The Zine Inspo
My very initial experience with Nuit Blanche was the first year it happened in Riversdale. As a former art student, I was super curious to see what the festival had in store. One of the memories that stuck with me through the years was when a stranger approached me from behind a darkened doorway and offered me a photocopied zine. It was about ten pages long, and it had all kinds of collaged art, photography and poetry printed on multicoloured pages. I'm pretty sure this had nothing to do with the organized festival, but it set the tone for an immersive experience. It prepared me to be on the lookout for unusual and exciting events, fleeting moments of brilliance. The city I knew, for one night, would offer me new and vibrant experiences.
The zine aesthetic became one of the core visual directions that I pitched to the communications committee. I was glad that most of the board was old enough to remember what a zine was, and the rest caught on quickly with a few visual references.
One of the main challenges we face with event-based campaigns is that the previous years are often not always consistently documented. Thankfully we had some great photos from @jaekimphotography to use in our collage art for the pre-promotion of the festival. We also did some interview-style videos with a few board members and the curator to add depth to the online presence. We focused on a few key areas, including volunteering and the history/purpose of the festival.
This year, one of the committee's main goals was to grow the festival beyond the core group of supporters who had come to love NBYXE. This required moving back to some 100 level conversations and getting into the fundamental DNA of the event. When we look at the barrier to entry for people new to the festival, it's always a question of how we can remove anxiety and guesswork. The goal is to create a sense of empowerment, safety and comfort. Video was the best way to do this.
One of the big wins this year was the introduction of curated experiences. The committee developed five routes that were based on how people may want to experience the festival. Each route included an approximated time frame and a stop-by-stop guide. Beyond being a practical tool for many attendees, it was also a way to express the festival's values. For example, the Family route mapped out the most interactive kid-friendly exhibits and the Emerging Artists route, highlighting the newest artists joining Nuit Blanche.
We also worked with a few of the artists to create short pieces about their work. We made a series of video portraits using footage we created and photos/videos provided to us. Check out Monique Martin's video talking about her installation.
In The Blink of an Eye
Through our coaching sessions with NBYXE, we discussed and developed many tactics to capture the fleeting nature of the festival. There was a lot of talk about how at Nuit Blanche, people felt if they blinked, then they might miss something. So education was vital to preparing attendees with the tools they needed to enjoy their experience. And with the addition of the 33rd Street district and bus service, the festival really became city-wide.
We filmed the entire festival with two videographers to capture all the exhibits. Documenting the event was important for many reasons, including creating assets to speak to future sponsors, artists and community partners.
Overall the experience of coaching the communications committee and managing their social media for the event was an absolute pleasure. As a long-time fan of Nuit Blanche, this project was really a dream come true for all of us at T Squared. Thank you.
Nuit Blanche Saskatoon is a free, night-time arts festival that showcases and celebrates art and culture. The festival gives attendees of all ages a chance to enjoy and engage with Saskatoon’s thriving arts scene. It offers the unique experience of exploring Saskatoon's public spaces late into the night in a safe and fun environment. For more information about Nuit Blanche visit www.nuitblanchesaskatoon.ca.
Pride month is a time to celebrate, educate and support the 2SLGBTQ+ community—what better way to do that than by supporting your favourite local queer-owned businesses.
First of all, let me introduce myself. I am Tyler (he/him), a gay male, born and raised in Saskatoon. I'm the proud owner of two local businesses and an advocate for inclusion. But, at the core of what I do, I'm a content creator, a storyteller and a community builder.
T Squared Social is a Saskatoon-based social media agency with a focus on creative strategy, original content and full management. You can visit us at tsquaredsocial.ca | Instagram @tsquaredsocial
The value queer businesses bring to the community is immeasurable. We add a unique perspective, solve consumer problems in new ways and provide much-needed visibility. When we are creating content for clients, I believe we bring special insights into the cultural pulse of this city and the world. Diversity creates innovation, period.
Social Made Local is apparel for creators, positivity for everyone. You can visit us at our online store socialmadelocal.ca | Instagram @socialmadelocal
Our City of Rainbows Tee was designed in our first year of business and has raised funds every Pride for queer organizations. This year proceeds are being donated to Moose Jaw Pride. One of our brand's core values is to create an environment where people feel comfortable and safe to express themselves freely. I feel strongly motivated by my experience as a youth growing up in Saskatoon in the '90s when being gay was much less accepted to build experiences of beauty for the queer creative community.
