Getting the opportunity to lead a new team on the latest Innovation Centre for Niagara College’s (NC) Research & Innovation (R&I) division isn’t something Sarah Godfrey takes for granted.
She’s a Research Lead with the Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre (BCIC), focusing on media production. She is responsible for supporting a team of students and post-graduate research assistants, with backgrounds in film and graphic design, in offering real-world solutions to businesses seeking to solve various innovation challenges in media production. Sarah supervises and guides the work, helping to shape strategy and ensure the content her team is producing is up to industry standards.
She credits finding this role to a networking encounter with BCIC’s Research Program Manager, Paula Reile. “We were attending an event at a local university focusing on entrepreneurship and got to talking,” said Sarah. At the time, Sarah was working as a marketing director for a local hospitality group and was thinking about starting her own small agency.
“The role of Research Lead seemed like the perfect fit for me because I had come from academia and been interested in working with Niagara College, as it has a really good reputation, so this opportunity brings together my love of teaching and years of industry experience in marketing and social media,” said Sarah.
From a young age, Sarah was always interested in the arts, so pursuing a career doing something creative was a no brainer: “I studied at the University of Guelph, completing my bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture where I learned all the Adobe programs, graphic design, conceptual development and other tactical skills.”
She furthered refined those skills and completed her master’s degree in the same discipline.
Being an artist in her personal time and having a knack for media production, Sarah began to share her fibre art and illustration on her social media channels, and it really took off. Sarah’s creative practice has led to exciting opportunities such as her solo exhibit as a part of a residency at National Historic Site Schneider Haus, features in Love Embroidery Magazine & Create Whimsy, a project showcase on sheer fabric embroidery on NBC Universal streaming service, Bluprint, (now Craftsy) and the chance to write her book, Organza Hoop Art, which was published by Fox Chapel Publishing in April 2021, and a second that came out in April 2023.
All these opportunities have made her a well-rounded creative marketing professional, and her role with NC allows her to bring all these passions together. “I feel like I’ve found my calling and where I’m supposed to be, and I’m using my best skills here with R&I,” she noted.
Currently, the BCIC media team is proud of the work they’ve been doing with The Smokin’ Buddha, and its latest venture, Go Buddha.
“It can be hard to be a business owner. You don’t always have the time and resources to create content, so the team can help level-up your media production.”
– Sarah Godfrey, Research Lead, Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre
“We’ve completed some interview-style videos, food and product photography for Go Buddha, as well as some event-focused work for them,” noted Sarah. “Our film students are really enjoying this project and tapping into trends (like the Wes Anderson trend), so I’m very proud of the work they have been creating for clients,” she added.
Sarah also has first-hand experience as a small-business owner. She runs F3LT, a small, creative marketing agency where Sarah’s passion in her consulting work is serving as a support for businesses and their teams as they work towards their goals.
“It can be hard to be a business owner. You don’t always have time to create content, so the BCIC team can help level-up your media production,” she said.
Sarah’s advice to small business owners is in whatever way that you have capacity for, seek outside expertise such as that of BCIC because they can help you zoom out and give you an objective view of where your businesses strengths and weaknesses are, and help you level-up you’re branding and reach the proper audiences.
“At the same time, we are educating these business owners on what to do and help arm them with information so down the road, they can create content themselves,” she added.
“It’s a very supportive and creative environment, truly focused on innovation. The work we are doing is connected to real-life businesses and efforts, so we are super tied to industry.
“This work is very fulling and we’re helping real businesses reach real goals, and for the students, they are the ones creating media that a business is turning around and using on their social media channels, so it’s a great experience,” Sarah said.
The media team makes it a priority to stay on top of all the latest trends so that the quality of work for clients is cutting-edge. “I’m a consumer of content so I take time to use the latest social media apps to see what’s out there – what people are doing, how we could use different tools, what does the industry say about this – and then apply it to our client-based work,” she noted.
With all of this said, Sarah feels like she has landed at the right place with Niagara College. “I always wanted to work in the arts, but I also loved teaching, so the fact that I’ve ended up back in education, but in a very cool way, it feels very practical, and I like this pace of work,” she said with a smile.
If you think the media team could help you with your social media content or other production projects, visit the Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre website, or if you have a project idea to share, contact David DiPietro, Manager, Business Development, at [email protected].