Joanne Thompson: Thompson Landry Gallery

Written by: Frank Iacono

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As Canada’s only gallery specializing exclusively in Quebec artwork, the Thompson Landry Gallery, which officially opened in March of 2006 by Joanne Thompson and her partner Sylvain Landry, has gained international recognition for its unique ability to provide a space in which the spirit and culture of Quebec is encapsulated.

Housed in the heart of Toronto’s Historic Distillery District, The Thompson Landry Gallery, an impressive 7,000 square feet in total, is comprised of two distinct spaces: The Stone Distillery Building and The Cooperage Space. Each gallery offers a dynamic and exciting ambiance that pays homage to the work of both the very best contemporary artists and the Great Masters from the province of Quebec. Appropriately deemed “The Temple of Quebec Art” by the Toronto Star, the Thompson Landry Gallery is the only location where you can find the talent and diversity that Quebec artists have achieved in their work.

Each gallery space simultaneously reflects their architectural history and boasts unique backdrops that emphasize the artwork on display. Painting, sculpture, glass work, and photography are all set against the original limestone and exposed brick and plaster walls. The juxtaposition between the artwork and the rawness of the spaces creates an extraordinary experience for the viewer.

Always on the leading edge of the artwork coming out of the province of Quebec, the Thompson Landry Gallery pushes the boundaries to find work that is both innovative and exceptional.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joanne Thompson and asking her about her early art influences, her background, her specific style of art, her favorite artists, and her passion for being an art dealer.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How and when did you decide to embark in your profession as a gallerist? And, what made you decide to set up shop in the historic Distillery District in Toronto, Ontario Canada?

Joanne Thompson: In 2004 my partner Sylvain Landry and I decided that we wanted to open a gallery in Toronto. The key was finding the perfect place for it. We wanted something that was spacious and had a lot of character. Not something cold and sterile, but a place our clients would feel at home.

The Stone Building at the Distillery District had all those characteristics. I could also design and finish it the way I wanted. We knew we had to build our clientele, so opening in a walking arts district with other galleries, a theatre and one of a kind shops (the Distillery District) made sense to us. It took two years of planning, and we also needed to wait until the Distillery finished the building (late 2005) so that we could move in and finish our space. We finally opened our gallery in March 2006.

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JT: My background is in set design and stage management for theatre. I also worked as a scenic artist in the art department for film and TV. I have always collected artwork, and contemporary Quebec artwork in particular. Artists from Quebec continually asked for my partner Sylvain’s and my opinion on where they should be represented in Toronto. We tried to help them out, but there was never a perfect match. That was when we realized that there was a place in Toronto for a gallery that specialized in the works of contemporary Quebec artists.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Joanne Thompson or the Thompson Landry Gallery, please share with us your education, certifications, training, and/or additional qualifications that you possess?

JT: I graduated in 1993 with an Honours BFA in Theatre – specifically in set design and stage management. That training helped me to be able to think of the design of a room as a whole, and stage management taught me how to be ridiculously organized and deal with pressure. Hanging an exhibition is just a little like producing a theatrical production. I do not have any formal training in curatorial studies or art sales. Being able to visualize a space where the work is to be displayed in three dimensions is of upmost importance to creating a well curated hang.

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I was drawn to Contemporary Quebec artwork in particular because the artists continually push and manipulate the boundaries of their artwork. You can find this in so many ways: in their subjects, their use of mediums, their fearlessness in their approach to their artwork. Nothing supersedes the passion that you can find in their work, and that is something that I truly believe in.

TCS: Can you specifically define what educational path one would take to become a curator?

JT: There are some great universities in Canada that have curatorial and art history courses. For post grad, Sotheby’s Institute of Art has locations in NYC, Los Angeles and London which is a very good way to learn more of the business side of the art world. I believe that interning at an auction house, commercial gallery or museum to get some hands-on experience is always a good idea. Obtaining as much diverse experience as possible is what I would recommend. I would also say that life experience is key. Travelling, visiting galleries, exhibitions and art shows will help to give a better overall perspective of what is happening in the world of art, and will open your mind to new ideas.

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TCS: How have your experiences as an artist shaped your approach to running a gallery?

JT: Coming from a design background I have an appreciation for the time and creative effort it takes for an artist to put together either just one piece, or a full exhibition of works. I think it helps me to understand their process and it makes working together enjoyable and stress free.

TCS: Was there a specific artist that you were most excited about bringing into the Thompson Landry Gallery? And, tell us how you determine which art and artists you will showcase?

JT: I think that the artist I was most excited about bringing onboard at the Thompson Landry Gallery when we first opened 10 years ago was abstract artist, Jean-Pierre Lafrance. He had 35 years of experience and his masterful abstracts are some of the best in Canada. I had collected his works, and respected him as an artist, for many years.

There are several determining factors to choosing artists for the gallery. The first, and most importantly, is we need to love and believe in what the artist does. We always look at whether the artist has something original to say, and do their works consistently share that with the viewer. Finally, it is important to look at whether their works compliment the roster we have already created, and do they add a new perspective and something exciting to the gallery as a whole.

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TCS: Share with us some of the highlights from the Thompson Landry Gallery 2016 Exhibitions? And, describe for us what we can expect in 2017?

JT: 2016 was a very exciting year for us as we celebrated our 10th anniversary of the gallery. We had an enormous exhibition featuring 19 of our painters and sculptors creating over 100 works that were displayed in both galleries. The exhibition was widely attended and was one of the most remarkable displays we have curated to date.

In 2016 we also had very successful solo exhibitions for Marie-Josée Roy and André Pitre.

2017 is proving to already have a thrilling start for the gallery. From January 27th through March 12th we are featuring 2 of our artists, Laurence Nerbonne and Ognian Zekoff, in our Cooperage space in celebration of Light Fest at the Distillery District. These two artists are masters of light and shadow, creating dramatic and emotion filled figurative works.

Also in 2017 we have a fantastic line up of very talented, internationally renowned artists:

  • May 18th – June 4th: Danielle Lanteigne and Dominique Fortin
  • June 22nd – July 9th: Jean-Pierre Lafrance
  • September 6th – 24th: Stikki Peaches
  • November 9th – 26th: France Jodoin

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TCS: Describe for us what you think sets the Thompson Landry Gallery apart from other galleries?

JT: At first glance, when you walk into either of the gallery spaces, the work takes your breath away. The pieces on the walls are dynamic, colourful and created with a passion that exudes from the works. The artwork is lit by a professional who makes sure that the works are experienced at their very best. The spaces are welcoming and invite people to stay for a long period of time and enjoy the artwork. Whether someone walking in is enjoying the gallery for the first time, or if they are a versed collector, they are treated with upmost respect and courtesy. The most important thing for us is that our clients are comfortable and have a very enjoyable and memorable experience.

Also, having 2 separate spaces enables us to have a solo show in one gallery while we exhibit our other artists in the other gallery. This means that there are no lengthy times when artists are not being displayed.

TCS: How has the Thompson Landry Gallery evolved over the years?

JT: After three years of having our first space at the Distillery, we opened our second, Cooperage Space. That increased our square footage from 2700 square feet to 7000 square feet.

We have evolved with the artwork that we represent. As the artwork coming out of Quebec changes, we change with it. We want to stay current and always have something new for our clients to discover at our gallery.

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TCS: Looking back over the first 10 years of operation, what do you consider the most successful exhibit?

JT: A very difficult question because it depends on what you mean by “successful”. Some exhibitions have been very financially successful while others are received incredibly well by both the press and by clients, but maybe do not sell as well.

We held an exhibition called GAIA in August 2012, both inside and outside the gallery. It was comprised of 30 pieces inside and 60 large scale works outside around the Distillery District. The works were photographs taken of the earth, by Guy Laliberté, during the time he spent 11 days in space circling the globe 220 miles from the surface of the earth. These photographs were not colour adjusted in any way, as he wanted to show the earth as it really is. All the proceeds from any sales of these photographs went directly to ONE DROP. ONE DROP is a non-profit organization founded by Laliberté to fight poverty worldwide by ensuring access to clean water now and in the future.

This was a very proud moment for the gallery. We were very happy to be part of such a great cause and such an artistic achievement in large scale photography.

TCS: As an art dealer, what’s the gallery’s greatest achievement?

JT: I believe that the gallery’s greatest achievement is the reputation we have built over the past 10 years. Not only with our clients, but with the artists from Quebec. We treat our artists with the upmost respect. This is very important because the relationship between gallerist and artist is hopefully a lifelong one. I am happy when I can make my artists happy.

My proudest moment was probably at our 10th anniversary celebration last September when I could look around at 19 of our artists and know that we have worked incredibly hard but together we have made the gallery a success.

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TCS: When the Thompson Landry Gallery is closed do you visit other art galleries to look at the work of specific artists?

JT: The life of a gallery owner is not glamourous. It means working 6 to 7 days per week, during both the day and night. My one day off tends to be on Mondays which is a day that all other galleries in the city are also closed. That, sadly, makes visiting the other galleries quite difficult. My partner and I do travel quite a lot and visit many galleries in cities all over Europe. We also take the time to visit galleries and studios in Montreal and Quebec City to see who is being featured, and to find artists that we may not have known about before. We are always keeping our eye open for something new and exciting.

TCS: Do you collect? What artists – aside from the ones you represent – are of interest to you?

JT: Yes, collecting is what created my path to owning and operating a gallery.
I love the following international artists: Sophie Ryder, Jean-Pierre Ruel, Desiréé Dolron, Jonas Burgert, Simon Casson, Nicolas Hicks and Quebec artists: Paul Beliveau, Kevin Sonmore,

I also like to collect the lithographs of Marc Chagall and Jean Cocteau

TCS: What piece of artwork has affected you the most and why?

JT: I do not think that there is one particular work that has affected me more than others. I enjoy and appreciate many forms of artwork and to choose just one is impossible for me.

TCS: What is your mantra and, how does it sum up your life?

JT: Eleanor Roosevelt — “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Jump into everything you do with equal amounts of passion, intelligence and conviction. Live life to its fullest and don’t be scared to try something new.

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TCS: Being a successful art dealer requires both “art” and business skills. What do you think is the optimal mix? Has your opinion on that changed in the past 10 years?

JT: Having business skills are definitely essential to owning an art gallery. That and being able to relate to people, whether it is your clients or the artists you represent. 10 years ago, I didn’t know that being the Director of an art gallery, I would create such long and close relationships with both my artists and my clients, many I now call my close friends. You need to be able to read people and what they need from you.

Having “a good eye” in order to create a hang is where I mostly use my “art” skills. This also comes into use when going into a client’s home and advising them in terms of pieces, size and location.

TCS: What advice do you have for young artists who want to make a living through their art?

JT: Work hard and just keep at it. Find your visual language and the message you want to send into the world and sick by it. But, don’t be scared to try new things. When you are ready to find a gallery to be represented at, do your research and find a gallery that you trust and will well represent you. It is a two-way relationship that will hopefully be very long term.

About Frank Iacono

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Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.stone-gallery-panorama-low-res-jpg

Randy Bates – Haunted Attractions

Written by: Frank Iacono

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Over the years, Halloween has become one of the most celebrated holidays of the year, and this is important as the Halloween season lasts for the whole month of October. With the advent of high tech horror movies and shows coupled with their amazing special effects, haunted attractions strive to create an atmosphere of realism that rival these Hollywood films and television. Now more than ever, people are going to haunted attractions, hayrides, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches.

Haunted Houses in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area are some of the scariest haunted houses in America. And, Randy Bates, better known as the mayhem-keeper, operates two major haunted attractions in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. In 1991, he opened The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride, located on Arasapha Farm in Glen Mills PA, and then in 2009 he became the managing partner of the Pennhurst Haunted Asylum, located in Spring City, PA. Both are highly detailed and themed, and have a combination of high tech animatronics, digital sound and light systems, and professional actors. The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride is a member of America Haunts, the national coalition of America’s best haunted attractions.

With its trilogy of terror that includes The Bates Motel, Haunted Hayride, and The Haunted Corn Maze, Arasapha has been terrifying visitors with some of the most amazing heart-pounding theatrics, Hollywood-style special effects, costumes, props, and trained actors for years. The attraction has garnered national attention and even been named one of the best 13 haunted attractions in America year after frightening year. Additionally, the Bates attractions have been featured in various publications including Haunted Attractions Magazine and Hauntworld as well as on the Travel Channel.

