Angie Saltman

Connecting to Community On and Offline: Angie Saltman Builds Business in Tech

“We do what we say we're gonna do authentically. To me, that's the secret of success to our businesses. Do what you say you're gonna do and be authentic and honest about it and the rest is golden,” says Angie Saltman. She lives in Grand Prairie, Alberta where she has a couple of technology businesses. 

"We do what we say we're gonna do authentically. To me, that's the secret of success to our businesses."

Born and raised in Prince George BC, Saltman had a rocky childhood and dropped out of high school. She lived on the street for a while until she turned her life around. After spending time in El Salvador without electricity or money for food, she gained a new perspective on life and the privileges she had in Canada. 

Her time abroad reminded her how while she faced many challenges, she always had food and clothing and she learned not to take things for granted and to practice gratitude instead. She returned home with a new mindset and upgraded her education so she could get a computer technician diploma and start her career as a computer technician. She moved out of self-pity and into a new profession. 

When she got back to Canada, she stayed with her grandparents, gardening, baking and learning from her tender but rough around the edges Métis grandmother. Saltman worked a minimum wage job making sandwiches while she studied to graduate from high school so she could get into college. It was hard work but an experience she describes as “amazing.” 

Leaving her big Métis family in Prince George was hard and living away from her home community brings mixed emotions. She got her computer technician diploma in Grand Prairie and went back to her hometown hoping to work as a computer technician at London Drugs after having started on the sales floor.  After her manager wanted to keep her on the sales floor, she transferred to London Drugs in Grand Prairie to work as a computer technician. 

She’s been there for twenty years and met her husband and business partner selling computers at London Drugs. It was their first job out of college and they refer to their relationship as “nerd love.” Beyond a marriage, she’s built a community in Grand Prairie. She opened her business in 2010 and has been part of the Rotary Club, Business Networking International, and many other groups. She’s been on the board of directors for Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Northwest region since 2010, volunteering for over a decade. 

One of the biggest obstacles she faced has been showing up for herself every day. “Some days, it's okay not to get out of bed. Sometimes you need a day, sometimes you're in a slump for a lot longer than a day. But I think the big thing is to eventually cry it out, brush yourself off and get back to it. Life is full of amazing, amazing opportunities, and it's also full of a lot of hardships. Together that's just the song of life, to experience all those together,” she reflects. 

To maintain her wellness, Saltman tries to do the hardest things first, diving in to avoid overwhelm. Self-care is something she struggles with but meditating, smudging and listening to music helps her get through a hard time. By repeating music with a positive message, she’s able to overcome hardships. 

Another way Saltman keeps her wellness in check by being mindful of what she takes from social media. “I find that if I start comparing myself to other people who do things like me, only share the best moments, and it just makes me feel like I'm not good enough. Social media is a little dangerous like that,” she explains. 

Growing up, there was no access to technology, but when she lived in her first apartment with her brother and got the internet, she fell in love. “The internet was this amazing space where you could look up anything and you could communicate with people around the world. I just felt like this was the way the future is going. The internet is making the world a small place where we can connect with people,” she recalls. 

She moved to Grand Prairie to let go of her addictions and the people who fed her substance use or who used themselves. “I realized that if I wanted to change my lifestyle, I was going to have to do something about that,” she remembers. Moving away allowed her to transform her life. 

Over time, both of her businesses have grown to eleven people on payroll and a variety of contractors. “The biggest reason why this stuff happened was because I had to get comfortable taking chances, making decisions when you don't have all the answers, you'd love to know more, and you could research something forever,” she recalls. Leveraging COVID relief business loans, they hired a team to develop the business. 

While making money has been a priority, so has community impact. Donating services every year, and working with Indigenous businesses, organizations and nations as clients, Saltman found an ideal market fit. She has been working to get into government procurement and to find new opportunities to grow, leaning into her intuition instead of trying to serve a multitude of small private businesses.

"I learned about economic reconciliation, starting learning, piecing it all together, what that means, and where maybe my part can work, what I can play in that."

She hasn’t done it alone, either. She’s joined the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and other Indigenous-focused organizations that are focussed on business and supply chain development. Saltman has attended a variety of conferences and met with Simon Fraser University at one, learning about their Indigenous MBA program. At first, she was reluctant to sign on due to the sticker shock of the tuition cost but now she’s getting ready to attend.  

Doing what she says she’s going to do authentically is the secret of success for Angie Saltman’s businesses. The rest is golden and the future is bright as she builds towards the future she’s envisioning for her companies. Leaning into her heritage and her technical skills, her past and future are Indigenous and she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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