Who Is This Groovy Chick?

Cathy.headshot.2014I came to realize that outside of my former employers and their vendors, I was a virtual unknown.  In catalog advertising I was well respected, the go-to person, known to be a creative, knowledgeable, and loyal person.  Then one day, it was all gone!

Spanning four decades (after graduating with honors in Graphic Design at Toronto’s top college), advertising was the best career I could have asked for and I loved it!  It took me from the conventional layout table, the light box, the lucy, gluing, and waxing machines, the cutting board, and the photocopier, to the modern-day (all of those things in one) Mac computer.

It was fun to go to work and sometimes reinvent the same products by displaying or designing them in different ways.  We often joked that the merchandisers and buyers wanted their product pages to ‘look the same… but different’.  Somehow, believe it or not, the pages or ads did just that!  It takes creativity to be able to do this; from book to book, year after year… and to always look fresh.

Starting out as an assembly and layout artist, I eventually got to be a creative director in the catalog sales promotion department.  It was like having my very own studio.  I coordinated the work going out to vendors for type, comping, photography, and printing.  I directed photo studios and selected shots, conceptualized, designed and assembled ads, and chose which vendors to work with after securing their quotes.  I collaborated with copywriters, editors, and translators.  Those were the the best of times… but all good things must come to an end.  As large companies are known to do, a restructure was in order.  We got absorbed by the much larger catalog advertising department and that meant proving oneself all over again.  Nuts!

Restructure upon restructure (this was the time of computers entering the workforce) eventually landed me in my favorite section of the catalog… the home section.  I became the furniture specialist and backed up other home fashion departments like housewares, bedding, and draperies.  Impressed with my talents, these other departments requested my presence at their hand-off meetings on a regular basis.  Working in the home section for a decade taught me a lot about the construction and care of soft goods and hard goods, the importance of sizing, dimensions, ensembles, and so on.  I often found cost-savings for the company.  Searching for ways of doing things more efficiently, without compromising quality is who I am.  It was around this time that I got the nickname of Groovy Chick.

I worked my way into an assistant manager’s role and was designing all of the home and hardline pages of a catalog, when it happened again!  This time it was announced that we would be outsourced to another company.  The news was devastating to some, and shocking to us all.  Our security blanket was gone and uncertainty lay ahead.  But all was not lost.  Because of my hard work, dedication, and proven ability to manage the creative on our home/hardlines team, (moving forward) I would be rewarded with the role of catalog linear team leader.  Not bad, considering some managers would be demoted.

Things were different in our new home, fun at times and busy at others, yet there was always a feeling of uneasiness.  Restructuring happened more frequently and every year we seemed to lose good people from our old employer.  Downsizing was becoming the new norm.  The entire landscape in advertising was changing.  Full time jobs were becoming a thing of the past.  Competition and outsourcing to Asia was a reality.  Things were not so groovy.  I lasted nine years in this environment and then… I was gone!

… to be continued

2nd Bedroom After W

Why Hire a Professional Home Stager?

There are lots of simple things homeowners can do on their own to decorate their homes to sell. They can get rid of clutter, repaint, clean or put out fresh flowers. So why hire a home stager?

Many homeowners are unsure of what paint colors to choose or where to move the clutter. The process of selling a home can be completely overwhelming. They often lack real estate knowledge about their local markets and how homes in their price range should look.

A home stager has the ability to look at a home with a fresh pair of eyes. They view the home as a highly critical buyer would see it. Home staging expert Debra Gould provides five examples of how a professional home stager can benefit you:

1.    A home stager knows what’s needed to create the right environment quickly and at the lowest cost.

2.    A home stager knows what homes in different price ranges look like and what’s selling. They will give homeowners suggestions that their real estate agent may be afraid to offer because the agent does not want to risk losing the listing.

3.    A home stager is not emotionally attached to any of the home’s contents, which means that they can see the home in a way that someone who has been living there for years simply cannot. Using their fresh vision, they recommend the optimal way to rearrange existing furniture, art and accessories.

4.    A home stager can quickly choose new paint colors, flooring, tiles, countertops or any number of finishes. They have a ready source of painters, cleaners, handymen, off-site storage and a myriad of other services that may be needed on short notice.

5.    A home stager can bring in replacement furniture, accessories and art if what is there isn’t appropriate for the home’s target market or the home is empty.

Home staging is not just for multimillion dollar homes. Even for modest homes, staging can have a dramatic effect on the selling price and the number of days spent on the market. For example, one of the homes Gould staged had previously been on the market for months with the best offer being $350,000. She spent 90 minutes with the owner rearranging the furniture, putting items in storage and telling him what needed to be cleaned. He sold the house the following week for $361,000!

How many other (legal) ways can you think of to invest $600 and get an $11,000 return on your investment the following week?

cropped 2nd bedroom

2nd Bedroom After W