The Pennhurst Haunted Asylum consists of 4 main attractions. The Asylum is a hospital themed walk-through of the first and second floors of the old administration building. The Dungeon of Lost Souls is a medical experiment laboratory gone horribly wrong. Using items found on the abandoned Pennhurst property, this attraction is dark and intense. The Tunnel Terror haunt is located in the subterranean tunnels of the Pennhurst complex: a 900 foot walk-through of the darkest history at Pennhurst. The Ghost Hunt attraction is a self-guided tour of the Mayflower dormitory, reportedly the most haunted building on the premises, and featured on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Randy Bates and asking him a few questions about his farm, his career in the haunt industry, his attractions, his influences, his success and struggles, and the future of the fright business.

Q&A Session

TCS: How and when did you decide to delve into a career in the haunt industry and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Randy Bates: In the late 80’s there was a haunted trail nearby that was a fundraiser for a local historical society. In 1990, they shut down due to damage to their property. In 1991, we decided to run a similar operation, but do it from our hay wagons. For 15 years, we had been doing hayrides and bonfires for church groups, scouts, fraternities, and so on. So, we had the infrastructure in place to start the haunted hayride. I really had no one that inspired me; in fact, I had never heard of haunted hayrides and never went to a haunted house. I always loved scaring people and tormented my sisters and their friends. This is our 26th season and the business has saved our family farm and provides income to over 300 people.


TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Arasapha Farm located in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, can you describe for us the three main haunted attractions and how they have evolved over the years?

RB: The Haunted Hayride began in 1991, Bates Motel opened in 1996, and the Revenge of the Scarecrows Haunted Trail opened in 2000. Each event gets additional props, sets, and scenes each year as we always strive to be the best.


The Haunted Hayride

For over 25 years, the Haunted Hayride at Arasapha Farm has been scaring its visitors with amazing props, digital FX, great actors and extraordinary professional makeup. The Hayride has been featured several times on the Travel Channel and has been rated as the Number 1 Haunted Attraction in America by Hauntworld Magazine, USA Today, and many other national publications. The Haunted Hayride is a 25 minute, action packed, heart pounding ride through the dark forest of Arasapha Farm, located just outside of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and is filled with huge, detailed sets, giant monsters and more pyrotechnics than a Kiss concert. With scenes like a 100’ foot long, 40 foot tall drive thru insane asylum, a full scale mockup of a New England church and a 200 foot long cave, the Haunted Hayride is an amazing example of Hollywood style sets and props. And then there is the scares. With over 75 actors and 25 scenes, it is no wonder why this event is always on the “Top 13” national lists of the best haunted attractions. To celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we have added a new, giant set that will put this year’s hayride over the top. This jaw dropping scene is guaranteed to strike fear in the bravest of souls! And, this year we present the return of the Headless Horseman, one of our customer’s all-time favorites.

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Bates Motel

Don’t forget to check into the Bates Motel, for the most incredible display of terror and mayhem this side of Hollywood. Filled with high tech special effects, digital soundtrack and lighting, the Bates Motel takes Halloween to a new level of horror…up close and personal! With incredible detail and stellar acting, it is no wonder why the Bates Motel is considered one of the best Haunted Houses in America. The realism in this attraction is astonishing, and is guaranteed to wow the experienced haunted house enthusiast. As you creep through this show, you see levitating spirits, floor boards that come alive, pictures that follow you, and incredible, custom animatronic props that you will not see anywhere else. The actors interact with you on a personal level and the screams echo throughout the building! What’s new for this year? You will have to come out and see for yourself! The Bates Motel is a high startle; high action haunted attraction and not recommended for children under 8 or people with heart conditions.

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Revenge of the Scarecrows Haunted Trail

The third show in this Trilogy of Terror at Arasapha Farm is the Revenge of the Scarecrows Haunted Trail. It is a terrifying walk through a tall corn field filled with buildings and sets, tons of animatronic monsters and over 30 actors in full makeup and custom costumes. This event is like no other corn maze in the country and has fast become a favorite at the Bates Farm.

Arasapha Farms Haunted Corn Maze

TCS: When do you start preparing for the Bates Motel haunted hayride and the haunted corn maze and tell us what exactly goes into the overall preparation?

RB: Preparation begins in January. We start with a brainstorming session with our managers and creative staff. Ideas are thrown around and detailed plans are drawn up. Build crew lists materials needed, electronics, lighting, and what props we will need. Over the winter months, our art staff refurbishes older props and creates new ones in our mold and sculpts facility. Construction crew repairs animatronics, adds new features to them, and manufacture new ones in our metal fabrication shop.

In March, our staff attends the Transworld Halloween trade show in St. Louis, Missouri. There, we attend seminars, network with other haunt owners, and search the show for new props, makeup, and ideas. Some of our staff, including myself, hosts seminars for the show. These include safety and awareness, show control operations, makeup, and custom mold making. Once we return from St. Louis, construction begins on the Bates Motel. Rooms are torn out and replaced with new ones. By April construction begins on the hayride, usually with additional trails, sets and props. We have our own sawmill on the farm and produce lumber for many of these sets. By July, we are in full blown construction with as many as 15 employees working full-time.

When we come up with a new idea, the build crew draws up the construction design and a list of materials, the electronics crew determines how the scene will be triggered, lighting, sound effects, foggers, and most importantly, where the scare is. The art crew then decide how the scene will be detailed, paints needed, additional scene decoration and what the characters will be wearing and type of mask or makeup.

All of this is what sets us apart from other attractions is our uniqueness.


TCS: Can you talk about how your key staff members utilize your complete workshop on the premises to create some of the details of each of attraction?

RB: Our facility has a complete metal fabrication section, wood shop, and creative art department. We make our own makeup appliances, masks, and monsters.

TCS: Can you describe the talent search process in becoming an actor for your haunted attractions?

RB: First we ask current employees if they have family or friends that would be interested in working for the attractions. We have a link on our website where potential staff can complete an employment form. We also advertise on Craig’s list. Once we have a sufficient number of potential employees, we hold auditions at the farm. We usually hold these in July and August. My Daughter, Angela handles all hiring and staff placement; an enormous job considering we have over 300 employees. At the auditions, our actor managers put these people thru an intensive workshop to determine if they will be suitable for the long hours and physical stress.


TCS: Which one of your three attractions is the most popular and why?

RB: Our most popular attraction is The Haunted Hayride. This is most likely due to the fact that it’s suitable for all ages. One of my favorite scenes is our collapsing mine shaft. It is something we drew up years ago and still gets great screams. The Bates Motel and Haunted Trail are more intense as the actors and props are much closer to the customers.

TCS: Can you tell us about how your attendance at the Halloween Trade Show in Chicago, Illinois, in 1996 truly impacted your decision to open The Bates Motel attraction?

RB: In 1996, my staff and I attended the Trade show in Chicago, IL. We had pretty much developed in a vacuum with little or no outside influence. When we saw the amazing props, masks, and costumes that were available, it totally blew us away. I attended a seminar given by Leonard Pickel, an authority on haunted houses since the early 1980s. We learned how to design and build a haunt from the ground up. I also attended a seminar on haunted hayrides, eager for great information. It was the most disappointing seminar as the presenter was operating his hayride with customers sitting in the back of a pickup truck! This is when we realized that we were at the cutting edge of hayrides, and even had other haunt owners pumping us for info. During this time, haunters would not exchange info with anyone who had an attraction in the same state. I never had that problem and now attraction owners discuss their operations freely.


TCS: How long have you and your family owned Arasapha Farm? And, can you describe for us some of the other attractions that you’ve implemented over the years to keep the farm running on a yearly basis?

RB: Arasapha farm was purchased in 1952 by my parents Bill and Anne Bates. They raised sheep, chickens and then game birds such as pheasants, quail and fancy birds. They also grew crops. In 1970, my dad and I planted 2000 Christmas trees that we eventually harvested and sold. After my father died in 1982, my wife, two kids and I moved back to the farm to help my mother. Over the years we have developed the farm into an Agritainment venue, with the Halloween events, Daytime children’s events, including bounce houses, farm animal petting zoo, hayrides, corn mazes and other fun games. In 2006, we planted 5,000 trees, and began our Holiday Hayride. This is a ride thru the rolling hills of the farm with huge light displays, festive music, snow machines and live reindeer. We also added a Santa’s workshop, photos with Santa and a gift shop. At all our attractions we offer food and drinks.

TCS: Can you give us at least three “Good to Know” facts about The Bates Motel, Haunted Hayride, and The Haunted Corn Maze?

RB: Three good to know facts are:

  • If you plan to come out on a Saturday night in October, be prepared to wait in long lines. Our attractions have become very popular over the years and the majority of our customers come on Saturday nights.
  • Always wear comfortable shoes as you will be on a working farm.
  • The Haunted Hayride is always the first attraction to close, so make sure you do that event first.

TCS: In your opinion, what do you feel are the key factors in operating a successful haunted attraction?

Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise! To have a successful event, you need a great team. From management staff to artists and IT guys, you must have a complete staff. Marketing is the next most important key to success. A complete marketing plan that includes media ads, print articles, coupons and flyers, and digital marketing is necessary. You also need to have a quality show which will bring in repeat business. Changes to your show are also necessary for the repeaters.


TCS: Within Pennsylvania, there are many well-known haunted attractions so what do you feel makes your attraction stand out from all the other scary destinations?

RB: There are lots of quality attractions in the area. One thing this has done is raise the awareness of Haunted Attractions in the tristate area. PA has become a mecca for travelers looking for the best haunted attractions, and come from all over the US and Canada. Our attractions stand out because of our uniqueness. I don’t attend other shows, so all our ideas are our own. Usually by the end of the season, I’m pretty burnt out, but now that my family is running many aspects for the business, it has taken a lot of stress off my shoulders. I still get excited when we design and build new things, and love watching the customers high five each other after attending.

TCS: Have you embraced social media marketing strategies to promote and market your business?

RB: Yes, we have used social media to market our business and stay connected with our audience via the following vehicles:

  • Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride Website
  • Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride Facebook
  • Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride Instagram
  • Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride Twitter
  • Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride YouTube

TCS: Congratulations on running such a fun and successful attraction for the past 26 years. In that timeframe, what would you say has been the most rewarding and the most challenging aspects of running your haunted attractions?

RB: The most rewarding part is watching my children grow up and become major parts of my business. Also, the thank you’s we get from our customers. For over 12 years, we have made all the top 13 lists, including number one attraction in the country 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Being featured in major publications and on network television, including twice on the Travel Channel has also been rewarding. The most challenging aspects of the business is handling over 300 employees. The hiring, paperwork and actor placement takes a lot of time and effort. We have a backup team ready to fill in when staff call out and that makes for a lot of juggling.

TCS: Describe your role as Managing Partner with the Pennhurst Haunted Asylum?

RB: In 2009, I was approached by the owner of Pennhurst to produce a haunted attraction there. I wrote the business plan and told him that if I was to be involved, that it had to be world class right from the start. The Bates Motel build crew spent most of the spring and all summer in 2010 and opened with two attractions that October. There was a lot of negative publicity surrounding the use of the property, and all my friends said don’t worry, publicity is good. They were right.


Opening night was amazing, with all three major networks and Fox News covering us with live feeds. The first year we built the Asylum haunt and the tunnel of terror. We worked right up until opening day. In 2011, we designed the Dungeon of Lost Souls, a more mainstream themed attraction. My daughter, who handled all the social media marketing, mentioned that many people wanted to see some of the buildings as they were 30 years ago. So we opened the ghost hunt attraction. It became an instant success. Dealing with partners can be difficult at times but we made the best of it. In early 2016 the property owner fell into bankruptcy and was threatened with foreclosure on many of his properties, including the Pennhurst property. A new owner is in the process of purchasing it and will open the attractions this year. I decided to sell my shares in the business, partly to take off some of the stress, and also remove myself from liability issues due to the deterioration of the buildings. The previous owner refused to perform maintenance on the buildings and I feel that they are becoming a serious liability. I wish the new staff well.


TCS: What do you think is the fascination behind people wanting to be scared or frightened? And, do you believe in the Paranormal?

