drinks, it will have a negative effect on your brain. How do you want to end this quarantine? Feeling better about yourself or worse? With more confidence or less?

Right now is the perfect time to make some healthy lifestyle changes. Look for healthier recipes and make cooking fun. If you who want some extra help, with 40% off the purchase of our 30-day program nutrition kit, you will receive free coaching, along with a community of people, in a private Facebook group, to keep you accountable and encourage you. It’s affordable, simple, easy and will also provide you with healthy recipes, and help you develop habits that will continue well beyond the 30 days. It’s not about perfection, but ways to help you make small changes over time. The focus is on healthy lLiving to improve mind, body and skin. Why not give it a try?

10|20 Marketing: And what about from a physical fitness perspective?

Carolyn Auger: It’s so important to be active and move your body. Physical activity is extremely important for the immune system, mind health, and your body. We were made to move. Please don’t be afraid to be outside in the fresh air. Of course, while being extremely mindful of social distancing. However, in addition to walking or jogging, you can also make yourself a routine at home. There are so many video options to choose from. Simple exercises, like sit-ups, squats, pushups, stretches, will all help keep your muscles active, and your body feeling better. Mark, you felt the benefits and enjoyed the workouts my hubby, Steve made for you, right? This was well before we were quarantined, and they were all in the comfort of your own home. Here’s a question for you Mark, are you still doing them?

10|20 Marketing: Now you’re putting me on the spot! Short answer: no, I haven’t been. Longer answer: no, I haven’t been but should and want to. Perhaps being publicly shamed will get me back on track! I want to take this time to thank you for answering our questions, Carolyn. You’ve been a great sport. Any last comments you’d like to make?

Carolyn Auger: Thank you for being a good sport too Mark! So I guess we will have to keep you accountable. I’ll get Steve on that. I guess I could mention that if anyone is interested in my full story,  I self-published a book, With All My Heart, under a pseudonym Elizabeth McClennan.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my experiences. I am here for those in need, and wish everyone health and joy, along with the motivation and inspiration to make small changes towards a healthier lifestyle.


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Michael Schacter works at a boutique law firm – and has advice for businesses of all sizes

Owner Stories: Michael Schacter, KAUFMAN LLP/s.e.n.c.r.l., Montreal, Quebec

Next up in our series, we welcome Michael Schacter to our platform. We met Michael last year after joining The Networking Club in the West Island of Montreal. Michael Schacter is an experienced litigator and business lawyer at Kaufman LLP and has over a decade of experience fighting for the rights of his clients. He regularly pleads cases before courts of all levels in the province of Quebec.

Over the past several months, it’s been great getting to know Micheal and we used this opportunity to get some insights from him and some advice for small business owners. Given that Kaufman LLP has been serving Montreal’s business community since 1934, we thought his input would be valuable. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Our interview with Michael is below. And please make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Michael Schacter of KAUFMAN LLP

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Michael. Appreciate you agreeing to do this with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you landed at Kaufman?

Michael Schacter: I was raised in Dollard and grew up on the baseball diamonds and hockey rinks across the West Island. My first “adult” job was as a computer technician, repairing PCs and maintaining networks for SMEs. In fact, I nearly ended up becoming a computer programmer until I realized that I preferred to fix human problems rather than computers. I graduated from the University of Ottawa’s faculty of civil law in 2006 and have been a member of the Quebec Bar since 2007.

For three years, I worked in a small firm with a general practice, where I had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of cases. While there, I had the opportunity to plead my first trial and got hooked on the thrill of litigation and fighting for my clients. In 2010, an opportunity arose for me to join Kaufman LLP, a boutique firm with specialists in several fields. For the last 10 years I have had the pleasure of working with a team consisting of some of the most talented and passionate lawyers and support staff.

10|20 Marketing: Love that backstory and that it involves baseball! So let’s dive into your time at Kaufman. How many people are at the firm? What’s the firm’s area of specialty? Essentially, why should someone call Kaufman rather than another firm?

