Nothing sketchy about this new business

Sabrina Barich sketches a portrait in pencil from an enlarged photo on her left. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Sabrina Barich’s decision to fight the monotony of studying for exams by picking up a sketchpad, ultimately led to self-employment this summer.

“I was in first year university and needed a break so I tried to sketch (British singer) Ed Sheeran for my sister,” explains 21-year-old Barich.

She’d always enjoyed art class in high school and took a first year visual arts class at Western University, where she is working on a medical sciences degree.

“But I’d always done it just for fun,” she said. “When I showed my sister the sketch, she was so excited. That’s when I began sketching gifts for family and friends.”

Her first pencil sketches were celebrities like Johnny Depp, Cher and Bradley Cooper. But soon requests came in for family portraits.

“I began posting them online and eventually I got messaged with offers to pay for my work,” she said.

Last summer, Barich was asked to do a sketch of a couple for display at their wedding. Her work is so detailed and accurate, it almost looks like black and white photography. The wedding sketch prompted more requests and, by the end of last summer, Barich was thinking she could make some money through the school year by sketching.

But her school schedule got in the way. It wasn’t until this spring, as she finished third-year exams, that she seriously thought of using her sketchpad and pencil to start a business.

Barich applied to the Summer Company Program for 15 to 29-year-olds sponsored by the Business Enterprise Centre (BEC) of Sarnia Lambton in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. The program provides select students with $1,500 to launch their own business and assists with a business plan.

If, at the end of 12 weeks, they’re still working at their business full-time, students receive another $1,500 from the government.

“It’s more work to start my own business than I thought, but I like it,” she said.

She’s kept prices low this summer to attract volume and build a reputation. If all goes well her company, called Sabrina’s Sketches, will be in business next summer too, helping Barich finance her dream of becoming a naturopathic doctor.

A 5”X 7” portrait costs $60.  An 8”X 10” is $90 while an 11” X 14” is $120. Prices may vary depending on size and number of people.

Contact Barich at 226-376-2181 and see her work on Facebook at Sabrina’s Sketches.  A new website at wwww.sabrinassketches.com should launch this month.

Got an interesting business story?  Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.