"One of the things I loved most about living at Whistler was that it was perfectly acceptable for friends and family to visit you and stay in: a) your closet or b) your roommate's van that was parked in the driveway."
She'd finally found a place she liked. The mountains, the snow, the people - the outgoing, outdoor lifestyle: it totally meshed with the way she'd been brought up. It was exactly what she was looking for. Whistler featured more fun and excitement than anywhere she'd ever been.
But like everyone else who's arrived in this valley with a dream and talent (and not much money in their pockets), Susan Butler had to find a shtick to survive here.
It was the mid 1990's. The town was booming. Top of the charts in the American ski media. Party-town sans-pareil . The capital of all things youthful and extreme. No question - Whistler was drawing in new residents at an astounding rate.
And the majority were just like Susan. Under 30, afraid of nothing and ready for just about any adventure. There were jobs, sure, but most were in the low-paying service sector. And Butler had already decided that wasn't for her. She wondered how she could leverage her newly-minted Masters degree in English to find something worthy...
She laughs. "I applied to The Question as a reporter," she says. "But they obviously had other plans for me..."
That was the turning point. The shift in the narrative that made the rest of the Susan Butler's story turn out the way it did. "I was a writer," she says. "I had absolutely no experience in ad design." She stops. Shakes her head. Laughs at herself. "But that's where they decided I was most needed." Obviously her new bosses at The Question had seen something in the young woman's resume that others hadn't.
"It was a huge challenge," she admits. "But," she says - and smiles. "I've always loved a big challenge." Besides, she adds, there was a lot of laughter in that office. ""We worked in the heart of the village, right above Moguls back then. So I'd come to work in the morning and watch the people rush up the stroll to get their piece of the mountain."
Ah, Whistler's golden years...
Today, Susan Butler is a much-in-demand, Squamish-based art director. Her clients include everybody from Kokanee Crankworx to Playground Real Estate. Her strength is in branding - in other words, helping her customers develop a unique and compelling identity for their products, and then creating an ad campaign that communicates that identity to the public.