Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the Ninth Day of Christmas…

The last cookie has been rolled in icing sugar. I'll deal with the kitchen in the morning, as I am nestled in for the night.

It has been 9 Christmases since it all began here at Janet Helm, with the thought that giving could be meaningful and easy.

The original Christmas card thought of sharing my vision of “The 12 Days of Christmas” has, over the years, evolved to include my sons. With “9 Ladies Dancing,” (I made sure I mentioned the "ladies" part to them after...), they danced for me in the park. “10 Lords a-leaping” should be a snap next year.

To see the entire series to date visit:

Snow is falling here, a rare delight for Vancouver. (I say delight from the comfort of my home, the night before the morning commute.)

I am wishing your holiday season is filled with much fun, love, and laughter and that the year ahead brings happy, healthy times.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don’t “down-size Christmas” say employers in the know.

I recently read an article by Joanne Chianello in our local paper, The Vancouver Sun, that mentioned a company whose employer hand-wrote 20 notes and personally delivered them to his employees, inviting them all to dinner. I felt compelled to call this company and say, Kudos.

I spoke to Jennifer Cross, the business development manager who mentioned that the company is 40 years old, and has original customers coming in who are now in their 70's. No wonder they have such happy customers- their employees are happy, which reflects in the outstanding customer service provided. As she is quoted in the Vancouver Sun article, "its our job to keep our employees happy and feeling like things are good. We want everyone to feel excited about their job."

The article also quotes Patrick Sullivan, President of Workopolis, saying that it is not about the party, but "it's all about the symbolism," and “what employees appreciate more than a grand gesture is some recognition that they worked hard."

December is just one time of the year to say thanks to your team. I recommend recognizing and rewarding employees throughout the year. It creates a culture of appreciation and a happy, satisfied team. Ongoing recognition, whether a formal program or not, that thanks employees- from public displays of thanks with awards or gifts, to subtle thank yous in the form of emails with a cc to the CEO- goes a long way in helping a company achieve their goals.

Avoid generic recognition items, like dated gold watches or gift cards that people may not redeem. Instead, choose ideas, experiences and items that are directly tied to your corporate culture and mission. This creates a team atmosphere that all are involved and feel truly contributing to goals.

To modern meaningful giving,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It is all in the delivery...

One of our most popular Ready to Give gifts, as the meaningful symbolism works for so many occasions.

During a recent follow up with a customer after her event, I learned that, while she loved the gifts, in her presentation to the recipients she felt perhaps she didn't communicate the symbolism of the gift as well as I had with her. A great lesson learned for both of us.

Helping our clients present their gift to best showcase the meaning behind it is as important as the gift itself. I learned that sharing our excitement and symbolism comes naturally to me because this is what I do. For our clients, that is why they have come to us - they are experts in what they do, and we provide the expertise to help them recognize those most important to their success, clearly and effortlessly.

With this in mind, we are now providing easy techniques and tools to our clients to ensure their gifts continue the experience effortlessly and with meaning, as intended.

Here are a few tips to ensure that when presenting gifts, they are received with as much meaning and value as the thought you put into them.

  1. When presenting your gift to an individual or a group, tell a short story of why you chose this gift- the symbolism, how it ties in with the occasion, and how they can benefit from the piece in their home or office. Make it easy for them to understand the relevance.

  2. If the gift is delivered or presented in a hotel room, ensure a story card is included to speak to the symbolism and why you chose the gift for them.
    For example:
    "I chose this basket made of FSC-certified cherry wood that was hand-made by an artisan in a time-honored tradition a hundred years old, because it reminded me of our working together for a better planet and creating a bounty of opportunity as we continue to work together. I hope you enjoy this basket and it reminds you of our time together, as well. Yours to enjoy filled with seasonal fruit, or simply displayed at your home. Each piece is hand-signed by the artist for you on the bottom of the basket. Thank you again. And enjoy.”

I am grateful for the opportunity to share this as it is an important part of the giving process.
Readers, what are your thoughts or questions about the giving process? Please feel free to post your comments and questions below.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Craft Fairs- that time of year

Painting, Red Pine, by Victor Goertz is enjoyed daily by my family.

