Madeleine Clerides is a publicist, writer and event coordinator based in Vancouver, BC. Madeleine started her career in a corporate agency setting, where she familiarized herself with the media landscape and worked with large companies such as Dyson, Molson/Coors, Cirque du Soleil, and President’s Choice.
In 2020, she pivoted to freelance work and began to build up her personal portfolio. Madeleine is the public relations manager and social media coordinator for the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa, Vancouver’s only Relaix & Chateaux property. She also writes lifestyle and beauty content for Daily Hive and VITA Daily. From event coordination to social media management, Madeleine has built a multi-faceted business that provides her with diverse responsibilities, which she enjoys immensely.
IN HER WORDS
“In my early teens, I organized a charity dog show at my school to raise money for the SPCA in 2007 with business donations from businesses and sponsors.
“I guess I was event planning and networking without even realizing it!
“This journey was a bit bumpy at the beginning, as early on, I undervalued myself. I was so keen to add specific clients to my portfolio that I took a pay cut even though I knew it wasn’t right. I knew I was providing real monetary value to specific businesses, but I would lower my worth to accommodate clients because I wasn’t used to the freelance format.
“My entrepreneurial journey happened organically and entirely by accident. Before the pandemic, I worked in PR agencies and assumed that I would climb the ladder in this industry for my whole career.
“When I lost my role, and the pandemic hit, marketing budgets were cut, and events were non-existent. If I wanted to keep pursuing roles in my field, I would have to rethink my trajectory.
“There was an exciting shift in March 2020; because of the pandemic, my father, John Clerides purchased the historic Numbers Cabaret on Davie Street, which is next to Marquis Wine Cellars, the Clerides family business of 30 years. My Papou (Grandpa) had owned the property since the 1970s, and thus, our family had been very well acquainted with the previous owner and staff for many years.
“Numbers is Vancouver’s first-ever gay bar and had the same owner from its inception until John’s acquisition. Since liquor stores were considered essential businesses, sales were climbing rapidly, and John did not feel he could oversee a rebranding and renovation of Numbers. At this point, I unexpectedly entered the family business for the first time, despite my considerable trepidation.
“Despite my reluctance to work under my dad, his idea made great sense. Numbers needed an entire overhaul, from renovations to a social media reboot.
“The club had become less popular in recent years within the Davie Village community, as the TLC needed to keep it trendy was never prioritized.
“We had no idea when clubs would be open again, but we did have a massive back parking lot that I knew could be turned into a functional outdoor patio space. I told my dad that if he wanted my help with this project, I was insistent on reintroducing drag performances back into the bar, as the previous owner had excluded drag queens from the space for about 25 years, which in turn alienated many people in the Davie Village community.
“My dad told me he completely trusted what I believed would work and that if people responded positively to the performances, we could do whatever I suggested.
“Needless to say, drag became the bread and butter of our establishment throughout the entirety of COVID. Performers were beyond keen to be on stage, and we were the only venue on Davie Street with an outdoor space large enough to host shows.
“Besides some private commissions and internal work, we partnered with the Vancouver Mural Festival to create beautiful art on the new patio that reflects the club’s history and vibrance.
“Due to the success of the club’s reinvigoration, I could step back from my role in 2022 and focus on other clients. I am so thankful that my dad trusted me to spearhead the renovations, create a trendy drinks list, reintroduce drag, create a patio from scratch, manage the website creation and social media, collaborate with artists and more.
“Now, if you drive by Numbers on a weekend, you will likely see a line that goes up the block. Keeping the integrity of Numbers distinctly queer was at the top of my priority list, and I am elated that the community responded so positively to our efforts in making Numbers a safe, fun and inclusive space for everyone to enjoy.
“Once clubs formally reopened and PR events started to open back up, I could apply the momentum of this experience to my next clients.
