Growing up in a small town outside of Seattle, Washington, Brian Jolin, MAS, didn’t get to see Santa often. “We didn’t have a mall until I was in high school,” he says. But now, Jolin, owner of Fort Worth, Texas-based distributor Jolin Promo, doubles as Santa Brian, dressing up as the “jolly old elf” to spread love and joy during the holidays.

Jolin first started dressing up like Santa for a family holiday photo in 2014. “We take crazy Christmas cards every year,” he says. “The year before, we dressed up like the Minions and Gru from Despicable Me.” In 2015, one family Christmas card, inspired by the holiday movie classic, A Christmas Story, made the front page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Jolin sat in a box labeled “FRAGILE,” his wife, Jennifer, stood as the infamous leg lamp and Jolin’s son wore Ralphie’s pink bunny costume.

Since he already had the costume, Jolin later found himself volunteering to be Santa for a neighborhood event. Then, he was offering to visit clients’ Christmas parties as Santa Brian. Jolin’s transformation into a “Santa portrayal artist” was natural. “I invested in a better costume, and I started doing more staff parties. When COVID hit, I only played Santa one time last year for a bakery,” he says. “This year, my bookings have really exploded.”

Jolin’s favorite part about dressing up as Santa is visiting with special-needs kids and adults. Recently, Santa Brian visited the Ability Connection, a nonprofit in Dallas serving those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Residents visited Jolin in a sensory-sensitive room, devoid of the usual chaos when meeting Santa. “The first person to walk in was a 35-year-old on a walker,” says Jolin. “She just latched on to me. I had to sit down with her latched on to me and when it was time for her to go, I had to stand up with her latched on to me.”

With patience, Jolin says he was able to coax one boy into taking a picture with him. “His mom said that it was his first picture with Santa in eight years, his whole life. That makes Santa want to cry.”

Jolin also makes home visits as part of the Secret Sleigh Project, a nonprofit that arranges surprise visits from Santa for homebound or medically fragile children. “It’s all about spreading love, joy and lightheartedness during the holidays,” he says. “Especially with the special-needs volunteer work that I do, giving a sense of a ‘normal experience’ to the parent as well as the kid.”

As a distributor, Jolin’s learned that you gain by giving. “If you position yourself in business as more of a coach or guide than a salesperson and you’re giving advice, it makes your job and the company’s experience more fun.”

Inspired by minister Robert Fulgham’s meaning of life philosophy, Jolin says he hopes to “reflect the light” into dark places, whether he’s running his distributorship or making a list and checking it twice.

To keep up with Santa Brian, follow him here.