Recently Tweak Home Staging and Redesign had the opportunity to stage a lovely condo in the Kerrisdale area.
This condo had more than its fabulous location going for it! A full time concierge on duty, in-suite laundry, a massive 850 sq. ft. private deck, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large flex space not easily found in condo living! Yet, still this condo wasn’t selling, sitting on the market for 3 months with no interest!

One of the issues was that the condo was vacant. We have mentioned many times before, that vacant spaces don’t show well as they look small, & uninviting. Potential buyers more often than not, have a hard time visualizing how their furniture might fit into the space. This was particularly true in this case. Rather than the large open area (or what realtor’s refer to as a “flex space”) just inside the front entrance being the great selling feature the home owner had hoped for, the realtor was hearing from viewers of the property that they felt the space was awkward and they weren’t sure what to do with it!! What should have been an asset was instead a liability when it came to selling this condo!

Check out the Before & After photos below to see how Tweak Home Staging and Redesign showed the true potential of this space, and got the condo sold in under 30 days!!

Front Entrance BEFORE:

Because this condo already had a formal living and dining room space, viewers were not sure what to do with this open area just inside the front entrance.

Front Entrance AFTER Tweak Home Staging and Redesign staged the space:

Tweak Home Staging and Redesign created a true entrance, complete with a front hall table to drop your keys when arriving home at the end of the day!

Flex Space BEFORE:


Adding a portable screen, the space is now visually divided into a welcoming front entrance and a new T.V. lounging space!

Flex Space AFTER Tweak Home Staging and Redesign staged the space:

Of course, the entire condo benefitted from adding cozy furnishings that helped viewers picture themselves living there, with plenty of space to entertain their friends and family!

Dining Room BEFORE:
before 4

Dining Room AFTER Tweak Home Staging and Redesign staged the space:

Living Room BEFORE:


Living Room AFTER Tweak Home Staging and Redesign Staged the space:


Do you have a challenging room in your home? We can help! For living or for selling, Tweak Home Staging and Redesign has creative solutions for your home!

Tamara MacDonald

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Social Media Feeds

On January 27th, 2015, posted in: Latest SWAN Blog by

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I See You! I Am Here!

On November 5th, 2014, posted in: Latest SWAN Blog by

2014 Nov I SEE YOUI have a client from Africa. He struggled to understand the vagueness of our North American greetings, “How are you?” and “How’re you doin’?”

In a corner of Africa where he came, the people ritually greet each other with the words:

"Sawubona!" — meaning: "I see you. You are real, not a spirit!”

To which a response is, "Yabo, sawubona!" — meaning: "Yes, I see you, too!"

Inherent in this traditional greeting is the sense that until you saw me, I didn't exist. When you stand before me, when you recognize me and acknowledge me, you have brought me into being.

In part, this perspective springs from a culture that recognizes our relationships with others. A person is a person because of others.

So this raises questions I invite you to ponder:

How do YOU, in your greetings communicate a sense of sawubona, "I see you"?
What does it mean, to YOU, to “see” the other? What does that look like? Sound like? Feel like?

In sum, to “see” each other is to create a dialogue. It establishes you as a witness to someone’s presence and potential. It invites you to participate in their life, and him or her in yours.

Here’s a deconstruction of how this might play out.

When you come to a meeting, as you mingle with colleagues, you choose to avoid the vague, general formula: “Hi, how are you?” or “How’re you doin’!” Instead, you say something engaging:

“Hi, Linda, I’m so glad you have come back today…I missed you last month.”

“Wow, nice boots Melanie! You carry yourself well when you wear them.”

“Please share your story again, Anne. It is inspiring to hear how well your business has done.”

All of these are "sawubona" greetings. Each says, “I see you!” They mark a place in your world of the person you are greeting — Linda, Melanie, Anne.

You communicate “I see you!” as you say their name. You communicate “I see you!” as you recall a particular circumstance in their life, or some aspect of your shared experiences. You communicate “I see you!” as you acknowledge what that person means to you.

