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‘Creatives have to be extra creative at this time’

While steering her business through the pandemic, Alexandra Toulch sees plenty of opportunity
January 15, 2021
By Samantha Rideout, GrDip 10

Alexandra Toulch, BA 13 Alexandra Toulch is the founder of Rebl House, a steadily growing creative agency based in Montreal. Photo credit: Rebl House

When the COVID-19 pandemic put sudden new restrictions on business activities last March, Alexandra Toulch, BA (communications) 13, reacted quickly. She was determined to ensure that Rebl House, the creative agency she’d founded five years earlier, would weather the storm.

“Everyone on my team and I worked so hard to get to where we are today,” she says. “I could not accept that COVID would be the ending to our story.”

Rebl House is a full-service agency with an emphasis on video, photography, graphic design, original music and creative strategy. The team calls themselves “a different breed of storytellers,” and when social-distancing measures began, they lived up to it.

Alexandra Toulch makes a viewfinder with her fingers and looks through “When I find myself in a stressful situation, I take a step back,” says Toulch, BA 13.

The company’s graphic designers and animators went into overdrive. Videographers and photographers — who’d been used to working out of a fully equipped production studio in Montreal’s bustling Griffintown neighbourhood — transformed a couple of their homes into mini studios. Meanwhile, Toulch launched Rebl Remote, a program that provides clients with all the services they need to produce professional-quality content from their own homes, from equipment delivery to remote creative consulting and tech support.

“Once we were allowed to open our doors again, we changed the way we operate in terms of safety measures and the number of crew on set,” Toulch says. “We were nimble and this let us maintain relevance and serve our clients. They still needed communications. Creatives have to be extra creative at this time and help people to get through it.”

The lockdown wasn’t the first time Toulch had faced an unexpected and difficult situation. In her experience, entrepreneurship brings unforeseen challenges regularly, from employees’ personal emergencies to equipment that breaks down at the worst moment possible. “When I find myself in a stressful situation, I take a step back,” Toulch says. “It’s normal to feel like it’s the end of the world at first, but then you have to take a rational look at your options. What’s the end game? What’s my plan A, plan B and plan C for getting there?”

From student to entrepreneur

Toulch was already developing her entrepreneurial skills during her time at Concordia, where she studied in the Department of Communication Studies. “I made friends with a bunch of my classmates and they actually helped me to start my first business,” she recalls. The team of students produced a vlog called City Regal, which featured restaurants, spas and other local attractions — a novel idea for the time before the rise of Instagram and influencers.

“For me, hands-on learning and being on the ground are really important,” Toulch says. “The communication program at Concordia is great for that to begin with, but I wanted to do even more. So I set a personal goal to produce one video per week.” By the time she graduated, City Regal had gained a large enough following to attract its first paying client, the upscale department store Ogilvy.

Studio at Rebl House Rebl House has reopened its studio, with new safety measures in place. Photo credit: Rebl House

Rebl House’s own client roster includes high-profile companies and personalities such as Marriott, L’Oréal, and hockey star and philanthropist P.K. Subban. Despite the pandemic, the company has grown steadily since 2014 and is now positioned to expand into new markets, starting with Toronto and California.

“I have big hopes for our industry moving forward,” Toulch says. “Because no matter what happens in the world, people will need to communicate online and remotely more than ever before.”

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