Michael Schacter: Kaufman is a boutique firm with 10 lawyers, in addition to law students, paralegals and other support staff. We are a full-service firm, meaning we are able to address all the legal needs of SMEs that might arise. We handle everything from simple incorporations and filing of annual minutes to complex multi-party litigation and corporate mergers. People choose Kaufman because of our reputation for vigorously promoting our clients’ rights. It is a reputation that has been carefully crafted since 1934 and has resulted in several former members of our firm being appointed to the Superior Court and the Court of Quebec. As it is impossible for an individual lawyer to specialize in everything, we are fortunate enough to have a team with experience in many areas, yet we remain small enough as to be accessible to small businesses and individuals.

10|20 Marketing: Do you know these judges? Could come in handy one day! All joking aside, here at 10|20 Marketing, we’re very interested in small businesses, their successes and our challenges. Can you speak a little bit about how your firm goes to bat for small businesses? And when you say you are accessible to small businesses and individuals, are you saying that your rates are reasonable?

Michael Schacter: To be sure, we go to bat for all of our clients with vigour, whether it be a Big Six bank or an individual. However, given our “boutique” size, we can certainly relate to the specific challenges faced by small businesses and can offer up creative, practical and cost-effective solutions. Our rates are definitely reasonable, particularly considering the experience and reputation we bring to the table. Of course, hourly rates are only one factor amongst a whole slew that determine your return on investment. There are very few black-and-white situations in law and most of the issues that come across my desk have more than one possible solution. Ultimately, I believe that Kaufman’s lawyers provide the best possible value by relying on our collective experience to recommend and implement strategies that will result in the best possible outcomes for our clients.

10|20 Marketing: Do you have any advice for people out there who may be struggling with their businesses right now due to the restrictions imposed by the government to deal with the pandemic? What advice do you have for small businesses owners looking to survive?

Michael Schacter: It goes without saying that small businesses are some of the hardest hit by the effects of the forced shutdown and only those that plan ahead and adapt will make it through these unprecedented times. My biggest piece of advice right now is to carefully manage your cash flow. In addition to the various programs offered by the different levels of government and financial institutions, businesses in need should also try to negotiate with their creditors. Virtually all creditors are facing issues with their own cash flow and will look favourably upon debtors that approach them early, rather than those that remain silent, hoping nobody will notice a missed payment.

I do, however, have a word of caution for those that operate their business through a corporation. Although it is more important than ever to show your dedication to your business, given the general uncertainty faced by the economy, shareholders should avoid giving personal guarantees to creditors unless absolutely necessary, as they risk extending the failure of the business into personal ruin. Fortunately, not all will be doom and gloom, and I look forward to hearing the success stories that are bound to arise about those small business owners who were able to successfully pivot their businesses and take advantage of new opportunities.

10|20 Marketing: How are you personally handling things given that you’re working from home and having to service your clients?

Michael Schacter: Fortunately, because of my background in computers, I’ve had the ability to work remotely for the last several years and the transition has been extremely smooth for me and my clients. I am equipped for digital signatures, electronic filings with the government and even certified e-mails to prove delivery of legal proceedings. While there are certainly downsides to working remotely, my focus remains on the positive aspects, the most important being the time additional time I get to spend with my wife and two children instead of commuting.

10|20 Marketing: That sounds great, Micheal! I want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Be safe and stay healthy!

Michael Schacter: Likewise!
This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

All Alexandre Rivard wants is for everyone to be well

Local Business Owner Spotlight, Alexandre Rivard, OM Bien-Être | Wellness, Pointe-Claire, Quebec

We met Alexandre Rivard last summer at his quaint store OM Bien-Être | Wellness in the Pointe Claire Village. In the words of their website, the store “features over 200 different crystals, artisanal jewelry, eco-friendly products, smudging and aromatherapy accessories.” They also host community workshops. The success of OM Bien-Être|Wellness, both at their retail location and online, has prompted expansion to a location in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue due to open once the physical distancing restrictions are lifted.

