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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.