It’s interesting. This is my first 8Q Spotlight on someone I didn’t think I had personally met. Then I realized we had – but only briefly in the audience at some event. I no longer remember which, but it did happen. We were introduced by a mutual friend. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to really talk beyond the basics. I didn’t connect the dots until the PR person for Brilliant! introduced Dean Thullner and I through email.

Brilliant! is an annual fundraiser benefiting mental health and addiction programs at St. Paul’s Hospital. The evening is an extravagant gala featuring the talents of some of Vancouver’s hottest designers, make-up artists, musicians, hair stylists, models, dancers and more – over 300 volunteers in all. Guests are also offered the opportunity to bid on decadent items and luxurious experience packages during a live auction and the evening closes with music and dancing.

With the 2015 version of this extravaganza just a few days away – this year’s theme a new spin on classic fairy tales – it seemed the perfect time to turn my spotlight on Thullner, the show’s producer.

8Q Spotlight Dean Thullner

What is your current career(s) – paid and unpaid?

I have two companies –

Volume Studio Gallery (I own with my husband – married 10 years – David Veljacic) on the corner of Davie & Bute in the heart of the Davie Village. We run an 18 staff member hair salon. We are not only a full service hair salon, we are active in the community as our team is always looking to give back.

Volume Studio Productions – a charity based, like-minded group that is active in giving back to the community by bringing together Vancouver’s finest hairstylist, makeup artist, dancers, singers, musicians, and models. We believe strongly in the fortitude of the organizations we support and in turn help them raise finances, awareness, while removing stigmas.

Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?

When I was in my mid twenties, I was diagnosed HIV positive and was told I had three months left to live. For half of my life (I am 52), I struggled both physically and mentally. St. Paul’s hospital was the first hospital to open their doors and their hearts to the men in our community. St. Paul’s hospital saved my life, my husbands life, my fiends lives.

When St. Paul’s hospital announced the HIV anti-retro viral therapy – stating that I would live my full life expectancy – I felt it was necessary to thank them for all they had done during this devastating pandemic. The response was unanimous and heartfelt. Those who had survived and those who had lost loved ones came to gather in appreciation. This began a new chapter in my life, a chapter about giving aback and helping others through bringing the artistic community together.

What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?

  • I’m addicted to ice cream.
  • I’m my best when I am being creative & not very good at relaxing.
  • I’m very grateful to have this second chance at life.

Highest moment so far?

Finding out that some of the proceeds from the work I have created is directly responsible for helping others. Recently SPH has assisted in opening a drop in youth clinic on Granville Street for any youth (ages of 12 to 19) to assist them is issues surrounding Mental Health – Addiction – and homelessness. This has been made possible by the event Brilliant! and by the tremendous support from the community and the Brilliant! Team.

What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?

Honestly – it is a surprise and will be announced in early October. I’ll give you a hint…it will be RED hot! Right now I am working on Brilliant! – a fund raising evening of fashion and dance I produce each year in support of mental health and addiction programs at St. Paul’s Hospital. Brilliant! 2015 hits the stage on Saturday, September 26th at the Commodore Ballroom on Granville.

Who and/or what inspires you?

Dedication and commitment. I am inspired by people who want to make a difference and actually see it through.

How do you personally define success?

Going to bed at night feeling good about what I have done, knowing that I treated others with respect and knowing I did the best you could.

Who do you admire?

I admire people who have strength and persistence. This world we live in is not an even playing field. We have to do the best we can with what we have. I am always overwhelmed by those who have set backs, disabilities, losses and pain and continue to persist and do the best they can.


  3. Brilliant! 2014 (Youtube)
  4. Brilliant! Volunteer Profile Dean Thullner (Youtube)
  5. Volunteers Support Brilliant (Youtube)