COM0014 – Blog #6: the little white lie

Photo by Artem Beliaikin

What is your favorite customer story?

A few months ago, I had called H&M’s customer service line to have them put a pair of pants on hold for me (the company uses a general phone line to avoid calls to their flagship stores). However, despite their best efforts, each time I called, the person on the end put the wrong item on hold for me at different stores all across town

Frustrated, as this happened quite a few times, I decided to call a last time to make a complaint. However, since my name had been used regularly, and the employees could associate my name with a face, I decided to used the false name Kelsey!

Photo by Negative Space on Unsplash

I could never even image what was going to happen next. The man at the end of the line was very sympathetic to my situation and promised generous coupons for my troubles. What great customer service! The only problem was he needed to send them to my email address. I panicked, I had no email address associated with the false name, and worse, my email address is MY full name! So, I gave him my email address and passed it off as a sibling. The hole was getting deep, but surely, he wouldn’t know me from H&M headquarters in North Carolina!

As soon as he heard my last name there was a distinct pause. Do you know Ashley he asked? I did, she is my first cousin. With glee he explained he had connected with her on and that they were distant cousins, making us too relatives.

What were the odds! After the call ended, I quickly called my cousin to explain the whole situation but to my surprise this man had already written her. She cheerfully asked, “who’s my cousin Kelsey?”

Moral of the story: avoid white lies, you never know who you’ll be related to!

Do you have a funny customer service story?

Have you ever been caught in a white lie?

My favourite customer story – Turning disappointment on its head

Disappointment is a fact of life that we all grow up with. Get something you didn’t want for Christmas? Order something online but it didn’t fit? Sure, we’ve all been there. But how often has that story turned around, and when it does, isn’t it the best thing ever?

My friend had booked tickets for a music night, sponsored by a brewery, at a local eatery. It was music featuring his favourite band, at his favourite restaurant, sponsored by his favourite brewery – he was beyond excited. He booked a babysitter, did all the things to get himself ready, but the event was abruptly cancelled the week before it was scheduled to occur. No reason was given, refunds were offered, but my friend was gutted.

As you do in this day and age, he took to social media to express his disappointment. He tweeted at the brewery and the restaurant, resigned to his fate, but still wanting to share his voice and his experience. Low and behold, he received an answer – and what an answer it was!

The brewery reached out to my friend, shared their disappointment in the cancellation, and offered an alternate evening. They welcomed him out to the brewery for a free tour and tasting, and offered to provide a 5-course meal prepared by their in-house chef, to be held at the brewery co-founder’s house. Who could turn that down?

The night turned into a night that my friend couldn’t forget (and he often reminds us of his good fortune). Not every company can offer that, but it is an example for good companies to go that extra mile to replace disappointment with an experience no one can forget!

Com0014 Blog #6: Why I am Starting Over

New beginning can be exciting, but rarely easy. Hence the saying goes, nothing in life is ever easy. 

2019 was another new beginning. As a military family, starting over is not a new concept. We relocated from land locked Alberta, to coastal Nova Scotia. As a photographer this was a thrilling adventure, trading Canada’s canola fields and mountain scapes for her valley’s and shores.  

While my husband moved for his job, I had to leave mine behind. Once here, I can’t even say I decided to start my own business, it just seemed to be that I knew that was the path I was on. Over the past several years I had provided community photography and social media wearing both my professional and volunteer hats, so that was the focus of my job search. It was only half hearted though. Did I want to work for someone else’s ideas and vision? Did I want the commute? Did I want to work for less than my worth? Everything came up no.

I continued to find connections with local entrepreneurs in my niche. I continued to put out content on my own social media that aimed toward being my own entrepreneur. So starting my own business was the natural path. 

Although my idea has 3 prongs, it is very focused. I am a photographer, but rather than having a drop down menu for weddings and families, and babies, and head shots and… I want to be specific to corporate and community events. 

I also want to offer small business solutions for social media and photoshop. I want to help the little companies so they can have the time back for themselves without sacrificing their on-line presence. 

