Soul Path Portraits
Laurie Anderson is a Métis woman, entrepreneur, and a single mother who was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. Laurie’s business, Soul Path Portraits by Laurie, actually started many years ago as a personal outlet and hobby. She had always been artistic but about 9 years ago, she started working at parties with her sister doing what she calls Soul Path Portraits. At this point her business was part-time; she and her sister held sessions in formats similar to Avon or Mary-Kay parties.
Her unique product, called Soul Path Portraits, is a combined holistic wellness product and service that allows Laurie to merge her “passion for arts with [her] passion for healing.” The process basically consists of a sit-down session in-person or over the phone with Laurie for about 30-minutes or more. Laurie talks with her clients and sketches their life-paths throughout the discussions. At the end of the sessions, the clients are left with a feeling of peace and enlightenment as well as a souvenir drawing of their life path as perceived by Laurie. The sketches are drawn free-hand and in the moment, but clients may choose to purchase a coloured copy of their Soul Path Portraits. She describes her portraits as “very expressive” and as “pack[ing] a very powerful punch!”
As noted, Laurie has been operating the business, in some capacity, for nearly a decade. However, in the past year she’s found a greater level of success than she’s seen for most of her journey. In the last year, Laurie has been traveling all over British Columbia working on Soul Path Portraits. In particular, she’s attended a variety of wellness and holistic healing conferences and markets – in fact that’s where she met ACE student Freda McLean, who is also very invested in the holistic wellness industry. Laurie heard about the ACE program through her employment worker from Work BC and quickly sent in her application for the program. Laurie was attracted to the ACE program by the possibility of fine-tuning her business concept and learning to manage her demand to ensure some consistency of her contracts. Furthermore, Laurie hopes to systematize her business and hopes to learn to manage the administrative aspects of her business just as well as she manages the creative aspects.
Laurie came into the program with a fairly business established concept, but one thing she took away from the ACE program very early on was a renewed sense of confidence in herself as an entrepreneur. Through the consistent practice in the weekly workshops, Laurie has found herself more comfortable and more confident talking to people about her business. Before the program, she mostly only had experience talking to individuals within the holistic wellness industry about her products – through ACE she’s gained more experience introducing the idea of Soul Path Portraits to people who might not have any experience with this type of product/service. Additionally, Laurie has recently announced that she is expanding her services to provide logo and web design services in addition to workshops. Through her web design services, Laurie offers logo designs as well as her website designs offering a simple, high quality design.
Laurie notes that through the ACE program she was exposed to “a lot of learning in a short amount of time.” Laurie also stated that because of the structure of the program (this cohort had workshops nearly every Saturday and Sunday with the weekdays off), the days between workshops were all about processing the information and learning and allowing that learning to shape her business concept. Laurie’s favourite aspect of the ACE Program was the 3C Challenge. She expressed that the 3C Challenge “helped show [her] where [her] strengths lie and where [her] weaknesses lie” as an entrepreneur.
The 3C Challenge – a long time tradition of the ACE Program – is all about student entrepreneurs learning to deal with the tension inherent in Indigenous business ownership of balancing cash, community and culture. The challenge runs for 30 days during the ACE course. Within the challenge, each ACE cohort is divided into groups of 4 and provided a microloan of $1000. The student groups are then tasked with creating a business to generate as much value as they can, using that microloan, in the 30-day period. They can choose to focus on generating as much cash, community value or cultural value (or a combination of all three elements) in any way they choose. In the past student groups have put on community events, created traditional recipe books, and even developed and sold products in the month-long challenge. At the end of the 30 days, students are asked to return the microloan of $1000; the student groups each then can either choose to keep profits made beyond the initial loan (and split the profits among the 4 members) or they can choose to donate the money to a local charity or Community.
When asked if she had any advice for future students of the ACE program, Laurie had the following to say: “I would just tell them to jump in! All learning is good; all knowledge is good. Even if they maybe don’t get to the goals that they want it’s a really good learning experience overall about the business end of any product or service. That’s what I hope to get out of it – a little more structure on the business end.”
Five or ten years down the road, Laurie hopes to be creating a new art form movement. Her vision for her company is to create infrastructure that will allow her to teach other artists how to do Soul Path Portraits, as well as mentor and inspire and her students. In ten years, Laurie plans to be in a position to empower other women who are seeking financial independence just as she did. She believes that entrepreneurship is a path to independence, creativity and fulfillment. Laurie hopes that Soul Path Portraits can expand via franchises to allow other artists to channel their talent and passion into their work. She is also interested in patenting her process or exploring the possibility of writing a book to teach her process. Ultimately, Laurie is trying to find the most effective way to branch her business concept out and grow it into something that is helpful for others.
Laurie noted that she’s “really grateful for the ACE program.” She feels supported by the professors, her classmates and the program administrators especially when “hitting lower moments” in running her business. She noted that not every day as an entrepreneur is an awesome day; there are real challenges that entrepreneurs face as they try to launch their businesses but with the people from ACE all supporting each other, the obstacles are easier to face. Laurie said that being in the ACE program feels “like an incredible gift.” We at ACE share the sentiment; every student that joins the program brings a valuable and unique perspective to the class and we’re grateful for each student entrepreneur!
To learn more about Soul Path Portraits, visit the website here. Laurie offers workshops and facilitates sharing circles for groups. You can contact Laurie to book a session by phone (250) 674-7526. Make sure to follow Soul Path Portraits on Facebook as well!