RB: Getting scared is an adrenaline rush for most people. There is the physical as well as the mental reaction that people crave and hate at the same time. We designed our attractions to be like a roller coaster ride. Suspenseful beginning, music to get them on edge, then hit them with the scares. Our ultimate job is to mess with people’s heads, and we have gotten very good at it. As for Paranormal, I feel that some people are tuned into it and others are not. I have worked, alone, in the pitch black darkness in the basement at Pennhurst, and never saw anything. My daughter, who is also a professional photographer is tuned in and has had many experiences both at home and at Pennhurst.

TCS: Yes, I know we should have ended the interview with 13 questions to keep with the freight theme but our audience needs to know where do you see the haunted attraction industry headed within the next five years?

RB: Every year, I attend the Transworld Haunted Attraction Show, now located in St. Louis. Every other year we attend the IAAPA show in Orlando, Florida. We also periodically attend the Mid-west haunter’s convention in Columbus, Ohio. It’s always great to see old friends and make new ones. In 1997, I helped found the International Association of Haunted Attractions, and was a past board member. In 2003, we founded the association called America Haunts, a group of the largest haunted attractions around the country. There were 5 original members and have now grown to 28. This is an invitation only, market exclusive association that works together to promote haunted attractions around the country. We gather at the trade shows and have an annual meeting each year at one of the member’s attraction. The group trades ideas, develops unique marketing strategies and promote our attractions.


In 2005, we hired a film crew and produced a one hour TV show called America Haunts. It was sold to the Travel Channel, who liked to format so much they shot 4 more shows the nest year, filming our new members. In 2010 I helped found the Haunted House Association, with the idea that any trade association should be run by qualified attraction owners. I am a past board member and past president of this group. In 2007, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began requiring Haunted House owners to take a safety course, pass an inspector’s test and file required paperwork with them. I was asked to help write the test and put together seminars specific to haunted attractions. Since then, I teach Code Compliance in Haunted Houses, Hayride Safety, and Outdoor Attraction Safety to new inspectors.

Along with these organizations, I am also a member of our local volunteer fire company, sit on the Delaware County Conservation District board, and am the Vice Chairman of the Edgmont Township Supervisors.

I see the Haunted Attraction industry going the way of Hollywood and video games. Everything is becoming more sophisticated, computerized, and detailed. Someone trying to break in to this business has to put up a lot of money to open and compete. Shows like The Walking Dead on AMC, and all the horror movies that are out prove that there is a huge horror audience. In the Philadelphia market alone there are over 10 major attractions, with many smaller operations. With this much marketing going on, the consumer becomes hyper aware of Halloween haunted attractions, which benefits all of us.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Donna Melanson: Azul Yoga

Written by: Frank Iacono

Donna-Melanson-Headshot

Donna Melanson, ERYT200/ RYT500, is an experienced yoga teacher who teaches weekly classes and special events in collaboration with businesses and corporations in the Boca Raton, Florida area. She has studied yoga principles for years but has been fully teaching since 2011.

Donna is the founder of Azul Yoga and Azul Yoga Institute. She recently graduated her inaugural class of yoga teachers who have been trained in the Melanson Method, which is an amalgamation of the best parts of her training in several yoga disciplines including Vinyasa, Restorative and Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Pranayama, Vedic Thai Yoga, and Meditation.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Donna Melanson and asking her a few questions about her educational and professional background, her perspective on yoga, her wellness philosophy, her daily live video streaming Sunrise Beach Yoga and Meditation on Periscope and Facebook Live, and her upcoming yoga retreat.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How and when did you decide to embark in your profession as a Yoga Instructor and how many years have you been teaching?

Donna Melanson: I became a yoga teacher after years of pursuing all the things that I felt that I should be doing; Go to college, start a family, provide for that family, keep your head down, sacrifice, and work. Divorced, single for ten years, raising children as a single parent, while being self-employed left me feeling very empty. I was very successful in business and then I wasn’t, life happened, as it always does and I found myself reinventing my life. This time I told myself I going to recreate my life in the way I want to live and be in this world.

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At the time I was reflecting and making my decisions I owned 100 acres in the mountains of North Carolina I would go there often and hike the land and commune with nature. It was the first time in many years that I would do something for myself and I felt truly happy and at peace. As I walked in the silence of nature I kept hearing the chant Yoga Yoga Yoga in my head in the way they said Toga Toga Toga in the classic movie Animal House. I wanted to practice yoga at the top of the mountain for some unknown reason. I didn’t know anyone who practiced yoga, and really didn’t know much about it. I must have talked about it a lot because a friend gave me a 30 min VHS gentle yoga tape and a too small too flimsy yoga mat. I started practicing every day and it left me in a deeper state of peace. A state that I could be in without having to go into the woods. I knew then that this was the path that I wanted to go in. This is how I wanted to live in this world. I’ve studied for years and have been fully teaching since 2011.

TCS: In your own words what is yoga? Additionally, please discuss for us some of the benefits yoga has for children, teens, and seniors?

DM: Yoga is the uniting of the body, mind, and spirit, and it’s this union that allows us to live in a more effortless state of being. When are body is settled, our minds become settled, and it allows us to see clearly. In this clarity we connect to the spirit not only within ourselves, but we begin to see this divinity in everyone else as well.

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Yoga is perfect for children, teens, seniors, anyone, and everyone at any age, at any level of fitness, or any ability to stretch. We all have to start where we are with what we have. The first yoga sutra states that yoga begins now. Meaning now in every present moment. Our yoga practice is about introspection, so we’re tuning in to ourselves discovering more about yourself. Noticing habits and patterns while connecting with the true nature of who we are. We practice these things on the mat doing the best that we can in that moment even if the best we can do is just show up and imagine doing the postures in our head that day. We show up, we practice, we get stronger in both our mind and body, and we practice these things on the mat so that we can take them off the mat and into our lives.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Donna Melanson or Azul Yoga, please share with us your education, certifications, training, and/or additional qualifications that you possess?

DM: I’m an experienced yoga teacher ERYT 200/RYT500 and have also had formal training in Yin, Restorative and Vedic Thai Yoga. I’ve had the opportunity and benefit of being with some of the top teachers in this country, I love my training and I love everything about my job, and I will forever continue to be a student of this practice.

TCS: How many different types of yoga do you teach and is there one specific style that you prefer and why?

DM: I teach Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, and Yin Yoga. I prefer the mindful meditative gentle approach to any style I teach.

TCS: As a Yoga Instructor what is your overall wellness philosophy?

DM: Mindfulness.

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TCS: In your opinion, what do you think draws people to yoga and specifically to participate in your program?

DM: I think people are looking for something when they find yoga. And, I’ve often wondered what drawls people to my program. Certainly there are many instructors who are stronger and more adept in the postures, and certainly there are people who are more well versed in every aspect of yoga. But what some have told me it’s just who I am, and I only assume that they yoga has changed me and does affect every sense of my being, and that people feel that.

TCS: What advice do you have for people who have never tried yoga? And, why do you think some people may feel intimidated by yoga?

DM: I think many people are confused about yoga and I have to admit it can be a little confusing if you don’t know anything about yoga because now there are as many types of yoga as choices in types of food. A big difference between a scoop of white rice and a meal that may be served at a fine French restaurant. Many people come to me and think yoga is about stretching, and others think it’s more of a power exercise class, where you need a prerequisite in gymnastics to attend. So it’s no wonder it’s intimidating. Truth is, just like finding what foods you like. You may have to try a few different styles of yoga, and then once you fine a style that resonates with you may need to try like chef’s different teachers to serve that style to you. Whatever style resonates with you will all help to lead you down the same path. Many studios offer yoga basic classes to help you get started. Just remember it’s your time on the mat. Pay attention to your own body and do what’s best for you.

TCS: In a class full of people with wildly different aims, how do you strive to keep everyone engaged and motivated?

DM: There are many factors that can keep people coming to your class or keep them away. All you can do is show up and give the best class that you can at the moment. With the intention that they receive everything that they need at that moment.

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TCS: Can you describe some of the safety precautions you take during your yoga class sessions to prevent injuries?

DM: I’m not a doctor, although I do know a lot about anatomy, therefore I never ask people about injuries. If, however someone wants to talk to me about their injury before or after class I’m happy to talk to them about how they can accommodate to protect themselves. If I witness someone during class struggling I let them know that they are free to come out of the pose. I give everyone permission listen to their bodies and to not do any pose or adjust as needed. Yoga as I said is about self-awareness. We need to learn to tune in and trust our innate intuition on what is best for us.

TCS: Tell us how you discovered live video streaming on Periscope and describe for us your Sunrise Beach Yoga and Meditation?

DM: I’ve been streaming on Periscope for about six months. I started after moving to close to the beach a year and a half ago. I wanted to create the daily habit for myself of yoga and meditation at sunrise at the beach, a desire that come to me during my first yoga teacher training many years before. I started going to the beach every morning and it was so beautiful and t was so inspiring that I felt that I had to share. So over a year ago I started posting photos to my Instagram account with inspirational sayings. While on the beach one morning I ran into a friend who told me about periscope. So I began. That’s how things happen right, it’s about just showing up and just doing it, and you set the intention to help, and hopefully you do. Periscope has propelled me to a higher level. Broadcasting to people from all over the world suddenly gaining well over 20,000 followers and still growing.

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TCS: Describe for us in greater detail the many benefits of some of the more common yoga postures including the following:

DM: Here are some of the more common yoga postures and their specific benefits:

  • Alternate Nostril Breathing – We practice alternate nostril breathing to clear energy pathways. When the left side, which is the feminine side, is clear it brings us more peace and serenity. When the right side, the masculine side is clear it gives us more energy. So when we practice flowing back and forth alternating the nostrils, we balance and get that perfect blend of strength and peace.
  • Child’s Pose – A relaxing posture that is great for digestion. The forward flexion massages the abdominal organs, and helps release muscular tension along spine into the hips. It’s a great time to take a moment to honor yourself, honor your body, and your time on the mat.
  • Downward Dog – Strengthens and stretches the legs, arms, and shoulders. Creates balance, integration, and grounding of the whole body. Helps to calm the nervous system.
  • Gratitude Meditation Meditation – Is meant free our awareness from identifying with our thoughts and what we’re sensing. When we practice gratitude meditation or any meditation where we are concentrating on one thing, be it gratitude, our breath, or a mantra, it’s the first step in learning to have awareness in every moment but not to cling to our thoughts that keep popping into our heads. Aware that they are there but then letting go, as we focus our attention on one thing. Meditating on gratitude specifically allows us to shift our thought to all that is good and working. We shift our thoughts because our thoughts become words, and our words become actions, and our actions become our present reality. We want to live in a world where we have more things to be thankful for, so this where we need to begin.
  • Lotus Pose Increases – Flexibility in the hips, legs, knees, ankles and feet. It strengthens the core and helps to develop good posture.
  • Mountain Pose – Teaches us the basic alignment for all poses. You are grounded and you pause here to witness your conscious thoughts with detachment.
  • Plank – Strengthens your overall body especially your core.
  • Tree – Strengthens the legs and your core for balance.
  • Warrior – Helps to increase flexibility in the hips and shoulders, strengthens the core. In fact, all muscles are engaged as they are in every pose but they’re softened after engagement. We want a little bit of movement in a lot of places. We want all muscles involved and working. So here in this warrior pose is a great place to feel the strength of the warrior and the peace of the yogi. Strong but soft.

Donna-Melanson-Yoga-Poses

TCS: Are there any celebrated situations where you feel you’ve made a huge impact in someone’s life?

DM: I can’t really speak to how huge an impact I’ve made on other people although I have had people come up to me, call me and write me in gratitude. But I can speak to the huge impact I’ve made on my own life. I once looked on the outside as a very lucky and successful person. I had money, cars, and many other “things”, but I wasn’t happy and I tortured myself in my mind with thoughts. That’s what yoga did for me, and it’s why I want to share and teach. I know that happiness starts here, and I want everyone to get to this place of peace.

TCS: What is your mantra and, how does it sum up your life?

DM: My mantra is So hum meaning – I am. I am on the sense that we are connected to all things.

TCS: I understand that you’re planning a Yoga Retreat for your Periscope audience so can you please provide us with specific details regarding your upcoming program scheduled for January of 2017?