Our interview with Alexandre is below. And please make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these restrictions are in place.

Interview with Alexandre Rivard of OM Bien-Être | Wellness

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Alex! Thank you so much for agreeing to be in our series. It’s greatly appreciated! Let’s jump in. So your field is unique and your store in the Pointe Claire Village is a gem! Can you explain how you got into the business and why you choose wellness as your livelihood?

Alexandre Rivard: Hi Mark, it is a pleasure for me to be a part of this series. First of all, as a kid and even in my young adult age, I was always picking up rocks from the ground. I was fascinated about their colour and texture. Later on, crystals came into my life and I was starting to get interested in their energetic healing properties and stories. I was starting on the path of healing and decided to launch a company that offers energetic bracelets. It was important, at that point, to bring wellness and spirituality into other people’s life as I was incorporating it in mine. Then, two years after that, my partner Jason and I opened a store called OM Bracelets and, nine months after that, we launched OM Bien-Être | Wellness. At OM, you can find over 200 different type of crystals, meditation and spiritual tools as well as eco-friendly and aromatherapy products.

10|20 Marketing: That’s so interesting, Alex! Can you tell us a little bit more about OM Bracelets? Where was the store? What were your challenges? Why did you decide to expand on the concept and build that into OM Bien-Etre | Wellness?

Alexandre Rivard: I was helping someone start their business in energetic jewelry and I decided to start my own brand as a hobby. The branding was different, at that time, from all the other ones we saw on the market. We included a properties tag with every bracelet, had a name for each one and the material used. Then, we opened the OM Bracelets store where we had our bracelets on a wall, crystals and spiritual tools in a 150 square foot space, hidden in the back of Lakeshore Road, in Pointe-Claire Village.

The main challenge, was to get people in, be talked about and have more sales. It picked up fast, we worked seven days a week to make it happen. Then a few months later, we started the develop the concept for the OM Bien-Être | Wellness store. We moved to Cartier Avenue to a bigger space. We wanted to have the biggest selection of crystals that a store can have, and more product categories. We needed more space, more products, more inventory and more visibility. The opportunity was there, so we jumped in! And now, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue is coming to life!

10|20 Marketing: Amazing! What kind of timeline are we talking about here in terms of moving from the first store on Lakeshore to the location on Cartier? Also, how are you drawing people in?

We opened the small “test” shop in September 2018, then did the renovation on Cartier and opened June 1, 2019. At the beginning, we had a following of maybe 2000 people on Facebook, word of mouth helped a lot, and online marketing. We also have sandwich boards to catch attention. We run contests, marketing and promotions. We also offer a loyalty program for our recurring clients. Our presence online is growing as well, as we post at least once a day a day on Facebook and Instagram. We also have new clients every day. We receive new products every week. Now, we are working on our online shop, since we have more time because of COVID-19.

10|20 Marketing: Very interesting. Let’s talk about the impact that COVID-19 has had on your business, if you don’t mind. Do you feel that because you sell wellness, you’ll be in a better position than other retailers? How quickly do you think you’ll be operational online? Do you expect your online sales to be as good as your retail sales?

Alexandre Rivard: Yes, the COVID-19, what a big thing for 2020. We try not to feel depressed about that, but it stopped a lot of things on our side. For me, it teaches me that we are still alive and we can change some habits to get over that. I am pretty sure that things will be different after. For OM Bien-Être, Jason (my partner) and I, it showed us that people can shop online for our products if they can’t come to the store. It really gave us the opportunity to add products that are different then our OM Bracelets brand. Fun fact, we sold maybe 10% of bracelets and 90% products that are now online. We needed to really go for it! It brings us visibility, sales and it help us to survive! We are almost done online, maybe adding 100 new products. Now, comes the suppliers challenge, most of them don’t deliver to business at the moment, because they think we are closed.

