Ribbon Rouge Presents: Valery Goulet

Only THREE more days before our annual Ribbon Rouge Gala!  This year’s theme is QUEEN: Women who inspire and motivate us to be difference makers in our community.  Please remember to get your tickets for Ribbon Rouge online here.  And if you can’t make the show this weekend please donate instead!

Valery Image

Today we are showcasing Valery Goulet, a teacher, business owner and mentor for students in the Graphic Designers of Canada program.  She is helping craft some of the beautiful artwork on display at this year’s Ribbon Rouge Gala highlight our amazing QUEENS.  We had a chat with Valery about her passions and interested and what keeps this incredible woman so busy.

RR: For those who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?

Valery Goulet: I am the owner of valérydesignwrks, a small multidisciplinary design studio in Edmonton, Alberta.

At the beginning of 2015, I decided to leave the agency life I have known for the previous 14 years, and I opened the doors to my new office. I learned many things from the places I had put in my time; most of all, I realized my passion for branding, illustration and crafted design. I’ve had the opportunity to partner with some pretty awesome clients, and I’ve shared in their successes and helped grow their businesses.

Additionally, I teach at the University of Alberta and at the Grant MacEwan University in the Visual Communication Programs. I also occupies the Education Chair position on the board of the Graphic Designers of Canada.

RR:  What is the GDC, and why is it important?

VG: GDC is Canada’s National Certification Body for Graphic and Communication Designers.

GDC has been Canada’s national certification body for graphic and communication designers since 1956, establishing professional standards and actively regulating professional conduct. GDC is a member-based organization of design professionals, educators, administrators, students and affiliates in communications, marketing, media and design-related fields. Our members come together to advance the profession, grow professionally, mentor each other, show off their work, and enjoy the camaraderie.

As Canada’s national certification body for graphic and communication designers, GDC licenses the unique CGD™ certification mark only to designers, educators and administrators whose services meet rigorous, standardized criteria. The CGD certification mark is recognized across Canada.

GDC is a not-for-profit, adaptive and vibrant organization fuelled by member participation. Members are encouraged to become involved with and access GDC through their local Chapter.

The National Council is essentially the united nations of GDC chapters, consisting of representatives from all over the country. The National Executive is the organizing and governing board of GDC. It is comprised of elected representatives who are charged with the responsibility of executing strategic initiatives and directions developed at the annual general meetings.


RR: To what capacity have you been involved in the GDC – Ribbon Rouge Student mentorship?

VG: For this project, I have been taking many roles from being the liaison with the Ribbon Rouge organization to mentoring and working with the student members participating to the project.

RR: How’d you get started as an artist?

VG: I have a college Degree in Fine Arts which was my first connection to the artistic world. I have learned multiple drawing, painting and sculpting techniques. After my degree, I realized that it would be a great idea to pursue graphic design which is also connected to art.

RR: Do you think it is important to mentor student artists and why?

VG: Definitely! Mentorship should be part of any education program as you are getting something way more personal and adapted to the type of work you are doing.

RR: Our theme this year is QUEEN! It is an ode to powerful women who have positively influenced us by their lives. What does this mean to you?

VG: As a woman, it means a lot and like those women, I hope that I can also positively influence others.

RR: Do you have a Queen (inspiration)? Who & Why?

VG: I do but it is pretty difficult to put a name on it and many people from different era and for different reasons inspire me.

RR: What are you currently working on?

VG: I am always working on multiple projects at the same time. I am currently completing a branding project for a client located in Québec. I am also preparing my classes for the winter term as well as planning a new activity for the GDC.


RR:  What stands out for you as one of your favourite career highlights so far?

VG: Starting my own business is one of them as it is something quite demanding and also scary when you haven’t started any other business of your own. I am proud that this is finally happening and also going well.

RR: What’s the favourite part of your job?

VG: Creating is definitely one of my favourite part of my job. Helping a client or a student to solve their problem is challenging in a really positive way and I love it.

RR: Any other Alberta artists you’d recommend?

VG: I would like to invite you to visit the Royal Bison which is a grouping of great artists and crafters: http://royalbison.ca/

RR: What does Ribbon Rouge mean to you?

VG: At the beginning of this project, Ribbon Rouge seemed to be a great organization helping others. At each meeting I had with the Ribbon Rouge team I learned so much from the organization. It is really impressive to hear the people sharing their stories and their knowledge. Now I feel more people should know about Ribbon Rouge and HIV. It seems that most people don’t know anything.

RR: Where can we find you/ more of your work?

