Keeping It Real With The Ladies From Pretty Grit

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Every so often you meet someone that you instantly feel a connection with, a kindred spirits of sorts.  For me, that moment happened almost 2 years ago at a “Galentines Day” party hosted by a new friend here in Hamilton.  I was introduced to Amanda and after chatting about many things (our love of design, the fact that we share the same awesome name and general outlook on life and having both lived the “scene” in Toronto) we became instant pals.

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After many long conversations about our dreams of being entrepreneurs and business owners, I was so pumped when Amanda told me that her dream of owning her own shop was becoming a reality with her buddy Annie.  It seemed like in no time at all the wheels were in motion and the girls set their minds and wallets to it and launched what now stands “Pretty Grit”- Hamilton’s BEST place for all your house ware needs.

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The shelving unit is OOAK and such a head turner… custom order girls? 😉

I stole some of the girls precious (and very limited free time) to ask them a few questions about their entrepreneurship life.  Here’s what they had to say:

What is your business and how did you know this was your path in life? What/who inspired you to open a business and do what you are doing?

We are Amanda Cordero and Annie Horton of Pretty Grit, we are a new home accessory store located on James N. in Hamilton. We provide fun and trendy item to for people to dress there home with. Our style is clean, modern, leaning towards industrial.

We both have very different reasons for forming this business. Amanda has been interested in design her entire life and has been working in the retail end of it for some time whether it be doing window displays for Holt Renfrew or as a Design Consultant for EQ3, all of her experience has led to this business.

Annie:
I always knew I wanted to work for myself or try some kind of entrepreneurial venture, specifically in Hamilton. My first attempt (if you can even call it that) was after I came back from New York a few years ago. I came upon “Insomnia Cookies” which I thought was a brilliant idea, so I did research on starting one here, then quickly gave up. A little while after I’d considered starting an arts and drama program for inner city children, but nothing came to fruition. From 2012 – 2014 I was very heavily involved in the community running events and working in media for a local charity. During this time I met and networked with tons of inspirational Hamiltonians working for themselves or other organizations towards growing the city which I admired. In short, both of our skill sets have created Pretty Grit.

We have been inspired by many, especially the friends we have who own shops on James N, they have all been amazing, with providing insights on their experiences, tips and even in some cases products. We both also really wanted to be self employed.

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I find this so interesting, (this is not their logo)…. but a dynamic wall art piece

How did you choose your business name?

Our business name came from a brain-storming session that occurred on the 4th floor of the Central Library. We wanted to convey the duality of Hamilton. We both were born and bred here and we love this city for it’s complexity. Even though it is changing and gentrifying, Hamilton will always remain just a little gritty, that is what we love about this city.

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What did you want to be when you grew up?

Amanda: I wanted to be a veterinarian, because I loved animals, then an architect, but sadly realized that you have to be good at Math.

Annie: For years I wanted to be an actress, this dream took me through post secondary. I spent all of my teenage years in plays and musicals. It wasn’t even too long ago that I “retired” my so called “career” – I like this gig much better.

What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Our biggest challenges have come form our timeline being shortened repeatedly. This project was originally suppose to get off the ground Spring 2016, however everything fell into place much sooner and we had to act quickly and make tough decisions immediately. With a short time frame we also had to learn patience while working with other companies.

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Everyone loves the sofa, but I LOVE the lighting! Sourced from Montreal – they are so unique!

Do you have a favourite object in your work space? What is it? Where did it come from? Why do you like it?

Amanda: The zig zag shelving unit, I saw an image of something similar and thought is would be the perfect feature piece to put in front of our brick feature wall. The shelving unit was built by Ted Hill, who built most of our fixtures. He was able to bring an idea to life and I will forever be grateful. I love this piece because it provides both form and function. It holds a lot of product, while creating visual interest with its dynamic lines.