Alt Haus provides full-service interior design and murals. With a storefront and online shop, they have a great selection of modern furniture, home goods and accessories.
"Starting a queer-owned company was important to us because we never felt we fit into our workplace environments. Opening our own space helped us create a safe space for not only ourselves and our staff but for our clients. It gave us room to focus on who we were, and grow in that, rather than being what other people wanted us to be." -Miranda (she/her) and Jo Van (they/ them)
Alt Haus recently moved from Riversdale to 617A Main Street, just off Broadway Ave. They are also online at Althaus.ca and ship worldwide. Instagram @althausyxe
"As part of our client onboarding for design and murals, we make sure to ask about pronouns, ensuring they are respected every step of the way. With our shop, we ensure we use gender-neutral language to make sure everyone feels safe in our space. We do not tolerate discrimination or hate speech of any kind in our shop, in the circles we inhabit or on our social media. We also make sure to do our part to educate the people around us, to create more inclusive spaces. As an interior design firm, this also is important in the spaces we design, ensuring accessibility and inclusivity is at the forefront of what we do." -Miranda (she/her) and Jo Van (they/ them)
Nefelibata Arts and Crafts is an eco-alternative for arts and crafts supplies and decor located at A-226 Ave C South. Visit them online at nefelibataartsandcrafts.ca | Instagram @nefelibata.artscrafts
"We are continually learning especially with intersectional areas, sharing voices and projects from those intersectional communities, we proudly express who we are and who we stand with online, in-store and in our personal lives, we look for opportunities to support 2SLGBTQIA+ makers and make sure we have all-inclusive pricing, access and language." -Shala (she/her)
The Creative Queers is a weekly group for all within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to come together in a safe inclusive environment to dedicate an hour and a half to the creative outlet of their choice. Just one of the programs you can find at Nefelibata
"Supporting queer lives means for them to financially thrive, which impacts multiple parts of their living, combats inequality, systems of oppression and the bigotry this community often faces. This is also a way to go beyond performative activism, put some momentum behind your heart for allyship and allows you to be reassured your dollars spent are being put into a business that has their community's best in mind." -Shala (she/her)
These are just a few of the fantastic queer-owned businesses here in the City of Bridges. You can support queer companies with your dollars and also by engaging with them online. Follow them on social media, like and share their content. Tell your friends and let them know that you want to see them around not just for June but all year. Year after year.
I wish everyone a wonderful, healthy and happy Pride month.
Originally written for Tourism Saskatoon for Pride 2021.
Brainsport is one of the clients we have the most history working together. Brian and I had worked together running his stores for years before I opened T Squared and began focusing on their social media exclusively.
It's been an incredible journey watching the culture grow and being a part of the success team. Like every client, the more we know about the business the better the content is, and Brainsport is no exception.
Building a series.
One of the tactics that have worked incredibly well and is something I suggest to many of our clients are creating a series. This can be done very literally, like making a weekly/monthly show. Or it can be done just in the planning stage and never be explicitly communicated to your audience.
When establishing a series for your content, it must satisfy your goals without being so specific that it restricts you. One of the series we created was a video shoe review. We invited people into the back stockroom with a shoe expert to hear about the latest updates and new shoe releases from their favourite brands. This behind-the-scenes format helped to make the audience feel more connected to the team.
Running virtual events.
This past year many events went online, and that was the same story for the super popular Gingerbread run. The big challenge with online events is making them feel alive. We created a bunch of pre-event videos to help build the hype. We made sure to be very clear and straightforward with how we wanted people to engage during the event without overcomplicating it. By sharing participant's posts, baking gingerbread cookies together and hosting IG live interviews during the event, we could capture the spirit of the run.
Selling local online.
By far, one of the biggest challenges we faced with Brainsport was during the lockdowns last March that required many businesses to close their doors
The move to online stores was swift and urgent. We collaborated with the team to secure their new e-commerce website by creating campaigns that drove traffic to the website through their established social channels. These campaigns included original product photography in recognizable environments to develop familiarity.
This new way of doing business required a lot of education and awareness. Now a year later, the pickup and delivery process seems second nature to most of us.
Moving towards the future, we are working closely with the team to stay flexible as things change and to create goal-focused plans for success. As someone super passionate about retail, working with Brainsport on their social media continues to be a joy. We are looking forward to a great summer of content and sweet running shoes.
Created by T Squared Social. We are a Saskatoon based social media agency with a focus on education, content creation and management. We love making great content and helping people with their social media.