Engaged and attentive are the signals of identity and relationship. This is the gift of full attention.

My client tells a cautionary tale about the automatic, formulaic nature of our greeting rituals and the perils of speaking by rote:

Ping, an international student rolled his Smart car down an embankment, into a deep ditch.
“We’re coming!” would-be rescuers called down to him, “How are you doing?”
“Fine, thank you”, said Ping politely, just as he had been taught, “and you?”
So the would-be rescuers left . . . and that was the last of Ping.

Written by A Nony Mouse

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You have paid your membership, come to the meetings and met the top business women on the North Shore. What’s next?

SWAN members neglect to tap into the breadth of SWAN’s social media outlets. Spreading to women in the Lower Mainland, SWAN on LinkedIn has a North Shore following that reaches throughout the Lower Mainland to members in USA and India…I don’t know how we can help the member from Botswana but I know some of us would like that connection!

Anyone who is a member of the LinkedIn group may post on the SWAN member page. Go ahead and teach us something or make us think about you and your business a little differently…consider yourself challenged!

SWAN’s Facebook group posts all upcoming meetings and past meeting photos. FB is a more personal connection than LinkedIn, sharing your posts with other members of SWAN keeps you current.
Hey, what you are doing the rest of the month?
Did you go to a great seminar or are you hosting one?
Did you go see a great play or find an interesting new way of rekindling a client relationship?

Make a friend – business/colleague/social - through the SWAN Facebook page to create openings and invitations for your business.

Twitter doesn’t care what you had for lunch anymore SWAN tweets about breakfast - meeting details, speaker news and what’s happening in the SWAN business world.

At SWAN we are pretty. Pretty faces, pretty voices, and pretty savvy. Social media connects you. And you. And you.


Lara Hildebrandt is a financial advisor working with business owners in executive compensation, wealth accumulation, retirement planning, and employee and employer benefits. She is also your SWAN Communications Chair.

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Catching up with CASL, or How to Avoid Becoming an Accidental Spammer by Susan Chambers


The new legislation called CASL

Will undoubtedly cause you new hassles,

But if you get clear consent

Before every C.E.M. sent,

Then you won’t run afoul of the CASL.


Earlier this month, I was chatting with an individual who works for a not-for-profit organization, and the subject of CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation), the new anti-spam legislation that comes into effect on July 1, 2014, came up. When she mentioned that she was now busy developing an action plan to make sure all of the organization’s electronic communications would be CASL compliant, I was taken aback.

“What do you mean all of your communications? Doesn’t it just apply to marketing and sales-related email blasts and collecting emails for marketing purposes?” I asked.

The short answer is “no.” The legislation is far more sweeping—and onerous—than that. It is well beyond the scope of this post to provide a thorough explanation of what the legislation entails, but here are a few highlights that will most likely affect most SWAN members’ business communications and networking practices.

With a few exceptions, the new legislation appears to define most electronic communications (email, text message, or social media platform) sent to or from an individual, business, or organization in Canada as a “commercial electronic message” (CEM). Furthermore, as of July 1, you must have either the express or implied consent of the recipient for every email (or text message) that does not fall into one of the defined exceptions, such as emails to family and friends, previously established business relationships, or other non-business relationships—although the latter two categories are a bit tricky to define and not as straightforward or logical as one might expect.

What makes CASL so onerous is that as of July 1, you cannot email the person to get permission to email them. You must either talk to or write to the recipient to get their permission to email them, and you must keep a physical record of that conversation. The good news is that you can still email people on your contact lists before July 1, 2014, to confirm that they still want to be contacted by you.

An “opt-out” approach to building a mailing list is no longer an option after July 1, so make sure that additions to your mailing list are based on a clear “opt-in” process.

What does this mean for SWAN as an organization? It appears that communications between an organization and its current members (and volunteers) would count as implied consent. However, electronic communications between members contacting non-members or individual members contacting each other might not automatically be defined as “implied consent”. From a networking perspective, if you follow up with new contacts by phone and cultivate a relationship before asking them to join your mailing list, you won’t run afoul of the legislation.

