10 WITH A 10: ALI HARRISON

10 with a 10.
Every Monday.

The only parameters are that it bolsters up a:
1. Toronto
2. Woman
3. Who answers 10 inquiring questions.

All month, I'll be previewing a few women who are exhibiting at One of a Kind alongside Dani Press.
First up, Ali Harrison, the intricately talented eye behind Light & Paper. She fell in love with paper cutting after trying to find a unique Christmas gift, deciding instead to make one herself. Ah, the entrepreneurial spirit! 
She has such an easy, hilarious way about her and her anatomical heart piece still makes my jaw drop. I would highly encourage you to stop by Booth N36 for the 6 days she'll be showing, December 1-6.

For now, read on!

1. What do you do and what does it give to people?
I make stuff and sell it!
Specifically, I started creating hand-cut papercutting artwork and I’ve expanded my business now to sell lasercut reproductions of my handcut work – things like coasters, cards, banners, and paper art that you can frame. 

I like to give people a little piece of affordable art – that’s why it’s fun to work with a lasercutter. When I was only selling hand-cut work it was a struggle just because it’s so time consuming that you can’t produce that much of it and it has to be more expensive. I like being able to transform my art into something affordable that a range of different people can buy. I think it’s cool that people can be using my coasters and know that they began as a piece of paper I cut tiny pieces out of. 

2. What's a piece of advice you consistently find yourself giving out but find hard to take yourself?
I tried this thing the other week where I would write a “what I did” list instead of a “to do” list. I always leave the studio feeling like I’ve accomplished absolutely nothing, so I thought it would feel really good to be able to look at a list of everything I actually did on a given day – and track what I could be doing more of. It was super satisfying! I told a bunch of people to do it.

Then I never did it again. 

3. How do you rely on others to make you better?
Most of all I rely on my partner as a sounding board, advice giver, dog walker, laundry do-er, dinner maker, dance partner and all around best human. I also have the greatest studio neighbours ever, who are always there to let me borrow their stuff, give me advice on designs and packaging, and provide fresh baked cookies. Knowing that they are there to help me out if I need something makes me feel really happy and taken care of. 

4. Someone gives you 50 mill. What's the FIRST way your life changes?
I get 5 dogs.
NO, 50 dogs!  

5. What has compelled you forward more than anything else?
Probably a fear of failure or feeling like I’ve let people down.

My partner and my family have helped me so much to build my business, so if I don’t move forward and succeed I would feel like I was failing them, which would be the worst. A close second is probably the fear of having to go get a “real job” in an office again.
I can’t go back to 9-5! 

6. Do you like when people ask you, "Where do you want to be in 5 years?"
I think I’ve only been asked that in a job interview so…no. I like setting 3-year goals for myself – 3 years is a good balance of enough time that some seriously good stuff can happen, but still soon enough that it doesn’t feel so far in the future. It’s fun to look back to 5 years ago though. I would have never guessed that this is what I’d be doing, so maybe I’ll be saying that again in another 5!

7. If someone was handed a script of your inner dialogue this week, what would it say?
Wake up. 
Wake. Up. 
Get out of bed. 
Why are you pressing snooze? 
WHY ARE YOU PRESSING SNOOZE???

8. Are you spontaneous?
Yes!
I’ll get an idea in my head out of the blue and then become super obsessed and committed to it. It’s probably more reckless than spontaneous because often times it’s impossible to change my mind about it, even if it’s actually not a good idea. Sometimes I’ll think about rearranging the furniture in my apartment and then I’m like, "Oh shit, I don’t even want to do this but now that it’s in my head I have to." Then 4 hours later when all the furniture is in the middle of the room not fitting into place I’m like, "WHY AM I LIKE THIS!?" 
But spontaneous decisions were pretty much how I decided to start my own business, get my dog, and be with my partner. They are all working out pretty good right now so I can’t complain.  

9. Are you failing differently each time?
No. I make the same stupid mistakes over and over. 

10. Paul Newman or Robert Redford?
Not going to lie, I had to Google these guys to figure this out who I prefer. Newman gets the win because of his philanthropic salad dressing and he was on the Simpsons.