Cover Story: “BALANCING ACT” Local Wychwood Resident Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski on doing it all – running a top Canadian PR firm, keeping family #1 & loving her community. By Stacia Carlton
There is a sense of awareness that Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski radiates which gives you the unmistakable knowledge that you’re in for an honest and enlightening exchange.
It was with this self-awareness and Debra’s unwavering commitment to family that saw the birth of Rock-it Promotions. This may seem an odd way for a company to be born but this familial devotion was unmistakably the jumping off point for Debra. When she was denied vacation time to spend the holidays with her dying mother, Debra took the only action she knew she could, take a permanent leave from the company to be with her family.
After standing up for her beliefs and with much encouragement from friends and family she struck out on her own. She won the right to represent a newly released stage play, beating out an established PR firm for the business and suddenly she had her first client.
It was January 2000, the internet was in its infancy so armed primarily with the phone book Debra made calls and pitched potential clients. She was creating a promotional power house. She firmly believes that it was her mother’s spirit and character that gave her the strength she needed. It is an important part of her story that her mother was able to see the beginnings of her success before passing. It is a powerful and touching way to start a new chapter.
After not only surviving the recession of ’08 but growing through that time, Debra now employs and mentors a group of 28. She is involved on every level of the business and it is this that creates the mutually supportive and encouraging environment that is the cornerstone of her success. “This is not a competitive agency,” Debra states emphatically. She reminds her staff of the importance that they support one another.
“You spend so many hours at work that these people aren’t necessarily your best friends but they should be people that you really trust. It can’t work without that trust. That’s number 1 for me, number 2 is a no mean-girls policy, and I think we all know what that means.” Yes, I think we do!
A few moments into our conversation it was clear that commitment to family and friends is woven from the same fabric that supports Rock-it. She behaves as a foundation and a mentor, setting examples by living them. “If I see something that isn’t right, I point it out right away. I like to think that they do it with each other too. I think it’s important to remind other women how to enter a room, business or otherwise, with a positive attitude.” Her commitment to her ideology is indisputable.
A native Torontonian, Debra now makes her home in the beautiful and eclectic midtown neighbourhood of Wychwood Heights. “I love this neighbourhood, this street in particular is so special. We have an incredible group of friends here. That’s quite unusual I think.”
Her enthusiasm for the neighbourhood is palpable. “We’re usually hanging around the area. We just went to the Humewood Fall Fair this weekend. I did all my fall shopping at Parpar Boutique and every Saturday night is take out from Nama Sushi.”
While chatting with Debra in the living room of her charming home it’s easy to see how content she is here. She continued, “In the colder months we like being able to walk to restaurants. Sometimes it’s The Rushton, sometimes Ferro. Everything is here from ice cream at Booyah to haircuts for the kids, our tailor, our cleaner everything is walking distance.” Her skills at PR extend beyond the office, she is a true Wychwood ambassador.
I asked if there was anything else she would like the readers to know and without hesitation she began speaking of her husband, Matt Sadowski. “He’s a filmmaker. He did a film called Pretend We’re Kissing (available on iTunes) this past year, which has won a bunch of awards. This is his second feature. He did a documentary previously called Don’t You Forget About Me on the legendary director John Hughes.”
And what of Rock-it’s future? “Although many of my competitors are branching out to NY and LA, I want to keep my focus on Canada and grow here.”
She doesn’t speak with regret or sadness about the difficult times in her life and her honesty about them is positively endearing. It is evident that her struggles have come together to make her the strong, kind and enormously compassionate woman she is.
Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski claims that she can’t do it all nor does she feel she has to have it all. Yet, it seems that in recognizing that fact she suddenly does have it all. She emanates equanimity and just like her company’s motto, I am happy to sing her praises loudly.
Stacia Carlton is a regular contributor at Village Living and can also be found at her own site www.bestillandeat.com where she obsesses weekly about all things food.