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Daily Inspiration: Meet Abigail Barrett

Today we’d like to introduce you to Abigail Barrett.

Hi Abigail, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I have had a 40 year career as an industrial psychologist and executive coach, including owning and building my own consulting business, Leadership Transitions (LT), for the last 23 years. I’ve helped scores of business owners and entrepreneurs transition their businesses from one generation to the next. Leadership development and coaching for effective career transitions and skill development have been central to my work.

I’ve noticed over the years how difficult it is for business owners to exit, and I felt the trap myself once I built the practice. About five years ago I set out on a mission to exit my own business well, and create a “life by design” plan for my post business career. For me this included oil painting, which I have been doing for about 8 years now. I envisioned spending time in classes and workshops, painting on hillsides with friends, and traveling to paint the beauty of the world.

I began carving days out of my work schedule to focus on these pursuits, starting with Mondays, then Fridays, creating the reality in short term, easy decisions. Nobody died.

As luck would have it, a spacious studio opened up in the California Building in northeast Minneapolis in December of 2019, and I was able to pivot from my uptown consulting office to a virtual arrangement for my “day job”, located out of the studio. By the time the pandemic hit in March of 2020, we were already adjusted to the virtual environment in LT. And the space was ideal for launching Rogue Begonia, a place for art, flowers, and creative conversations. I’ve created the space to host workshops and classes taught by nationally know instructors and local teachers alike. We offer painting coops and a painting group for women. Currently, I’m planning a peer painting trip for women to Provence, France for this September–a new offering I hope will become an annual tradition.

The pandemic allowed me four thousand hours of time alone in my studio these past two years to paint, finish, sign, and frame my best paintings. By the time we opened our doors again at the California Building, the gallery was hung and a new website was live.

I have a little floral shop tucked in the back of the studio where I play with another lifelong passion-floral arranging. It’s a small but passionate part of my own exit from work to play.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The pandemic has been difficult (long days on technology, isolation and sameness of days) but the studio space is so beautiful I feel at peace there.

Rogue Begonia is a very different business than Leadership Transitions. I’m on a steep learning curve on many fronts and it’s not a straight line to success! I’ve gotten too many plates spinning at times (cue the crashing sounds), and invested in the wrong idea for too long.

Building a new website was a very long, if ultimately fruitful endeavor. Mostly because it really requires one to be clear on the offerings, pricing, payments and agreements for everything you do! At the end of any day, and especially this past year I struggle with decision fatigue. One gets smitten with an idea, with the muse, and then the muse or the idea takes you. I often feel I’m just along for the ride, an instrument of making the inspiration a reality.

Personal health and wellbeing can sometimes take a back seat to my work, and that has been a struggle in this environment as well. I walk every day I can and try to stay close to the earth (plants, flowers, gardens) as often as I can.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Part of my vision for Rogue Begonia is to create community as painters, especially women painters, and to support others’ transitions out of their day jobs and into their encore careers as painters. I offer a 6-month painting group for women wherein we meet one Saturday a month to set goals, support each others’ development, and hold ourselves accountable to our intentions as artists. Then we paint the day away and share a lunch. As a developmental psychologist, I love enabling people’s learning in whatever area they’re excited to grow. Developing creativity and skill in whatever artistic domains interest others is as exhilarating to me as my own development is as a painter.

I’m excited to continue building out the offering and events at Rogue Begonia, including Larry Moore’s Fishing for Elephants online workshops and Kami Mendlik’s color relativity workshops.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
I have had such wonderful teachers in my painting journey, especially Kami Mendlik, Joe Paquet and Ian Roberts, among many many more. I have each of their voices in my head whenever I’m at the easel or composing thumbnails to work out compositions issues. I’ve missed their in person teaching this past couple years, but have appreciated every online offering some have made. Kami’s classes pulled me through the pandemic!

Much of the work of standing up Rogue Begonia is owed to Allison Hofstedt, my administrative coordinator and without her, any of my work would just be ideas, concepts, and wishful thinking. She operationalizes everything for us, and keeps me and everything else on track. To say she is my right arm is giving her too little credit.

My brother Joe helped me build out the studio, created a flower shop for me, built out the hospitality kitchen and hung the Rogue Begonia sign we created. He is a minute away to help with things in the studio as events come and go. I could probably do it without Joe, I just wouldn’t want to.

I would also say to anyone who has bought one of my paintings, thank you. It shocks and delights me every time and makes me want to go paint some more.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Dani Werner Photography (headshot)

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