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Women convert creative energy into business

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Lisa Smith and Caitlyn McMillan are proving two entrepreneurial women can capitalize on their talents to establish a thriving business in Sarnia.

Together they bring artistic, teaching, design and administrative skills to the table and have formed the company Creativity Matters.

The two women offer a myriad of services ranging from hand-painted logos to art lectures and paint parties to sketching classes. But it’s their unique hand-painted walls that are attracting a lot of attention.

When Lemon Beauty Bar relocated in January to 201 Christina St. owners Ashlynn Wright and Shaylyn Doyle hired Creativity Matters to customize hand-painted wallpaper with lemons and floral designs throughout their new shop.

The result was an affordable and unique feature for the beauty bar that is drawing a ton of attention, says Wright.

Smith, 28, and McMillan, 30, are educated in the arts and bring years of related work experience to the new venture.

McMillan is originally from Corunna and earned a Masters’ degree from the University of Regina in fine art with a focus on painting, drawing and digital media. She met Smith at university where Smith was earning her BA in visual fine arts. The two relocated to Sarnia when McMillan landed a job at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery as community arts co-ordinator.

When she left that position last June she decided to make her own mark in the local arts community.

“I’m very excited,” said McMillan. “A lot of artists freelance. I wanted to do that but with a business model that offers more.”

Smith already runs her own design and marketing company called Limn Social and brings her communication and administrative skills to the partnership.

One of their first projects was establishing a weekly lecture and discussion series called Art for Lunch. A new version called Tea on Tuesday is about to start Feb. 14 at McMillan’s private studio. For $25, participants hear her lecture and share discussion and refreshments. The first Tea on Tuesday falls on Valentine’s Day and focuses on the connection between love and art.

Creativity Matters also holds paint parties about once a month, generally as fundraisers but also in private homes. While paint parties are all the rage right now, Creativity Matters offers a different spin on the concept with Drink & Draw, Glass & Glass (wine and glass etching), and Booze and Books where participants make their own hand-bound books.

In the first months of business, Creativity Matters has completed numerous wall murals for retailers and private residents. The cost depends on wall size and design difficulty, but Smith estimates most 7 X 7 walls will cost $300 to $500.

“They really add a personalized stamp to a building,” she said.

“I think you can tell a business is invested when they add something creative,” added McMillan.

Contact Creativity Matters at 226-784-2579 or visit


The recent purchase of the 95-room Best Western Plus Guildwood Inn on Venetian Boulevard appears to be another vote of confidence in the area’s economy.

New owner, Vrancor Group of Hamilton, already has a presence in Point Edward where it recently built The Hampton Inn by Hilton right next door to the Guildwood Inn.

“With the region’s rapidly expanding reputation as a global centre for manufacturing, research and development, we are very pleased to welcome Best Western Plus Guildwood Inn to our growing family,” said Darko Vranich, CEO and President of Vrancor Group.

Got an interesting business story? Contact [email protected] or call her at 226-932-0985.





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