Why Small Businesses Matter
Shop small, do big things for your community
Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!
You're IT Christmas Lake Creative!
Four questions with Thomas Fiffer, founder of Christmas Lake Creative.
Why did you start your business?
I have always loved books and writing, ever since I first started reading a Dr. Seuss book out loud in my pediatrician's office at age four. My first job was at Random House, but I diverted into business information publishing to earn a living and gain management experience. When my lifelong friend and writing partner Julia Bobkoff joined me in Westport several years ago, we decided to launch a business together that would be more than a traditional writers' workshop offering group instruction.
We wanted to leverage our collective talents (me: writing, editing, publishing, business; her: writing, editing, music, screenwriting) to create an inspired community for writers, supporting them from start to finish in creating and marketing their works. Going beyond seasonal classes, we offer coaching and collaborative services; publication of clients' books through our imprint, Christmas Lake Press; audiobook preparation and publishing, including creation or sourcing of original music; marketing support; and crossing projects to television and film.
While continuing to work with our coaching and editing clients, we published four titles last year, two of which will soon be available in audio editions, and we're currently prepping three novels and evaluating other projects for 2022 and beyond.
What is your best-selling product/service?
It's a toss-up between coaching and what we call "creative collaboration" which is our best-selling service. Some writers need weekly motivational support to start, sustain, and finish their projects, while others need the hand of a creative partner in the process. Both services are reasonably priced and deliver tangible results in a relatively short time frame. One coaching client has written, “Tom’s coaching is so valuable.
When I started working with Tom I wanted to finish a long-stalled novel and begin strategically approaching my career as a professional. Within 18 months I’ve completed two novels and was invited to sign my beautifully published book at the most important conference in my genre." Another, who hired us for creative collaboration, wrote, “When I wrote what I thought was my first novel, Tom spent time helping me learn to find my voice and how to add a dramatic arc to my story. We spent many months together, and during that time I wrote another book that I don’t think I could have written without Tom’s help.”
A third—local author Mike Krysiuk who grew up in Westport and worked at Town Hall for 25 years—hired Julia to co-write his life story, "The Big One," which we also published. She spent countless hours with Mike, who suffered a traumatic brain injury at 17, developing the narrative and ensuring it remained in his original voice. “Working with Julia and Tom at Christmas Lake Press," wrote Mike, "is an invaluable experience.
I am discovering that dreams do come true. These two are why I will never stop shooting for the sun in everything I do.” Julia also wrote a screenplay for Mike's story, which we are currently shopping for as a feature film.
How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?
While we contract with book interior and cover designers all over the country—and the world—we remain dedicated to supporting local authors, such as Mike Krysiuk. One of our upcoming novels is by a woman from Ridgefield, and another of our authors lives in Middlebury. We have also done book launches with The Westport Library, our local Barnes & Noble, and Fairfield University Bookstore.
Now that COVID seems to have abated, we are looking to hold some author events at local restaurants and other venues.
Have you "reimagined" your small business?
We are constantly reimagining our company, adding publication services just last year. In addition to offering coaching, creative collaboration, editing, and publishing, we have programs to assist authors with social media, marketing, advertising, and website development. If an author needs it, we can provide it or find someone who does.
We live by the motto that we don't just want to create better books but also better writers. That's why we help our clients every step of the way and focus on their professional development and personal satisfaction as much as their creative product.
HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!