Cam Healy & James Blackburn, Co-Founders of West of Contra
It’s easy in this sort of business to get your sights set on “oh this will be the sexiest or coolest looking thing”, but in my opinion you have to run this as a business ultimately. Being cool for a minute doesn’t matter.
Being cool for a minute doesn’t matter. Take that in.
Let’s face it – the nightlife industry has it qwerks. From the perks and pains of exclusivity, to the social imagery and messaging that constantly bombards our phones. It leaves us feeling that sweet FOMO, or equally, it can motivate us to get social and to seek memorable experiences with our friends.
But again, if you look at this industry at its core – being cool for a minute doesn’t matter. Longevity in the event production space requires reliable and genuine relationships, nostalgic experiences, graceful marketing, and a scalable business model.
Introducing Cam Healy & James Blackburn, the Co-Founders of West of Contra, an event production company responsible for some of the most incredible events in Toronto. Let’s name a few – TIFF Ovation, Guinness SPD (the biggest St. Patrick’s Day party in Canada), the All-Star Gala in Support of Sick Kids, and the list goes on.
But let’s not stop at events, Cam & James are also part of the ownership group that operates one of the top bars in the King West area of Toronto, Early Mercy. You may have gone on a Tinder or Bumble date there and had the time of your life.
These guys have truly transcended the promoter stereotype into fully fledged entrepreneurs. But what I realized in our conversation, is that they were just normal people. What makes them different is that they’re insatiable. They don’t revel in success or failure for too long. They keep moving. They keep trying.
Given the nightlife and event promotions industry was a very big part of my life throughout university, I really connected with a lot of Cam & James’ experiences building West of Contra. In many ways, I was able to see a glimpse of what I think my future could have been if I stayed in the industry.
Recorded in the Early Mercy office, we did this interview while the staff were preparing for one of their weekly events. The atmosphere felt right at home and vividly reminded me of my past.
In this interview, some of the things you’ll learn about are:
- How it all started – the background and beginning of West of Contra, and why Cam & James make such a great team
- How the company evolved through weekly and large scale events, brand partnerships, bar ownership, false starts – all the details
- Some of the most important lessons that Cam & James have learned about building longevity and success in nightlife industry
- The coolest people they’ve met in the industry and… SPOILER ALERT – I was not expecting their answer at all!
- & so much more
If you want to learn more about Cam & James, you can find them in the following places:
Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo (April 9th, 2017): www.torontocoffeeandtea.com | USE PROMO CODE empowr17 for 20% off
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Thank you for your valuable attention,
Creative Director | empowr