If there were a part of your business that you struggle over, would you not want to hand it over to a professional, to have that time to spend with your family?

That is exactly why I have a book keeper, and why you may need me! 


Driving map of Canada sourced from

Blog #5 – Experience is what sets me apart.

I am an artist that likes to wear a tie, the quiet gentlemen that listen to metal music. I am the pacific guy that trains to fight every week and a couch-potato that runs ultra marathons. I am patient and easily gets excited with new projects. When you hire me, you are not only getting a photographer, you get a partner that will help you realize your project and document it in a way that will write history, your story.

My experience is what sets me apart. I had the honour of working as the official photographer to the Governor General for 4 years (2007 to 2010) and, now, I continue to work as a photographer, documenting our Mounties.

I have photographed countless of historical events, including a number of state visits, the Olympics in Vancouver, the aftermath of the Earthquake in Haiti and our troops in Afghanistan. I got to bring my camera to over 26 countries and most of our own country and to photograph many known and unknown personalities.

One thing that I am the most proud of is the exhibit that I had the pleasure of putting together for Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada. Click here to see it. 


This panel explains what the exhibit is about and a little more about me.

Considering that I continue to be staff photographer for our federal police, I am fortunate that I do not need to promote myself very aggressively. It fits well with my brand, to be discreet and make noise with my megapixels.

COM0014- Blog#5; Personal Brand

According to, “Personal Brand is an image you’ve created around your own professional self. It should represent a combination of skills and experiences that are unique to you (and not your company or product)” We often get confused as to how you can brand ourselves and not sure about you, but I find it very hard to reflect upon myself and write about it. If you don’t believe me, close your eyes and write down few lines on some unique skills you have or what your coworkers will say about your top skills? Hard isn’t it?  

I am an influential leader, a great planner and listener.  I like to plan in a way where I Canva - Close Up Photography of Yellow Green Red and Brown Plastic Cones on White Lined Surfacethink as to how my decisions today will affect me in future. I enjoy working and have strong work ethic. I perform well under pressure and always get my projects done on time and within budget. I don’t enjoy sitting in long unproductive meetings or in traffic as I feel my time could be used in something more productive. I am type of a person who is always on the go!  

I am always keen and interested in improving my skills and knowledge. After I finished my MBA from University of Guelph in 2014, I have been thinking as to what to do next. Currently, I am taking part time online course on social media as I believe social media is new form of marketing in today’s world. I do know how to use social media for personal use but perhaps not from a business perspective. I am always interested in taking a lead on new projects at work, where I will gain more knowledge in areas where I have limited experience. I am always keen on learning new skills both practical and academic. I consider myself as a life-long learner.  

Origami shipsI highly believe in teamwork and team spirit and enjoy building strong relationships, where I enjoy going out of way to help others. I believe my colleagues would say that I am reliable with strong work ethic and a great sense of humor. I get along with everyone and when working under tight deadline and pressure, I am an asset to have on the team. I also believe in empowering my team and letting them make decisions that will affect their work.  

What are your skills? Can you talk about yourself in public about amazing skills you have or in other words, can you brag about yourself?  

Blog Post #5: My Personal Brand

My son recently had an assignment similar to this and he asked me what I thought were his most prominent characteristics. So I thought I would ask him the question right back. I was gratified by what I heard – not only that he said good things, but that Thinkinghe didn’t feel pressured to say all good things. But here are some of our thoughts (I meshed his and mine), about my personal brand.

Dedicated – Once I commit to something, that’s something that’s going to happen. Sure, I may procrastinate, but it will eventually be done. My two sons are actively involved in a competitive soccer club that is about a 30-minute drive from the house, and rain or shine, we are always there and we are always there on time.

Thoughtful – When considering actions or activities, I invariably take the time to understand the impact on others. There may be times when I do that too often, or when unnecessary, since I often put others’ needs ahead of my own. The trick comes in the execution – so I try not to sacrifice my own requirements to serve others.

