Archive for December, 2008

The Santa Industry

Posted in December Season with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2008 by zoepawlak

That fat man in a red suit at the mall? He stands for childhood. And magic. And the profits that can be made off the emotional baggage of the season.

 I experienced my first Christmas hangover when I was seven years old. It had nothing to do with alcohol. It’s the feeling I got after I’d opened all my presents and sat surrounded by them, knowing I should be ecstatic but instead feeling hollow with disappointment. The mood seemed totally unreasonable and my sense of melancholy was compounded by guilt.

I now understand the hangover as a natural outcome of the tremendous emotional build-up to Christmas. To a child, Christmas is the ultimate holiday, complete with theme music, a parade, candy, decorations and a full day of unwrapping presents delivered by a magic flying elf. It’s no wonder that by the time Christmas morning dawned, I was so wired on impossible expectations reality couldn’t help but fall short.

Over the years, my Christmas hangovers have subsided, but the holidays have yet to pass without a fleeting pang of emptiness in the pit of my stomach. Like so many adults raised on Christmas, I long to go back to those first, innocent years when all was beautiful magic and the best gifts were wrapping paper and boxes. This sense of nostalgia is powerful, touching and pathetic. It is also highly marketable.

Every year, millions of children line up in malls across the continent to sit with a fat man in a red suit. It’s a bizarre ritual, this annual pilgrimage to hand our children over to appropriately attired strangers in the hopes they’ll smile while the moment is photographed. The weirdness is compounded by the fact that many of these scenes are played out on the turf of a small number of companies created with the express purpose of profiting from the emotional baggage of the season.

In 2004, I was hired to manage the Santa Claus photo set at the Halifax Shopping Centre. From November 22 to December 23, I watched as shoppers from all reaches of Metro lined up for the chance to sit their offspring with one of my three Santas. Some kids bounced with excitement, others were shyly curious and still others turned beet red and shot burning tears of terror. No matter their child’s reaction, many parents forked over between $10 and $40 for photo packages. All told, it was much like any other Santa set in any mall anywhere in North America.

This is not surprising. Just as you’d expect a Big Mac from McDonald’s in Halifax to taste the same as one in Vancouver, Santa photo-set operations are consistent across the country because many are contracted by the same company. But unlike McDonald’s, very few people have heard of Cherry Hill Photo Enterprises.


Cherry Hill Photo Enterprises is the largest provider of Santa Claus photo-set operations in North America and most likely the world. The business first opened in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in 1961 and has since expanded from its home base at 1200 Haddonfield Road into more than 400 shopping centres and department stores across the US and Canada. The Santa business is highly lucrative and Cherry Hill Photo can be conservatively estimated to gross tens of millions of dollars every year in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I received a $2,300 taste of multi-millionaire pie when I signed on to be Cherry Hill Photo’s local manager at the Halifax Shopping Centre. My experience began in early October with an interview by the company’s district manager for Atlantic Canada, a small-framed ball of nerves from Moncton named Edith. After presenting myself to the Halifax Shopping Centre for approval, I was flown to Toronto to attend two days of manager training in Newmarket, Ontario.

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PowerUp, Canada!

Posted in Loaded Bow: Following Our Story with tags , , , on December 20, 2008 by genennis

PowerUp Canada

You may remember Jerry, my good friend who clued me into the Red Dot Campaign.  Jerry – the American – has once again pointed me in the direction of a Canadian initiative (I sheepishly admit).  This time, the focus is on garnering Canadian support for climate change.  Let me introduce you to PowerUp Canada.

PowerUp aims to give Canada a good kick in the bum when it comes to climate leadership!  Our current administration has let the country lag when it comes to making some serious change.  PowerUp provides all sorts of embarrassing tidbits, like the fact that according to the 2008 Climate Change Performance Index, Canada has weaker governmental policies than China and India.  Yeeeesh.

So why is PowerUp relevant to you?  Well, for one, the environmental initiatives that you and your business are undertaking (as you should be), are not being rewarded appropriately.  Ottawa needs to start giving more than just a slap on the wrist to carbon offenders, and be more generous in their tax breaks for businesses going green.

So become a fan of PowerUp on Facebook, and more importantly, write your local MP and sign of on this letter to the big guys.

And in the name of the holidays, please make sure you are shunning gift wrap (there is no excuse for such disposable paper!! embrace the bag…) and trade in those lights for LEDs 🙂


Giving this Christmas

Posted in December Season with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2008 by zoepawlak

Tired of getting too much stuff?  Have you always “wanted to do Christmas differently?”  I have, but i have never taken charge and changed my own spending and been assertive about what i want and don’t want in my home!

I recently sent the following message to all my friends.  Feel free to copy it and send it out to your family and friends if you are feeling so inclined!


I’ve given your ‘gift’ this year to one of the above mentioned. Please give my gift here too.

Merry Christmas…i have included your gift here:

Though it may be a little late in the season, there are always a few last-minute people to ‘shop’ for. The following has changed my thinking and my consuming….how will you give this year? (especially watch the fourth one down!)

For those who are entrepreneurial, it is so fun and encouraging to read about Kiva. Kiva organizes small business loans for people in developing countries

These are friends of ours:

and finally, think about thirst. If your passion is water:

thanks for giving. May you have the most beautiful New Year!

Photo Credit:*:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7ADBR%26sa%3DN


Sneaky Kiki’s Girlesque and Magic Box

Posted in December Season with tags , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by zoepawlak

As we enter December a little behind the rest (with good reason-read Gen’s latest post about closing Movember), we will enter December with a little sultry bit about a fabulous group in Vancouver.  Though we love to post about the world at large and all the good things going on with women in business all over, we get especially proud when we brew up some home-town girls and these ladies have it MADE!  We do not know any other group working as hard or as innovativley (is that a word?) as these Girlesque pioneers!  Please join us (subscribe to our rss feed) this month as we look at the industry around Christmas, the best and greenest ways to give this Christmas and what happens to small businesses around the holiday season!  Now, for a little racy goodness and some Sneaky Kiki’s Girlesque.



