Georgia Forjohn, the new marketing and events coordinator for the Chestnut Hill Business Association, seems born to the task.
Georgia Forjohn, the new marketing and events coordinator for the Chestnut Hill Business Association, seems born to the task. As a young girl, she spent hours at her mother, Susanna Forjohn’s, boutique, Quelque Chose, chatting with her about the big fashion companies and listening to conversations with customers about life on and around the Hill.
In a recent interview, Forjohn called herself “a retail baby” and admitted that she soon came to appreciate the small, independent businesses that inform and drive Chestnut Hill’s unique identity. She said that even the larger regional or national companies that have businesses in the community are run by local managers.
Forjohn calls this an especially invigorating time for the community.
“Since the pandemic, more and more people are shopping small. I think they realize they don’t have to rely just on convenience giants like Amazon and DoorDash,” she said. “We want to show how small businesses work so well together in a truly functioning community.”
The spring weather also helps bring people outdoors, she said.
“More and more people are realizing how unhealthy it is to live through a [cell phone or computer] screen. Instead, on a beautiful day like this, why should you be shopping on your screen? Walk along the avenue, stop for a bite or drink, peruse the new books at our local bookstore, windowshop or maybe go indoors to see for yourself.”
So what does a marketing and events coordinator do?
According to Forjohn, it’s a combination of general marketing, maintaining a social media presence, promoting local businesses and events that the CHBA can post on its website (chestnuthillpa.com), and helping to coordinate community events like Chestnut Hill on Ice, Petapalooza, Fall for the Arts, and the upcoming Home & Garden Festival (Sunday, May 7, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.).
Forjohn began working with CHBA part-time on Valentine’s Day this year as she was completing her degree in design and merchandising at Drexel University. When she earned her degree at the end of the winter quarter, she began working full-time on April 3.
Last February, while still part-time, she launched a new social media campaign to promote local businesses. The initiative is called Member Mondays, where she meets with old and new members of the association, interviews and takes photos of them, and then posts their profiles on the CHBA’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
The debut business was McNally’s Tavern. Forjohn’s interview with Anne McNally drew countless positive responses, including one from a woman in Hawaii who was really impressed with the post and the business. Future profiles will also be posted on a new CHBA blog that Forjohn is helping to develop.
Having recently moved to Chestnut Hill, Forjohn says she’s enjoying getting to know the community even after business hours. And it’s created some unexpected networking opportunities. In early March, for example, she was out enjoying the evening with her mother and her mom’s good friend, Debbie Jansen, the owner of Booked, a popular bookstore on Germantown Avenue, when they decided to stop in at Tavern on the Hill.
Once inside, she noticed a woman taking pictures of staff members and dinners being served, so she asked the woman what she was doing. Forjohn learned that it was my wife. I was there writing a story on the restaurant. So she introduced herself and offered the help of the CHBA.
A month later, serendipitously, as I was looking for photographs to accompany my article about local passengers on the Titanic, I called the Chestnut Hill Conservancy. Who answered the phone but Georgia Forjohn!
She explained that the CHBA and conservancy work closely together. “Honestly, the CHBA is the welcome center for the community, and we sometimes get calls meant for the conservancy,” she said.
Pleased to be able to help, she arranged with Alexander B. Bartlett, the conservancy’s archivist, to send some vintage photos to the Local. Two of them appeared in the Titanic story.
Forjohn, the newest, and youngest, member of the Chestnut Hill Business Association, said she is proud of the history and traditions of Chestnut Hill, and that she hopes to “provide some fresh perspective on a community that has become more diverse and vibrant than ever.”