DM: Yes, I’m currently planning a yoga retreat for January 2017 – New Year, New Beginning.

The beginning is now. With that, I invite you to join us at the oceanfront Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort in Deerfield Beach, Florida to start the new year with peace, love, and joy on and off your yoga mat. Our five-day/four-night retreat will include two yoga sessions daily, sunrise meditation on the beach, breakfast together, conversations, community and plenty of free time for you to swim, enjoy the watersports, fish from the pier, shop, have a massage or just relax.

Donna-Azul-Yoga-Retreat

Azul Yoga Retreat Information

Contact: Dindy Yokel
Email: dindy@dindycopr.com
Website: Azul Yoga

Stay Connected

I invite you to stay connected with me on the following social platforms:

TCS: For those suffering from low self-esteem and deep rooted emotional issues what specifically do you bring to the table to help them discover and/or focus on making improvements to their overall health and well-being?

DM: That’s a big question, and again I’m not a doctor, but I do know what helped me, and I do believe that the practice can help anyone. There are 8 limbs to yoga, and when we have time to dive deeper into these limbs they all help to get us to that place of peace and self-acceptance. Our minds and bodies are connected so when we practice the totality of yoga. The breathing, the physical practice the mindfulness, the meditation, the observances and restraints. We not only become stronger physically but mentally.

The photography shown in this article was shot by Andrea Blakesberg Photography.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Joleene DesRosiers Moody – Speaker, Writer, and Blogger

Written by: Frank Iacono

Joleene DesRosiers Moody

Joleene DesRosiers Moody is a former central New York television reporter and anchor. During her career in television she helped people through her investigative work and human-interest stories. However, through those years, Joleene suffered the wrath of addiction, loss through death, relationship challenges, and other personal struggles, eventually hitting rock-bottom.

As a reporter and anchor, Joleene saw people fight — and fight hard — to overcome obstacles every day, and it gave her the strength to stand up and do the same for herself. After struggling for years in a place that didn’t satisfy her true personal dreams and desires to write and speak and inspire on stage, she bravely left the security of her job to embark on a journey that allowed her to unearth her greatest dreams and desires while profiting generously at the same time.

Today, Joleene is a powerful keynote speaker, author, blogger, and business consultant. Her message helps those who want to uncover and discover who and what they are truly meant to be and do. As a speaker and trainer, she serves business and organizations, helping them improve communication, speaking and presenting so they are effective selling their message.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joleene DesRosiers Moody and asking her questions about her background as a reporter and anchor, her overall career, her first published book, and her upcoming public speaking engagements.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in working in the television industry as a reporter and anchor? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career in that profession?

I was a local television reporter and anchor in Central New York for ten years. I’ve always wanted to be “in the spotlight,” if you will, and never had a problem being front and center. Since I was a kid, I was intrigued with the notion of being on television. I remember a local commercial for a rug company where the spokesperson was the daughter of the owner. I turned to my Dad and said, “I want to do that someday.” And now I do! Outside of writing and speaking, I actually belong to a talent agency and do local and national commercials all the time. It’s a riot. My ultimate goal is to actually be in a highly distributed film with a significant part. I auditioned for a big movie recently, but wasn’t chosen. I would have been an extra in the background, but hey, it’s a start, right?

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TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Joleene DesRosiers Moody or your overall body of work, please describe for us your career at a glance.

I am a creative soul that inspires other creatives to delve into their passion and discover how to monetize from those passions. As a professional speaker, I deliver keynotes that inspire my audience to “Take Your Voice Back.” Too often we listen to the debilitating voice of others that stomp on our dreams and tell us we are foolish for having them. One is never too old to do or be anything.

I am a writer, too. I LOVE to write. I love, love, love it. And I was guilty of listening to those voices that told me (and still tell me) I can’t ever make money as a writer. So for years I buried the desire. I have recently unleashed the writer beast in me, and am working with a producer in Hollywood on a screenplay that I’ve written. I also had the honor of seeing a comedic play I wrote unfold on the stage here in Syracuse, New York. I am the author of three books and most recently, started a blog. I am also a ghost blogger for other entrepreneurs. Additionally, I am a business magazine journalist and columnist. As outgoing as I can be, it seems I’ve become more complacent to stay home with my dogs and write, write, write. I am following my passion and learning how to monetize from it. I can’t think of a better way to live life.

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TCS: How do you think being a former central New York television reporter and anchor prepared you for your career as a creative coach, speaker, author, and playwright?

Oh, what a great question. As a reporter, I learned how to ask questions that evoke emotion. As an anchor, I learned how to look confident, even when I wasn’t. I also learned how to write short, powerful, accurate stories. I learned how to get to the point. I’ve been a magazine journalist for the past 9 years. Let me tell you, I am LUCKY. My editor really appreciates my work. Too often in too many newsrooms, the reporters and journalists are considered “a dime a dozen.” So if one leaves, it’s no big deal. They are quickly replaceable. I recently had words with my editor over an incident and told him I was done writing for him. I have to say, I wasn’t very nice. I fully expected him to watch me happily walk out the door. But he didn’t. He didn’t want me to quit writing for him. He told me my work was valuable and was actually changing the readership of the magazine. Honestly, I was stunned. Freelance writers are everywhere. He could have told me good-bye and to not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out. But he didn’t. He clearly valued me and my work. That situation improved our relationship.

Being a reporter also taught me how to sell, believe it or not. There is nothing like knocking on the door of a mother that just lost her child and asking her to let me shine a light in her face and shove a microphone under her nose. I am the LAST person she wants to talk to. I quickly learned compassion. I made our conversation about her. I never made it about me. Sure, I had to have my story written and edited for the 5 o’clock news and sure, I had to compete with other stations and getting her reaction would put us at the top — but when I learned to really feel the struggle and come in as a compassionate, genuine person, I was often successful. It’s like that with sales. Don’t be pushy. Be real. It will take you miles. This is also what made me a successful business coach. I don’t coach anymore, but when I did, I turned out very successful, happy clients. They trusted me. And they trusted me because I was real.

 

TCS: Can you give us at least three “Good to Know” facts about you?

  • I love dogs. I often toy with the idea of starting a rescue on three acres of land. However, I kind of need to have the land first.
  • I don’t take shit from anybody. I’m 43 years old. I’m living for me. As loving as I am, I’m not afraid to tell someone how I feel.
  • I am a neat freak. My house is always in order, always clean.

TCS: Tell us about the concept behind your first paperback book released in 2012 entitled Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary?

I wrote Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary two years after I left my career in news. What I did was brave. It was bold. I quit my job with no plan. Well, sort of. My plan was to become a speaker and writer. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know how to do it, but I knew I would figure it out along the way. And I did. So I wrote the book to inspire others to do the same. I don’t mean I expect everyone in the world to quit their jobs if their unhappy, but I think sometimes the right words from the right person can nudge them in the right direction. I am a huge risk taker — so for me to quit without a “sure thing” to step into was quite shocking to many. 95% of the population wouldn’t do that. But the truth is, when your back is up against the wall, you will always figure it out.

TCS: From Memoirs of Normalcy, can you tell us specifically what you mean by “Do I Stay? Or Do I Grow?

You can either stay where you are, miserable, afraid, and unhappy, or you can grow into the remarkable soul you were meant to be. An alarming number of people choose to stay. My work with my voice and my words is to encourage them to grow.

TCS: Share with us some of the details surrounding your recent conversation with follow motivational and inspirational keynote speaker Patrick Schwerdtfeger?

I bought Patrick’s course on how to find paid speaking opportunities to see how it compared with my own experience. I have two audio courses and two e-books that teach people this very thing, but I wanted to see what I didn’t know. After going through the course, there were some “holes” in the information that still had me asking questions. So I emailed him and asked him if I could buy an hour of his time to fill in those holes. He agreed. I paid him $125 bucks and asked him whatever I wanted. He was great. He was very professional, very on point. I wanted to record him so I could take notes and refer back to our talk, but I couldn’t find my digital recorder. So I attempted to record him on my computer, but the app kept freezing. All I could think was, “Universe, why don’t you want me to have this information?” I know now it’s because the Universe has been pushing me to write first and speak second. Of course I got TONS form it, but he gave me specifics that I couldn’t write down fast enough. ANYWAY…it turns out I was doing and teaching exactly what he was, only he makes the search a full-time gig. It’s a LOT of work looking for paid speaking opportunities, but once you get in on the ground floor of a few, you’re golden.

TCS: Tell us about what you mean when you say “Take Your Voice Back” in a powerful 3-minute video you created back in November of 2014?

Oh my gosh, I forgot about this video! I created it for an international speaking organization and they put it in their virtual newsletter. The idea of the “Take Your Voice Back” campaign is to encourage others to stop letting others speak for them. To stop letting others take your voice away when you express your wants and desires. I seriously believe that’s why so many of us are crippled in fear; we take the opinions of others as gospel. If we are told at an early age that we can’t have something, we believe it. And so we “stay” unhappy. When we decide to take our voice back, all of that changes — and we step into a place where we really can live out our dreams and desires.

 

TCS: Provide us with some background on the podcast you did on the topic of “Kicking Fear in the Face”?

Ah, that was a fun podcast to do. “Kicking Fear in the Face”. Yeah. We can never fully get rid of fear. It’s the polar opposite of love, and without fear we wouldn’t know love. That being said, we have to learn how to go through life with fear by our side. That doesn’t mean we have to accept it and let it take us over, it simply means we have to learn how to manage it. I like to “kick” it out of my way. Once I do, I am able to stand firmly in front of someone and say, “Look. You are struggling in business and it’s killing you. It’s hurting you. Here’s how I can help.” By finding someone’s pain, you can make them understand that they won’t successfully grow in business until they admit they are IN pain…and are willing to do something about it. So much fear keeps them from making a phone call or having a conversation that could sell their services. They are scared to death that selling means they are being pushy. Well, it’s only pushy if you make the close of the sale about YOU. Remember, make it about them.

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TCS: Can you share with us some of details surrounding your podcast appearance on Business Women Rock entitled “How to Build a 6 Figure Speaking and Consulting”?

I invest in myself regularly. For 8 months, I was a guest on a series of Podcasts because I hired Jessica Rhodes, Founder and CEO of Interview Connections www.interviewconnections.com, to book me. She booked me at least 3 to 4 times a month. Those interviews helped me grow exponentially.

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TCS: Have you embraced social media marketing strategies to promote and market your business?

Yes, I have used social media to market upcoming speaking engagements, and stay connected with my audience via the following vehicles:

  • Facebook – I’ve utilized Facebook ads and I DON’T love them. I think entrepreneurs and coaches have infiltrated this marketing practice to the point that it’s often unbearable. I never liked doing them. I never really profited from them, either. I know lots of people have, so let me be clear that I’m only sharing my experience.I don’t post much on Facebook these days, unless I’m sharing a post of a missing dog, or sharing my upcoming #Blab episode for my show called #SpeakerPro. Blab is a Twitter platform. It’s live video and is often used to host live interviews. I focus on a topic for speakers, invite expert guests, and viewers can come into the room to watch and listen.
  • Twitter – I tweet every day. That’s been my goal the last three months. I never really engaged in Twitter until then. I use Tweetdeck to “stack” my tweets. It’s driven more traffic to my site and helped me sell lots more eBooks.
  • YouTube – I used to do video blogs called ‘Rapid Fire Coaching,’ so I utilized YouTube that way. Now I use YouTube to upload my #Blab interviews.
  • Pinterest – I utilize Pinterest to promote to “Take Your Voice Back,” the insanely honest, fun, and highly informational blog for creative entrepreneurs
  • Instagram – I utilize Instagram to market the “Take Your Voice Back,” blog to creative entrepreneurs
  • Google + – I don’t really use Google+. I never really got into it. I have an account, but I’m not active on it.

TCS: Nowadays, what does an average workday consist of for Joleene DesRosiers Moody?

It really does vary. Some days I stay home all day, writing in my jammies. If I’m not writing, I’m searching for speaking gigs. If I’m not searching for speaking gigs, I’m stacking my tweets for Twitter. If I’m not stacking, I’m tinkering with my website. If I’m not tinkering, I’m traveling to a gig. No single day is ever the same.

 

In an article entitled “Use Failure As A Lesson For Growth” can you describe for us what was the most eye-opening failure that you experienced?