Are we in a better position? Probably! We are still losing contracts with airports and point of sales, at the moment, for bracelet sales, which is a huge part of our revenue. We hope to sale 50% online of what we use to do in the past months. We still have to pay rent, the new store renovation, and all other expanses. I don’t expect doing as much sales then when the store is open because some people will buy more when they can touch, some others don’t feel safe or confident enough to buy online. Also, it is hard to sell more online then what you can sell in person. You take time, one on one, with a client to really understand the need.

10|20 Marketing: So what are some of the ideas you have to market your online store? So many companies have started online and moved to a physical location. You might have to go from physical to online and then physical again. How do you think you can maximize your exposure online and then re-generate interest in your stores once you’re able to re-open?

For the online store, we added our biggest sellers, and we’re slowly adding more products. We try to make it simple for people. We offer free shipping over 75$ before taxes and also promotions. We’ve also doubled the number of points that our clients get when they shop online now from the total they would get when they’re shopping at our retail location. At the moment, we are doing online only, but our goal is to re-open as fast as we can. People are missing coming to the store and we miss them too! The time away is also giving us an opportunity to renovate our Pointe-Claire location to showcase more products. I think, with the online store, we will build a new clientele that will not be willing to drive to the store in the future. But our regular clientele like to touch and feel the crystals. They also like to chat with us.

10|20 Marketing: This has been great Alex, thank you for agreeing to participate! Are there any last comments you’d like to make?

Alexandre Rivard: I would like, first of all, to thank you for your time and passion. This went so fast, I miss the questions already. : )


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Meet Neal Caminsky, the web developer who has mastered client servicing

Owner Stories: Neal Caminsky, Red Dream Studios in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

Neal Caminsky has been a friend of 10|20 Marketing for as long as we’ve been around. We work on common clients and often refer each other’s services to contacts. Due to this time collaborating, the one thing that is most evident about Neal is his attention to detail and quick turnaround time on client requests with the highest quality output. His responsiveness consistently blows us away.

Our interview with Neal is below. Please be sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can during these days of COVID-19.

Interview with Neal Caminsky of Red Dream Studios

10|20 Marketing: I remember reading somewhere that you’ve built hundreds of websites for your clients. Tell me about your first one!

Neal Caminsky: I’ve personally built well over 200 websites – so many that I’ve stopped keeping track. I’m very proud that in my almost 20 years of business, I’ve been able to cater to over 375 entrepreneurs, small, and medium-sized businesses. The first one I remember building was Aquatica Digital, an underwater camera housing company in Saint-Laurent. I was pretty green in creating websites for clients at the time, however I was introduced to the company owner who wanted to get his products online – and he had a very large inventory to showcase.

The process took several months, from design to execution, and it became more of learning process for me rather than anything, especially since the website was built dynamically using a now obsolete scripting language called ASP. But the end result was a success, and Aquatica and I are still actively working together, and are hopefully planning to execute a new revamp (their 4th redesign) of their website sometime in late 2020 or early 2021.

10|20 Marketing: So we’ve been working together on projects for a little while now and I see how efficient and responsive you are. 

Neal Caminsky: The most important aspect of my business are by far my clients, and I put as much effort as possible to provide the utmost in customer care. I like to think of every one of my clients as partners, rather than paychecks. The more I can cater to your needs, as quickly as possible, the more likely I believe you will want to keep working with me. Agencies like mine are quite prevalent, so it’s important for me to make sure that I don’t give you a reason to look elsewhere. Over the years I’ve been able to accumulate well over 40 glowing testimonials and accolades from my clients, which is something I’m extremely proud of, as is the fact that many of my clients have been working with me for over 10 years.

10|20 Marketing: So given all the testimonials you get, is that how you generally win new business – through word of mouth? Or do your leads come from other sources?

Neal Caminsky: I would say that two-thirds of my projects are a direct results of person-to-person referrals, whereas the other third is through online searches, newsletter marketing, or social media postings. I don’t think it’s a big secret that the most likely way to win favour with a new client is by a strong testimonial from “someone you know.” In my line of work, influence marketing is highly coveted, which is why I aim to please every single one of my clients as much as possible, so that they can become a small army of virtual salespeople for my business.

