NEW ORLEANS — For Journey Allen, her path into the world of art started with a bet from a little boy when she was just a kid.
"He was like I bet you $5 you can't draw, and I was like, 'Yes, I can. And I sat there and drew it, and I didn't know I could draw. And then it was a problem because he didn't have my $5," says Journey.
And she's been drawing ever since. In college, she was studying education but decided to follow her love for the creative and switch to art. So she went to the head of the art department at Southern University at New Orleans and showed him some of her work.
"He broke it up and told me all the things I did wrong, and I was like, 'Yeah I want to be in the art department so I can learn. He was like what are you 21 - 22. I was 24-25 at the time because it was like not too long before Katrina, and he said, 'At this age, you're pretty unteachable. You could never learn to paint well enough to become a professional artist," Journey said.
She left his office, cried, and for the most part, put art to the side.
But then Katrina happened, and Journey ended up at Texas Southern University in Houston. Like so many others, her academic records were lost.
" I said, 'If I am start over, I am going to try art," Journey says.
She eventually moved back to New Orleans and two years ago opened the Artist Journey Allen Gallery and Painting Studio.
It showcases her beautiful work and weaved into each piece is her signature pattern. It is along the gallery's walls- sometimes as the background or foreground in a painting- and other times it is a part of the subject's clothing.
But Journey's space is larger than her and her art. It's also a space for community meetings and for other entrepreneurs who don't have a space.
She's currently in the process of expanding
Journey has tons of great ideas when it comes to the future of her business, but she wanted some help executing those ideas. And that's where propeller comes in, it's a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs grow their small business.
And journey is one of 30 entrepreneurs in Propeller's current Impact Accelerator program.
"She is a native New Orleanian. She is an amazing and brilliant entrepreneur, and her business is really at the intersection of culture and commerce," said Trace Allen.
Trace Allen is the Community Economic Development Program Manager at Propeller, and he says Journey is the perfect fit for Propeller's program.
All of the businesses in the program are working towards racial equity.
"She is doing alot of programming for young folks of color through her arts and culture program with her studio and gallery. She is a good fit for the program and appeals to equity in a variety of ways," says Trace.
"I wear many hats as an artist and community arts educator and looking at all of that and balancing it and bringing meaning to it, but also looking at the financial portion of it..." explains Journey.
The 4-month program will connect entrepreneurs like Journey with capital, contracts, and contacts.
Journey is looking forward to how the program will benefit her, and in turn, help her studio benefit the community.