Definitely the bombed talk I speak about in that article. That particular article is my column, Entrepreneurs Edge, which is published monthly in the business magazine I write for. I chose to write about my bombed talk because:

  • It happened in the region where the magazine is published and I knew all eyes would read it,
  • Every single person in the world is going to have something horrible happen to them that is going to make them want to run and hide.

This was eye opening because it made me realize that not everyone is going to love me. Innately, we all want to be liked and accepted. But the truth is, that’s never going to be. Having that experience made me realize that we always have miles to go in love, life, and in business. We never truly “arrive.” Life is a journey, right? Even as a seasoned speaker, I am still prone to mistakes. For those that didn’t read the article, I delivered a comedic/inspirational talk that was NOT well received. It happens. It took me several weeks to get over it. But I learned. And while I doubted myself as a pro for a little while there, I came out even more humble than before, which made me realize that humility is an incredible gift.

 

TCS: Tell us about the most exciting personal leadership productivity keynote speaker event you’ve participated in and are there any upcoming speaking engagements we should know about?

I would have to say it was in 2012 when I spoke for the New York State Association of Tax Receivers and Collectors (NYSATRC). These people were thirsty for motivation. It was a private speaking event with roughly 150 people in the room. I sold 100 books that day. They LOVED the message of taking their voice back. That room went from tired and exhausted to alive and hopeful. I don’t have any public speaking engagements scheduled for 2016. Most of what I do now are private (e.g., Colleges, Business Retreats).

TCS: What is one significant message you want to convey to someone attending your public speaking engagements?

Stop listening to other people that don’t follow their heart. Seriously. One of my favorite quotes is from Brene Brown: “If you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

When we lament about what we want to do with our lives and how we want to do it, we are getting our asses kicked emotionally. When someone gives us their feedback on why we shouldn’t do something and how it won’t work and blah, blah, blah, we need to remember those very words. DO WHAT YOU WANT. Who gives a “bleep” what others say. If they can’t have it, neither can you. That’s basically what they’re saying when they tell you your dream is foolish. I want my listeners and readers to go after it anyway.

Books from Joleene DesRosiers Moody

How to Write a Talk That Sells

How to write a Talk that sells
How to Write a Talk That Sells is specifically for those that need guidance with delivering talks that sell. And by sell, I mean talks that transform and move listeners to take action and buy from you, whether you deliver a keynote or a presentation. In the end, the right people will be attracted to you and your work. They will follow you on social media and attend your workshops. They will buy your books and contract to work with you.

How To Find and Create Paid Speaking Opportunities

joleen_desrosiers-moody-book
How To Find and Create Paid Speaking Opportunities is for creative artists, writers, speakers, entertainers, and entrepreneurs that want to make money doing what they love. It’s for any creative soul, really, any divine heart that wants to tell his or her story by speaking and teaching their truth. This book is going to show you how to do that. You will be successful at this, but you must be diligent and dedicated.

Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary

Memoirs-of-NormalcyMemoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary chronicles the story of how Joleene left her television news job while inspiring others to follow their own passions and talents to create a profitable and fulfilling career. For many, it gave them the courage they needed to leave behind the places, people, and things that caused them pain. Discover how a few simple changes, coupled with faith, can give you the life and the work you long to have.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

The Creative Spotlight: 2015

Written by: Frank Iacono

2015-Spotlights

The end of the year causes us to reflect, and in this spirit, I thought it would be fun to recount The Creative Spotlight blog posts from 2015. When it comes to The Creative Spotlight, the goal is simple. Introduce readers to the best local and national musicians, artists, actors, business owners, motivational speakers, photographers, and other published authors. Consider The Creative Spotlight as the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered talent, reading exciting interviews, learning helpful tips and tricks, and news that you can use…plus lots of great ideas for enriching your life and enjoying yourself.

As we welcome 2016, we want to make sure that you did not miss any of the 18 articles from 2015. This blog includes a complete, categorized list of The Creative Spotlight posts that were published in 2015.

January 2015

Marilyn Russell: Morning Show Host

March 2015

Chris LeGrand: Rolling Stones Tribute Band

April 2015

Neill Byrnes: Draw The Line Aerosmith Tribute Band

Shaun Benson: Actor and Director

May 2015

Carolyn Bennett-Sullivan: Author

June 2015

Dawn Botti: Singer and Songwriter

July 2015

Joanna Maria Morales Miarrostami: Artist

Sheila Brown: Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast 

August 2015

Travis Clark: We The Kings

Duffer’s: Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor

Ages Apart: Alternative Rock Band

Jack Morey: Morey’s Piers

Derek Crider: Singer and Songwriter

September 2015

Everything Falls: Modern Rock Band

Aandra Bohlen: Business Coach

October 2015

Michelle Antonucci Smith: Zumba® Fitness Instructor

November 2015

Meisha Johnson: TV Personality

Karen Mansfield: Singer And Songwriter

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Michelle Antonucci Smith: Zumba® Fitness Instructor

Written by: Frank Iacono

Michelle-Antonucci-Smith

Michelle Antonucci Smith is licensed to teach Zumba®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba Toning®, Zumba Senato®, Zumba Step® and Zumba Kids® and has been a Zumba® Instructor since 2011. She is an active member of the Zumba Instructor’s Network. Her goal is to have people leave her class sweating, smiling, and wanting more.

For Michelle, the most important thing to her when she teaches Zumba® is to make it a great experience for her students ─ just have FUN! She has a passion for leading and promoting a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and nutritional cleansing. She was able to lose 40 lbs. by living a healthy lifestyle and now is passionate about helping others reach their fitness and health goals. Her high energy classes have been presented throughout New Jersey and in Europe. Today she continues to travel, learn, teach, and share her love for movement with the world.

Michelle’s success as a Zumba Fitness Instructor is highly attributed to the loving support of her family, friends, teachers, and passionate Zumba lovers along the way. She loves to provide “exercise in disguise” through Zumba, inspiration, motivation, and consistent encouragement for her clients. She is also a mom to two very active boys. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her friends and family, reading, and going to the beach.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Antonucci Smith and asking her a few questions about her career as a Zumba®, her background, her certifications, and her high energy class sessions.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in Zumba®? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as an instructor?

Michelle Antonucci Smith: Zumba® Fitness is a total body workout, combining all elements of fitness – cardio, muscle conditioning, balance, flexibility, and boosted energy. Zumba® takes the “work” out of workout, by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Zumba® Fitness classes are often called exercise in disguise!

I started taking Zumba® classes in 2005. I just had my second child and was looking to get back in shape. I immediately became addicted to the classes. After being a student for 6 years, I decided to become a Zumba® Instructor.

Michelle-Antonucci-Smith-Zumba

TCS: Are you a certified Zumba® instructor? And, do you have any other certifications?

MAS: I am licensed to teach Zumba®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba Toning®, Zumba Senato®, Zumba Step® and Zumba Kids®. I am also active member of the Zumba® Instructor’s Network (ZIN). I received my license in February of 2011. Although I love to take other types of fitness classes such as weight training classes, spin, yoga, etc. I only teach Zumba® Fitness.


TCS: Do you think that Zumba® is a lot like high impact aerobics? If so, why?

MAS: Zumba® is similar to high impact aerobics in the sense that it is a cardio workout. However, the premise of Zumba® is to combine both high and low intensity songs to create an interval type training. Studies have shown that people tend to burn more calories via interval training than with a comparable period of steady-pace exercise.


TCS: Where are you currently holding your Zumba® classes?

MAS: I am definitely a gym rat! I do not own my own studio but I teach at various gyms. You can find my complete schedule on http://www.zumba.com. I work at several Work Out Worlds, Meridian Fitness, Brick Fitness for Women, and Gold’s Gym ─ all located in the Monmouth County New Jersey Shore area.


TCS: Why do you think people are going so crazy for Zumba®? And, what is the age group of the people that participate in your Zumba® classes?

MAS: In the beginning, many “experts” claimed that Zumba® was just another fad. However, I disagree! Zumba® was created by founder Beto Perez in the mid 1990’s. I think it has only gotten more popular with each year. The reason so many people go crazy for Zumba® is simple. The moment the beat drops, it is an instant party. There is no other class that I have taken at any gym where people are smiling, laughing, and having fun from start to finish AND getting in an amazing workout at the same time. You can expect lots of smiles, sweat, and laughs in a Zumba® class, not to mention the kick ass music! I have students in high school, college, stay at home moms, and retirees, so there is no set age group for Zumba ─ young and old all have a great time, not to mention that both women AND men attend my classes.


TCS: For those who’ve never taken Zumba®, what does a beginner need to know before taking a class? Do you have any tips for newbies?

MAS: My class rule is: “Smile, Have Fun, and LOVE Pitbull.” My best tip for a newbie is to go into a class just expecting to have fun. Don’t get caught up in worrying about making a wrong move. There are no wrong moves in Zumba® ─ only accidental solos. All the gyms I teach at, and most gyms in general, offer either a free day or free week pass, so I encourage everyone reading this to just try a class. I recommend wearing either a cross-training sneaker or a dance sneaker. Popular brands such as Ryka, Bloch, Capezio, and Sansha have dance sneakers. Zumba® Fitness also has their own line of dance sneakers.


TCS: Are there certain Zumba® classes designed specifically for beginners?

MAS: Zumba® is a perfect class whether your fitness level is at a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. The key is that each individual go at their own pace and the moves can be modified to the individual’s level. However, there is a specialty Zumba® class called Zumba Gold®. Zumba Gold® is geared towards the active older adult who is looking for a modified Zumba® class that recreates the original moves they love at a lower-intensity. You can take a Zumba® class every day if you like but if you are new to exercise in general, then I would recommend 3 x a week to start.

TCS: What if you are not coordinated and can’t dance can you still take a Zumba® class?

The biggest comment I hear from someone that has never attended a class is that they are intimated to try Zumba® because “they are not coordinated.” I want people to know that they do not have to be superstar dancers or be super coordinated to take a class. The key to Zumba® is to just let go and have fun!


TCS: Will Zumba® help adults get in shape and lose weight?

MAS: Zumba® is an amazing cardiovascular workout. Many of my students have lost weight after they started taking classes but you have to combine it with the right nutrition if you really want to see results. To achieve a safe weekly weight loss the emphasis is really 80% on nutrition and 20% on exercise. The amount of calories you can burn in Zumba® depends on a few factors, but the average is between 500 to 1,000 calories per hour of Zumba®.

TCS: Can Zumba® classes help adults increase their focus, establish self-confidence and enhance coordination much like karate?

MAS: That is a great question and yes to all! Learning the dancing moves in Zumba® can greatly improve coordination. Zumba® routines, thanks to their dancing roots, can lower inhibitions (in a good way). Zumba® will improve your posture, which will naturally increase your confidence, and slowly mastering routine after Zumba® routine will increase your confidence in a Zumba® class and everywhere else.


TCS: What kind of music is played during your Zumba® class? Do you allow the students to make song requests?

MAS: One of my favorite parts about being a Zumba® instructor is the variety of music that I can expose my students to. In a typical Zumba® class the emphasis is on Latin and International music. The 4 core rhythms are Merengue, Cumbia, Reggaeton, and Salsa. I will always have those 4 core rhythms in my class. However, I may also feature a Tango, Flamenco, Bollywood, Quebradita, Bachata, African, Belly Dancing, Axe, Calypso, Soca, or Latin Pop. I will also include current pop music ─ including my favorite artist Pitbull because my students love to dance to songs that they are familiar with. I love when students request a specific song!

TCS: Is there a high demand for Zumba® instructors? And, what is the best way for someone to find a local Zumba® instructor or class?

MAS: There is definitely a high demand for Zumba® classes and most gym schedules offer a variety of days and times for Zumba® because it is still one of the most popular group fitness classes to take. However, there are so many women and men that have become licensed to teach, that it may be difficult at times to find a class to teach if you are a new instructor. The best way to find a licensed instructor is to:

  • Go To Zumba.com
  • Select Find a Class in Your ‘Hood!
  • Enter Your Zip Code
  • Hit Search Classes
  • View The Available Classes in Your Area. Only Licensed ZINS Can Add their Class Schedule.

Zumba-Find-A-Class

TCS: If a student is unable to make it to a class, do you recommend any good Zumba® DVDs?

