Keeping It Real With The Ladies From Pretty Grit

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Eye spy – MEHKER pillows 😉


Living In A Concrete Jungle

I am inspired about an upcoming trip to go and view some property in a neighboring city where land/building prices are low and the square footage is high!  Lee and I have decided a move is in the cards this year and are looking for a bigger space to live and work out of.  We were sitting in an inspiring space the other night and started dreaming about how we see our space come to reality.  I brought up the idea of including a green (living) wall.  I was first inspired by this during a trip Lee planned on Valentines day to the Royal Botanical Gardens just outside of Toronto.  The air was fresh and we both commented about how the environment made us feel better than usual, similar to the feeling of an oxygen bar.  Later during a field trip in University my c lass made our way around the city looking at green roofs and living walls.  Specifically the Centre for Social Innovation stuck in my mind ever since – but I can still remember seeing the green wall upon entrance to this old converted loft space.

centre for social innovationNot huge in size, but impressive none the less.  The smell knocks you in the face and it is such a quiet, warm space that you just want to linger.  The plants against the wood is such a beautiful contrast.  A few years later I was at the Cambridge City Hall.  If you ever have the chance – go visit. It is beautiful, open and has a GIANT living wall that circulates the air. This building has earned a gold for LEED certification.  Go Cambridge!

cambridgeI am constantly dreaming about a green wall and decided to look into it further in order to make it a reality when we find our studio space.  I have compiled a few images of walls that are interesting and realize I need to do a lot more research about how to build and maintain a wall.  (not to mention save my $$)  I can see this being an area I would like to study more and potentially go towards in my design career.  I hope these pictures spur some ideas of your own!

The follow are shots of exteriors I thought were pretty cool!


It is a really neat idea that you can watch your exterior change over time (filling in).  I like that you can put different plants in spots to create an interesting pattern.  I am not a huge fan of the bald spots, but that is my impatience speaking.  It is in general a beautiful process.

outside too

The scale of large wood windows creates a very warm approachable feel.  I would have liked to have seen street furniture in this shot.

iceland moss and volcanic rock

This is from Iceland – MOSS -can’t get enough!!!  The moss is growing over a volcanic rock.  How meditative.


This is my idea of a statement piece in your home. I would love a green wall as my living room backdrop!

cute store

Great for a retail store – I have seen this done by brands like West Elm, Lole & Underarmour.

wood looks great

Another beautiful backdrop with the wood bench contrast.


A huge scale project – reminds me of shipping containers.  I would love to see this in random places here in Toronto – like the alley ways behind the shops on Queen street.


The separation of space is interesting – you could do some interesting artwork with living walls.

simple not my style but interesting

I don’t love this, but what I do love is that it was a student project at an elementary school. It is a clean looking project. Start em early~

pretty colour

The colour is stunning – I love that they covered an architecturally rich existing building.  succulent wall

Imagine a whole bunch of these scattered on a huge wall?  I love succulents – they are really hard to kill – win -win!


This is interesting and unappealing to me- I am not a fan of stairs and I feel like the wall would grow out into the staircase and it would limit the space you have getting up and down. Maybe I am over thinking this.


This person created a “Partick Blanc” styled wall – he is a pioneer of the living wall.


I would love to work in an office with a living wall – I be more alert and fall asleep less…ha!

metal plus wood plus plants

I like the metal wood an plant combo in this pic. Industrial chic – modern. LOVE IT.

jungleI love the scale of these really large walls!


How cute are these?  Plants are ALIVE… humanizing them is super cute.


Maybe staggering them so it creates an artistic display. art walls

Plants used as screens – movable? YES please! plant balls

These are really pretty – I might get a few and practice.  Again – loving the succulents!

plant puppyLast but not least – an ode to my dog Cookie – The dog garden!!!! WOOF!

The Reminder of Tapestry

Many late nights are spent in my little studio – sketching, sewing, hooking, crocheting, weaving, exploring and I always have my pug Cookie on my feet keeping them warm… I am trying to create a nest of inspiration – a place of creative solace.

Music sets the tone for the type of work I am going to dive into taking me from reality and slipping my into a coma of awesomeness which ends abruptly (until I flip the record over).  Recently I have been adding to my collection of vinyl (a very slippery slope, or so I am told) and have added some key female albums such as ‘The Reminder’ by Feist which I probably play way too much (if that’s possible).

Today as I was going to tune into the ol’ faithful cbc radio 1, but to my surprise I  noticed a new album that mysteriously appeared beside my table!  A vinyl fairy sweetly left me Tapestry by Carole King.  I have it on right now and it makes me so happy and relaxed.  So many times my studio lacks a touch of ambiance that only music can bring – as soon I put the needle down my brain switches into progress mode.  I hope to share with you soon all of the creations I have been working on, but until then enjoy a little Carole:

Fresh Bombing

I was at the local second hand store this weekend and scored some pretty amazing objects!  The second hand stores are hit or miss for me – this weekend was a definite hit – amazing silver pieces, vintage dishware and some other cool goodies.  I was in awe of the things people get rid of because they do not have the foresight to see the transformation these everyday objects could undergo.  Thankfully I do and will bring the glory back to these outdated pieces.  Thinking about the future life of these objects I have compiled a list of my 10 favourite projects using spray paint for your delight. Enjoy!

Vintage Postal Charm

I am one of my only friends who still hand writes or types letters.  I have a fascination with stamps and vintage postcards.  I am working on branding Mehker and have found some images that inspire where I want it to go.  I have a designer working with me to create a logo and am so excited to see what he comes up with. I love the element of surprise and to see how someone else interprets the information I have shared.  Here is a selection of some post card backs I like – Enjoy!

Which one do you like the best?


Queen St. is Hoppin’

Cookie and I walked down to The Spot Market to check it out and see how the first weekend is going.  Due to torrential downpouring on Friday – there was virtually no foot traffic 😦 I was told by a vendor today that things have picked up and that sales are starting to “pour in”! Hoooray!

The energy is lively and the organizers let me take Cookie in (and she may possibly be allowed to sit with me during the event!) The vendors today ranged from toys – jewelery- clothing and a little bit of vintage.

I fell in love with one vendor called CAMBIE.  Her display was charming and she was selling vintage pieces from the East Coast of Canada (suitcases, sewing machines etc..)  Her specialty is importing Peruvian textiles – how cool is that job?!  She is detail orientated and her style reminded me of one of my favourite textile printers: Jenna Rose.  I would love to collaborate with her in the future. All the vendors had cool stuff and their prices were affordable- what’s not to like about that?

The Spot on Queen is open every Friday, Sat, Sun 11-6 pm. Hope to see you there!