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Small Business RevolutionBlog

Behind the Scenes

January 8, 2019

How One Artist-Turned-Entrepreneur is Changing Lives in Camas, WA

Written by Cameron Potts

Small business owners are often talked about as being heroic. They have taken a leap of faith, beginning something they believe in but ultimately, can’t know if it will work. It is the American dream.

In creating commerce and employing family, friends and neighbors, small business owners can often change the lives of those around them. In the case of Elida Field, her work in her art studio has, over the course of time, literally changed the lives of the people she has touched.

Art is a different category of small businesses. We are moved by art; impacted and affected by it. Many people who purchase one of Elida’s pieces can and do have that type of reaction. But it is her students who have truly expressed the depth of her impact in the community of Camas, Washington.

Elida was one of dozens of small business owners we met the first week of January as our team from Deluxe Corporation started our Season 4 Small Business Revolution – Main Street Top 10 town tour. I was invited to a morning class that included mimosas, which, let’s be honest, makes all classes better. What I found was a group of amazing artists, from those who have their own collections and shows to newcomers still learning the trade.

In a converted studio in her home, Elida moves from one student to another, a whirlwind of activity as she instantly helps her students find the inspiration they seek. As Christine Neill said, she is blown away by Elida because she somehow can take one look at what someone is working on and make it better.

“Elida really provides a safe place to find your creative outlet,” Christine said. “She takes the creative side of people and helps us put it on a canvas. It is truly life-saving.”

A teacher and technical surgeon, Christine Neill paints hearts and heartbeats into her works Living Heart Art). As a technical surgeon, she harvests organs from deceased patients to help others live. It is demanding and emotional work, so her art is an escape. Through Elida’s classes, she found a way to put that emotion on a canvas, even if she didn’t feel artistic when she started.

“Art is one of those things that really helps people heal. I just tell my students to put it out on the canvas,” Elida said. “I am just here to provide a creative spark, to start the fire. It is so amazing to see people take it from a hobby to a profession.”

During this Thursday morning class, many of her students in attendance had already sold their art professionally. And Elida has taken her art to schools, teaching thousands of students in the area. She has operated the art school since 2010 but has been teaching and painting since 2004.

When you meet Elida, you can’t help but feel her infectious spirit. She is engaging and funny and completely authentic. She explained the rules of her art class to me: first, no one dies in art class. Second, there are no mistakes in art. And third, just have fun.

Yet she is still running a business, and that is the part that is the most difficult for her. Creative, well, she owns that. Figuring out how to grow the business, make sure people know she is there, that is the more difficult part.

“And there is only one of me. How do I give art and my time to everyone and still do what I love? That is the hard part of being a small business owner,” Elida said.

Seeing the impact she is making on her students, I am sure Elida won’t have to worry anytime soon about finding new students. Cindy Cook, one of the artists in class this day, made sure to tell me about the impact Elida has made on her life.

Through tears, Cook explained how she was creating a special piece of her sister-in-law. Cook’s nephew recently died, and this painting was a labor of love for her and for her family. She explained how she has been able to put her feelings on canvas in such a way that it helps with the healing process. And though her painting begins abstract, Elida can have one mind with her to know how to help her through any challenges.

On this Thursday in Camas, I watched a master small business owner in her element, doing what she loves while impacting and affecting the students in her class. That is the gold standard for any successful small business owner.

To learn more about her studio, go to https://www.elidaart.com/

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