MAS: Zumba® has several DVD’s but the two most popular are the Zumba® Fitness Super Cardio Dance Party, and Zumba® Fitness Exhilarate Body Shaping System DVD Set. Zumba® Fitness also has some amazing video games for both Wii and Xbox 360. However, in my opinion nothing beats a live class!

TCS: Why do some Zumba® Instructors wear one pant leg up and one pant leg down? Is it all about attitude? And, do you do that too?

MAS: That style did not originate with Zumba® but was a mid-90s trend first spotted in LL Cool J’s “Hey Lover” music video in 1995. The style quickly became one of the trends that personified that era of hip-hop style. I don’t really see many Zumba® instructors doing that any longer. For me, it is all about the Capri pants or Harem pants.


TCS: In what ways do you market your business and stay connected to your audience?

MAS: I market my business and stay connected with my audience via the following vehicles:

TCS: Why do some Zumba® Instructors wear tassels on your pants? What does it mean? And, do you wear them?

MAS: When I first started teaching Zumba® in 2011 the tassel pants were big in Zumba®, but again most instructors I know do not wear them. We do a lot of booty shaking in Zumba® so having tassels, does make it more fun!

TCS: Why don’t some Zumba® Instructors verbally cue their students or talk more during the class? What is your style preference?

MAS: The traditional Zumba® class emphasizes non-verbal cueing, as it offers many benefits to a class. Non-verbal cueing allows the instructor and students to feel the music and enjoy the party atmosphere of a Zumba® Fitness class. I am not like most instructors, and I do wear a headset. I definitely keep the party atmosphere going and only use the headset at a minimum for basic cues, but I find that my students appreciate both the combination of verbal and non-verbal cueing that I offer.


TCS: Why do you think Zumba® instructors are so different from one another?

MAS: This is the most important point that people should take away from this article. You can take a Zumba® class with 20 different instructors, and each class will be completely different. One of the best things about being an instructor is the total freedom Zumba® gives us to add our own flavor and style ─ as long as we follow the basic guidelines Zumba® provided to us. It is key that students try a variety of instructors, in order to find a few that they connect with the most.

TCS: Is there any other information that you can provide to someone interested in Zumba® that we didn’t cover in the interview already?

MAS: I think we covered just about everything. I hope to see some of your readers in my Zumba® class with one pant leg up and tassels swinging!

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Aandra Bohlen: Business Coach

Written by: Frank Iacono

Aandra-Bohlen-Header

Ever thought you’re not good enough, wondered if anyone would ever pay for what you offer, and are scared out of your mind to take big risks in your life? If you have then Aandra Bohlen is the right prescription for your state of mental health. Aandra will boost your confidence and clear your mindset so you’ll have what it takes to start and run a successful business.

Aandra is a 6-figure (soon-to-be 7-figures) Entrepreneur, Business Consultant, and Certified Empowerment Coach who’s not afraid to ask tough questions. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, nine to fiver, or seasoned entrepreneur, she helps business owners cultivate grit, clarify their ideas, set boundaries, and bust limiting beliefs so they can create, awaken, or maintain the business and lifestyle of their dreams.

Aandra is extremely passionate and highly energetic. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she helps clients create a balanced, healthy, passionate, and purposeful life. She finds creative ways for clients to share their passions and live the kind of lifestyle that doesn’t require them to give up freedom for money. She understands and respects that everything that her clients need is already within them. They just sometimes need the support of a consultant or coach to help draw it out.

So, if you’re prepared to go full-speed in your life and biz then you need to contact Aandra Bohlen today. Aandra provides telephone coaching services, holds classes and workshops, and offers entrepreneur tips, tricks, and other information through her website and social media avenues such as Facebook and Periscope.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aandra Bohlen and asking her questions about her career, her Biz B.A.B.E community, her Craft Camp, and her upcoming speaking engagements.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with you or your work, please describe for us your overall career at a glance?

Aandra Bohlen: I’ve worked with aspiring and new entrepreneurs for the last 8 years working with them on the basic fundamentals to launching a business but mostly incorporate my coaching into the sessions by working with my clients to remove the resistance, cultivate confidence, and bust limiting beliefs that are standing in the way of launching their business.

Aandra-Bohlen-Gritty

TCS: What would you say are the major similarities and differences between working with individuals and/or companies as a consultant and a coach?

AB: I actually don’t work with companies. I work with solo and soulful entrepreneurs who are ready to own their power and activate their gifts within to be of service to the world through their business.


TCS: What personal qualities do you feel that you bring to the individuals and/or companies that you work with that helps them develop into successful entrepreneurs?

AB: The greatest gift I bring to my clients is the intuitive ability to help them clear the blocks that are holding them back from launching their business. In reality, many aspiring entrepreneurs lack the skills, but that can be taught. What really holds them back is the WILL to see themselves as the entrepreneurs they aspire to be which is where I come into play. I am gifted in helping them build while breaking down and break through to their own gifts within.

Aandra-Bohlen-Freedom

TCS: Tell us about what you mean when you say it all starts with grit?

AB: GRIT is the success trait that is going to distinguish and develop the mental toughness required to be a successful entrepreneur. To be “gritty” means that you are willing to see your goals through LONG TERM, that your spirit can not be shaken in spite of the fears, obstacles, or setbacks. It essentially is saying that you have a GROWTH mindset vs. a FIXED mindset. I love talking about grit because in my experience it is the ONE indicator that is shared by some of the most successful entrepreneurs out there. From Oprah Winfrey to Gary Vaynerchuk they possess GRIT; courage, passion, delayed gratification, resilience, and guts.

To find out how gritty you are you can download the FREE guide to grit and take the test at http://aandrabohlen.com

Aandra-Bohlen-Grit

TCS: Please describe how aspiring entrepreneurs typically get tripped up in stop-start cycles.

AB: This is a cycle that I myself have found myself in. It’s not just exclusive to new entrepreneurs. Even the most successful entrepreneurs can find themselves feeling stuck or spinning but they quickly remember and move themselves through any fear, resistance, or confusion. Let’s face it, to own a business requires a hell of a lot more than intellect. It requires courage and confidence. Yet so many doubt themselves, lack the confidence, and struggle with discovering how they really want to show up in their business. This is where they start, then stop, then start, then stop again… They get in their own way. I specifically coach clients on how to stop the vicious cycle by first TELLING THE TRUTH about what it really is that is creating the “stop” in their journey to becoming a business owner. And let’s face it, this is NOT for everyone. Right now, it’s alluring. Everyone wants to be their own boss, but very few have what it takes. By working with me, I focus on helping clients develop and strengthen the characteristics that will need to be in place in order to own a business.


TCS: Provide us with some details concerning your four week group coaching Craft Camp that takes participants from refining to shining?

AB: This camp was created in response to many Periscope viewers saying they had no clue what their business point of view was and couldn’t clearly articulate WHO they serve and how to serve them. This is a group coaching program where I take the clients through identifying their core message, gaining clarity on who they truly want to serve, and developing their first of offer and how to present this offer to the marketplace. This essentially is helping them develop the foundation of their business. I’ve decided to beta-test this with the first wave of students which began on July 16, 2015 and the next wave began on July 30, 2015.

To stay connected with me and discover any future opportunities to take this course, please join my Biz BABE Facebook Mastermind group at http://aandrabohlen.com/joinbizbabes.

Aandra-Bohlen-Social-Media

TCS: Can you please provide us with specific details about your Biz B.A.B.E community?

AB: Biz B.A.B.E.S is a private FREE non-spammy mastermind community I’ve created on Facebook to bring bold, ambitious, beautiful entrepreneurs together who are ready to soar. Think of this group as a band of like-minded souls who want to position themselves where they are emotionally and spiritually walking their authentic, passionate, and profitable entrepreneurial path alongside other BABES. I’ve made it my mission to provide expert business advice, mindset support, peer support and exclusive mentorship from me, a six-figure business owner who has made it my mission to help other entrepreneurs achieve high levels of success. For now, this is a free group. However, because of the value that is given and the time I spend interacting with the group, it may at some point be even more exclusively available through a membership based entrance fee. So if you want to come on… come now!

Aandra-Bohlen-Biz-BABES

TCS: Tell us about the most exciting personal leadership productivity keynote speaker event that you’ve participated in? And, are there any upcoming keynote speaker engagements we should know about?

AB: The most powerful personal leadership group I participated in was with John C Maxwell on the 21 Laws of Irrefutable leadership. I am currently opening myself up to begin speaking with my first engagement set for October 17, 2015, in Tempe Arizona and the Spirit of Business Conference at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.

For more information or event registration, please contact me 480-944-9244.

TCS: In what ways do you market your business, speaking engagements, and stay connected to your audience?

AB: I market my business, upcoming speaking engagements, and stay connected with my audience via the following vehicles:

Aandra-Bohlen-Straddling

TCS: As a Business Consultant and Certified Empowerment Coach, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as instructor and mentor?

AB: The greatest challenge I’ve faced to date was in re-identifying who I really wanted to serve. Just as I coach many entrepreneurs to claim who they serve, I found myself serving aspiring entrepreneurs who were eating up my help and support but weren’t taking the opportunity to grow themselves, thus their business seriously enough to actually invest in themselves through my courses and private coaching offerings. As a result, I recognized that my ideal client profile will evolve as I continue to evolve, thus I need to follow my own advice and continue to refine this as I’m clarifying who the best fit is for me. So while I still work with entrepreneurs I now will work with any entrepreneur whether they are new, aspiring or slightly seasoned who recognizes that they are stuck, stalling, or spinning in the gap and need me to help them up level and push themselves through the knothole, thus the gap to get to the other side of it.

TCS: Can you share with us a time when the training or coaching you delivered resulted in significant bottom line results for an individual and/or company?

AB: Because most of my coaching is mindset there are a ton of victories I can share when my clients are stuck in a space of inactivity and spinning. The bottom line for them is STARTING and that in itself is a success! Most recently one of my clients who was playing small in their business, as a result of our time together with my coaching/consulting they increased their prices and are now set to push through the first level of six-figures this year!

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Regina Long: Duffer’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor

Written by: Frank Iacono

Duffers-Wildwood-NJ

In Wildwood, New Jersey Duffer’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor is known simply as the “Best Scoop in Town!” However, this third generation family-run business is more than just your typical ice cream shop. Duffer’s combines the perfect ingredients to create an atmosphere conducive to family-driven fun.

Duffer’s can satisfy nearly every vacationer’s definition of the word “fun”. For those seeking a hardy breakfast, look no further. Served from 8am to 1pm, breakfast at Duffer’s restaurant can be enjoyed by early and late risers alike. Duffer’s offers a variety of classic and specialty homemade pancake choices, omelets, breakfast burritos, sunrise croissants, and Belgian waffles. With its cream cheese filling and topped with fresh strawberries, powdered sugar and whipped butter, the Stuffed French Toast is another must-try breakfast specialty. Afternoon visitors enjoy an equally varied lunch menu from fresh salads to steak sandwiches and from gourmet burgers to chicken wraps served from 11:30 a.m. Dinner guests enjoy an array of both American specialties and fresh-caught seafood specialties, from stuffed flounder, fried shrimp and deep sea scallops to homemade crab cakes.

Outside, Duffer’s features a challenging 18 hole nautical theme mini-golf course. This course allows golfers to tee up at the foot of a huge sand castle or a few feet from the tentacles of a giant purple octopus. It is perfect for the “gone to the beach” mood of the shore town’s patrons. Finish up the game at the shipwreck of the final hole where you putt for a chance to win a free round of gold during your next visit.

On the inside, Duffer’s video arcade has games for family members of all ages including Jurassic Park, Kung Fu Panda, and Batman. Additionally, they offer many amusing games for the little ones too like Gold Fishin’, Fishbowl Frenzy, and Spider Stomp just to name a few. Make sure to save all game tickets. Duffer’s arcade includes a prize redemption center where gamers can choose between tons of prizes ranging from Fun Dip to gumball dispensers.

