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 😉


I can see clearly now

step 7

(before we put the flashing back on)

I decided we needed more light in the kitchen and the existing door was just basic, so we waited until a full pane window door went on sale at Lowes.  My dad came down to help us install it (as we have never done this before and he is one handy guy).  It took the majority of a day to complete, but we love the result.  I love all the light that pours in and it looks a heck of a lot better than the solid door with the half moon windows.  Luckily our neighbor across the street is looking for anew steel door, so we will give her the one we just replaced.

step 1

(this is the thickness of our walls when we ripped the old frame out – pretty thick!)

step 2(this was the big gaping hole under the threshold – didn’t find any treasures in there )

step 3

(The open hole to our house – thank goodness it didn’t rain!)

step 4(rule #1 when leveling a door – have lots of shims on hand)

step 6(we needed power – our trusty assistant held the cord – it also helped open our drinks!)

step 5(teamwork – my dad and Lee replacing the threshold with a new piece)

step 8(r.i.p. old door)

step 9(not a great shot -but here’s the finished product!)

gooseneck_lighting_fixtures(1)(we would like to get a lamp like this for over the door – more expensive than I had assumed)

step 10(after finishing the door, my dad helped up knock together a cute little deck 12 x 12′ I think?)

shipping(I am planning a project similar to this for an outdoor lounge area)

Stay tuned as we have just purchased a new front door and will be installing it shortly!!

It’s Hammer Time

Today we took a jont over to a neighbouring city called Hamilton aka “The Hammer”.  We are looking for an affordable living space that will allow us to use our power tools.  We have been searching here in Toronto, but have not found anything worth while as most of the places are CRAZY expensive for minimal space.  We currently live in a 700 sq ft condo right next to the CN tower and although it is beautiful and easy – it is not suited for our lifestyle.

We decided that since we are trying to fins a place outside the city – we should probably spend a little bit of time in the places to get to know them better.  I research day and night property listings on which led me to the latest project you will see pictures of below : The Stinson School Lofts.  I am a sucker for heritage renovations (specifically schools).  I have been in constant contact with the developer of this project and we finally got a chance to see some units today.  Although it is out of this world stunning – we both agree it is not the best suit for what we are looking for due to spacial limitations.  It is not the size that is holing us back as some of the larger units are 1500 sq ft +, it is the access to the outside, the use of power tools and the price that has brought us back to reality.  One can dream…. and dream I will do.


photo 1The windows are not installed yet because they are being customer made and shipped from London, England. They will be sandblasting the exterior in early March. There are actually 2 schools attached with a newly build attachment in between.

photo 2The front entrance is just stunning – we did not take many pictures as we were trying to listen to the developer telling us about the place and the fact that I could have taken photos all day long…

photo 3This is me in my beautiful hard hat – it was kind of sun to take a tour through a construction site!  We had to wear steel toed boots and all!  Good thing I was wearing the hat – I ran into some pipes coming from the ceiling I didn’t see!! doh!

20130202_144508This unit was by far my favourite.  It is a 2 floor 2 bedroom space approx 1300 sq ft.  It has an original chimney running though both floors to be used as a closet space.  They are putting beautiful horizontal opening windows across the kitchen area.  It is going to be just beautiful when finished.

20130202_144459This is the chimney they have to drill through.  This is the only penthouse unit left and the only unit  with this feature.  I would want this unit  if we decided to move it.  (although I would take any unit in the building)

20130202_144441The ceiling heights are crazy HIGH!!! the highest units ceilings are 23 ft!

I suggest if you live in the area and have time – there is a doors open Hamilton May 4th and 5th, 2013.  Go check this place out as it is one of the coolest large scale renovations happening around.  I will bring you more about our Hammer search as it unfolds.  We found the cutest little “up and coming” neighbourhood, as well some hidden gems in perhaps not the most desirable areas of town.  I am excited and inspired after our trip today.