Lauren Marinigh

Interview with the Fairy Beer Mother, Kendra Nicholson of Steam Whistle Brewing

By Lauren | June 5, 2016 | 0 Comment

I’ve been following Kendra for some time now, and actually only recently had a chance to meet her in real life after realizing she was a connection on LinkedIn that I hadn’t formally met. Kendra is the Community Manager behind one of Canada’s most beloved breweries, Steam Whistle Brewing, and I had a chance to chat with her about her role at Steam Whistle, and how she got herself to where she is. SS

Introduce yourself – what should we know about you (that we can’t find on your LinkedIn profile).

1. My alternate title is Fairy Beer Mother, which means my primary job is keeping people happy and talking about our beer! How awesome is that?

2. I recently completed my three levels of Prud’homme Beer Certification (Beer Sommelier) in just over a year, which is a lot of hops to smell and a lot of beer to swill.

3. In my spare time I manage the social media presence of several well-known Trinity Bellwoods dogs.

Tell me a bit about your role at Steam Whistle.

I joined Steam Whistle Brewing in 2014 as the Community Manager. I handle the brewery’s customer service and engagement ranging from hand written letters to online communications including social media, blogging and e-news. I also work with super fans of the brewery to help them create awesome projects. From custom draught fridges, to wagons, coolers on wheels, hats, belts, Christmas trees, wreaths, Coleman lanterns and clocks!

What is your educational background or past experience that helped you land a job at Steam Whistle?

After completing my diploma in Fashion Design at George Brown College, I began working as a Marketing Coordinator for a cosmetics company handling graphic design, copywriting, product training and event planning. In 2012 I shifted my sights onto the social media realm and was hired as the Social Media Manager for a boutique hotel and resort company. Prior to Steam Whistle I was acting as a consultant for independent businesses and start-ups in Toronto and training companies on how they could use the power of social media to amplify their marketing message.

How long have you been working at Steam Whistle?

Coming up to two beers, I mean years…

What does a day-in-your-life look like at Steam Whistle?

My day typically starts before I leave home. I check in on our Facebook and Twitter pages to respond to any posts that might have come in overnight from people enjoying a cold one in different time zones.

I ride my bike in to work every day –cycling is a huge part of our workplace culture at Steam Whistle. We have a network of public bike repair stations across Canada as well as covered bike racks and showers to encourage as many employees as possible to get out on 2 wheels!

Once I get to the brewery I respond to any emails or phone inquiries that came through overnight. One of our biggest mandates is building strong two way relationships online. Which is why some of our most important conversations with customers are the ones that no one sees or hears.

I then check out what’s trending on Facebook and Twitter and see if there’s any way for us to tap into a localized trending topic and broaden our reach. Who can forget this timely “brews from the 6 tweet” (which was actually made by a fan).



Throughout the day we have many smaller meetings that we keep as casual as possible to encourage the organic flow of ideas. I personally find that meetings that take place with a beer in hand on the patio tend to generate the most creative ideas.

Other than that my day-to-day tasks generally include communicating what we’re doing in different markets across Canada. Whether it be promotions, event sponsorships, brewery activations or events. Making sure our social networks reflect all the hard work our guys and gals in the field are doing every day is a lot to talk about!

I can typically be found chatting with fans on social media. Many tour groups wonder why “that girl spends all her time on Facebook” It’s my job I swear! I’m often running around staging random photo opps or videos for social media. I can often be found down in the retail bar, either meeting with various super fans or coordinating with our retail staff to make sure they get the royal treatment when they walk in the door. Steam Whistle firmly believes that we wouldn’t be where we are today without our loyal customers so we like to make sure they feel as special as we can!

What have been necessary skills or experience to be successful in your role?

Work Fast – We are lucky to have a tight team that does everything in-house.

When the Fort Mac fires started to spread we knew we needed to do something to help our neighbors out west. With the help of our creative team we were able to set up a Fort Mcmurray Backyard Party Giveaway Fundraiser in one day!

Be social – The beer industry doesn’t stop after 5 p.m. on Friday, that’s actually our sweet spot! I attend as many of our brewery events as possible so I can post live to Twitter/Instagram/Facebook as the event is underway. I also attend many craft beer events so we can show support to our craft brethren. We’re all in this together after all.

Never stop learning – The landscape of digital media changes daily. If you aren’t focusing on furthering your professional development and keeping up to date with webinars, tutorials, night classes and seminars it’s easy to get left behind.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to work for Steam Whistle?

Show your true personality. My online interview (I’m told) was one of the quirkiest which made me top of mind (I filmed it at a Golden Griddle in Perry Sound). We like folks that have a big personality who will leave a lasting impression with everyone they meet on the job. Don’t be afraid to let that show!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Steam Whistle took a chance on me when I didn’t have any experience in the beer industry. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to applying for jobs that may seem outside your realm of expertise. I responded to a post I saw on LinkedIn just like anybody else!


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