It is that time of year- CRAFT FAIRS!
Some of the artisans we work with today I originally discovered through my
craft fair travels over 15 years ago. Way before children, were weekends spent finding artisan studios in obscure parts of the city, from Vancouver church basements, artisan homes and studios. Discovering must have gifts for my home, family, and friends were found at craft fairs.
Now with my busy life, you can imagine my delight when my manager Jen Hiebert- a talented artisan herself, presented a list and website links to many of the craft fairs happening in Vancouver this time of year. Found through the blog Magpie and Cake the list, helps shoppers – from experienced craft goers like myself to people simply wanting a new shopping experience sift through the many fairs that exist, saving time, time, and did I say time.

This weekend I will be donning my rubber boots, vintage wrap and enjoying a fair a two, or three, or four, being inspired by the many talented artisans.

Side note- Last weekend I checked out the first time in Vancouver- One of a Kind show which was a pleasant surprise offering artisan work from fashion to food to sustainable all artisans from North America, not just Canadian or local. One of my ol’ time favorites I also visited the now ever popular but still worth a visit- 1000 Parker - Victor Goertz, contemporary paintings of the west coast is still one of my favorite visits as his Red Pine graces our living room wall and reminds me of the interior of BC and the fragrance of pine.
Congratulations to Silvia Dotto who after 15 years of making stunning ceramic dishes is moving on with new adventures. She will still be making her crows (her dad collaborates by making the feet.) I have many of her pieces originally found at another great spot for artisan work, crafthouse on Granville island in Vancouver.

Happy craft fairing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


We have all heard it is better to give than receive. It does feel awesome to give, and I also believe when one gives from the heart, genuinely, the receiver feels just as much good. I’ve been thinking about how, for a living, I help people give and how there are many different ways one gives- whether things, time, ideas, thoughts, advice, or suggestions. In this blog, I am giving- sharing ideas because it is good.

Giving at the office
Click here to see six easy ways that by giving (with little or no cost), leaders, managers and companies will empower, inspire, retain and motivate their employees.

Giving for the holidays
And for those same companies, as well as individuals who may be wondering what and how to give this holiday season on a limited or no budget, our Gift Giving Tips also offers three holiday tips to help keep your costs down, while ensuring your message is genuine, and your gift of quality.

Giving to the community
There is much in the community that can benefit when people give a little time. My husband and our two sons volunteer in our city, removing graffiti around the neighborhood. We do it because we genuinely care, and it does feel great to give back to the community we live in.

Click here to read the story in our local newspaper.

Enjoy receiving as much as I have enjoyed giving.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Above and Beyond - Being Picky Pays Off

We have gained a reputation for being picky- I like to call it “particular.”
Are we picky? You bet we are!

We are picky- picky, or should I say particular, about details, quality, and service from our suppliers, just as our customers are as picky, I mean particular, about the gifts and service they receive.

We select suppliers who, like us, separate themselves from the competition by doing everything with excellence. I often say to my team that we are only as good as our suppliers, so it is important we choose and have relationships with suppliers who understand our needs in helping our client stand out from the rest- we make them look great.

One such supplier, who is officially our Janet Helm HERO OF THE MONTH, is Deb Hoffman of Deelor Sales & Marketing. Deb literally went out of her way to ensure a job would finish with the quality and price we asked for.

We choose to work with Deb to provide our custom hand-wrapped gift boxes for our custom tartan scarves, as well as other custom packaging designs. Not only did Deb save us time and money, but she also saved our client their time and money!

Thanks, Deb.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thinking Outside the Gift Box - "Recognizing in Tough Times"

This year in particular, does the mere mention of holiday gift buying have you stuck between a rock and a hard place? Whether the market is up or down, smart companies have long recognized the value and advantage of a well-designed gift program.

This holiday season we see a return to the basics – gifts with purpose, thoughtful essentials, and earth-saving strategies - gifts that communicate the sincerity, excellence, and value that clients, employees, and stakeholders are looking for.

Join me as I share new, effective, and inspiring recognizing techniques for companies large and small in the new talk for my popular Thinking Outside the Gift Box series - "Recognizing in Tough Times." Until October 15, we are pleased to offer this results-driven talk absolutely free.

