Sitting across from the beaming and energetic Sarah West at Hemingways in Yorkville, you know you’re not about to lunch with an average young woman. Fresh from an interview (she’s applying to be a full-time teacher), Sarah jumps into news of her recent engagement, showing me her stunning ring after I nearly pull her left hand across the table.
It never occurs to me to wonder how she finds the time to pursue her love of teaching and run her very successful promotional staffing business called Coast. To add to that busy schedule, she also has time to attend film, television and commercial auditions – you might have spotted her in a recent McDonald’s ad that went national across Canada. After hearing about all this, one can see how Sarah has enough energy to add yet another task to her busy schedule: planning her wedding. (Photo credit: Helen Tansey).
Coast, the national and elite staffing brand that Sarah is building on her own (she is her one and only permanent staff member), is a special events staffing agency that supplies tasteful, smart, and motivated promotional representatives to rep for more than 10 client brands that Sarah has personally acquired across Canada.
She learnt the ropes of promotional event management by being a rep herself, making connections, and seeing potential where there were faults. This drive and passion for her business is at the root of its success.
The brand idea that Sarah has created is what makes Coast so strong. Her focus is on hiring women and men who aren’t considered to be just ‘models’ and whom she will never expect to behave distastefully or flaunt their bodies for the client. Coast’s strong brand idea is at the root of Sarah’s decisions and having such a strong mission always allows her to make the right business choices.
Business Lesson: When starting out, many people desire to ‘up’ their client roster anyway they can. But it’s important to stay true to yourself and your ideals that you set up before any clients come along, as Sarah has done. She says it takes both courage and discipline to do so. We all need to be able to say no if something doesn’t fit, and not just do something that goes against our morals to get the cheque.
It’s refreshing to see someone so young take on this business perspective. For this reason, well-known national brands such as Harry Rosen, LG, French Connection and Live Nation: Molson Amphitheatre have flocked to this one-stop shop for the best in event promotion. Let’s just say this roster of clients would make any well-known agency salivate.
During our meeting, Sarah and I talk social media. You can find her brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and she also has her own website. I asked whether she would ever be interested in promotional marketing, covering more than just client staffing needs and expanding her business onto the strategic side. It’s on the table, Sarah says, though admitting she has a lot on the table already. No doubt.
Watch for Coast and Sarah to grow exponentially as the summer months approach.