“Luckily, thanks to my extensive networking pre-pandemic, other businesses began reaching out to me to support them on various projects they could not manage due to the challenges COVID presented them with. It was here that I began managing a variety of social media accounts and helping businesses organize safe events with the stringent COVID restrictions.
“Due to the success of these endeavours, my services were further conveyed via word of mouth, and momentum was built. That is how I built a portfolio of clients and started my freelancing career.
“Even though it was a relatively short span from 2016-2023, my career unexpectedly changed directions a few times.
“I began my PR journey as an intern at Town Hall Brands and grew to the lead publicist while sitting on the committee for Variety, The Children’s Charity Gold Heart Gala.
“The first year I was on the committee was the highest-grossing event in the BC chapter’s history, and this experience ultimately led me to become more involved in other charities. In 2019, I was recruited by Citizen Relations and began a more senior role.
“In March 2020, I spearheaded the rebrand of Numbers on Davie Street. This led to companies contacting me for social media support and organizing events that obeyed the COVID restrictions. This mainly involved food/beverage events and live outdoor performances.
“In 2021, I took the time to complete my Wine Spirit Education Trust Awards in wine and completed both Levels 1 and 2 with distinction, began writing for Daily Hive, and started my social media partnership with Plain Jane Skinbar.
“In 2022-23, I did media relations for the inaugural Ambleside Music Festival, began with the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa, started writing beauty content for VITA Daily, organized the WCT/BC quarterly mentoring events, and sat on the committee for BCWHF’s Glow Gala which raised $1.3 million – I will be returning on the committee next year.
“Five years ago, I never thought I would be a freelancer or entrepreneur. Since then, I have found that my work-life balance has become much more manageable and that eliminating the politics of office bureaucracy allowed me to focus on doing the best work possible.
“I also could focus more on my overall health now that I wasn’t working within the restrictions of 9-5 life, and for the first time, I could work while travelling extensively. Most importantly, these professional changes allowed me to say ‘yes’ to amazing last-minute opportunities, events and trips for work that have ultimately enhanced my career and life.
“I realized this would all work out when I started working with the Wedgewood. Before this point, I was contemplating my next move heavily. However, I knew the hotel owners would never entrust me with a job like this without total confidence in my abilities.
“Furthermore, the Wedgewood is the only Relais & Chateaux property in Vancouver, which provides an extra degree of pressure since the R&C audits all areas of the business to ensure their standards are being met. Once I started garnering fantastic results and my work was widely recognized within this environment, I knew I was where I was meant to be.
“Once I had fully established myself, I started reaching out to people I didn’t know because I was confident in myself and my work. Before, I would only ever reach out to people with whom I had an “in” or a mutual connection. This new approach opened endless doors for me, whether it was unbelievable event invites or fantastic client offers.
“Along the way, my dad was instrumental in prepping me to become an entrepreneur. We have very similar personalities, and as a businessman himself, he ensured that once I started freelancing and representing myself, I would make sound decisions and be taken seriously because he believed in my talents.
“My current business model is flexible and multi-faceted. I don’t put myself in a box. I find that if you are a freelancer, you need to be able to go with the flow and adapt to a client’s needs wherever necessary.
“Since I was born and raised in Vancouver, I have been able to combine my corporate agency experience with my network, industry savvy, and gregarious personality.
“I find that many corporate agencies don’t prioritize face-to-face relationships outside of the office and truly meaningful industry connections, but this is where I excel and can achieve results.
“It’s no secret that the price of everything has gone up, so in the next two quarters, this will likely be reflected in my pricing model and, will ultimately, filter out some potential clients.
“I’m also getting to the point where I will need a bookkeeper and more advanced platform investments to streamline my workload and schedule.
“I look forward to 2024 and beyond! I am juggling a few large offers to integrate into my portfolio, and I am still determining where these will end up, but all of them excite me greatly. I have a feeling that I will be staying in the travel and lifestyle space and building on the solid foundation I have already created.”
Images for this story provided by Madeleine Clerides.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at [email protected].
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