Carolyn Browne Tamler

has helped hundreds of businesses and organizations with her thoughtful facilitation and research services. She also writes colorful and compelling articles about new business initiatives! Would this help you? Call Carolyn today!

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    p:| 360.222.6820
    c:| 425.351.7531

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    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    10-3-18 Good marketing: Getting the whole family involved

    I just published a story for the Business Spotlight about Bart’s Better Foods (Bart’s Better Foods Provides Healthy Food Alternatives available on Whidbey -

    There are many things about this story that really resonate with my major marketing themes: Filling a niche, having a passion about what you are selling and developing some key marking themes. 

    But I was also impressed that this is a family business: The Zefferys involved in the business include brother and sister and mom and dad. In a small community like Whidbey, there are several businesses that have been passed on from parent to child, and some where families contribute money to support a business a daughter or son is developing.  This is the first time I have had the experience of talking with four members of a family who are all involved and committed to creating a new business with several new products.  Right now, Bart’s Better Foods products are being sold on-line, at the Bayview Farmer’s Market (till the end of October) and at Payless Foods.

    How much Bart’s Better Foods will expand to serve other markets remains to be seen. But for now, it’s really delightful to see how the business is growing.


    9-27-18 Doing something you love defines many of the business owners on Whidbey

    One of my on-going themes for having a successful business is the importance of being passionate about what you do.  I have written several stories about people who moved to Whidbey and became entrepreneurs, often doing something very different on the island than they had done previously.

    Then, I got this response that really impressed me:

    “I once had a business that was also my passion but I found that when you absolutely must earn a living from that thing, it can take the joy and pleasure right out of the thing that once fed your soul. For me, it's been much easier to NOT earn money from "what makes me passionate," but to do something else that can enable me to do my passion outside of work, without it having to be reduced to the grind of needing to make me money.“

    I’ve read this over several times.  I certainly understand the point that was made. 

    I think what I have observed is that many people who move to Whidbey need to find a different way to earn a living since there are relatively few jobs on the island.  Many decide to follow a dream they have had but never acted upon.  Running any kind of a business isn’t easy, but I have crossed paths with many who moved to the island, decided to do something as a business that they had never done before, and find themselves feeling very contented with their business choice….even if it isn’t earning the money they might have gotten from their city job off the island.

    There really is no pat answer to the dilemma of job/business satisfaction vs. making enough money to live comfortably.  Obviously, if you can follow a passion and earn as much as you need to get by, it’s a formula for a happier lifestyle.



    9-20-18 Being an active participant in the community is also good business

    The Goose Grocer, which is associated with Goosefoot, is one of the best local examples I know of a business that gives back to the community.


    I did a Whidbey Local story this past week ( that highlighted a new Store Director, but also described ways in which The Goose Grocer is very involved with the South Whidbey community.

    Here is a excerpt from the article:

    The Goose Grocer is owned by Goosefoot Community Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit economic and community development organization on South Whidbey. Goosefoot is committed to using its real estate properties and collaborative partnerships to “Achieve a vision of a thriving, socially and economically vibrant community on South Whidbey” according to Executive Director Sandra Whiting. 

    Profits from The Goose are continuing to grow and provide more support to The Goosefoot vision of service to the community.

    In other words, being involved and committed to being a part of the community is playing a significant role in making the The Goose Grocer a successful business.



    9-13-18 Sometimes a good business evolves organically

    The latest story posted on the Business Spotlight is about Designer Consigner in Freeland

    Katie Ginn began her business as a consignment book store called “Book Lovers” seven years ago. Word got around and for a while her business was growing. But, as time passed more people began going to the internet to shop for books.

    Four years ago one of her friends brought in some quality clothing to see if Katie had any interest in seeing if she could sell it. Katie agreed, and then another idea began to evolve. Her business name moved from “Book Lovers” to “Designer Consigner”, and her business has flourished selling quality women’s clothing and accessories.

    Her story is special because she had an intuitive response to the idea her friend suggested, and Designer Consigner has filled a special niche providing quality women’s clothing and accessories she sells on consignment.

    I think part of creating a successful business is being open to new ideas.


    9-6-18 Creativity is often easier within a group

    I understand that many artists find their creative expression on their own. They have a creative concept for a piece of artwork or music, and they execute the idea on their own.

    However, it has been my experience that if you ask a single person to come up with a creative idea for a plan or a marketing concept, or simply a way to solve a problem, often there is a deer-in-the-headlights moment.

    That’s why I love bringing people together and facilitating a discussion that will generate creative ideas and solutions to problems. The most productive group number is 10; not sure why (in Jewish tradition 10 is a “minion” or the amount needed to have a formal meeting process), but this does seem to be the magic number where everyone feels comfortable about speaking up and sharing opinions and ideas. Less than 10, and sometimes the discussion isn’t quite as lively; more than 10, and it becomes a bit more difficult to control.

    I do want to stress the need to have a good facilitator for a group process. It’s important that time is controlled, that the discussion stays focused and that everyone in the discussion feels comfortable speaking up.

    It’s also interesting to me that some of the most creative ideas coming out of someone in a group have been preceded by the phrase, “I really don’t know much about this, but……”

    To summarize: Bring people together in the group that have some kind of common interest (community, interests, knowledge, etc.); have an agenda that is followed as much as possible; create an atmosphere where everyone in the group feels comfortable speaking up; and make sure that no one individual dominates the conversation (I usually say something like, “I can see you feel strongly about this, now I’d like to hear what someone else has to say.”)