Annie: Our couch. It’s my favourite because of how much of a pain it was to get together. We found it on Kijiji and thought “WOW, this is perfect, cheap and it’ll be SO easy to fix up and get in the shop” – we were wrong and now I look at it and laugh, and NO it’s not for sale.

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The exposed brick with industrial lighting is softened with all of the beautiful accents they have sourced. I am a big fan of the realistic printed pillows

Are you and early morning or late night person?

Amanda: I am neither, I am at my best late morning. Although my internal clock has definitely shifted since starting this business. I now wake up on my own with no alarm clock much earlier that before, no matter how much sleep I have gotten.

Annie: I don’t know, I go to bed at 9:30 when I can and usually wake up early and grumpy. I’m a mid-day person.

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Along with a set of 2 marbled pillows, a set of the red ramekins came home with me… one can never have too many ramekins, right?!

What is one piece of advice that you would give to a budding entrepreneur?

To get out of your own way and to do it. Don’t delay, the tools are all here, there are support systems. There is no sense in waiting, because someone else will come along and do it instead. Stop thinking and JUST DO IT.

Where is you favourite place to think?

Amanda: In bed is where I get ideas, either as I am falling asleep or just waking up, that is when I have the best creative ideas. In the car while driving is where I can clear my head and sort out problems.

Annie: Solo strolls around the city always help to clear my head and often get my creative juices flowing.

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The store has a mix of vintage and new pieces – I am loving the vintage glasses they are sourcing lately!

If I gave you $100 what would you spend it on?

Amanda: Something pretty, either clothing or for the home

Annie: Food and/or a new bra.

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These girls have an awesome sense of style and a great sense of humour

What would your customers be surprised to learn about you?

Amanda: That I have very little idea what I am doing and I am winging this.

Annie: Same.

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Eye spy – MEHKER pillows 😉

Check out PRETTY GRIT HERE

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Puggin’ it

I wanted to buy one of my friends a pug related gift for his birthday.  I decided to scour Etsy.com and ended up finding a tonne of pug related products I would want myself!  Today I bring you: my top 10 favourite pug products from Etsy.com that are made in Canada.  Please enjoy!

1. Pug Cuts T-Shirt  – HWBP – Toronto, ON

I first saw these guys at a pug-alug at Pawsway in Toronto – I like the style of the graphics.  Also the name Higgins.

HWBP shirt

2. Pug Dog Reading A Book – Tascha – Toronto, ON

The colour, the texture, the PUG!  So freaking cute – wish the girls had strawberry blonde hair though!

 

3.Big Boned Greeting Card – The Second Breakfast – Vancouver, BC

I think this is how many fancy pug girls feel.  Heehee!

greeting card

4. Biking Pug Baby Onesie – QuarrelsomeYeti – Halifax, NS

Slightly scary, but super awesome!  I want this on a t-shirt!

onsie

5. Wall mounted “Pugalope” – pugandco – Winnipeg, MB

The weirdest pug item found to date.  I NEED THIS!

pugalope pugandco

 6. Felted wool pug – Yukis Wool Pets – Victoria, BC

*SWOOOOON* – I would love this on my desk!!

felted pug yukis

7. Pug Tote Bag – Mimo Cadeaux – MOntreal, QC

I would go shopping everyday with this bag!  What a smarty pants!

pug tote mimo

8. Pug Pins – Casscollins – Whitehorse, Yukon

There aere pug lovers in the YUKON!!  Whattt??  This makes me happy on so many levels!

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9. Saturday Morning at Pemberley Flat – Janet Hill Studio – Stratford, ON

Every home needs a pug – allergic? How about on of these stunning prints?  I want the entire collection.  New obsession…

10. Hand sewn keychain ornament – ZillyGrilDesigns – Victoria, BC

I love the hand made charm to these little guys.  I want one for my keychain. Might have to get on for my friends too!

keychain

Top 10 Ways To Look Into The Future

I missed out on doing a New Years Blog wrap up like everyone else in the world – so I thought I would look into the future and find the coolest calendars that are Made in Canada.  Let’s be honest, you have probably been to the local bookstore, seen all the generic puppy calendars at  50% off – why not treat yourself this year and support someone in your community? Start this year off on a good foot – buy “local”, buy “handmade”. Here are 10 of my favourites!