The best explanation about CASL and how to be CASL-ready by July 1 that I have seen is at this site, which was recommended by a professional association: I encourage SWAN and its members to read through the information and follow the 15-step process.


Written by Susan Chambers, S.D. Chambers’ SAGE Editing & Research Services

Susan is the creative force behind SAGE Editing & Research Services. She draws on her talents as a wordsmith, social science research background, and extensive professional experience as an institutional research and planning analyst to help nonprofits, social enterprises and small businesses show how they're making a positive difference, align their values and business practices, get clear on their information needs, and express their written messages with greater clarity. She is a long time advocate for social justice and sustainable development issues. She wrote and published her first book Small Business, Big Change: A Microentrepreneur's Guide to Social Responsibility in 2012 (Night Owls Press).

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Specialized REALTORS® Help Ease the Trauma of Downsizing for Seniors by Kathy Suffel

Downsizing a home can be a daunting, very emotional undertaking for seniors, which is why they are increasingly looking to specially-trained REALTORS® for help.

Accredited senior agents are REALTORS® who help ease the transition for seniors and baby boomers. Statistics Canada categorizes seniors as people born before 1946, and baby boomers as individuals born between the years1946 and 1965.

Older seniors, especially, can feel overwhelmed by the process of selling their home and finding a new place to live.

When listing my client Marjory’s North Vancouver home last year, she admitted a bit fearfully, “This is all new to me. I moved from living with my parents to getting married and living here with my husband for 55 years until he passed in 2010”.

That’s why she turned to a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES) for help.

This special designation teaches REALTORS® to provide extra services that go far beyond simply selling homes. In short, it is hand-holding: full, full, full service.

This full service can include everything from advising about upgrades to older homes, redecorating, organizing, referrals to trades people such as painters and handymen, even estate planning and lawyers, and property maintenance.

Most SRES® agents don’t charge extra for these services; it’s all part of the agreed commission for selling the home.

Do you know a senior who is considering selling her house because they’re having troubles managing on their own? Help them by suggesting they work with an accredited seniors’ agent.

Kathy Suffel 2014

Kathy Suffel is a retired lawyer and First Nation land claim negotiator-mediator, currently a proud North Shore REALTOR® with Sutton West Coast Realty. She is an Accredited Buyers Representative®, and is also certified to provide specialized Seniors Real Estate Services®.


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Dunnett_Pintrest haiku graphics

Spring is in the air! One of the things I love about living in Vancouver in the spring is seeing the cherry
blossoms come alive. Cherry blossoms are closely connected to, and used in, haiku poetry in Japan and
around the world. April celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival here in Vancouver, which is a month long
celebration of the spring and rebirth; a renewal of hope and the connection to one another after a long and
dreary winter.
In traditional and contemporary Japanese haiku, the seasons are often referred to in nature. Haiku is the
poetry of nature and human nature, provoking images and feelings of being in the moment by using a
seasonal word (kigo) to illustrate a feeling associated with the season, such as cherry blossoms for the
spring and the full moon for autumn. Kigo provides a sense of being in the season while sometimes not
saying what the season is. Spring has a mood of optimism and is often implied to be a new beginning, as a
round belly indicates birth and a new life. The essence of a haiku is creating a clear image for the reader
that is real and in the moment. Not using decorative or fancy words, the purpose is to evoke a feeling for
the reader. A haiku presents a pair of contrasting images; one suggests a time and place, the other a vivid
but temporary view. It is poetry of the senses. Traditional haiku is based on a 17 syllable form using three
lines. Contemporary haiku is free form, assimilated by the West and Zen philosophy, that does not follow the
traditional Japanese “rules” of 5/7/5 syllables. Today’s haiku is written in many languages, but the number of
writers is still concentrated primarily in Japan and secondarily in English-speaking countries.
Spring is the perfect time to send clients thank-you cards. There are so many benefits to sending thank you
cards. Having a custom haiku and design that enhances your brand beautifully, you will make a good
impression and be remembered by your customers, distinguishing your company from the competition.
Having your own custom haiku can help you stand out and get attention for your business. Thank-you
cards are a great way to do this. Your client may have met with 10 other people, but if you are the one
who sends him a memorable card to thank him, then you will be remembered a lot more than the other
people who were encountered. After all, business is all about making contacts and making the right
impression on people. A beautiful custom design makes for a personal printed piece that will leave your
clients more motivated to reach out to thank you personally. Thank you cards are the best way to make a
lasting impression.


