Maureen Newton, Louise Vernal
Medicine Hat, AB

Meet Maureen Newton and Louise Vernal, sisters, born and raised in Medicine Hat. Maureen is the sole-proprietor of Inspire Studio & Gallery and co-owners of Inspire Café. Together they have created a beautiful business idea: Inspire Studio, Gallery & Café, located in sunny Medicine Hat, right at the busy corner of 2nd Street S.E.  I describe it as a delight to the senses: look, feel, taste, smell and even sound are all available when you visit here.

Maureen started planning the business in January 2008 and officially opened the doors of Inspire Studio & Gallery in July of that same year. She made the decision to also partner with her sister Louise to create an extension of the business and together they created Inspire Café. This extension to the business was finalized three years later and the café was open for business in February 2011.

Maureen worked in the art industry for her entire adult life and after returning to Medicine Hat, she decided that a studio and gallery would be a great business concept for Medicine Hat. “There was really nothing like this in Medicine Hat”, she says, and she was sure that it was a concept that would make their business unique and attractive in our community. “This is exactly the type of place I enjoyed visiting when I travelled and visited other cities”.

Maureen enrolled in the Community Futures Entre-Corp Self-Employment training program in 2008. Maureen describes what she found to be most valuable, “the training program was great for breaking down the process of how to begin a business and what the overall process of running a business would entail. The program played a vital part in helping us make connections to mentors and advisors who helped us along the way. The program also helped me to develop a solid business plan”. Soon after, Maureen participated in the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge through Community Futures Entre-Corp and took home the first prize of $15,000. “These funds helped us build Inspire Studio.” Maureen was also able to access a renovation grant/loan program and start-up financing from Community Futures Entre-Corp which were used to renovate the shop and start the build-out of the café.  You can visit their website at:

Story by Elizabeth Blair