Maybe this time next year pigs might fly and I will be quoting something profound from President Elect, Donald Trump who obsessed with social media and blindly ignorant of international diplomacy is busying himself this week creating conditions which could belligerently drive China and Russia into each other’s arms.
Ironically, wise old President Abraham Lincoln, once said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”; an optimistic statement you might think until you consider the cynical and manipulative way in which both Brexit and the 45 th campaign for the American presidency played out leaving the world in a much more precarious place.
For now, I’ll leave my views on international politics aside and will apply (albeit on a micro level) the inspirational words of Lincoln to what I’ve been trying to achieve at Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications since I launched my new start-up business just a few months ago.
Since then, we are delighted to announce a creative partnership with one of NI’s most successful restaurant groups Thornyhill; the team behind Coppi and Il Pirata in Belfast and Bartali on the spectacular North Coast.
Our task; to deck out the Belfast based restaurants for Christmas in a way that is unique to their brand and enhances the already amazing dining experience for their guests during the festive season.
It was an act of faith and a vote of confidence on behalf of management team Andrea and Tony O’Neill and Sam Spain to entrust two of the most beautiful spaces in Belfast, deserving of only the very best. I cannot thank them enough for giving Carlin Creative the opportunity.
For both restaurants we adopted a ‘less is more’ approach installing big set pieces of the highest quality to match a creative brief to supply both restaurants with a traditional theme for Christmas.
When I say ‘we’, I mean myself alongside my hugely talented friend Joanna Braniff who I very much hope will join me at Carlin Creative in a creative partnership when the business is more established. I’ve known her for a very long time. We share exactly the same skill set and work great together.
For Coppi, we took inspiration from its dark mahogany panelled walls and green and white butchers’ tiles reminiscent of Belfast city’s industrial heritage and of Titanic days gone by.
Wreaths from Irish designer, Paul Costello were sourced (among others) and customised to add dimension in a large space using burlap sack cloth and patterned ribbon and baubles which would not find themselves out of place a century ago. Red winter berries also formed a key part of the theme.
For Il Pirata, a Narnia-style ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ feel which is on trend just right now with the £2.5m CS Lewis Square officially opening in East Belfast last month on the 53rd anniversary of the writer’s death at the age of 64.
Drive down the Newtownards Road towards town at night time and you cannot miss the five Scandinavian-style snow trees framed in Il Pirata’s windows and decorated to match the teak and creams and blacks of Il Pirata’s reclaimed floor which is a design beauty to behold in itself.
Love and attention to detail has been heavily invested into both these restaurants on behalf of its owners and staff and I sincerely hope Carlin Creative delivered on expectations. True to our own brand, we always try to add a touch or two to surprise and delight customers and guests.
So if you are visiting either Italian restaurant, Coppi or Il Pirata, during the festive period, which I highly recommend you do (the Christmas menu is fantastic) look out for the tiny Christmas pasta shapes which adorn almost all the decorations.
It’s time consuming coming up with unique concepts, hand decorating in this way and securing each and every bauble by clear fishing line to Christmas proof every branch and tree but it’s an important part of the Carlin Creative process.
We pride ourselves in coming together with our clients and through visual story telling celebrating their work and success. We are here to help businesses get results from their brand, reputation and promise of value and do it in a highly creative way.
Our experiential events are designed to increase satisfaction, retain loyal customers, attract new ones forge meaningful bonds and drive love and loyalty to your brand. Passion, loving what you do and caring deeply about the outcome is an infectious way to do business.
‘Love what you do. Do what you love’ is a mantra regularly repeated to me by Vikram Khan (Director, Broadcast Guru Technologies) who manages the Carlin Creative website, on-the-go, on demand and all the way from India.
I’ve learned the creative process is never going to be a perfect one nor is it an exact science. There will always be differences in taste and style, opinions, preferences and expectations.
But what we really hope to achieve, now and in the future, is to work alongside our clients, listening ever more carefully to and engaging with their needs, to inform, inspire and educate VIP guests and customers about your products and services and while they are being entertained.
In my third blog ‘Belfast on a Plate’ Delivers Food for Thought which explored the food and hospitality history of our city and some of the top twenty restaurants and chefs that are making such a huge contribution to the regeneration of Belfast, I wrote:
“As the business builds and grows Carlin Creative aspires to work alongside some of the world class talent showcased in Belfast on a Plate and in the world class venues and eateries.”
I hope the images featured here and in our gallery do justice to the elegance and clean lines that are features of Coppi and Il Pirata and set them apart from standard festive decor. They are bespoke and unique.
For Carlin Creative this job was much more than a first commission. It was a prediction of the future and a very real example of how, with grit and determination, something really worthwhile can be created.
It’s also an example of how life is not what you are given, it is about what you make of it, it’s about what you overcome, the relationships you develop and what you achieve that makes it beautiful. It’s also about good people putting their trust in you and taking risks.
Looking back and in less than four months since our launch date, Carlin Creative has lots to celebrate.
We are delighted to announce that since September we have had well over 10,000 page views and counting on our website which has a bounce rate of under 5%.
That means when people come to Carlin Creative, they are not only visiting but staying around to find out more about what we do. I’m reliably told this is good news for a fledgling company.
We have also had recent success on the PR, Marketing and Content side of the house with new clients and prospects on board. Look out for the launch of the rebranded Comber and Ards Veterinary Clinic website coming soon.
Carlin Creative tells their story from an emotional perspective about how the highly experienced veterinary team at Comber and Ards are transforming the lives of pets and their owners for the better.
It was humbling to hear first-hand and independently from a range of pet owners how vets, James Buick and Rob McCabe and each and every one of their staff go the extra mile and beyond expectation to give users an exceptional, high quality experience and how they continuously work to improve services to meet their customers’ needs.
In all my working life, rarely have I heard stories of such undiminished customer loyalty.
It has been an immense privilege to work alongside a variety of new partners and businesses, to share in their passion and to help celebrate their work and success.
I have said before: “Letting go of a 20-year career in British Broadcasting wasn’t easy. I loved my time working in marketing, communications and event management for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC and was proud of my association with some of the best know media brands in the world.
“It was a bold move to quit a high paying job to venture out and see what the world had to offer. It took a while to let go of my normal corporate work ethos, of engrained ways of working and to break free of traditional expectations around finding and keeping a job.”
For now, I’m loving predicting and creating my own future. It’s exciting but also an anchor in a much more uncertain world which politically and commercially, is set in the next decade, to become ever more volatile.
And remember, if you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs for them and can fire you at will.
Perhaps we might all take a leaf from William Ernest Henley’s Invictus and leave Donald Trump and the Brexiters to the ‘fell clutch of circumstance…and to the menace of the years” ahead.
This way: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
Very glad in the end, to have taken the entrepreneurial leap.