Marketing promotion ignites community. 


Last night I had trouble sleeping. It wasn’t stress, worry or anxiety after a week of bad news in the world. Anyone glued to the media updates in Edmonton knows this was an exceptionally tough week.  However this was not the case yesterday. It was excitement and adrenaline of a marketing promotion that kept me awake. Now before you read further, this post isn’t really about marketing or the contest. I will post all the details of that as well, but this story is about giving thanks, community spirit, and the generosity of others.

Yesterday, as we kicked off our Canadian thanksgiving weekend, I had an extremely busy day at work. In between the regular meetings, event and marketing proposals and email checking, it was also the final day of a two week promotion that I ran with Kentwood Ford and Team Ford called Gear For The Year.

The contest itself was pretty fun from a marketing angle, and a one-of-a-kind customer experiance. People could nominate their kids to win hockey gear, and the chance to meet one of two hockey star’s – Milan Lucic or Darnell Nurse. They were directed to visit either dealership’s Facebook page and directed to tell us why their kid should win. The story will the most “likes” won, pretty straightforward.

As soon as the contest launched, one post immediately caught my eye, and tugged firmly on my heart strings. But it wasn’t up to me. The community had to choose based on their opinions, and voting with “likes”. Well, I  quickly learned that this story was one to touch many people, as it was shared over and over, and the woman posting it worked really hard to spread the word to possibly win a coveted prize for her son. Her post is here, but you may want to grab a tissue before continuing to read.

Alex winner from GFAY marketing promotion

Loretta M Blackman Hey Kentwood, I want to give #gearfortheyear to my son Alexandre Jacknife. It is his first year of hockey and he is over the moon about the sport. Despite being new to skating, he never gives up. When he’s not practicing his slap shot, he’s inside watching old game highlights. He could lay there for hours doing that if I let him. His late father Derrick was a mega fan of hockey and his favourite player was ,Milan Lucic, back when he played for the Bruins. He always wanted Lucic to play for the Oilers and he always said that “if we get Looch, we’ll make the playoffs”. Much to our surprise, his prediction came true. Sadly, he passed away in 2012 when Alexandre was just about to turn one years old. Alexandre was the love of his life. It was his dream for our son to play hockey and that dream has just begun to come true. As a single mother, it was hard to get new equipment, but his older cousins gave him their old stuff and we managed to get the rest of his equipment. His favourite player is Milan Lucic, because he was his dad’s favourite player. So much so, that our car is named “Lucic” at Alexandre’s request. This kind of opportunity will not only allow Alexandre to have his very own equipment, but to meet his dad’s idol would mean so much more in so many ways. 

Loretta’s hard work of getting the word out to win for her son paid off. The post garnered thousands of likes and comments. Complete strangers saw her post, and were rallying for her. They were following as the contest evolved, watching other posts and sharing her updates. As I read through the comments I was finding a sense of community over social media between complete strangers that was a true testament to the human spirit. People from her home town of Cold Lake liked it, but it also travelled far and wide with likes from the Yukon, British Columbia, and even Ohio.

Needless to say, Loretta’s post won by a landslide. She received 5x the likes of the first runner up, with 4200. She also received almost 500 supportive comments from people rooting for her.

But the support and kindness doesn’t stop there. 

When I saw her original post, I of course did not know what the results would yield. I was moved by the story though, and spoke to Milan and Brittany Lucic. I shared the story and asked what they thought. They are such amazing people that we agreed that if she didn’t win, we would find a way to make her hard work pay off. This just shows, once again, the sense of community and kindness that even our sports hero’s, who one may think are too far removed to reach, feel. I was so impressed by the response, but not surprised as I know the Lucic family and they are amazing people.

You think that ends the story, right? Wrong. 

Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any more heartwarming, or tear jerking, I managed to connect with the grand prize winner from the Team Ford side, this winner was 8 year old Lincoln. His mom passed on to me a special request. Lincoln was super excited to have won, but had been competing against his best friend and hockey teammate. The teammate came in 3rd place. Lincoln wanted to know if he could split his prize with his best friend. This kid is 8. He wants to split his prizeWow. I couldn’t get the word yes out of my mouth fast enough. What a kid! What a friend! What a teammate!