10|20 Marketing: Ok, so let’s shift gears here for a bit. Servicing clients in the ultra-responsive way that you do must mean you carry a certain amount of stress. What do you do to relieve your stress? How do you manage it?

Neal Caminsky: Truth be told, I’m actually more stressed when there’s less to do during my day – although if there are multiple projects on a deadline, those situations can get a little hairy. I’ve developed excellent time management skills over the years which helps to alleviate a lot of the pressure (although my reluctance to say “no” to a client is often counter-productive!). I dislike seeing emails in my inbox, so to alleviate any anxieties, I often tackle the quicker-to-do requests first, just to get them out of the way. Other tasks are then broken down into smaller and more manageable chunks, making them easier to digest. It’s less of a shock to the system that way. If I have a single project that I know will take up an entire day or two to complete, my clients are generally understanding if I have to push them out of the queue for a very short period, especially if their needs aren’t deadline-specific.

What I try my best to do is maintain an appropriate work-life balance. I rarely work past 5:30pm, and do my best to not answer emails after 7:00pm, unless there’s some crisis management to attend to. The time outside of work hours is reserved exclusively for family time and over the years, most of my clients have become accustomed to those minor constraints – especially since I’m quite efficient during regular work hours.

10|20 Marketing: That’s a really good answer, one I envy! So what do you do for fun then? Do you play sports? Like movies? Long walks along the beach?

Neal Caminsky: My favorite pastime in the winter is playing ball hockey with a group of guys that have been playing together for well over 10 years now. It’s a great release, but as time passes, it unfortunately reminds me that my body isn’t what it used to be In the summers, I’ve been playing first base in the Dollard Mixed Softball League which is run as a friendly, non-competitive league (other than bragging rights). I’m hoping that this year won’t be cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.

As you might imagine given the field I’m in, I’m very much a geek, so I really enjoy watching movies, particularly science fiction (Live Long and Prosper). Speaking of the beach, I’m very fortunate that my wife’s family owns a cottage up in Saint-Donat that has its own small beach and boat dock, so occasionally spending the weekends there has been a huge factor in recharging my batteries over the years.

10|20 Marketing: Ok, so last question. What kind of advice do you have for people who are starting out on their entrepreneurial path?

Neal Caminsky: Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone and carries a lot of risk. It can drain you physically, emotionally, and financially. It requires a great deal of discipline, work ethics, and 24/7 dedication, and to some extent, some luck. It’s a well known fact that most businesses will fail within the first 2 years of operation – in my case, I was lucky that I was able to grow my client base slowly as a side project while still employed full time. I wasn’t yet married at the time so I had no issues putting in an extra hour or so of work every evening working for the few clients that I had when I first started. It was only when I realized that my “side” job was going to generate more revenue than my full time job that I decided to give it a go and leave the corporate world. At that point, I began to live, eat, and sleep about Red Dream Studios to help make it grow and be sustainable. I was also lucky in that I had already worked with over 60 clients at the time and so they had become a small but might virtual salesforce for me.

One important aspect of being an entrepreneur is being able to adapt to change, which for example, as the technology used to build online experiences in the online marketing industry changes rapidly. Maybe 10 years ago, I was building Flash-based websites, but once Apple decided to not support that technology, it became obsolete. And as mobile browsing became more commonplace than desktop experiences, responsive platforms like WordPress proliferated. I’ve been described as a left-brain-right-brain person, so that “lucky” aspect of my character helped me to adapt to change, learn, and inject my own creativity into all the projects that I’ve been lucky to produce over my almost 20 years of my company!

10|20 Marketing: Thanks for playing, Neal! This has been great. 

Neal Caminsky: Thank you!


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Our interview with Marc David is hot off the press. 

Owner Stories: Marc David, Foilprint in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec

I was introduced to Marc David by Neal Caminksy of Red Dream Studios. Marc is a real good guy who, along with his sister Martine, runs Foilprint, a leader in the process of decorating, imprinting & marking on manufacturer’s 3-dimensional parts since 1988. Over the years, as the company has grown, Foilprint has also adapted to the reality of the online market. Today, while the business is still true to its roots, Foilprint has changed in significant ways. 