Anne Dunnett headshot

Mini bio
I create clean and modern designs for entrepreneurs so that their audience is inspired to take action. By
following Zen philosophy principles, I’m able to keep the designs clear, simple and uncluttered. I love to
help my clients transform their marketing materials into memorable visuals of their brand and am
passionate about design and the success that it brings to my clients.
Inklings Design
Anne Dunnett

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I understand the importance of physical and moral autonomy and the governing principles for the commercial use of personal information.

What I don’t understand is why businesses hide their address. Where are you? How do I send cards, letters or parcels?

Sometimes my clients ask me to send their clients a greeting. Sometimes a phone call is all it takes to get an address. Sometimes a different time zone, country, and language add to the perplexity—and the cost—of investigating.

Conventional postal services deliver more than notes, greetings, chocolates and gifts; they deliver thoughtfulness. Clients feel acknowledged. It feels rewarding to hear they were “wowed” by the surprise of old fashioned mail. But it can be hard to be nice when there is nowhere to deliver it.

Generally, I almost always find you, and wow, it makes the mailing that much sweeter.

So, make it easy. Where am I sending your card?

cartoon map

Heather’s business, Virtually Behind the Scenes, helps coaches stay organized, ready and on top of their game by providing administrative, office and business support to ensure “stuff”—or worse, connections— don’t fall through the cracks. Virtually Behind the Scenes is “here for you”, wherever you are.


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Unfinished organizing projects, piles of paper, cluttered spaces and frantic schedules… Most of us deal with at least one of these on a regular basis, but when we allow chaos to become our way of life, we run the risk of affecting our health and our overall well-being. To keep burn out at bay and make the most of your precious time, here are three organizing tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start small. Tackle one small piece of a project at a time to avoid becoming paralyzed by the thought of trying to tackle it all.  By seizing small chunks of time, you will be done in no time and will not have felt like you “wasted” a whole weekend or evening on it. Some examples:


  • Do you have piles of paper everywhere? Just sort through one pile at a time.
  • Do you have a bin of photos that need to go into albums? Deal with one small stack at a time.
  • Has your bookshelf gotten out of hand? Sort through one shelf at a time.


  1. Don’t multitask! Many of us wear our ability to multitask like a badge of honour, but in actual fact, studies have shown that multitasking slows us down. The usual temptation when sorting through a pile of paper, for example, is to get up and “deal with” items as we go along (i.e. file it, recycle it, post it, etc.), or—worse still—we stop to read items discovered in the pile, which slows us way down. Instead, grab a stack of file folders and sort through the pile while remaining seated.


  1. Choose to be more aware. How often do we say such things as “I don’t have time”, or “I wish…”? Although this may seem to be true when we find ourselves constantly on the run from one thing to the next and wanting things to be different, we really are in the driver’s seat of our schedule and our life. How it all plays out comes down to the choices we make. For example:


  • Do you hit the snooze button or not? This may be the determining factor between a relaxed start to the day or a frantic one.
  • Do you bring your daughter’s lunch bag to school - again? By choosing not to, you could be on time for your appointment and also empower her to face the consequences of her forgetfulness – a golden learning opportunity for her.
  • Do you accept your mother-in-law’s invitation for Sunday dinner again this week when you are exhausted and looking forward to a quiet night at home? Notice what is driving your response, and be aware of how often you say “yes” when you really want to say “no.”