So after hours of closing the contest, announcing winners, connecting with winners, and working out logistics of prize awarding, I had a quiet moment to reflect. It just reminded me of so much love, community, and kindness we are surrounded by everyday if we keep our eyes open. This contest was launched with the intention to help a child’s dream come true of meeting a hockey hero, and helping someone who really needed it get geared up for the season. I knew that with the contest we would be giving back. What I didn’t know,  as we planned the details this summer, was how much this contest would give back to me.

Darnell Nurse GFAY marketing promotion Milan Lucic GFAY marketing promotion


gear for a year Marketing Contest Details – now closed

GFAY marketing promotion GFAY marketing promotion













Enter to win hockey gear for the year* for your favourite kid! Visit or   Under the comments section under our Gear For a Year Contest post a video, or image and write up of why your favourite little human deserves new gear this hockey season. The story with the most likes upon contest close will be the grand prize winner.  And if that isn’t cool enough, former hockey player and local media guru Jason Strudwick will come and help them choose their gear, plus guest coach one of their hockey practices! If that isn’t a hockey loving kid’s dream, what is? The second and third place winners will also receive a $250 credit for Klondike Cycle to help with their gear purchase. So get your story posted, and then take to your social media accounts to spread the word for everyone to vote for your story!

Rules for entry:

  1. Follow (Kentwood Ford OR Team Ford) on Facebook.
  2. Post a photo or video in the comments section of the Gear for A Year post on the (Kentwood Ford OR Team Ford) FaceBook page from 12:00 PM September 26 – 12:00 PM October 6, 2017 to with an explanation of why the kid you are nominating deserves new hockey equipment.
  3. Child nominated must be born from 2003 – 2013 (inclusive).
  4. Include the following in your written message: “Hey (Kentwood Ford OR Team Ford), I want to give #gearfortheyear to (insert your nominated child’s name).”

Winner Selection

  1. Entries submitted until 12:00 PM October 6, 2017 on the comments sections of the Gear For The Year post to with an explanation of why the kid you are nominating deserves new hockey equipment will be eligible.
  2. The post meeting the criteria outlined in the rules with the most likes will be the grand prize winner. The second and third highest likes will be the runner up winners.
  3. Winner’s will be notified via the social media account used for entry, and have 72 hours to claim their prize, or another winer will be selected.
  4. One grand prize winner, and two runner up winners from each page, Kentwood Ford AND Team Ford will be chosen.

Prize details:

  1. In respect to awarding prizes, the prize winners will be the child nominated, not the person nominating them.
  2. Grand prize winner from each dealership will receive a $1000 credit at Klondike Cycle
  3. Grand prize winner at Team Ford will will meet the Milan Lucic, Grand prize winner at Kentwood Ford will will meet the Darnell Nurse. Each winner is welcome to bring a maximum of 3 guests to the meet, one of which must be a parent or guardian.
  4. Grand prize winner from each dealership will have the opportunity to have Jason Strudwick personally help them choose the gear they purchase.
  5. Grand prize winner from each dealership will have the chance to have Jason Strudwick come to their hockey practice and run one practice; all appropriate permission from the winners team coaches must be received.

winner GFAY marketing promotion


Kentwood Ford 

Grand Prize Winner – Alexandre

Runner’s Up  – Benedict and sharing a prize are twins Alex and Ben.

Team Ford

Grand Prize Winner  – Lincoln

Runner’s Up – Jack and Mason


For more information on the details of this marketing promotion feel free to contact us.



Our Corporate Events Stationery Source.

July 17 Blog: Corporate Events Stationery

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”

– Ronald Reagan

Ok, so we are planning corporate events, not running a country. Deciding policy may not be a “thing” in our world. However, the above quote, and the many versions of it you can find through quick google search, resonates. Basically you surround yourself with amazing people, communicate your vision, and empower them to execute it. This is how it has been from day one since I started working with, then “moved in” with my crush.