Our interview with Marc is below. Please be sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can during this difficult time. 

Interview with Marc David of Foilprint

10|20 Marketing: I know the story of Foilprint’s origins are on your website, but perhaps you can give me a little background about your experience prior to starting the business with your mother. What did you do before that? Where did you go to school? Why printing?

Marc David: I grew up on the West Island. My sister and I were raised by our mother after our father passed away at a young age. Martine was six years old and I was eight. My mother always encouraged my entrepreneurial leanings. Starting at age nine, I delivered the Montreal Gazette every morning, The Montreal Star in the afternoons and the News & Chronicle on Thursdays. I cut grass for six apartment blocks in the summer; in the winter I went door to door in our neighbourhood looking for people that needed their driveways and door steps shovelled. Also sold greeting cards door to door and babysat for several Montreal Expos players that lived in our apartment building complex (by this time I was 12 years old).

I went to John Rennie High School in Pointe Claire and then John Abbott CEPEG. In 1977, I went to university at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and graduated in 1980 with a BA in business and economics. From there, I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota until 1985 and survived by painting houses and starting a few businesses that failed. In 1985, I moved back to Montreal after my mother was diagnosed with cancer. While I loved living in Minnesota, I loved my mother more. Upon returning to Montreal, I started a business based on a product that I had seen in Minneapolis. It was a “Call Police” banner that a driver would affix to their rear windshield if they had broken down on the road and needed assistance. The business was moderately successful. I was able to get the banner into Canadian Tire and Woolco for the retail sector, and also sold it to Block Parents (Parents Secours) to be able for them to use it as a fundraising tool.

The banner had run its course by 1987 as cell phones were starting to gain in popularity and people could call for roadside help with their phones. In the Fall of 1987, I saw an advertisement in the Montreal Gazette placed by a company in Denmark that was starting to tour Canada with their new, small, hand operated hot stamping press. I went downtown to see a demonstration of the machine and ended up buying one. We had it set it up in the living room of my mother’s apartment, which was a stone’s throw away from the old Montreal Forum, and thus Foilprint was established. Our official start date was January 1, 1988.

10|20 Marketing: What a great story! So tell me a little bit about how Foilprint went from startup to where you are today. What were some of your challenges? How did you grow your business? When did you move to your current location in DDO?

Marc David: After starting off in my mother’s apartment in January 1988, I moved Foilprint into a commercial space on Ste-Catherine Street in Sept. 1988. I did this because the second machine I purchased was air operated and required an air compressor that would create too much noise in a residential apartment. First customers were acquired bit by bit by visiting print shops and offering my hot stamping services as a sub-contractor. Growth was slow and steady. Sales revenues in the first year totalled $16,000 and by the end of the third year we broke the $100,000 mark.

My mother passed away due to her illness in 1991. My sister Martine left her managerial job and joined me upon our mother’s passing. In 1992, we moved the business into a building at Guy St. and Notre Dame St. that was better suited for manufacturing purposes. Our big break came in 1988 when Martine found a new client that had a very large requirement. Over a three-year period, we printed and packaged over 7 million telecommunications parts. This order prompted a move to our current location in October 2000.

The aforementioned large order allowed us to continue making other equipment purchases which gave us the capacity to acquire new, large clients. That being said, servicing the manufacturing sector has been challenging. Apart from the economic slowdown after 9/11 and the 2009 financial crisis, our biggest challenge has been countering the effects of many manufacturers moving their production needs offshore. To counter this, we have added other product decorating processes to offer a one-stop-shop solution to print onto products. In 2010, we purchased our first UV LED product digital printer. In 2013, we purchased equipment to be able to offer drinkware products that we could sublimate our client’s logos and other images. In 2018, we purchased a digital inkjet printer/cutter to be able to offer labels and also to print heat transfers used to decorate apparel products. Our next planned equipment purchase is a direct-to-garment printer (DTG) to expand our apparel decorating department. This department is now our fastest growing segment of the business.