To book me for your event or for a private corporate presentation, call Jen Hiebert at 604 730.2600 or visit Opportunities are limited, so book yours today.

What questions do you have as this holiday season approaches? How can I best help you now and during the busy holiday time? Feel free to post your questions or comments on this or any other post, as I would love to hear from you.


Our New Website is Live!

Welcome to our new website! We are excited to share with you the new design and information, as we go all-out to achieve our goal to be your first stop for gifts, your valuable resource for meaningful recognition.

Jen Hiebert, our Operations Manager, is our guest blogger today. Thanks, Jen.


We are thrilled to present to you the new! When creating recognition gifts for you and your recipients, our focus is always on the story, the quality, and the personal service, and we want to extend this focus to our website, as well.

A few special new features to visit include:
Our Philosophy – find out more about what drives us, and our new icon!
Ready To Give – an exciting collection of effortless, well-designed gifts
Oh Canada – a growing selection of quality Canadian gifts
Expanded Portfolio section – view more examples of how we’ve helped our clients

We will be adding more exciting content in the near future. To be among the first to hear all about it,
sign up for our blog or contact Janet to join our Design & Gift News.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's all About You.

As we are updating our website (more to come on this soon), I find myself more interested in the About You section than the About Us section. After all, it is about you, our customer. Without you, we would not have an About Us section, so here’s to you.


To say you are busy is an understatement. You have seen it all, and want more than just products, you want experiences for your recipients. You demand the best, work with the best, and won’t settle for less. You have many tasks to do in a day—finding eco-friendly ideas that genuinely communicate your message and managing gift programs are just two of a hundred or more to-dos on your list. You need an assistant, you need a vacation, you need someone to help make your job easier.

You are emailing us from your blackberry because your boss is retiring in 7 days and you need an amazing gift to give and present at the reception. Seven days later we received this email from you (again from your blackberry).

“Thanks so much for making this work! I can't tell you what a relief that was!”
Michelle, Global TV, Vancouver
You have an event in Paris for top executives. What are you going to give that they don’t already have or can’t just buy? All this and it need to be effortless to travel back to the US, too. You have a budget and can’t go over a penny. Help, you say.
“Thank you. The painting and prints were beautiful. It was a very rewarding experience working with you again! Shipping to Paris was perfect! Thanks for everything!!!!!!”
Glenda, The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta
We tip our Janet Helm hats to you, those who get it all done in a day. I am proud to say we are a part of your team, to help you look great with little effort. Your dedication to helping recognize meaningfully and making the best use of budget is to be congratulated.

Well done! (Now get back to work.)
ps. be sure to click here to subscribe to our blog and you will receive all of our updates.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thinking of Mothers this week – Super Heroes, Super Service

My four year old drew a picture of me as a super hero and told me how super he thinks of me because I read to him and play with him.

Wow, the amazingly positive impact of how listening and simply being there for him reminds me of how customer service is just that: listening to the client, understanding what they want to achieve and delivering what they have asked for. I am extremely proud of the service we provide our clients and want to share some examples of our own heroes at Janet Helm giving Super Service.

Jen, Operations Manager, delivered exceptional customer service this week when she designed and created a custom cardboard box for a client who was traveling to New Orleans with original artwork. Working with a Louisiana photographer, we created stunning b&w framed prints of a jazz player for our client to give to top performers at a special recognition event being held in their honor. Knowing our client was taking the original as carry-on luggage aboard the flight, Jen crafted the perfect box to safely and effortlessly transport the artwork. Jen’s motto: there’s always a way!

Marina, Project Manager, recently completed a project for a client who required 246 unique glass awards to recognize their sales team. Each custom designed award was etched with logos and the recipients’ name and packaged in a custom keepsake box.

As the awards were to be distributed to all recipients located in 59 locations worldwide on the same day, it was critical the shipments be delivered on schedule. Working with three shipping companies, Marina ensured the awards were delivered on time and on budget by the most cost-effective shipping service available. Mission accomplished!