Boutique Events Pinkpolka Corporate Events Stationery Jenelle Gartner of Pinkpolka Invitations and Stationery, our exclusive Corporate Events Stationery provider. 

The moment I encountered Jenelle in a chance meeting, I knew I had to work with her. Her bubbly personality was infectious. Her personal style the right mix of professional and hip. Her communication clear and concise. I had not even seen her work, which quite frankly is head and shoulders above other designers. (Sorry everyone else!)

Jenelle is a graphic designer with a Bachelor of Design. She gained experience working in various design studios, then in 2009 she took the brave leap to venture out as an entrepreneur. She started Pinkpolka Invitations & Stationery where her creativity could shine. Where she could focus on her passion of creating beautiful things for fantastic people. Since then she has been recognized in various publications, and won two prestigious Canadian Wedding Industry Awards, for best wedding invitation and best stationer in Alberta. This spring, the Taco’s & Tequila Corporate Events Stationery package she designed for us, won distinction in direct marketing at the ACE Awards in Edmonton. So really, we are not the only one’s crushing on this gal.

She has helped elevate events I have planned to a whole new level. She has designed amazing set of corporate event stationery for every project I task her with.  When Jenelle designs, the feedback is phenomenal. The planning goes a little something like this:

Olivia “Jenelle, I have a crazy idea, can you make it work? Oh, and the deadline is tight” 

Jenelle “This sounds like fun! Let me make it even more awesome then your harebrained idea”

The Client “WOW! We love the invites!” 

For real. She is just that good. 

When she designs she isn able to incorporate a full service approach to the Corporate Events Stationery package. Event branding, save-the-dates, invitations, posters, programs, on-site signage and more are all items she has designed for Boutique Events. Here are a few samples she did for us, you can be the judge:

Corporate Events Stationery Corporate Events Stationery Corporate Events Stationery











In 2015 Jenelle and I took our professional relationship to a whole new level, renovating and moving into a shared space on Edmonton’s trendy 124th Street. The synergies are amazing, and the brainstorming is constant. Of course this also means I always have a partner in crime for checking out the new local restaurants that keep popping up!

Corporate Events Stationery

Over the years we have realized our views differ greatly on many subjects (even publicly debating parenting issues!) At the end of the day, we both strongly believe in customer service, high quality, original work, and attention to detail. These similarities are what make her one of my biggest crushes! If you find yourself looking for wedding invites to commemorate your day, corporate events stationery that will set your project apart from the competition, or an invite full of personality for a 40th birthday bash, there really is no other choice.



So You Want to Be an Event Planner?

Event PlanI have received calls over the years from people trying to decide if this was the career they wanted. Asking if they could chat and pick my brain.  I have also run into people that have said (ok, this actually happens really often) that I have a “such a fun job”. I smile politely.  The reality is I LOVE my job.  But let’s peel back the onion a bit, because while it can appear pretty darn glamorous, with all the fancy events, great food and famous faces – much like looking at someone’s Instagram and judging their life – judging an event planners job by the finished product, while a compliment, is a bit misleading.


How do you become a planner?

Well, this is a broad question, because like a professional athlete being either a football player or hockey player, an “event planner” is an over-arching title. Maybe you plan weddings and have a huge focus on decor. Maybe you plan conferences and focus on logistics and contracts. Maybe you are into corporate events, and have a keen interest in brand identity. Each planner is going to have a skill set that is diverse, and probably what led them into that particular field.  Since I focus on corporate events, I am going to look through my view. This is a personal opinion and what has guided me down my path.

First off I firmly believe that there are skills that are just a part of your DNA that make or break any planner.  Do you actually work well under pressure? Are you able to multi-task? Are you organized to a fault? Because these are key to not checking yourself in for stress leave after every event. It is pretty hard to teach some of those personality traits.

There are many courses tailored to event planning – Certified Meeting Planner, Event Planning Certificate, Wedding Planner Certifications – as well as some courses that have event planning as a part of the larger picture. I personally had a combination of both formal education and work experience before launching my company, and that was what really sealed it for me. I have a formal education that is a diploma in Hotel & Restaurant Management, a certificate in Event Marketing, plus various coursework and conferences. I also spent years working in all facets of the industry, from waiting tables, to booking meetings, to setting up trade shows. I worked in restaurants, catering companies, hotels, for large consumer show producers, and also in varied corporate sales and marketing roles where I oversaw all the events and marketing. This combination of education and experience has really helped me to develop what I wanted my business model and focus to be, and identify what I would excel at.