Tough but fair – this one is particularly relevant for the family life, but I also try to keep strong boundaries at work as well. Being a Libra, it’s all about the balancing act for me. When can I bend, and when do I need to stay strong.

This was an interesting and, ultimately, valuable exercise to do with my kid. In everything I do, I try to set a good example so it is good to have these conversations to try to understand what people think of you as there are always opportunities for improvement.

Blog #5-Brand New Me

For some people, art is everything; it can be a career, a passion, an appreciation, or maybe you cannot relate to art at all. Everyone experiences life in their own personal ways, and not one-person experience’s events the same way as another individual. These experiences, passions, and appreciations are what construct your brand, they create who you are.

After many years of learning about myself, and my interests, I finally have gotten to the point where I have found a medium that still provides me with an outlet both for my artwork and dream career. Combining today’s date of high-tech technology, and my own creations, I was introduced into the career of Graphic Design.

Now, let’s rewind a few years back to the beginning where it all started…

I went to Ryerson in 2016 to begin my life and studies as a graphic design student in a specialty program called Graphic Communication Management or also known as GCM. I persisted three years before realizing the expenses of Toronto, as well as not loving my program as much as I had thought. Graphics is still my passion; however, the curriculum was not to my liking, and did not provide me with the knowledge, or experiences I was expecting.

Although I did not like my program, I still had to opportunity to meet an unruly amount of success driven individuals, allowing me to stay motivated and inspired. The entertainment industry is what I believe started me on advertisements and actually making pieces for a cause rather than just making personal pieces for myself. I had the opportunity to work with some of the most popular clubs in Toronto and learn the process behind creating their mailers, flyers, advertisements, signs and more. It introduced me to a work place where I got to experiment with my interests in design and I instantly got hooked knowing advertising and graphic design was exactly what I wanted for my future.

This is where Instagram became so significant to my life. Social media now was not only a great place to find social interaction, but also a place to show off my work and make connections with people who have the same interests. By turning my profile into a business profile, this allows companies to directly email me from my account Instagram account, or direct message for easier use to work on collaborations and inquires.

What makes you stand out?

I am a perfectionist; if it is not right, I will make sure it is right. I believe that my previous experiences and skill will make me stand out in the future and if a client is not 100% happy with the results, I will make sure to put all efforts to ensure my clients are pleased.

Goals of Branding

Graphics have become an enormous part of my life, teaching me to grow as a person, and help me determine what I want for my future and what is the brand I represent. As Tom Peter’s states in his article The Brand Not You, “Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding”. Figuring out your branding is a great way to figure out the next step in life, or the goals you are envisioning for the future.





COM0014 – Blog #5: who am I?

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

A personal brand speaks before you. It is the affirmation of who you are and what you love to do.

So, who am I?

I am a young professional who works full time as a graphic designer and part time as a freelance designer with a specialization in vector illustrations. My unique designs have helped me develop a style that I am hopeful stand out amongst other design competition.

“I develop eye catching digitized designs utilizing bold colours and a memorable style”

During the day I work for the federal government. While many would think that this work would be uninventive, my colleges would say that I am quite good at finding creative, out of the box solutions to design projects. I try and push boundaries while remaining professional and on brand with my employer.

Photo by Kate A

At night and during the weekends I work on freelance projects. Most of my clientele are contacts I’ve made playing sports. During these projects I enjoy unleashing my full creativity, using bold colour schemes and fun subject matter. I am most proud of the designs I make for these clients, especially when I can translate their visions to print in a way they hadn’t thought of.

If I am not working on a design project, I try to stay up to date with current design trends. Despite being professionally trained, it is important to ask for help and stay up to date. I, personally, have found joining online communities of likeminded people (such as the Graphic Designer Tips Lounge on Facebook) particularly helpful.

The brand you build around yourself is one of the most important ways you can stand out! It is how you present yourself online and offline to potential clients.

What does your personal brand say about you?

