Keanna Liske – Brows by Keanna (Osborne, MB)

Keanna’s studio is as warm and inviting as her personality. Keanna is a brow specialist, specializing in cosmetic tattooing, micro-blading and micro-pigmentation, and her studio reflects her desire to provide you with a quality and personalized service.

Keanna chose this career to help people feel beautiful. On the surface, her path to get to a career in Permanent Make-Up (PMU) may seem unusual. Keanna’s first passion was to help animals. She worked at an animal shelter, and she went to Thailand to help at an elephant sanctuary. However, at the heart of both lines of work has been a strong desire to help others, which she has channelled into aesthetics.

Keanna is constantly learning and is not afraid to seek help as she builds her business. She says, “I guess what drives me the most is seeing how much opportunity is out there for me to grow and learn.” Keanna started her career learning from a mentor while working in an aesthetics shop. In creating her own business, Keanna has continued to actively learn how to best manage her business. While Keanna uses an accountant, she actively seeks to learn from her to understand the financial process better. Keanna has also been learning and perfecting how to use social media and Instagram marketing to build her business. She feels, now more than ever, there is an additional need to learn how to survive in business during uncertain times.

Relationships are essential to Keanna. She notes that the most significant benefit of her career has been the relationships with her clients. “Usually what I tell people is that I’m not just one of these brow artists, I’m their friend. I am there to listen to them when they are going through hard times. You know, usually, people that it is just 30 minutes where they are sitting there getting a service done. But that’s also 30 minutes where somebody tells me about their life and tells me things that they do not feel comfortable sharing with other people. So, I get to support them in ways that other people do not. So, building those relationships and getting to know them more on a personal level is a very rewarding part of my job.”

The relationship with her community and its support is also vital to Keanna. “If we are feeling a little bit defeated, we’ll kind of reach out to each other and just be there to support one another. It’s a very great community.”

She stresses the importance of reaching out to your colleagues and peers. “A huge thing that helped me become the artist that I am is seeing the way that other people work, what works for them and then trying it out and seeing if it works for me. I think the support system that I have behind me is what helped me to be where I am today. I tend to sometimes get nervous about asking people for help because I do not ever like to be a burden on somebody. But over time, and I guess being an entrepreneur building a business, you learn that it is very okay to reach out to others and ask for help when you need it.”

Keanna has found the Louis Riel Capital Corporation and the Manitoba Metis Federation to be extremely helpful to her path to success. “I had enough to start, but it wasn’t enough to push me to really be successful in the way that I envisioned my business to be.” She also appreciates the connections they have provided so that she can have support if she ever feels that she cannot do something on her own. “They’re always a phone call away if I need to reach out to them, if I need help with anything, so it’s really nice just having somebody there who I can turn to when I do feel like I need that little extra push.”

Keanna’s advice to someone wanting to start their own business is to “just go for it.” She adds, “It’s always going to be scary. It’s always going to be nerve-wracking, but you are never going to know if you will fail or succeed unless you try.”

Lise Coocoo-Dubé – Dépanneau Éneri (Manawan, QC)

Lise Coocoo-Dubé knows how to make the most of a challenge. As an Aboriginal woman and an entrepreneur, she says it is important to be resilient and capable of responding to a changing environment.

Lise and her partner own and operate a convenience store in their community of Manawan, Québec. The Éneri convenience store, named in honour of her father, offers the usual convenience food, several fast-food take-out options, a deli counter, video rentals and propane filling services.

In business for 12 years, she talks about what is important to her in her business. “I am proud to provide essential services and jobs to people in my community. Currently, we have eight full-time employees and three part-time. That’s not bad! I’m proud to be part of the economic development of my community.” The store is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, because, as Lise explains, “We open earlier for the moms, in case they need milk for their children. We always want to be there for the community.”

She tells us what inspired her business: “It was my father who inspired me. There was a convenience store on the road between Manawan and St-Michel. It had always bothered my father that non-Natives had opened the convenience store without his permission. We wanted to evict them so we could build our own. But in the end they closed, and since the Manawan population had grown, we decided to open a convenience store in the village.”

They started small as a business in a tiny trailer, without so much as running water. She describes a dream she had about her father at about that time.

“When we wanted to build the counter in the little trailer, we bought all the materials, but the guy couldn’t start the work right away. Then one day I had a dream about my father. He showed up and said, ‘There’s no one working on this, I’m going to do it myself.’ Then he went into the trailer and started taking out the materials to build our countertop. The next day I called my nephew and told him about my dream. After that, he called someone and the person showed up five minutes later, and said, ‘Okay, what do I do?’ That got the ball rolling,” she recounts with a laugh. “That’s why we named our business after him. I feel like he has always been there with us.”

She also mentions the Native Commercial Credit Corporation (NCCC) and its support. “The NCCC played a major part in our business. They recognized our efforts, they took us seriously, they recognized all the steps we had taken, and they helped us grow. Without them, all this would have been impossible.”

She continues, “I know a lot of girls and young women who would like to start a business. I know it’s hard. You have to be strong, and you can’t be afraid to speak your mind and to speak your truth.”

She continues, “Be bold. Be brave. Be persistent. I know one day someone will hear you.”

Learn more about some of the Indigenous women entrepreneurs that the Aboriginal Financial Institution network has supported at