VG: My website displays some of my most recent projects along with more information about me and the work I do: http://www.valerydesignwrks.ca

You can also follow my Twitter account @valerydesignwrk, as I am pretty active on there. I share a lot of information with my followers and I also use Twitter to share interesting resources with my students.

Valery and her students will be presenting their incredible art works celebrating our QUEENS at Ribbon Rouge this Saturday.  Join them to celebrate our QUEENS at the Ribbon Rouge Gala being held at the ATB Arts Barn.  You can buy tickets for Ribbon Rouge 2015 online here.  The show will start at 7pm sharp this year.

Ribbon Rouge #8

When: November 28, 2015 Doors open at 6pm; Show at 7pm SHARP

Where: ATB Financial Arts Barns     

Living with HIV in Edmonton; A local Champion – Deborah Norris

Ribbon Rouge 2015 in now less than a month away!  This year we are celebrating the theme of Queen!  Women who inspire and empower others around them.  Rule breakers and name takers, vilified by some but visionaries to others, these women embody the passion, freedom and unbreakable spirit of their communities and pay it forward a thousand times over.

We have a special treat for today, a profile and bio of Deborah Norris.  Deborah is a woman who has been living with HIV for over two decades, a woman who had to endure the raising two children as a single mother and a woman who had to get both children testes for HIV infection.  She has overcome incredible odds and has not only survived but thrived in what she does – being an outspoken activist for women living with HIV.

We had the honor of bringing you her story, the story of rose up and became a focal point for HIV awareness here in Edmonton as well as nationally and even internationally.  Her powerful story is bound to captivate and engage you and hopefully serves to inspire you to help us take action through the Ribbon Rouge Gala in support of HIV awareness and destigmatization.

Here is the story of Deborah Norris, champion of HIV awareness, education and support.

I’m Deborah Norris, a woman who has been living with HIV since 1991. I was diagnosed after I went for a life insurance test because I was raising my two children as a single Mom and decided I needed life insurance. My GP has told me she would not have tested me for HIV if I started to show symptoms because she had already tested me for HIV when I was pregnant with my son, the year prior, and that test was negative. It was a huge shock. I thought I was in a monogamous relationship. I had no idea my partner was having sex with other women. He did not know he had HIV. He died because of ignorance. We did not know about HIV. We did not know we were at risk.


My children had to be tested because I was pregnant with one and breastfed both. It was the longest two weeks of my life, waiting for their test results. Thankfully, they both tested negative. I was extremely depressed and angry. The years after I was diagnosed were the hardest time of my life. I was near death many, many times, there were no medications to treat HIV disease, the people I met through HIV Edmonton (then called the AIDS Network of Edmonton) and Living Positive were all dying around me. I progressed to an AIDS diagnosis in 1994. I lived in spite of everything. I tried to have a positive attitude and was surrounded by supportive people. My sole goal was to live to see my children grow up. Not only did I do that but they have graduated from high school, my daughter has graduated from university, my son has almost completed university and they are both happy, successful, amazing human beings.


The powerful women role models I’ve had are other women living with HIV. There were not very many here in Edmonton when I was diagnosed, but over the years because of the activism I have been a part of nationally and internationally, I’ve been privileged to meet many powerful women living with HIV. These Queens of HIV taught me what it means to be strong and powerful and that my voice matters.


I received a Community leadership award from HIV Edmonton in 1994 for co-founding the Alberta Society for Positive Women. I sat on the Advisory Committee on AIDS to the Alberta Minister of Health for three years as a community representative. In 1992, I was a founding member of the peer support programme of Living Positive, the Edmonton Persons Living With HIV Society, and continue to provide peer support to other women living with HIV to this day. I am an activist and advocate for women living with HIV, locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. I was part of an activist group in Alberta in 1995 that wrote a lobby paper and successfully lobbied the Alberta government to provide the life saving protease inhibitors that resulted in people living with HIV to be able to live healthy lives. As a peer support person, I advocate for women living with HIV to get the social supports they need to live healthy lives.


What do I say to people who do not believe HIV is real? I’ve lived with HIV for almost 25 years, been diagnosed with AIDS, nearly died many times because of the devastating immune system depleting effects of this virus. I have seen my friends die around me because of this virus. If you do not know that this virus exists, read the science, look at the facts, look at an electron microscope image of the virus in my body, look into the eyes of someone dying because of ignorant denial. I just spent a year providing support to women and children living with HIV disease in Honduras. Women and children are dying unnecessarily there because of this kind of ignorance.


Women’s rights are a huge part of HIV education and support. Women still do not believe they have the right to not be abused. They still believe they do not have the right to insist on a condom. They still do not believe they have a right to say “No!” Women’s rights and women believing they can claim these rights is the only way we will ever halt this disease for women and children.

