In 2003, Kaare Long was a single mother of two girls living off government assistance in Vancouver, Canada. Without a partner, she had to be both full-time provider and caretaker and was struggling to get by.
Before having children, Long was a professional flutist, vocalist and actress. And she was well aware that continuing to pursue an artist’s life would make sustaining a nurturing home life very difficult. Without options to fuel both her passion for performing and her bank account, Long went in a new direction: She started her own business.
“I decided I have the power to shift this. I’m going to take control over this situation and take the ‘victim’ out of it,” she says. That year, Long started A Cue Creative Consulting, a company that addresses the administration needs of artists, a vocation that keeps her in touch with her passion for the performing arts, while helping artists shed a poverty mindset they can too willingly take upon themselves.
Long, too, has shed the poverty mindset. A Cue Creative Consulting brings in $45,000 to $60,000 in gross annual revenue, allowing Long, its sole full-time employee, to take home a solid middle-class income.
Long is one of many women who want passion along with their paychecks — and are pursuing entrepreneurship to satisfy a desire for personal meaning and purpose, even in times of dire economic necessity. For these women, entrepreneurship offers a means out of a bad situation and a path to a better life for themselves and their children.
Indeed, finding an intersection of need and heart is a driving force in starting a business for many of the women who took part in The Story Exchange’s 1,000 Stories campaign, a 3-year project that collected the entrepreneurial experiences of 1,000 women in 50 countries.
For Long, that mix came from bringing “a corporate mindset to the arts world,” she says. “In Vancouver, there’s a difference between the arts model of business and the corporate model of business. People don’t see [artists] as the business professionals that they could be, and [artists] don’t view themselves as the business professionals they could be. I wanted to change that.”
Long has since taken A Cue Creative Consulting beyond the arts world and offered her marketing and public relations services to “change agents, visionaries, leaders, inspired entrepreneurs and movement makers.” Today, the company focuses on social media and digital communication that can make a positive social difference. It maintains a rotating client base, working with roughly eight clients at a time and overseeing one to two events each season. Long occasionally brings in freelancers and interns to help.
Marketing and public relations is a popular industry for women entrepreneurs who took part in the 1,000 Stories campaign, accounting for 9 percent of participants. Long says her approach is unique in that she keeps away from abrasive, in-your-face salesmanship. Instead, she focuses on community- and relationship-building. For her and countless other women in our project, money is a happy byproduct of a business that reflects cherished values.
“People want to do business with other people. That human element has been forgotten for a long time,” she says.
Long hours and stressful projects are just part of Long’s daily routine, but she values the flexibility that entrepreneurship allows her to balance the roles of financial provider and single mother. She no longer lives on government assistance and is able to provide for her children.
“I’m still figuring out how to craft my life, but if I hadn’t made that decision to pursue entrepreneurship, it wouldn’t be as possible,” Long says.