Alumni Spotlight: Liane Coulahan
By: Nicola Brown, MPC 2014
- Since graduating from the MPC program you’ve launched a creative studio in Toronto called Nordest. Tell us a bit about your company.
Nordest is a creative agency that specializes in brand development, communications, digital media, production and live events. Whether we tell stories through video, social media, experiential marketing or live production, we work closely with clients to get their messages across in ways that are creatively meaningful.
My business partner Lina Beaudin and I met a few years ago and immediately connected due to our French Canadian roots. (Because when you meet another Frenchie in Toronto, you gravitate towards them like a moth to a flame!) We also quickly realized that our passions and skills were aligned. She came from the production, live event and experiential marketing world. I came from the communication, adoption, strategy and branding space. We knew that bringing our skills together would lead to an incredible collaboration.
- What kind of clients do you work with?
We work with clients in a range of industries: art, culture, corporate, not for profit and charities. We primarily aim to team up with people who are doing things that make the world a little better and a little brighter or projects that bring communities together.
- How did you get the company off the ground and how do you continue to grow?
Lina and I brought both of our networks and contacts to the table to start driving business. We’ve also nurtured new relationships from word of mouth referrals. I think people enjoy working with us because we really take the time to listen to them and their vision. This isn’t our agenda or our project. We’re here to support and guide clients to success.
- How do you approach your finances? How do you ensure the company remains profitable?
Numbers were never my jam, but man do I love spending time with my accountant and bookkeeper because it gives me the opportunity to understand how and where we can be more strategic. The financial health of our business is a priority for us because it means we can hire good talent and scale the business steadily over the next few years. We’re not in it to make a quick buck; we love what we do and we genuinely want to see this business grow into something amazing. One of the ways in which we ensure the company is profitable is by working with a team of people who are talented, trustworthy and get the job done right the first time around.
- Tell us a bit about the types of clients you’ve worked with and projects you’ve lead.
Westover: An addiction treatment centre in Thamesville, Ontario. We’ve developed an integrated marketing and communication plan that will extend over the next year. The objectives are to (1) create concise and consistent messaging across all outward-facing platforms, (2) increased brand awareness online and offline, and (3) contribute to the de-stigmatization of addiction. See more here: http://westovertreatmentcentre.ca
VICE: We recently supported VICE Canada with their live broadcast series around the Canadian elections by providing technical production and live direction. The series revolved around interviews with Canada’s future leaders including Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair, and an evening with a long list of influencers on a show called Election Circus. The three-part series focused on issues of importance to young Canadians like the environment, missing and murdered Aboriginal women, cyber security, LGBT rights, and weed. See more here (check out the town halls on page 2): http://www.vice.com/en_ca/tag/Federal Election 2015/page/2
RBC: We’re in the midst of supporting RBC with their #ChangeAgents campaign. We have a film crew following three young Canadians and documenting the projects they’ve undertaken to make the world better and brighter. Nordest is producing, creative directing and editing this video series. See more here: http://www.rbc.com/changeagents/
31Reasons: This was a project we initiated with a local comedian and a political writer to inspire young people to vote. 31Reasons was a website and Facebook page we created to post bite-size content for young people to gain insight into key electoral issues. We shared our favourite 31 reasons to vote in the 31 days leading up to the 2015 Canadian Federal Election. See more here: https://www.facebook.com/31reasonscanada/?fref=ts
- Some people may argue that we live in an increasingly connected yet often disaffected world. How can art, music, and other creative mediums be used to incite people to positive social, political and economic change?
In our increasingly digitally connected world, our first instincts may be to regain a genuine connection by surrounding ourselves with real people, in the flesh. But there’s nothing lonelier than being surrounded by people and feeling completely disconnected. In my opinion, creative mediums stimulate genuine connectivity, whether we’re home alone or surrounded by people. When we hear a song, produce a video, watch a dance piece or taste something delicious, we’re unconsciously connecting to someone else’s story and reality. These creative mediums open the doors to greater understanding and have the potential to spark empathy. Empathy can lead to stronger connections with our neighbours and communities, and a strong motivation to work together for social, political or economic change.
This is why Nordest pays great attention to works and projects that are #creativelymeaningful.
- What are some things you wish you could have known about launching your own company that you’d tell someone now thinking of doing the same?
Ask yourself why you want to launch your own business. Is it driven by ego? Is it because you don’t like having a boss? Is it because you want flexible work hours?
Running a business is like taking care of a litter of puppies and a six-month-old baby simultaneously. When the puppies are costing you more than you expected and the baby is spitting up on your shirt, your drive and motivation to move forward will come from an unwavering commitment and passion for nurturing the loves of your life and not from anything else.
Also, get yourself a good bookkeeper. It will be money very well spent in the end!