Two young female entrepreneurs have changed the landscape of Vancouver entertainment.

Two young Canadian women have revolutionized the entertainment scene with their creation of the Sneaky Kiki Girlesque performing group. The innovative style of performance provided by the group includes dance, song and tongue in cheek commentary, bringing an exciting new form of entertainment to the Vancouver scene.

Sneaky Kiki Girlesque was created by Sara Smallenberg and Crystal Lowe, after a Dita Von Teese performance sparked Sara to notice that there was a great appreciation for burlesque that had been lost amidst modern day entertainment. An opportunity had presented itself, and the insightful women were quick to react. The two became business partners and Sneaky Kiki Girlesque was born.

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My Grandpa and Movember

Posted in Bended Bow with tags , , , on December 11, 2008 by genennis

I have amazing men in my life.

My husband.

My Dad.

My baby brothers.

photo courtesy of RAD Studio

Today, however, I would like to talk about my Grandpa.  This month we have featured men in honour of Movember, the men’s health initiative that seeks to raise awareness and change attitudes about prostate and testicular cancer.  My Grandpa was a survivor of prostate cancer. 

Hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa

I was 8 years old when he was diagnosed.  Looking at cancer through the lens of childhood, my perception of the disease was vague and intangible.  Now, as an adult, I can only begin to imagine what my Grandpa and Grandma must have gone through. 

My Grandpa beat the cancer and went on to live for almost 20 years.  He cared for my Grandma who has advanced Alzheimer’s well into his 80s.  My Dad has called my Grandpa his hero for his absolute devotion to my Grandma, and the lengths he went to protect her as she lost her memory.

Today is the one year anniversary of my Grandpa passing away.  Kevin and I spent the night with my Mom and Dad and uncle by my Grandpa’s bedside in palliative care in the hospital.  We drank wine, told stories, laughed a lot, cried a lot and held my Grandpa’s hand.

So while Movember has officially been over for 10 days, we decided to extend Man Month just a little bit.  In memory of Grandpa.


ProBlogger Interview

Posted in Man Month with tags , , , on December 11, 2008 by genennis

Man Month continues… just a tad longerProBlogger, Darren Rowse, took a time out to reflect on his own blogging career and to share some advice with us.  Thanks, Darren!

Loaded Bow: You have posted over 3500 articles on ProBlogger. That is an incredible amount of information! Do you have any favourite posts?

Darren Rowse:  There are a lot of posts that stand out in my mind. Here’s a few:

5 Things You Should Know about My Dad the ProBlogger

This post I wrote in the voice of my 1 year old son. It was a lot of fun to write and got a great response from readers.

18 Lessons I’ve Learned about Blogging

This was an early post that was one of my first to really go viral. It still gets referenced regularly by other sites.

Blogging for Beginners

This isn’t a post but is a series of posts that I wrote for beginner bloggers. It’s one of the most popular series I’ve ever done and was a lot of fun because it let me get back to basics.

LB: In your post Becoming a ProBlogger you make the important point that when you began advertising you did so on a blog that had several thousand readers a day. What do you feel are the minimum number of readers a blog should have before advertising should be sought out?

DR:  I’m not big on hard and fast numbers that should be achieved before doing certain things. While it did take until I had thousands of readers a day to land some decent sized advertisers what I didn’t really say in that post is that even with a few hundred readers a day I did land some smaller advertisers.

In my mind it’s never too early to start trying to monetize a blog. In the early days you’ll have more luck with ad networks like AdSense (which you can make money from with just a handful of readers) but as your blog grows keep asking potential advertisers – it will eventually happen!

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A New Member in the Family

Posted in Bended Bow on December 9, 2008 by zoepawlak

Since we are wrapping up man month a little into December, I will tell you a few things about having a little man. 

A very little man apparently likes a lot of things. 

When you have another baby your house explodes.  Even more than it had exploded withthe first.  Everyone is amazed when you look even remotely decent and everyone compliments you when you get out of your house. 

I have been out exactly three times and i tell you, the world is lovely, but still makes me feel a bit wonky.  Though this is often true when i do not have a baby too!

It was much easier bringing a son into this world knowing that Obamais gonna be in the House come the New Year.  I am so grateful that the American people have some hope and have put that hope forward into their confidence that change can happen for their country.  Sometimes it’s just so damn easy to love Americans! 

It is also easier bringing a son into this world with the amazing support of friends and family to help you find you  way and find some rest.  Without them, this month would have been a disaster and i surely would have exploded myself.  I adore all the love that has come over our home with the newness of a baby and especially awesome have been the meals brought by from ladies from our church.  Dinners to your door??!!  What could be more loving and kind!!??

As for Loaded Bow, Gen and I have been taking it pretty easy and doing a few posts on our own through email ‘meetings’ and then this weekend we met two times in person. (well, i breastfed and she told me what we’re doing and how i can contribute.  My brain is still really mushy so i nodded a lot and said ‘um, hum.’ which seemed to trick her into thinking i was vastly contributing to our meeting time;)  We went over some things we had to set up for December and the upcoming launch of Loaded Bow the WEBSITE!  (More on this later!!)

All this to say that you never know how things are going to change, but that they will change is a certainty.  I feel so fortunate to have my beautiful family all intact and having survived C’s first three weeks.  Thanks to everyone who showed their love by way if emails, visits, gifts, time over here, loving phone calls and meals!  A special love out to Ken and Rita who took a total of three weeks off work to care for us!