When golfers and gamers work up an appetite, they can head into restaurant where the dessert fun begins. With the island’s largest and only selection of homemade ice cream flavors, Duffer’s offers countless possibilities. Enjoy old fashioned sundaes, banana splits, waffles and ice cream, ice cream sodas, floats, real shakes, and dessert specialties. Once you’ve made your selection, visitors can take a seat at an old-fashioned wooden booth in the parlor and enjoy the rays of colored light beaming from the stained-glass ceiling.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Regina Long and asking her a few questions about Duffer’s long-standing history and Victorian style atmosphere, their 18 hole mini-golf course and video arcade with redemption center, and their Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How long has Duffer’s been in business and who or what inspired you to open a store location in Wildwood, New Jersey?

Regina Long: 2015 marks Duffer’s 41st season. My parents, Donald and Dorothy Long, were born and raised in the Wildwoods, so when they decided to open a business, Wildwood was the perfect choice.

Duffers-Wildwood-New-Jersey

TCS: For those who are not too familiar with Duffer’s or Wildwood, please share with us some background and tell us where you are located?

RL: Duffer’s is a Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor. At Duffer’s, we pride ourselves in being the original homemade ice cream in the Wildwoods! We are located at 5210 Pacific Avenue in Wildwood, NJ. We are situated on Pacific Avenue between Bennett and Hildreth Avenues. We serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snacks. For those looking to grab great tasting Duffer’s delicacies to-go, the parlor and restaurant has its own take out section for both food and dessert dishes. Just call ahead and the Duffer’s team will have your order ready for pickup when you arrive. We are a smoke-free and handicap accessible restaurant. Major credit cards accepted. Our hours are seasonal opening at 8 AM until Midnight. During the winter months we are closed.

Duffers-Wildwood-Team

TCS: How did you come up with the concept for the beautiful Victorian style atmosphere inside of Duffer’s?

RL: My mom, Dorothy, always loved Victorian Cape May and antiques. The Victorian motif lends itself perfectly to the traditional seashore ice cream parlor of this area.

Duffers-Victorian-Wildwood-

TCS: How many flavors and different varieties of homemade ice cream do you currently have available and what is the most requested?

RL: We currently have 32 homemade ice cream flavors available including, black raspberry, butter brickle, chocolate marshmallow, marble caramel, rock road, pina colada, and sticky bun but believe it or not vanilla is still the most popular flavor even though everybody has their own favorite. Our staff relays suggestions from customers, and then we brainstorm and come up with a Weekly Featured Flavor Ice Cream. For example, we recently had Funkey Monkey as the featured flavor and it consists of chocolate ice cream with brownie bites, peanut butter chips, and banana chunks.

If you have a suggestion for a Feature Flavor Ice Cream, please email us your idea! You might see it on the menu!

Duffers-icecream

TCS: Describe for us your extensive menu items which features breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snacks?

RL: We try to make most of our menu items right here at Duffer’s– we call it Duffermade. I would say we have a little of everything but always new additions each season. One of our most popular breakfast items is Stuffed French Toast ─ its thick slices of egg bread stuffed with a sweet cream cheese filling and topped with fresh strawberries. For lunch, we serve burgers, melts, cheese steaks, fish tacos, pulled pork, crab cakes, and huge salads ─ you name we have it. Almost every day we have a dinner special from meatloaf, chicken pot pie, or some fresh fish dish. What is nice about Duffer’s is the choices ─ we’ve got something for everyone!

To learn more about our menu, please visit our website.

TCS: What can you tell us about your 18 hole miniature golf course?

RL: Our 18 hole mini-golf course has a nautical theme. It’s a family-friendly course. Some of the holes are interactive. For example, we have a volcano that erupts, a fish pond that blows bubbles, and sharks that squirt water. The cost to play is $6 before 6pm then $7 ─ children 2 and under play for free.

Duffers-Golf

And, don’t forget about Duffer’s famous singing Pelicans…


TCS: Share with us the various games featured in Duffer’s family-friendly video arcade with prize redemption center?

RL: We have all of the usual games like skee ball, basketball, and car racing but what makes us different is we get new games every season to keep things fresh. For example, we have games such as Jurassic Park, Kung Fu Panda, and Batman. Additionally, we offer a lot of fun games for the little ones too like Gold Fishin, Fishbowl Frenzy, and Spider Stomp just to name a few.

Duffers-game-room

TCS: If a family wants to host their child’s birthday party at Duffer’s what is included in their day of fun?

RL: Birthday parties at Duffer’s are fun and easy and we clean up the mess. The birthday party package price is $12.95 per each child and it includes:

  • Chicken Fingers or Hot Dogs Served with French Fries on a Duffer’s Frisbee
  • Small Beverage
  • Small Ice Cream with Gummie Warm Topping
  • Game of Miniature Golf
  • 4 Game Tokens for Each Child
  • Balloons

You are welcomed to bring your own cake and candles! Parties are held from 2pm to 4pm. Children will eat first, have dessert, and then play golf.

Duffers Wildwood Birthday

TCS: Can you share with us some of the ways that you market your business?

RL: We market our business using some print advertising and menu guides. We have a Duffer’s website and are registered with rating services like Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and etc.

Additionally, we have the following social media pages:

TCS: What is your website address and what can your visitors do on your site to learn more about Duffer’s?

RL: Our website is www.dufferswildwood.com

Duffers-website

On the website, visitors can:

TCS: Tell us about the Duffer’s Gift Shop?

Before you conclude your Duffer’s visit, don’t forget to stop by our distinctive gift shop featuring dolls, Boyd Bears, pictures, Lefton Lighthouses, and many other selections to remember your special day.

Duffers-Giftshop

TCS: Tell us about the Duffer’s Express, a train that runs throughout the restaurant, and Herbie a bear riding his unicycle on a tightrope?

RL: When dining in the restaurant, be sure to listen for the chug-chug of the model train known as the Duffer’s Express that circles the parlor. I don’t remember who came up with the train idea but we are always trying to come up with new features to set us apart.

Herbie was a bear we sold in our gift shop. My father made it motorized and Herbie was born to entertain thousands. Herbie bikes across a tightrope above the dining room, greeting new customers and dazzling diners.

TCS: Is Duffer’s associated with any of the Doo Wop activities or committees throughout Wildwood?

RL: Not at this time.

TCS: With Duffer’s being such a seasonal business tell us what you and your family do during the offseason?

RL: We rest up and start getting ready for the next season.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Jack Morey: Morey’s Piers

Written by: Frank Iacono

jack-morey

For many generations, “Wildwood by the Sea”, famous for its free, wide, white, sandy beaches, and world class boardwalk, has long been considered the number one fun-filled family vacation destination. The Wildwoods’ award-winning boardwalk stretches along the beach for more than a mile and a half and features 38 blocks packed end-to-end with stores, shops, eateries, casino arcades, and, most notably three world-class amusement piers collectively known as Morey’s Piers.

Morey’s Piers, recognized as a premier regional entertainment destination, has been family owned and operated since 1969 and is currently run by brothers Will and Jack Morey. Will, President & CEO, and Jack, the Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, are second-generation partners in Morey’s Piers, an amusement business that got its start when their father, Will Morey and uncle Bill Morey, debuted a giant slide between 25th and 26th avenues in North Wildwood. Since then the Morey name has become synonymous with the Wildwoods. Morey’s Piers, designed in a carnival-like atmosphere, features over 100 rides and attractions, well-known eateries, as well as two beachfront waterparks.

Jack currently serves on the board of Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority as the chair of the strategic planning committee and the International Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Hall of Fame committee. He has served on numerous boards including, the Greater Wildwoods Chamber of Commerce, Boardwalk Special Improvement District, and the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack Morey and asking him a few questions about his life as Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Morey’s Piers, his love of the amusement business, his inspiration for opening fine dining experiences on the Wildwood boardwalk, his plans for a brand new big roller coaster project, and his book Fab-o-rama.

Q&A Session

TCS: In 1969, with the introduction of the famous giant slide called “The Wipe Out”, your father Will Morey Sr. and your uncle Bill got into the amusement business so how do you think the business and Morey’s Piers have both evolved over the years?

Jack Morey: The very essence of the entertainment product has not really changed. In our view amusement type entertainment is now and has always been about creating environment for the masses. While this requires a good understanding of popular culture it also requires a bit of a crystal ball or perhaps a belief that you can invite things that guests will like (my favorite!!!). For a brief period, we strayed to try to be and compete with the traditional theme park that attracts a high percentage of teenagers with extraordinarily expensive roller coasters, but learned the hard way that we could and should not do that. The Wildwoods are special first and foremost as a great family vacation place because of the “beach” and no theme park, not even Disney has that.

In the late 90’s we stumbled upon a gentleman, designer and social engineer named Steve Izenour from a world renowned architectural firm called Venturi Scott Brown. What he has contributed can be summarized in a memo he sent to me stating the following:

  • You can’t and shouldn’t try to make Wildwood into something it isn’t, a Disney, a theme park, etc.
  • Rather, your strategy should be to make the most of what you have. What Wildwood is, is one of the last real down and dirty, TACKY with a capital T, beach resorts. What you need to do is take Tacky to the new heights.
  • First, use your specialist, entertainment designers to help with the programming, getting the right mix of rides, food etc., but don’t let them design a whole pier. Instead, find some old fashion sign guys, painters, sculptors, etc. and you orchestrate with people who appreciate tacky.
  • Mix and match designers. And when you’re done, which you never are, you will have the biggest, gaudiest, brightest, tackiest piers in the world.

 

TCS: This summer, Morey’s Piers welcomed back Kong, a gorilla-themed amusement ride once a boardwalk landmark in the 1970s, as the new centerpiece of Surfside Pier. With that, can you tell us about the background story in bringing Kong back after 35 years?

JM: it is just as important for an amusement park to be about the past as it is the future. While a park that is fully built on nostalgia would likely be a disaster, tapping into certain elements of remembrance is important to the intangible qualities of a place. The origination of Morey’s Piers was based in no small part about custom one off attractions of which Kong was a big one. Our recent Ghost Ship haunted walk thru was another that was routed in the past, but one need not have lived in the past to appreciate it today. “Relevance is relative”. Once we decided on the ride element we focused on a method to do what my dad used to say,”Wildwoodize it”. This generally meant to make it unique to Wildwood and try not to go broke in the process. We decided to send our initial design concepts out to our guests for feedback and to our surprise we received over 6,000 comments (ouch, they didn’t love it!). The general consensus was that the look was not specific enough to Wildwood. So, off came the I heart NJ t-shirt and the Statue of Liberty and on went the I heart Wildwood and the famous tram car.

 

TCS: How thrilled were you to find out that your Water parks, Raging Waters Water Park and Ocean Oasis Water Park + Beach Club, were named #2 out of the country’s top 40 water parks, according to Foursquare?

JM: Like most of Morey’s Piers our water parks have evolved significantly over time. In the late 70’s they were limited to 3 simple water slides that guests would rent by the 1/2 hour. They were clearly front runners in the whole water park invention years. They became full-fledged water parks in the mid 80’s and then in the late 90’s we needed to take the 80’s out of the park (note the 80’s were the low point in American architecture). Like most things we do we attempt to lead the market as opposed to react to trends that others create. This is very risky business, but when the rankings come in we are reminded and grateful of what we do and why we do it.

 

TCS: How would you describe your target audience and how many visitors does Morey’s Piers attract on an annual basis?

JM: Our primary audience is families on vacation with young children. While we would not turn down older teenagers, we do not specifically build attractions for them and will continue for the foreseeable future to leave that to the Six Flags of the world. More recently we have made significant investments to also attract the parents of young children via the introduction of better foods and occasional spirits. Best we can calculate (we have not gate) is that our attendance is about 3.5 million people.

 

TCS: Can you share with us some of the weekday specials offered throughout the summer at Morey’s Piers? And, can you tell us about Morey’s Brunch Bunch and Morey’s Kids Kamp?

JM: Morey’s Piers offers our customers various weekday specials. For an updated listing of all of our specials, please visit: https://www.moreyspiers.com/tickets/specials

Brunch Bunch is a cartoon character breakfast on the upper deck at Joe’s restaurant that involves the whole family. Characters are the popular ones from Frozen, Cinderella, Spiderman and of course our very own Sunny the Seagull and Curley the French Fry. The brunch concludes with admission to the water parks.