I challenge you to take control over your time by applying these three strategies. You’ll be happy you did!

Jennifer Neudecker has a passion for helping others create a life and an environment that fits who they really are. As a professional organizer and certified coach she helps her busy clients get organized and create customized organizing and time management solutions that they can maintain. To contact Jennifer and learn more about her work, please visit

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SWAN November Showcase & Shopping

It is not uncommon for women business owners to have occasion to doubt their value. It is natural for us to have ups and downs in business. During the 'downs' we often feel undervalued. The intention of this post is to give you a few tips on how to remain positive in your business even when you feel momentarily and monetarily undervalued!

It is really important to understand what YOU value in yourself and your business. You need to know how you equate your 'value' to your 'worth'. I often hear complaints from women I am coaching that their clients just don't see the value of the work they do; clients don't want to pay them what they are worth, etc. It is very common to associate 'value' with 'worth' in terms of money and not realize that this is only one part of the equation.

In researching the word 'value' I came across an article that talked about Aspired Values and Functional Values. See which ones resonate with your and your company’s values.

ASPIRED VALUES   - WHAT you aspire to have FUNCTIONAL VALUES   - HOW you attain aspired values
  • Achievement
  • Beauty
  • Contribution
  • Freedom
  • Health
  • Love
  • Partnership
  • Recognition
  • Spirituality
  • Wealth
  • Accountability
  • Autonomy
  • Competency
  • Creativity
  • Fairness
  • Flexibility
  • Honesty
  • Knowledge
  • Organization
  • Team

How Do You Stay Positive When You Feel Undervalued?  

A stager recently had an experience where she felt her services were being undervalued when a staging job went sideways. She had to ask herself why it went sideways, and she momentarily doubted that she should charge the monetary fee she had quoted. Eventually she realized that SHE was actually devaluing her expertise and came to her senses by asking herself some questions and talking honestly with the client.

You may find yourself in a situation where you are asked to provide a quote for your work, or someone is asking what you charge for your services. Here are a few things that might help you stay positive about your value and your worth when sharing your pricing for your services:

  • Look at everything that you bring to the table. You may be new to your business, or you may have been in the business for awhile. Regardless, you have many talents and skills you bring to the table along with the investment you have made in learning the services/work you currently offer.  Make a list of them along with your core values. Have them handy in your moments of doubt.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this 'fair market value' for my work?” You know if you are charging a fair price for your services or not. If your fees are fair, then do not justify them. This  may not be the right client for you.
  • If something does go sideways, how can you straighten it out? Breathe, step back, and think about what needs to be done to get back on track with the job. Perhaps it means making an adjustment to the original services offered or revisiting the client’s expectations.
  • Keep an open and honest line of communication flowing between you and your client. While you may think your business is about the service you provide, it really is about relationships! The only way to create and maintain great relationships is with open communication. When you are in the midst of feeling doubt, think about the value you know you are giving to this client. Let the client know what they receive from working with you; after all, they expect results if they hire you. What results will you give them? Great relationships are priceless and lead to more business opportunities.

The real bottom line comes down to you valuing yourself. The only way to really achieve what you want in your business is to honestly look at your Core Values and see if they equal your True Worth. If they do, then stay the course; if not, revisit them until they are in alignment with each other.

P.S. Everyone has their own money story, and if you have one that isn’t serving you, you might want to check out Jennifer Longmore’s Heal Your Money Story program.

Dana J. Smithers, President of SWAN Network is an author, speaker and Certified Law of Attraction Trainer and Success Coach. She is passionately committed to educating, inspiring and empowering women to achieve the success they want in both their personal and professional lives. Over 10 years ago she left her ‘secure’ 20+ year corporate job to start her own home decorating and staging business. She started one of Canada’s top staging training schools and now lives her passion working with women through Empowered Women In Business. She believes every woman deserves a joyful, healthy abundant life and through her coaching, webinars and workshop women learn how to shift their blocks to create more of what they want in their lives and less of what they don’t want!

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