1. 2014 Mountain Calendar (Blue Mist) – Made by Pamlostracco – Made in Toronto

I love the graduated colour and the fact that this looks more like art than a calendar.

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2. 2014 Desk or Wall Calendar (mini animals) -Made by MadeWithClayAndLove – Made in Terrenceville, Newfoundland

I really liked the concept of this little calendar – the person creates little clay figures, then photographs them and turns them into calendar pages.  How cute!

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3. 2014 Parks and Rec Calendar – Made by paperchat – Made in Toronto

I have never seen the show in reference, although many of my friends love it – this little calendar made me laugh out loud. It is perfect when you need a little pick me up!

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4. Wanderlust 2014 Calendar – Made by EyePoertyPhotography – Made in Montreal

I love dreaming about my next adventure – this calendar give the perfect inspiration.  It would also serve double duty as beautifully framed photographs after the year is over.

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5. Colourful Letterpress Desktop Calendar – Made by LetterpressShoppe – Made in Toronto

A perfect size for you desk – this little calendar is just stunning!  Every month is a new colour.

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6. 2014 Calendar – Printed on Watercolour Paper – Made by BarbaraOchman – Made in Ottawa

Talk about talent – these are all hand illustrated pictures turned into one beautiful calendar – I would definitely frame these when the months are over.

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7. Perpetual Mechanical Calendar and Pen Set – Made by SandrasCornerStore – Made in Sudbury

This was probably not made in Canada, however this shop is a cute little Canadian vintage store.  I love shopping vintage and would love a little bling calendar like this on my desk.
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8. StarWars Calendar – Made by BluesNotes – Made in Ottawa

Have a movie buff in your life?  I ordered the Back to the Future version for Lee this year.  I think these are genius and what a great up cycling project!  7 starwars

9. 2014 Hand printed Calendar – Made by FlakesPaperie – Made in Ontario

I really love the work by this studio – I discovered Flakes Paperie at the one of a kind show several years ago – and relate to all of her work.

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10. 2014 Calendar – Made by Bookhu – Made in Toronto

This is made by a popular textile studio up the street from where I work.  I like the traditional botanicals.

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3 Pieces Of Advice From Sarah Richardson

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(photos courtesy of Annawithlove Photography)

Last weekend I attended the Canadian Blogging summit: Blog Podium.  I went with the expectation that I would network with amazing people interested in things similar to me, get advice on how to improve my blog and learn how I can improve my digital marketing business.  I was not disappointed.  Highlights included a key note speech by the one and only Sarah Richardson, an excellent panel discussion including the editors of a few Canadian powerhouse magazines and a very insightful seminar from  Karen Bertelsen from the blog: The Art of Doing Stuff.

notes

(photos courtesy of Annawithlove Photography)

The attendees were all given these charming note books to write down important things they were learning in the seminars.   I felt as though I had written a novel, but when I went back to read my notes it turned out that all I wrote was “have a unique style, or at least a point of view”, “whimsy gets a bad wrap” and in bold I scribed “promote the artisan”- all quotes from Sarah Richardson.   Apparently that is the only information I thought I could not retain.

So now what?

Well… I have decided to hone in and blog specifically about things people are making locally (within Canada) by hand.  (Cookie says not to worry because she will still make appearances on here occasionally blogging about her favourite products/brands/stores).  I am excited to streamline the content of my blog and comb the nation for inspiring stories of talented people practicing their skills to make a living, something to which I aspire; entrepreneurship.   Let me know if there is anyone I need to know about or products you love and think other people should know about too.

Hope you like the new angle!

Peace, love and have fun mehking stuff, eh!

-Amanda
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