With its inception back in July of 2014, Cotton Candy Event Staffing Inc. – also known in short as COTCAN – has built a reputation as one of Canada’s premier promotional staffing companies. While the COVID-19 pandemic has proved challenging over the past three months, the company’s co-owners Jorie Brown and Nicole Pollock believe the worst has come and gone and that better days are ahead.
COTCAN Optimistic Entering Year Six and Beyond
COTCAN has enjoyed steady growth over the years and today has become the go-to company for boutique event support across Canada focusing on the areas of promotional staffing, event management, and creative concepts.
Co-owned by Jorie Brown and Nicole Pollock, the company has worked with an impressive list of fortune 500 clients ranging from large financial institutions to notable movie studios to high profile clothing and outwear companies.
“What impresses me most about Jorie and Nicole is how truly hardworking and resilient they are. No matter what is thrown at them they take any challenge head-on and always ensure it’s done professionally and with poise,” said Leanne Larsen, COTCAN’s Events Operations Manager about the company’s co-owners.
Brown and Pollock both danced competitively during their childhood and then as cheerleaders with the Toronto Argonauts and the Toronto Raptors. After starting COTCAN in 2014, they have become respected business leaders – both earning Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award nominations last year. COTCAN was also nominated for a Top Event Staffing Award for 2020.
“They are both extremely creative and are always thinking outside the box which is something I truly admire about them. Jorie and Nicole also have a strong passion for mentoring and assisting others to reach their goals and chase their dreams,” Larsen added.
Challenging Last Three Months
However, similar to a lot of businesses, COTCAN has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three months.
“Prior to COVID-19, we were doing amazing. We were doing a lot of in-store demos for clients and the holidays were a super busy time. As well, the year actually started off incredibly strong,” noted Pollock.
But in response to the coronavirus outbreak, all levels of government introduced strict social distancing measures in March.
“Over the past three months, we’ve had to reevaluate our programs and have had discussions with our clients on how we can find modified opportunities to promote their brands through our brand ambassadors,” said Brown.
“We are continuing to have a lot of great conversations with our clients and brands and looking to modify how we do things with safety in mind,” Pollock added.
Keeping on the topic of safety, COTCAN was eager to take part in a recent initiative to donate PPE to frontline workers of a local Toronto hospital.
Turning the Corner
With the weather getting warmer and the restrictions slowly easing, Brown and Pollock are hopeful that the worst of the pandemic has come and gone.
“It seems we’ve turned the corner and now this is a time of year where a lot of people are going outside to enjoy the nicer weather, so we are navigating the best we can to be able to get brand messages out in the safest way possible,” said Pollock.
With cautious optimism, COTCAN is looking forward to better days ahead.
“It’s been an unprecedented last few months but we are optimistic that things are turning around right now and we will continue to adapt as things change,” Brown pointed out.
As they are about to enter six years in business together this July, Pollock says the experience and wisdom that they’ve gained along the way has become an important asset.
“Of course we are always learning and looking for ways to grow and get better but having five years of experience under our belt and now heading into year six, I feel that we’re looked upon by our clients as being more established and a lot more wiser,” Pollock acknowledged.
Optimistic About What Lies Ahead
While the COTCAN anniversary will not include the usual celebrations with all their employees this year, Brown and Pollock remain grateful for reaching another important milestone.
“This year we won’t have a big celebration party because of the pandemic, but we are grateful to be entering our sixth year in business and any anniversary is an important milestone. Of course, we are also extremely thankful to our amazing staff as we couldn’t have gotten to this point without them,” said Pollock.
Having seen the peaks and valleys from being in business for over five years, they are confident of better days ahead.
“Being in business for all these years, we’ve learned that nothing is given and you have to be prepared for the ups and downs; and facing the COVID-19 pandemic is just one example of those unexpected things we have to deal with and overcome,” said Brown.
“But through it all, we’ve learned and adapted and continue to find ways to improve – and this will be no different. And when things return to normal, we’re confident we’ll be better than ever.”