Kat, our graphic designer, continues to inspire our team and amaze our clients with her brilliant work. She enthusiastically takes on new projects and has amazing results. She’s not one to boast so I will for her. Last month, after successfully completing her diploma in Graphic Design, Kat was officially honored as “Top of the Class” for her outstanding achievements. A real super hero!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Celebrate Vancouver

With Earth Day just past, I find myself so much more aware of what little steps I can do, this year more than ever before. As a mom, I feel it is genuinely the right thing to do, as a company it simply makes good business sense as more and more of our clients want green gifts and meeting ideas that are more than the standard ideas - concepts that are stylish, naturally and responsibly.

The timing is perfect as Vancouver, my home town and the location of our studio, prepares to host the winter Olympics in 2010, where sustainability is an integral part of the games. We are excited to help our local and international clients give environmentally innovative ideas. I will keep our clients up to date with our Green Gift Line we are providing.

Please visit the official website of the games to see a photograph of my sons, by photographer Janis Nicolay, celebrating the fresh air Vancouver is known for, as well as other people celebrating the countdown excitement, and check out all the exciting news happening in our grand city.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creative Awards

I have seen a lot of awards from glass, crystal, to metal. I always find myself wanting more, more for our clients and more for the recipients.

Where is the style, the originality, the genuineness?

I am sharing with you an award we designed and produced to complement a peer to peer recognition program for F5 Networks, a Seattle based company known for its genuine and distinct corporate culture. I have also included a few images of innovative awards I hope will inspire you.

Occasion: F5 NETWORKS Quarterly Recognition Awards

Provide creative awards that reflect the company's corporate values that the recipients are being recognized for.

Needs to complement F5's peer to peer program, entitled ‘Have a Ball.’

Result: hand blown glass marbles, produced using the client's seven corporate colors representing their corresponding values.

  • Instantly recognizable as F5, reflecting the company's genuineness, creativity, and existing program.

  • The recipients' name and date are sand-blasted on a marble base created to complement the glass art piece.

  • Gift card with values translated into different languages with symbolism and information on the artist was included.

  • Custom made shipping boxes added to the perceived value, and ensured ease of worldwide distribution for our client.

“Everyone loves them. The symbolism is perfect for F5. Thank you.”
C.C., F5 Networks, Seattle

Here are a couple other unique award options to inspire: a hand-carved wood sculpture, and a kiln-formed glass wave.

Wood sculptures available in a variety of woods and shapes.
Choose from a selection of inspiring words, or create your own.

Glass sculptures that can be arranged separately or as a set, as shown. Stand also available.
Waves of Distinction can be commissioned in custom colors.
Sizes 6" w x17" long and up to 12"h x17" long.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

To authenticity.

I received an early birthday present in the mail this week from my sister Denise.

I ripped open the brown kraft packaging, to see a New Balance box... we both run, so I assumed a funky running shirt of some kind would be my gift. As I opened the box, I gasped...

not a running shirt at all, but a vintage mohair and wool-blend cape in earth tones of sage green and burnt oranges.

It is so me, I thought, (actually screamed). The vintage label design, the quality, the exclusiveness, all screamed Janet Helm.

(My 4 year old son wanted to play Little Red Riding Hood, I quickly diverted him to one of his own toys ....whew close call.)

Receiving the cape was a wonderful confirmation for me of why being authentic, being me at all times is the only way for me to live, run my business, be a leader, friend, wife and/or mother. It is flow, it works and it is effortless.

I am reminded of the best gifts we design and produce for our clients are the ones that have the most soul- are genuinely about the recipients, proudly and sincerely reflect the occasion, and message of our clients.

To authenticity.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Inspiration Thursdays

Janet Helm is about capturing the genuine spirit of a client and producing gift experiences that are genuine, well designed and stylish. Our blog is dedicated to all the different ways to add genuineness and good design into your gift giving experiences. It is my hope you browse our blog to find inspiration and get updates and let Janet Helm enlighten your occasions and experiences.

Our blog is called Inspiration Thursdays because it is on that day of the week, during our daily meeting, that the team at Janet Helm share ideas that inspire us. Recent inspires have been everything from taffy wrappers, a spoon, a font, to a 1950's children's book illustrator.

To Thursdays