We are truly delighted to be sharing her story with you.  And we are even more excited to have her story told at the Ribbon Rouge 2015 Gala!  Be sure to catch more of her story there on Nov. 28th, 2015 at Ribbon Rouge in Edmonton! www.ribbonrouge.com.


And don’t forget to buy tickets for Ribbon Rouge 2015!  Tickets can be purchased online here.

Ribbon Rouge #8

When: November 28, 2015 Doors open at 6pm; Show at 7pm

Where: ATB Financial Arts Barns

The Crack Binness vs. The Amway Bizness & The Delusion of Free Enterprise

So… As I was sharing….continuing from my last post
The final meeting was short and not sweet.
Heather’s mentor (I’ll call her Griselda) wanted to know what I thought of it all. I said quite frankly that I did not see a business plan in their “bizness” plan…. Apparently, I was wrong. Of course it was a solid plan; I just had to see the overall vision of the Big Bizness! Griselda knew many people who had retired by 35 as millionaires; this was for a greater good too, to help other young women progress too. She was a charismatic young woman, warm and gentle…not pushy. She sounded sincere, even believed what she was selling. As she spoke, she mentioned often that it was not her job to convince me, the bizness was very simple. There was no need to complicate it with statistics, research or numbers. I simply had to consume $300/m; sell $150/m. I’d earn 35% in savings off personal use and 35% gross margins off sales. I just had to be open to it; see how I might fit in the ultimate goals.

I just do not see how you can call something a business plan without any numbers…

So, I asked for numbers; what would my overhead be?
$49.95/m – Premier membership to get discounts to books, tax info, website access, training, calendar
$5.58/m – Amway fees (paid annually as a lump sum)
$36.95/m – Communicate fees (Communicate is the mandatory Amway audio journal to share your deepest darkest secrets with all the Amway crew)
$25/m – Digital delivery and unlimited DVDs (because anyone still plays DVDs in the year 2015???)
$397.50/m – Inventory costs (with the intention of consuming $300/m; this estimated monthly consumption increases up to $600/ month by the end of the first year for no apparent reason, seems Amway just decided you would need to consume two times more of their “awesome” products per month within the year)

Undisclosed by Griselda but gathered from a friend who was actually suckered into this mess.
~$300 – Upfront sign up fees
$30/m – Book purchases (part of the bizness contract is that you must always have an Amway recommended book on the go – I wish I had that deal to write books with a guaranteed 8 mill in sales it appears that privilege is only for Diamond bizness owners or those higher at the top of the pyramid)
$25/m – Conference  costs (paid as a one time expense ~ $300/ annum initially; this cost significantly increases as you rise up the Pyramid).
??? Unknown costs to purchase recruitment kits
??? Unknown costs Travel, gas & mileage for various meetings
??? Unknown costs for shipping, damages, refunds

Estimated monthly financial cost: $594.98
Projected monthly sales (without any proper market analysis/ p&l disclosure): $150
Performance monthly Bonus (based on $150/m sales): $13.50
Projected monthly Net Margin (per my calculations from their brochure):-$431.48


Yes. A monthly loss of -$431.48 (even when I accounted for my current monthly expenses I’d lose – $248.28/m)… And no Break even analysis anywhere in all the DVDs, bizness books, and brochures, just a faithful dream to multiply your efforts at an exponential rate by the base of 18. I deduced a formula from statements and the beautifully illustrated chart bellow, by the second year: Recruits = 18+182; by the third year: 18+182+(182+183); by the fourth year: Recruits equal about 15% of the number of people living in Edmonton and by the seventh year, the plan, by my calculations, involves the potential to have recruited more people than there are living on the planet > 7 billion people….. hmmm

There might be a little flaw in the “plan”.


Business Fundamentals Which I think Are Fairly Obvious … When One is Not Delusional

1. Big savings sale is really an oxymoron…

If you are consuming your purchase; you are not saving. The two things are mutually exclusive. Yes. All those TV commercials that claim you can save more by buying more lied to you. You save more when you do not buy more. Get it? When you buy what you need at the cheapest price you are being smart and spending less, but you are spending nonetheless. You are not making a profit by buying at a discount. Seems like stating the obvious right?

It is the best plotted racket I have ever seen! These people actually convinced over 3.3 million “independent” bizness owners in 100 countries (or up to 8 million distributors depending on which source you read) to “earn” a living by buying consumer goods for consumption. I think a word should be created:

To determinedly con people in the most spectacular multi level fashion imaginable.

  • as in: Griselda amwayed Heather till the poor girl literally had thousands in noncash purchase savings and hundreds of thousands in consumed products.
  • or as my Naija people will say: Ma Guy! That Griselda amwayed that Heather maga die!

