Q & A with Chandra Blouin of Studiothink
Chandra Blouin is Director of Strategy and co-founder of Studiothink, a web design and branding agency located in Surrey, BC which serves companies throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. They are a team of designers, strategists and developers who create tailor-made websites, logos and brand experiences for companies who want to elevate their marketing and reinvent their online presence.
Click the questions below to reveal Chandra’s answers!
What do you love about Surrey?
I love watching (and helping) brands grow and flourish and I feel that’s what’s happened to the community of Surrey. We’ve worked with clients in Surrey for 20 years now and I’m proud to see how it’s grown though purposeful efforts to support and encourage business. I love the diversity of people, shopping, businesses, and activities. When I was a kid growing up in Langley you would have never wanted to say you’re from Surrey and I feel like Surrey’s brand image has done a full 360 since then. People are now proud to be from Surrey. And I am proud to be part of the Surrey business community.
Where did you go to school? What did you take?
I’m a BCIT Marketing Communications grad.
How long has your business been in Surrey?
20 years this year 🙂 Started in 1997.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell ?
My job is to come up with ideas. Ideas that solve problems and get results.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Sherry and I started Studiothink in 1997. I was a passionate, young marketing professional who was always looking for a challenge. We knew that businesses needed more than just an outsourced designer or an outsourced marketing consultant, they needed a combination of both that would deliver something that looked good and worked. So Sherry, the designer, and myself, the marketer, joined forces. Without a client list and barely a portfolio, we had to get creative to get business. We started a full colour business magazine for the Fraser Valley and published that 10 times a year for 2 years. We ended up losing money on the magazine but did net ourselves a small client list that we were able to build on.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
My favourite, and most challenging, part of my day is coming up with ideas. In addition to listening to clients business goals and challenges and thinking of ideas that get them results, I’m also often immersed in idea storming with team members to help better our company, brand and client experience. Somedays I feel like I haven’t got a anything done, yet leave the studio with an exhausted brain. I wouldn’t want it any other way though, I’ve been an idea person since I was a child and Studiothink is the perfect outlet to exercise my passion.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
One sign that my work/life is definitely off is when I’m having to take my work home at night. When I first started our company I thought that’s what we needed to do to survive and I got used to working late every night. Transitioning and training myself to better manage my days so I didn’t need to take work home took a lot of years and practice, and sometimes I still fall back into taking work home. I have to really question myself as to why I’m taking this work home? Is it because I didn’t properly manage my day, allowing for constant interruptions, or is it truly that I have that much work. And if I have ‘that much work’ too often then I need to solve that resource problem.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Our five year plan for Studiothink is to continue growing the team and brands that we service. In 5 years my goal is to be spending less time working in the business and more time on the business to further develop our team, processes and help build our own brand and marketing.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I’m not sure it was a challenge, as I most certainly didn’t see it that way, but being young and female definitely forced me to think differently and get creative, especially when it came to getting financing for our magazine, selling, and managing other (sometimes older) people. My way to overcome every obstacle has been to weigh the pros and cons and if I could live with the worst case scenario…then go for it. I’ve learned the hard way many times, but if I hadn’t been willing to take a risk here and there, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success is loving what you do and getting paid to do it. My heart aches for people who hate their job and only continue to do it for the pay cheque because I know it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Starting my own company has definitely been the most memorable milestone and has resulted in many more milestones and happy memories.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Absolutely!! Anytime you think or hear the word ‘No’, swap it for ‘How?’. If I had stopped every time I heard the word ‘no’ I wouldn’t have a company. The path to success isn’t a straight line so when you hit a roadblock look in every other direction because there’s always a way around. Then, believe in yourself, know that you deserve to love what you do and never give up. My path to success definitely looked just like the lower diagram!
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in Surrey and why?
There are many, but my current fave is TAP restaurant. I love the locally sourced ingredients, small but spectacular French inspired menu, exceptional service and great wine (especially those recommended by the owner/chef/sommelier Alistair Veen). taprestaurant.ca
Where is your favourite thing to do in Surrey and why?
My family loves the recreation centres in Surrey (and we live in Blaine, WA). We have a family pass and love to go swimming and to the gym in South Surrey. There are so many options and love being able to go get some exercise in such beautiful facilities, especially when it’s raining outside.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I spend my “Me” time with my girls and husband. We love travelling to tropical beaches and exploring in our trailer closer to home. My girls are in Girl Scouts and I’m a leader so I spend a lot of spare time doing those activities and planning.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I am really looking forward to returning to Europe in the next few years. We did a whirlwind tour in 2006 before we had kids—6 countries in 2 weeks. I would love to go back to France and Italy when we have more than just a few days to explore an entire country. Being able to experience completely different culture, traditions, people and food within only a few hours of travel is amazing. The wine is great too 🙂
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I have no shortage of ideas…so if I wasn’t focused on injecting new ideas into growing Studiothink then I’d be bringing other business and product ideas to life. Probably something to do with aromatherapy or natural skincare and beauty products.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I’m a Girl Scout leader for a troop of 12 girls Grades 2-4 in Blaine, WA. I want all girls to have the confidence I had as a young person to know they can accomplish anything they set their mind to and there’s no limit to whatever they dream. Girl Scouts is founded on these principles and I try my best to instill this confidence in our group of 12 girls, 2 of which are my own.
Studiothink also has a favourite charity we support in every way we can. It’s called SALI (Semiahmoo Animal League) and is based in South Surrey. They bring together children-at-risk in Surrey with animals that have been neglected or abused, so that together they can help each other heal. We are so proud of how SALI has grown over the past 9 years and for all of the kids and animals they’ve been able to bring joy and happiness to. sali.ca
What does Surrey proud mean to you?
Surrey has made huge strides and done an incredible job rebranding this community as the hotpot for business and lifestyle over the past decade. Big companies and people are moving to Surrey in groves. I feel like Surrey saw and opportunity and jumped on it. They’ve worked hard to accommodate and demonstrate the value of this community around the world and they’ve benefitted as a result. The community feels progressive and always changing, which creates anticipation, excitement and pride. Being part of city that behaves and believes in moving forward to create a better life for all definitely makes me Surrey Proud.