Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lee Spence, Creative Director of Lee Mae Spence, located in Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I work as a service provider and co-creator with organizations and individuals who have an inkling or pull to go inward to better understand themselves, to unlearn and relearn as humans, so we can better understand humanity and all living beings' interconnectedness.
The organizations I am invited to work with are not-for-profits, for profit organizations, social service organizations, small businesses, and individuals who are looking to better understand themselves through a trauma-informed, decolonized, two-eyed-seeing approach. As a consultant, I step into program development, program and project management and facilitator roles too!
Tell us about yourself
I'm Ininiw and Red River Metis from Treaty 5 territory, and I was born and raised in northern Manitoba's isolated community of Churchill. Growing up, I saw people volunteering, helping others in need, being mindful of the land and animals, and taking turns leading and following. This, I believe, provided my foundation for being mindful that we are here to learn, grow, make mistakes, and make different choices as we walk this earth.
Among the many hats I wear are project manager, facilitator, consultant, student breath worker, and helper. I work in the space between traditional Indigenous ways of life and the ever-changing contemporary. I assist my clients in learning to operate from a deep place within themselves in order to live spirit-led lives and acknowledge the depth of connection required to become a member of a truly supportive and connected community.
By forging a deep, foundational connection with their own inner truth and spirit, my clients prepare to take the work we do together beyond the personal and into the community, laying the groundwork for future generations to build and grow. My Indigenous practices and modern culture work alchemically to bring about genuine, long-term change, and my advice is tailored to each individual, group, or intention. I began working on the various aspects of my business with photography and later transitioned into consulting work.
I would say my parents inspired me as their entrepreneurs in indigenous tourism, hospitality, and the food and beverage sectors. I saw the freedom and choice that self-employment provided, as well as the fluidity to change and evolve. That really inspired me to give it a whirl, and here I am. As for what motivates me, seeing people thrive and bask in their greatness motivates me. Listening to people's stories motivates me. Seeing people grow and evolve motivates me. Seeing people love each other in the community motivates me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I would say the biggest accomplishment as a business owner is being able to continue to work closely with youth in an intergenerational way. I see the youth opening and becoming new ways of existing; they’re pushing the norms, ethos, and overall status quo of society. They are shapeshifters, resisting capitalist and white supremacist ideologies and reclaiming their true identity as themselves, in my opinion.
To be able to witness youth and see them bask in joy, happiness, and pleasure while striving for equity by speaking truth into spaces that once forbade it. They are the truth-tellers, and the organizations, colleagues, and relatives I work with are creating that space for them, and I am committed to learning from them because they’ll let us know as adults what we need to do, and so will the knowledge keepers and elders.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a business owner is balancing the back-end administration, proposal writing, research and learning, and deadlines for fiscal funding. The most difficult thing at the higher levels of society is the expectation of operating at 100% productivity all year round, and I'm seeing a shift where I'm decolonizing the way my business operates throughout the four seasons by setting boundaries and communicating them with the people I work with.
Finding balance in life as a business owner is difficult, especially when it comes to time-sensitive deadlines; this is where I welcome ease, fluidity, and gentleness.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Reflect on what you need as a whole person that will anchor you and remind you of your values in your personal and professional aspects of life. Your foundation as a person is important, so it’s integral to take care of your foundation. And ask questions if you don’t know the answer. As human beings, we’re meant to learn, so learn away!
- What will you do to support and encourage your inner child to have fun while being a professional? Do those things, and do those things with yourself and others. Life is too short to be so serious all the time. Loosen up and have some FUN!
- To have an intimate relationship with your finances by learning what you need to do as a sole proprietor, incorporated, or however you identify yourself, and schedule time in your calendar to learn, talk to bookkeepers and financial folks and enter your finances regularly.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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