Resilience and reinvention are the watchwords that describe Pam Sullivan and her full-service service marketing and advertising firm, Sullivan Creative, which celebrates its 35th anniversary on October 18.
“Through the years I’ve expanded and adapted my company to meet the changing needs of my clients,” says Sullivan, who began her business in 1987 in a rent-controlled apartment in Brookline, Mass. Today, she oversees her clients from the scenic White Mountains town of Bethlehem, NH.
Over 35 years, the award-winning company pivoted from its original corporate clients to focusing primarily on being a working partner with nonprofits, arts and cultural organizations and tourism-based businesses, always being mindful of the economic importance each organization brings to its region.
Sullivan Creative’s awards include dozens from the New England Direct Marketing Association (NEDMA); the Echo Award from the Direct Marketing Association; the Advertising and Public Relations Award from the New Hampshire Travel Council; and most recently, national recognition from Google and its Economic Impact Study for the work the company completed on behalf of one of its northern New Hampshire clients.
Personally, Sullivan has received the Business in the Arts Award from the New Hampshire Business Committee for the Arts and Direct Marketer of the Year from NEDMA.
“I’ve worked on dozens of marketing projects with Pam for the last 17 years,” says Terri Wiltse, currently the Executive Director of NHSCOT, and formerly Operations Manager for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. “Pam and her team are creative, innovative and consistently deliver results. Since working with them our Friday attendance at the NH Highland Games has doubled, which was one of the goals we’ve achieved.”
Sullivan Creative History
After leaving a fulltime position in the corporate world in October 1987, Sullivan never looked back. By the next spring she had hired several freelancers, bought her first Mac and was setting type and preparing camera ready art in her Brookline apartment.
Sullivan quickly gained a reputation for large desktop publishing jobs and a speedy turn around. Her growing client list made moving to an entire house in Newtonville, Mass., where she could both live and work the next logical step.
By 1989, she’d grown again to the point where she needed new office space. Because banks at that time were reluctant to make loans to women-owned businesses unless they had a male co-signer, Sullivan sought the support of the Small Business Development Center at Boston College.
“They guided me to the State office of Minority Owned Businesses where I was approved for a guaranteed loan of up to $5,000,” Sullivan recalls. “That was a deal changer. We rented a space, hired staff and started to grow. I was one of the first women in 1989 to receive a loan.”
Sullivan Creative eventually grew to 14 employees and large clients with huge direct marketing programs and trade show exhibitions. The 911 tragedy upended Sullivan’s business forcing her to reduce staff. “We lost 80 percent of our business within a week,” she remembers. “No one was doing any mailing because of the anthrax scare and no one was flying to trade shows, so they were canceling work with us.”
Despite these and other challenges, Sullivan once again reimagined her business. In 2003, she moved to New Hampshire with her family and commuted to Boston for the next nine years. High rental costs and other factors convinced her it was time to pivot once again. In 2012, she relocated her office to Concord, NH and began to focus on tourism-based businesses, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, and rural economic development.
In 2019, Sullivan moved to Bethlehem, NH where she runs the business with a team of remote specialists in graphic design, content writing, web design and development, SEO/SEM and photography and video production.
In addition to her role as owner and creative director of Sullivan Creative, Sullivan is the Executive Director of WREN, the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network, a nonprofit organization in Bethlehem whose mission is to support better lives and livelihoods through education, economic development and community engagement in northern New Hampshire.
“I am extremely passionate about this work,” says Sullivan. “It completely aligns with my background and my commitment to rural economic development.”