Although we started out as a sub-contract hot stamping company, we now have several different departments within the company that offers a wide range of product decorating processes. The result of this has been a more diversified client base and a reduced dependency on a small handful of very large clients. The irony of Foilprint now is that we no longer offer hot stamping services even though this is a process that launched the business.

10|20 Marketing: This is great stuff, Marc! Can I ask how many people you employ now? And what are your plans for the next several years?

Marc David: Foilprint’s staff currently numbers 21 full time and 2 part time. These numbers have held steady for the past few years. The business plan moving forward is to continue to grow our custom decorated apparel and accessories business. An investment into our first DTG printer (direct to garment) is scheduled for this coming summer. DTG printing is the most current apparel decorating technology available.

The plan also includes increasing our capacity to manufacture custom printed labels and using our label printing equipment to offer signage products including posters and window clings.  We currently have three print & cut printers that are very versatile allowing us to offer a wide variety of custom printed products in quantities as low as one unit.

In 2018 we opened our first online store on Etsy offering products based on memes. We have just completed the build out of our second online store using the Shopify platform. This store offers products based on yoga dogs and yoga cats themed products. A third online store will start to be built by late Spring/early Summer on a yet to be determined theme. The versatility of Foilprint’s product decorating processes allows us to produce individual personalized products that have increased in popularity and are uniquely suited to online sales.

10|20 Marketing: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Marc!

Marc David: My pleasure! Thank you!


This is the second in a series of Local Business Owner Spotlight posts. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

C is for Cookie. K is for Kimberlie. And without either, we wouldn’t have The Finer Cookie.

Owner Stories: Kimberlie Robert, The Finer Cookie in Montreal, Quebec

The Finer Cookie Kitchen

We met Kimberlie Robert of The Finer Cookie at a BNI event in midtown Montreal last summer and we hit it off immediately. Kimberlie is as passionate about her business as a person could possibly be. You can see it in her eyes when she speaks about reaching and delivering special moments to people across North America. Kimberlie just adores packing her little labours of love in beautiful gift boxes and getting feedback from those who are lucky enough to have discovered her jewel of a company.

With Kimberlie in her kitchen in Montreal, we took the opportunity to have an email exchange to discuss what inspires her work and the rush she gets every time an order comes in.

Interview with Kimberlie Robert of The Finer Cookie

10|20 Marketing: Thank you for agreeing to do this with us! So let’s jump right in and get some of the more obvious questions out of the way first. When did you launch The Finer Cookie, what were its origins and why cookies?

Kimberlie Robert: I launched The Finer Cookie several years ago with the intention of creating a website that offered hundreds of wonderful cookie recipes, complete with photo tutorials and detailed explanations. I took my time with my explanations, warned of common mistakes in swapping ingredients. I understood the importance of taking beautiful photos that showed the dough’s texture and consistency, thought bakers would appreciate it and believed that brands would eat up this kind of content, as photo tutorials provided so many branding opportunities. I truly thought that I could make money by attracting brand sponsorships, advertising and specialty items – and that doing so would be simple. After all, why wouldn’t major brands be attracted to a website with beautiful photographs?

The reality is that big brands and advertisers are more interested in traffic than quality. One lucky day a colleague suggested that HE didn’t want to bake my cookies, he wanted ME to bake cookies for him to eat! I knew he was right. Cookies were just my thing. I seemed to have a knack for making delicious cookies.

10|20 Marketing: As we get to know one another, your passion for cookies is what really stands out whenever we meet or speak. So while I understand why your recipe-first site became an online cookie specialty store – for lack of a better term – I’ll ask you again. Why cookies? And, even more specifically, what is it about cookies that you love so much?

Kimberlie Robert: Why cookies? Because cookies are informal, two or three bites of sweetness. They can be shared, eaten one at a time (without ruining your regime), and made to suit any dietary requirement. Cookies don’t require a whole lot of discipline. Cookies by their naturearen’t a lot of commitment but satisfy a deep craving.