Getting ones feet wet in the industry is something I highly encourage.  Whether it is working part-time, full-time or even volunteering at events, it is a great way to learn if it really is right for you. The great thing about the event industry is that there is always people looking for short term help, so trying it on for size is pretty easy. You will learn quickly that lifting, pulling, dragging, painting (yes painting!), sweating and changing outfits superman style in bathroom stalls is all in a days work. And get used to sore feet, they are absolutely a job hazard. The rewards are stellar though, when you get to wipe the dirt and sweat off your face, and watch the magic unfold as the event begins. Whatever the event is, there is always that moment of calm when you can actually view your hard work in action.  Not many jobs allow you to see something take shape and breathe in successes live.  But mind you, it is only a moment, so do snap some pictures.  As every planner knows, what goes up, must come down, and the tear down is so fast, gone in a glimmer, that sometimes you don’t even believe an event was ever set up.

Does this all sound appealing? Then maybe you are on the right track!

Finding our identity. 

When I started this little company in 2012 it was on a whim. I had just had my first son, and knew for certain that I wanted to work. I also knew for certain I needed to love, not like what I do. Now, let me state, that I do not believe I will love what I do 24/7, no one really does. That said, I wanted to focus on my passion.  What is that? Well, people. Organizing people. Taking care of people. Talking with people. I had worked in various industries over the years, but at the corer stone of every position, was events. I started in hospitality, but gravitated towards the conference and catering side of things. I moved into sales, but was a driving force at organizing over 30 tradeshow’s a year. Following that it was finally a more direct fit, through sales and marketing of events  — specifically as I worked for dmg world media, and then as Director of Marketing at  Go Auto. So, after some thought, my conundrum was clear. Event Planning was my calling.

Off I went, planning, plotting and building to bring my company to life. I had a name, a few clients and was having a ball.  Somewhere along the way though I started to realize I wasn’t exactly sure of my focus. Event Planning was so broad. I tackled a few weddings, parties, tradeshows, launches and so forth.  Last fall I began to feel like I needed to define what I excelled at and let other’s focus on the rest. But what was it?

This truly is the organic way the 360 degree approach was born.  I love the marketing part of creating  and carrying out brand messaging. I love the organizing part of events. I love the communication piece of media relations. So the focus now become events that are corporate, niche and potentially have a message we can take on a media tour.

Once I had that clarity, it felt great.  But how do I explain that to people? I started a revamp of my website, and quite frankly my elevator speech. The thing many of us “experts” forget, is altho we do a kick ass job for our clients, we forget to work on us. Every bit of advice I give, I wasn’t taking. So now, I will commit, to woking on my business, defining my business, and spending time “in” my business.  So cliche, right?

So here we are, heading into the summer of 2016, with a revamped site, a better elevator speech, and hopefully creating some genuine interest in what we offer.

Here we grow!

Boutique Events in a specialty Event Marketing company with an array of dynamic clients and projects. We currently have one spot available for an internship, starting immediately.  This is a non-paid intern position for 3-6 months.  Internship has potential to lead into a paid contract. This is well suited for a student or new graduate who is looking for industry experience.

Applicants should have excellent communication skills, knowledge of Marketing, Advertising, PR, Events, and Sponsorship.  Strong communications skills are required. Our client list and projects are vast, and activities will change on a daily basis.  The successful candidate will be adaptable to change, fast thinking, driven, a self starter and tenacious.

What we are looking for:

  • Self-driven, willingness to meet and exceed expectations
  • Sense of initiative, can work well with minimal direction
  • Great decision-making skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • High energy level
  • Creative problem-solver
  • Strong work ethic
  • Burning desire to learn
  • Great attention to detail

If interested in applying please forward cover letter and resume to Continue reading