How do you make yourself stand out?

Com0014 Blog 5 Personal Branding

Despite years of experience, and continued training, day jobs and a home based business all around photography, I have never had the confidence to consider myself “A PHOTOGRAPHER”. I mean I say I am when people ask, but I have never taken the plunge to allow myself to dive into it with both feet, and say “I am a photographer”. 

Until now. 

This week I signed commitment papers for a Self Employment Business plan with the province of Nova Scotia. It is a 40 week sponsored plan to help me build a business. I have the creative experience, but lack any experience running a full time, profitable business. This program requires monthly reports for networking and leads, assists with writing a business plan and provides courses from bookkeeping to selling.

I also have to build my brand. I need marketing material and a website, and I have slowly been transitioning my business based social media content to fit the new business concept. 

My business name is Dandelion Digital. As a base brat growing up, and raising 3 military kids, the dandelion is the official flower of the military child. Taking to the wind and planting roots wherever we may land. The logo has 3 seedlings, specific to my 3 services of photography, photoshop and social media. My primary colour is orange, conveniently representing creativity, adventure, enthusiasm, success and balance. (Vana, J 2019)

However, we have already discussed that a brand is so much more than a logo. So what qualities set me apart? The biggest attribute I need to play up is my experience. My new business will offer event photography and social media solutions for small businesses. Exactly what I have been doing for years for employers out west. I can highlight my accomplishments as a multi year finalist for the Chamber of Commerce Business awards, as well as winning for Marketing Excellence Award with the event services team I was last with. 

I asked a couple past employers back home about the attributes I should focus on. They came back with Diligent – Benevolent – Trustworthy – Creative – Involved – Community Minded.

Even if it just starts off as the description line on my LikedIn account, how does this sound?

An award winning creative, offering social media solutions for small business, and event photography for corporate & community events. 

I am open to suggestions, please offer your feedback.


Vana, J LinkedIn (October, 2019) What feelings Do Colors Evoke?

COM0014- Blog #4; B2C social media platforms

Canva - null-2According to, “The term business-to-consumer (B2C) refers to the process of selling products and services directly between consumers who are the end-users of its products or services. Most companies that sell directly to consumers can be referred to as B2C companies. 

B2C became immensely popular during the dotcom boom of the late 1990s when it was mainly used to refer to online retailers who sold products and services to consumers through the Internet”  

Canva - Person Shopping Online Using a CellphoneIn this ERA of Digital world, many consumers prefer to shop online vs. going through traditional mall shopping. Do you buy products online? If so, why? Is it because it is cheaper, convenient or any other reason? How do you know about special promotions?  

Companies that rely honline shopping 2eavily on B2C model need to maintain a healthy relationship with their customers. With invention of social media platforms, it has become much easier for companies to connect with their customers and gently remind them about promotions and new products. How many times have you seen pop up ads on these social media platforms? I bet you will answer, “many times! 

Canva - nullOne company that stands out to me is Air Canada. I highly believe that they are connecting and targeting their audience well. They are regularly monitoring their social media platforms and building trust by responding in a timely fashion. They are beautifully showcasing their destinations, airplanes, food and experiences of other travelers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They also use these platforms for telling their audience about special promotions to various destinations. At times, on these platforms they also showcase their employees- flight attendants and pilots and ground staff. 

From a personal point of view, I have had great interactions on Social media platforms with Air Canada. I remember once I was checking into a flight and I was flying business class from Ottawa Airport. The check-in agent was not friendly nor was aware of perks of flying business class as she was replacing someone who went on break. I tweeted Air Canada while agent was checking me with my frustration and disappointment and while I made to security in less than 5 minutes, I had a reply from Air Canada. On other occasion, I have also got hold of someone faster on social media than being on hold for over 30 minutes. I think Air Canada has been maintaining their social media platforms well and many other organizations should learn them now. Have you ever had an experience with Air Canada through Social Media? If so, were you satisfied? 

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(Source of photos: