The Best Medicine is Creative

“When I graduated high school, my goal was to become the next Puff Daddy. I wanted to own a record label, throw lavish parties, and live the high life,” Ronnie Sidney recalls. Sidney is an author, speaker, app developer, workshop presenter, and founder of Creative Medicine: Healing Through Words. His life now, however, is far different from the one he envisioned for himself in his younger days.

The dramatic shift in his life’s trajectory occurred while Sidney was attending Old Dominion University. He decided to change his major from business management to human services. It was a natural and perfect fit. “Helping people came easy,” Sidney says. “My father is a minister, my sister is a social worker, and my mother is a nurse. I guess it runs in the family.”

With the goal of providing creative ways to meet the mental health needs of clients, Sidney used his Masters’ Degree in Social Work and the University of Mary Washington SBDC-Warsaw to organize his plans into actions. He credits Director Joy Corprew with patiently guiding him through the complicated waters of first-time entrepreneurship and providing constant encouragement and reassurance. “Joy’s work with me really helped make what was originally an abstract idea into a concrete reality with a working business model and a solid plan for measurable growth,” Sidney adds.

Sidney has authored three children’s books that deal with learning disabilities, self-esteem, and mental health. Although Sidney’s learning disability caused him to struggle and begrudge the learning process, he is determined to save other kids from a similar negative experience. “It’s not something that’s talked about much,” Sidney says “And as an African American author diagnosed with a learning disability, I felt I had a niche that no one was really addressing.”

Sidney’s latest addition to his box of therapeutic tools is the Nelson Beats the Odds Comic Creator app. The free self-esteem app allows kids to substitute their own photos and create composite images personalizing the characters’ faces in the book’s illustrations. He continues to increase his entrepreneurial skills through the many workshops and resources offered through the University of Mary Washington SBDC-Warsaw

“I think it’s important for people to see me out here, doing what I’m doing, accomplishing what I’m accomplishing, because it inspires people. Hopefully, they look at me and think, ‘If he can do it, so can I.’ And that’s what means the most to me.”

Sidney has made significant improvements to his business, resulting in a $45,000 increase in revenue in 2016.
Virginia SBDC