Yesterday we had our first presentation in the Aboriginal Business Speaker Series. Clifford Paul, an entrepreneur from Membertou, spoke about his craft business and the social economy. While he covered a lot of ground in a concise and engaging presentation — from branding and market niches to trade missions and supply chains — the message that left the greatest impression was that of the relationship between business and quality of life.
Clifford has been making and selling jewellery and crafts for eight years, blending traditional and contemporary elements. A "show on the road" business, he travels to powwows during the summer, as well as conferences, conventions, and juried craft shows.
One of the statements that stood out for me was that "any business is a monster," and certainly that is true if you've got the right combination of product, price, and personality — which is clearly true for Clifford. He has had the opportunity to expand beyond a cottage industry, but noted that his current business model is optimal for quality of life. If he had a store, for example, he would be tied to a location and it would limit his ability to travel throughout Mi'kma'ki during the summer — an important part of social and family life. Increasing production and sales beyond his current level would limit the time available to spend with family or engaged in other interests.
For Clifford, travelling the powwow trail, selling his jewellery, and connecting and reconnecting with family, friends, and customers is "a beautiful life."