What’s important to understand about Finer Cookies is that they aren’t overly sweet or oversized (like, ahem, Costco cookies). Each cookie has its own texture and flavour profile. Yes, sugar is present, but it never will be the first flavour. Chocolate isn’t simply a dark brown cookie, but is fragrant and fudgy. Lemon remains lemony. You’ll be able to taste the difference between a pecan and a walnut. Eating three Finer Cookies at a time shouldn’t affect your blood sugar as an entire Costco cookie might.

Bottom line is that baking cookies become an ideal canvas to explore cravings, riff on tradition, and stretch across international borders.

Taking on the sugar-heavy Costco cookie, I love it! What is it about cookies that seemed like a viable business direction? 

Kimberlie Robert: Oh, that’s an easier one! Cookies certainly have mass appeal and ship with relative ease. Because they’re baked, they’re inert, not perishable, stable and don’t get caught in the web of horticultural and agricultural regulations. Weather permitting, they slide across the U.S. border very easily.

10|20 Marketing: Ok so let’s shift gears a bit and talk about the business side of things. What do you find are your biggest challenges in reaching new clients? How do you translate your passion for what you do into mass outreach, given that you’re selling cookies online?

Kimberlie Robert: Oh, my, there are several answers to this question.

At all times, I deliver the best product possible and the fastest, most responsive customer service that I can. My goal is to generate word-of-mouth. I need my customers to tell other cookie lovers about The Finer Cookie. Case in point, yesterday I spoke to a gentleman who, for the last 10 years, ordered from David Cookies (a well-known online cookie company). He told me that their chocolate chip cookie is his all time favourite. Once I learned this, I packed his box full of every cookie that included a chocolate chip. And I included a free bag of cookies. I want him to love his package and order from us for the next 10 years. I have many stories like this. One customer at a time.

Second, for as much as I want to believe I’m in the cookie business, I’m really in the gift-giving business. Finer Cookies are what friends and family send to each other. So the content across my social media and website focuses on the reasons why we send Finer Cookies. I want to convey my enthusiasm for sending gourmet cookies as a gift into the content on my social media and website. Always luxury and can’t-get-anywhere-else.

Third, our packaging also communicates my passion for the cookies we bake and ship. It’s the final statement. Or maybe the first statement since the customer initially meets our gourmet cookies at the box. The packaging tells the immediate story and sets the expectation for what they can expect to find inside.

10|20 Marketing: ok, last round! What are some of the things you do outside of work that inspire the work you do with The Finer Cookie? Can you describe the feeling you get when you see a new order come in? When you get that alert or call, how does it make you feel?

Kimberlie Robert: I admit that the line blurs between outside and inside work. I am consumed by my business. I think about it constantly. What inspires my work is seeing and experiencing the inspired work of others. Fantastic one-of-a-kind architecture. Storytelling that shows me a different perspective. Paintings that spotlight a moment that I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.

The feeling when a new order comes in is absolutely wonderful. It shows me that there is a market for what I’m selling. I spoke to a woman this morning who loved everything about my site, everything about my menu selection. She couldn’t wait to get her cookies.

I have a project lined up for 410 boxes to be distributed at a conference – a conference about being excellent. A well known restaurant wants to place my gift boxes on their guests’ tables for dessert because the chef wanted his customers to experience the same wonderful feeling he got when he received his box through the mail. A major Canadian national company wants to send Finer Cookies to 450 of their employees.

Why all these great things? Because my cookies are wonderful. Working for customers like this – customers who get what I’m doing, justifies everything I know, everything I’ve learned, and all my skill sets. The circle is complete. It’s a feeling of wholeness.

10|20 Marketing: This is great, Kimberlie! Thank you so much for participating. We wish you nothing but the best. 

Kimberlie Robert: Thank you for including me in your series! Best of luck to you!


This is the first in a series of Local Business Owner Spotlight posts. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.