Kids Kamp is a week long program for kids. They get to spend 1/2 a day doing various educational arts and crafts in addition to admission to the water parks. For the super value conscious we offer drastically reduced admission to the piers on Tuesdays.

moreys-kids-kamp-morey-brunch

TCS: Tell us how your father came up with the idea of having Breakfast in the Sky on the Giant Ferris Wheel on Morey’s Mariner’s Landing Pier while visiting California?

JM: I remember this vividly as it was during the last round of golf I ever got to play with my mom and dad. It was in Palm Springs at a beautiful golf course immersed in the natural surroundings. We were discussing how we could better integrate our own Jersey Shore natural resources into our product offerings. Since the beach is the number one natural resource that attracts our guests he came up with the idea of giving people an eye in the sky view of the shoreline. A number of years later we added the elegance and quirkiness of white table clothes and gourmet dining options.

 

TCS: In addition to Breakfast in the Sky, Morey’s Piers offers guests a wide variety of dining experiences, could you highlight some of them?

JM: Man cannot live on sweets alone so we have been heavily investing in experiences that are more varied and more elegant, but still unique and always a little quirky. Part of this effort was to hire our very own executive chef, Wally Jursuz. Joe’s FISH Co. is simply about fresh fish and the opposite of things you might expect on the boardwalk. Jumbos is a great place for large party’s and large quantities of food. Taco Joint has the best tacos this side of the border. And perhaps my favorite…Stubborn Brothers. Named after the yin and yangness of my brother Will and I, it celebrates the sibling rivalries in all families. It is one darn good beach bar with superb food (by Chef Betsy), superb drinks (join me most days at 5:30pm with my dog for a rum runner), and a superb up front and personal view of the beach and ocean. Add live music and you might just spend the entire day.

 

TCS: Can you describe for us the Haunted Ghost Ship attraction, better known as Ignis Fatuus, which launched on Mariner’s Pier in 2010?

JM: The Ghost Ship is a 10,000 square foot haunted walk thru attraction that pays a bit of homage to the great haunted houses of the boardwalk past. The actors are professionally trained to prey on the weak. The attraction is quite beautiful and a real boardwalk classic.

 

TCS: Can you share with us the inspiration behind opening Morey’s Fears: Terror on the Boardwalk Halloween Event and how it has evolved since it debuted in the fall of 2011?

JM: Unfortunately we have discontinued Morey’s Fears. It was truly a great performance, but in the end we are first and foremost a summer place and the distance to the major population areas was just too far to be successful.

 

TCS: Can you tell us about the [artBOX] which debuted as a new attraction on Morey’s Piers Adventure Pier in 2013?

JM: [artBOX] is a work in progress museum in the making. After being inspired by the creative and adaptive re-uses of shipping containers we decided to create a pier that was an alternative to the two other more classically themed piers. The [artBOX] is a studio and gallery of 11 shipping containers that has attracted local artist. The artist have helped to create a personality for the rest of the pier via creatively re-using old rides from our boneyard and converting them into works of public art for things like benches. Adventure Pier is all about extreme rides, live music, and of course art.

 

TCS: Share with us the background behind the book Fab-o-rama! A Wild Ride: The Story Of Morey’s Piers, Planet Earth’s Greatest Seaside Amusement Park?

JM: When our 40th anniversary snuck up on us we decided it was time to publish our first book. Having seen too many coffee book dust collectors we searched for a better way to tell our story without sticking to a purely chronologic method. The credit goes to Jack Wright of Exit Zero publishing whom appreciates tacky, quirky and history. A purposeful pun about the book is that it actually has two covers. One is Faborama (for my brother Will) and the other is Wild Ride (for me). Same exact interior ingredient, two completely opposite exteriors…get it? A video of the book launch is attached which is none other than a man being launched out of a cannon holding two books. That was a great day.

 

TCS: Over the last few years, we’ve heard about plans for the construction of a brand new big roller coaster project. With that, can you share with us some specific details about the ride, how much of a financial investment are you making, and how does it compare to other coasters across the country?

JM: Due to concerns for sufficient public parking we needed to place the proposed coaster on the back burner. The coaster would have been the most expensive attraction ever built in the Wildwoods by a factor of two and the risks were just too high without the proper governmental support for strategic long term parking concerns for the entire boardwalk entertainment district.

Go-Wild

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Sheila Brown: Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

Written by: Frank Iacono

Sheila Brown Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

Located in Cape May County New Jersey, the Wildwoods — North Wildwood, West Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and Diamond Beach — is a treasure trove of beaches, parks, playgrounds, bars, happy hour specials, breakfast favorites, traditional family-style restaurants, specialty seafood, games, rides, tram cars, and relaxing resorts. With over 8,000 hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast rooms finding a great place to stay can be quite daunting.

The bed and breakfast world is full of husband and wife teams escaping the rat race of traditional careers to make a living together doing something they love. The Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast, located in a quiet residential area of North Wildwood, homestead is no exception with Sheila Brown, once in human resources at an Atlantic City casino, and her husband Rick a general contractor — skills that came in handy when extensive renovations were needed and guests started arriving.

Sheila and Rick have transformed a beautiful mid 1900’s home and created a building reminiscent of one back in the 1950’s. Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast has all of the modern amenities enjoyed in a modern lodging while retaining and capturing the excitement and uniqueness of the early days of Rock-and-Roll. Guests can choose from the Elvis Suite, 60´s Suite, Marilyn Room, 50´s TV Room, 50´s Music Room, 50´s Movie Room, 70’s Disco Room, and “Life´s a Beach” Room. A stay at Summer Nites is like a step back into the 1950’s.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheila Brown and asking her a few questions about her role as innkeeper of Summer Nites, her inspiration for opening up the inn, her motivation behind the 1950’s furnishings and décor, and her love for Elvis.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: What sparked your interest in running a bed and breakfast?

Sheila Brown: My husband saw the building and said “Let’s open a Bed and Breakfast.” I said “OK, I’ll try anything once” and thus Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast was born.

Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

TCS: Where exactly is the Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast located?

SB: The Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast is located in a quiet residential area of North Wildwood, New Jersey, at the Jersey Shore. The bustling night life of both Wildwood and Anglesea are within one mile in either direction.

TCS: Did it take long for you to find the right house for your Bed and Breakfast in North Wildwood? And, what year did you open the Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast?

SB: When we bought the house in 1995, it was a rundown single family home, and the bank had control of it. It was in really bad condition. My husband is a general contractor. He was the one with the vision. The Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast officially opened in May of 2003.

TCS: Were you always looking to start from scratch, or did you look at some existing Bed and Breakfast locations? And, what led you to the decision to start from scratch?


SB: When we first bought the house we fixed it up and rented out rooms for the summer. Then we made 3 year around apartments and rented the other rooms for the summer. In September of 2002, at the end of the summer he started the renovations.

TCS: How did you prepare yourself for becoming innkeepers?

SB: We had no knowledge of how to run a Bed and Breakfast. The first thing we did was setup a meeting with a couple who were Innkeepers in town. They were very supportive and very helpful and thrilled that another B&B was opening in North Wildwood.

TCS: Can you share with us the dining experience a guest would have while staying at Summer Nites?

SB: While at Summer Nites you will dine in a unique box car diner complete with 1953 Seeburg Jukebox, neon lighting, diner booths and more. Or you may choose to dine on one of the outdoor decks. Breakfast is served from the diner kitchen where you can watch as the cook prepares breakfast.

Kitchen Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

TCS: Describe for us the overall theme of Summer Nites?

SB: Summer Nites is a 50’s theme Bed & Breakfast. When we decided to open a B&B I said to my husband, “Let’s open an Elvis B&B,” since I am a huge Elvis Presley fan and would have been easily able to decorate the entire house with my Elvis collection. Rick said “I don’t think so. But, you can make one of the rooms Elvis.” So, then we decided if we are going to have Elvis, we then need a Marilyn Monroe room too and the idea for the B&B grow from there.

TCS: Can you describe the 8 theme-based rooms at Summer Nites?

SB: We have 2 themed suites and 6 themed rooms:

  • Elvis Suite – 2 room suite with Elvis memorabilia, king bed, large black Jacuzzi tub, gold sofa, loveseat & ottoman, Elvis slot machine(for amusement purposes only), fire place, private entrance, mini refrigerator & wet bar, and a full bath with shower and tub. Beautiful hand painted murals.
  • Elvis Suite Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

  • 60’s Suite – Large suite with 60’s memorabilia including Beatles, Motown, Woodstock and JFK. King bed, large whirlpool tub, large private bath with shower, mini refrigerator, wet bar, fireplace, love seat & chair, private entrance, and beautiful hand painted murals. HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE.
  • 60s Suite Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

  • Marilyn Room – Large room with Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, king bed, Jacuzzi tub, private bath with shower, beautiful hand painted murals. This room is located on the 2nd floor.
  • Marilyn Monroe Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

  • 50’s TV Room – Large room with 1950’s TV memorabilia, king bed, Jacuzzi tub, private bath with shower, and beautiful hand painted murals. This room is located on the 2nd floor.
  • 50s TV Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

  • 50’s Music Room – Queen bed with 50’s Music memorabilia, large private bath with large shower, and beautiful hand painted murals. This room is located on the 2nd floor.
  • Music Room Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

  • 50’s Movie Room – Queen bed, with 50’s Movie memorabilia, private bath with large shower, and beautiful hand painted murals. This room is located on the 2nd floor.
  • 50s Movie Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

  • 70’s Disco Room – Large room with 70’s memorabilia, including working disco ball above the large hot tub with mirror ceiling. King bed, private bath with shower, comfortable chair, mini refrigerator, private entrance, and beautiful hand painted murals.
  • 70s Disco Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

  • Life’s a Beach Room – Large room with beach memorabilia, king bed, large whirlpool tub, private bath with shower, mini refrigerator, Adirondack chair, beach umbrella, private entrance, beautiful hand painted murals.
  • Lifes A Beach Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

TCS: Tell us about the beautiful hand painted murals in each room?

SB: Our hand painted murals were done by a gentlemen by the name of Mike Curry. Mike and I worked together at AC Coin & Slot. We had many artists there and Mike, at that time was an airbrush artist & illustrator. We sat with him and went over our ideas for the rooms and we finally decided on the murals for the rooms. The first one that Mike did here was the Marilyn Monroe mural and as you can see it came out fabulous, which was a great incentive to work on the others.

Marilyn Monroe Muriel Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

TCS: Describe for us the modern amenities and lodging offered at Summer Nites?

SB: Summer Nites has all of the modern amenities enjoyed in a modern lodging while retaining and capturing the excitement and uniqueness of the early days of Rock-N-Roll. Wireless internet is available throughout the premises. A pool table and game room with vintage pinball games are available for those who care to step back to the “good old days.” Bicycles are available for those who might enjoy a morning ride on the Wildwood boardwalk or around the island. There is a hot tub on the outside back deck along with a sundeck and beach towels. The entire premises is air conditioned with separate, modern, individual climate controls for each room. All rooms have private baths, some with Jacuzzi tubs. The rooms at Summer Nites each come complete with televisions, CD and VCR/DVD players. Guests can enjoy viewing, listening to, and reading the many interesting vintage and repro 1950’s tapes, CD’s, and books provided in each room.

TCS: What are the room rates? And, are there any minimum stay requirements?

SB: Rates vary depending on time of year and your room selection. Rates are for one or two persons in a room and do not include New Jersey sales tax.

In season, a two-day minimum weekend reservation and a three-day minimum reservation for holiday weekends is required. 50% deposit is required for all reservations with balance due on arrival. We accept all major credits cards. Well behaved children 16 and over are welcome with parents. Sorry no pets.

For reservations, updated room rates, and specials, please visit our website.

No Vacancy Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

TCS: What is the specific check-in and check-out time?

SB: The check-in time is between 2:00 PM – 9:00 PM. If you plan to check-in after 9:00 pm, please make special arrangements. Check-out time is 11:00 AM.

TCS: Can you share with us your cancellation policy?

SB: Should it become necessary to change or cancel your reservation, a two (2) week notice is required. Summer Nites is not responsible for illness or inclement weather. If you cancel after that date you will receive a refund of the deposit only if the room can be re-rented. All refunds are subject to a $25.00 processing fee.

Contact Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast

Sheila and Rick Brown
2110 Atlantic Avenue
North Wildwood, NJ 08260
Phone: (609) 846-1955
Toll-Free: (866) ROC-1950
Website: http://www.summernites.com

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.