2. 99% DISCOUNT off of $1000 is still more expensive than 0% DISCOUNT off of $1

Amway products are seriously expensive. According to their brochures, you could spend anywhere between $200/m to $329/m on just facial products. Mint tells me that I spend only $8/ month on my face (cleanser, toner, night cream and lotion purchased in bulk every 3 – 6 months).



3. You never get high on your own supply!

It is not a sustainable or profitable situation when you have to consume your inventory. This seems very obvious; even crack dealers know this. Yet…

In this bizness model, you are not only expected to consume $300/m initially, within 12 months you are also expected to increase to a monthly personal consumption of $600. I currently spend $183/m on consumables…

Griselda informed me that all business owners need to support their own business by buying more from themselves; you “earn” 35% in savings and help everyone in your network…Sigh. 3.3 million people bought this line? Really? Imagine if each Starbucks owner drank 7 out of every 10 coffees sold to support their business as well as everyone in their corporate office.

4. Time is money

8 – 15 hours/ week recruiting people
5 hours/ 2 weeks meeting with new recruits and the team
30 mins/ d listening to Communicate and leaving audio journals about your personal life for “mentors”
2 hours/d reading lots of feel good bizness propaganda >>

some of these powerful books even had highly edjumacated PhD Level graphs like               this one (real picture, from real book) >>




 Working 32 hours per week only to lose -$431.48 per month in the  quest to gain freedom from your oppressive time  consuming job is probably not the most PhD-  like decision one can make.


5. In order to have a market, one must have buyers who make purchases from sellers … for that to happen, one needs market share

…You know that feeling that there is a Starbucks everywhere? Well, we have 72 in Edmonton, 65 Shoppers Drug Mart locations, 5 Walmart locations …. 4,000 Amway distributors in Edmonton. Imagine 4000 Walmart locations in Edmonton or 4000 Shoppers Drug Mart locations or 50 times more Starbucks locations. Who is buying if almost everyone is selling???

6. The *Oga at the Top makes the most money; so it makes sense to choose the path of least resistance to the top …

To illustrate this point I thought I’d compare the structure of a Crack Dealing Organization (Numbers obtained from Freakonomics) with a typical Corporate retail structure (Salaries obtained from prospectuses and shareholder meeting minutes) with the Amway-not-sure-why-this-is-a-legal-thing-Pyramid (salaries gleaned from the fine print of the Amway Bizness Plan Brochure). The irony is that Griselda, Heather and Bill truly believe they’ve escaped corporate structure for freedom & financial independence to earn those dolla dolla bills y’all…

Crack Binness
Crack Binness


Amway Bizness

The odds of getting to the top of this structure (or climbing 6 levels) — 0.00000067 if you do not die or get incarcerated (hopefully someone finally wins a court case against this bunch, because it is crazy that this is legal); where you will proceed to make <0.36% of the organization’s income.

Deduced from the fine print of the brochures:  5 in 1000 distributors make $55,000 a year; 1 in 10000 make $111,000 a year; 6 in 100000 make up to $2,657,000 a year….Not exactly a sure bet!

So, if one was lucky enough not to get shot or incarcerated, one has a significantly (>30000 times) better chance at financial freedom dealing crack than by joining Amway.

DISCLAIMER: I do not in anyway endorse or support dealing crack! Just pointing out how ludicrously bad an idea this Amway madness is.

Corporate Business
Corporate Business

I met with the Amway bizness women … later than initially planned, because at some point before hand, I decided to launch a store for my crafts (Side note: Please visit the Crafters Store at 4805 50 Ave, Leduc for some beautiful things from me!)… an actual business! Needless to say, to the obvious frustration of Heather, I did not buy into this bizness. She made sure I was aware of how risky my current career choices were, and how I was not actively mentoring young women or leading a big network as I might want. Griselda made sure I was aware that not everyone was rich enough to invest and the Amway way was a tried and true model to escape quickly into financial freedom.

Well I was definitely not rich enough to invest…in fact if anyone had odds stacked against them it was me: 15 year old, traveler – now immigrant, living completely independent of family by 19, with that beautiful accent (perceived as a language barrier by most), ignorant of politics, biases, stereotypes & systems, without savings, unable to work off campus & denied access to loans (as an international student), required to pay more on down payments (on work permit status)… and more obstacles than I care to think of. If I could save enough to invest and figure out the system without manipulating poor people into a massively exploitative bizness, then in my opinion Griselda, Heather and Bill could to…It has absolutely nothing to do with having a large enough amount of money to start off.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King Junior.


*Oga – A Yoruba word for Boss.