Women Entrepreneur's Series: Anne McCormack Developing Her Next Business
I got the chance to sit down with Anne McCormack of @Anne_terior. I was super excited to be able to learn from her because she is in the process of building her own business. Oftentimes we speak to people after they have built their business already. I was excited to get a chance to speak with someone who is in the development stage currently and hopefully show that you don’t have to have it all figured out from the start because it will come together. As an entrepreneur she not only is taking a creative leap, but she literally moved to another continent to do it! Her story is super inspiring and her willingness to take risks and put herself out there is something that I really admire immensely. Let’s check out her nuggets of wisdom!
Anne McCormack, Design Entrepreneur
@MackofalltradesNY: Hi, Anne! I was really excited to find you on Instagram, and your design style is beautiful and refreshing. I’m curious, how did you get from Ireland to Toronto?
@Anne_terior: Well, I lived in the center of Ireland. Westmeath is the county and I’m from a very little town called Moate. My dad’s a farmer and my mom’s a homemaker so I’m a country girl. I didn’t grow up in a city. As for getting to Toronto, my sister lives over here actually. She moved over about four years ago. My boyfriend and I were trying to figure out where to go. New Zealand was on the cards, Australia was on the cards; I wanted to go to New Zealand and he wanted to go to Australia. Then when we came to visit my sister in Toronto we just fell in love with the place. It’s really great to have family here. I have never lived away from home and I didn’t know how it would be. I thought it would be nice to be close to my sister. In fact, she actually lives across the road. My mam loves that though. She loves that we are so close. So yeah, that’s how I moved to Toronto.
@MackofalltradesNY: Did you always know you were going to live abroad or move to a city or is that something that just kinda happened organically?
@Anne_terior: I kinda had a feeling and I knew I wanted to experience things outside of Ireland but I thought it would be more through traveling. I figured I’d probably have a full time job in Ireland and whatever money I saved up I'd go experience a few things by travelling around. But then seeing the opportunities my sister had when she moved away, I knew those opportunities were not available to me in the small town I was from. Even in Ireland the only place where there is really a lot of opportunity is in Dublin. In Dublin the rent is crazy and the job market is very competitive. It is just saturated and I knew there were bigger and better things coming, so I figured I’d just take the chance and move abroad.
@MackofalltradesNY: You are so brave! I love it! So I’m curious, you joined the Maker’s Collective (@Maker’sCollective). I actually have a friend who is involved in that, Megan Jacklin, from the Copper and Gold Project. In fact, I interviewed her last year for this series.
@Anne_terior: No way! I’m obsessed with her feed. When I moved here in 2019 I was looking up Instagram bloggers from Ontario and I found her instagram page. I had no money at the time and I had only like 100 dollars to decorate the house, so I started following Megan. She was going to Value Village and I didn’t know what that was. At home in Ireland thrifting is not really a thing. Now it's a trendy thing in Toronto. You go to Value Village with your friends in the evenings and catch up thrifting. Megan was finding these gems and I thought whatever Value Village she’s going to it is amazing! I told my sister about this girl I follow on IG and how she goes to Value Village and my sister is like, “Yeah there is one down the road.” I’m like, “What?!” So I’m always at that place now. I’d say 90% of the stuff that is in my home is from Value Village. I learned most of my upcycling stuff from Meg and she probably doesn’t even know who I am but I am a big fan!
Photo Credit @Anne-terior
@MackofalltradesNY: Yeah, it is really cool to see how much her business has grown so much in that one year. So I know you joined the Maker’s Collective as well, what is your current plan or vision for your business?
@Anne_terior: At the moment I’m coming up with different ideas. I’m full of ideas, that's the problem. That’s why I joined The Maker’s Collective. I needed help to narrow down and grow my focus. I was initially doing interior design plans for clients, and I just found it to be really hard, especially because it’s all virtual right now. It’s very difficult when you don't know the person’s personality and you don’t know anything about them. I am a visual person. I really need to see the spaces.
I always wanted to start my own business, so when I was 17, I started my first one. I had a cake company back in Ireland. It was called “Cakes Anne More” and it was all highly decorated cakes. I love decorating, as you can tell, and even though I’m a qualified pastry chef, I hated baking so in the end it wasn’t really for me. I realised I just loved the visual element to it.
Photo Credit @Anne McCormack
Photo Credit @Anne McCormack
So I’m working with The Maker’s Collective now to figure out my next business. I know I want people to come to my page and be like, “Oh, that’s really different. That’s really unusual.” Maybe I should develop a product that you can customize? So that the moment I’m thinking about doing like a wood wall hanging tapestry. I was looking at sassy words hanging on the tapestry. I don't know, maybe a gorgeous big piece that says “chill zone” or something like that. I definitely want to make something helpful for people who are renting. I’ll have to figure out some way it can hook up to the wall with hanging strips and what not. That’s the route I’m going down at the moment. My next step is to create a prototype. Something else that is important to me is that my product is something that's sustainable and/or vegan. I’m trying to connect now with different farms around Ontario to get organic wool. I would love for my materials to be locally and high quality.
I’m still undecided though. Should I go down the interior designer route? Should I make my own products? Whatever it is, I want it to be sassy full of personality. I’d like to have a bit of fun and personality to it. That’s the vibe I’m going for. Home decor with personality and warmth is very hard to come by in Canada. Most of it’s like Ikea, very commercial and very industrialized. It’s very metal, very glass here. l and everyone else have the same struggle unless you spray paint or do work to it everyone has the same. That’s why I want to create something that can bring a little bit of warmth to someone’s as well.
@MackofalltradesNY: I’m actually in the middle of a career change myself so it’s super inspiring to hear you taking that leap. So you recently came over to start your new business. How are you supporting yourself financially in the meantime?
@Anne_terior: Well, I lost my job four times during Covid. It was very hard. I kept very positive about it. I don’t know why but I knew everything would work out. I just had it in my head. But over in Ireland I was in the food industry. My cake decorating company was a side hustle, I actually still had a day job which was selling mashed potato as a sales rep. I know! I know! It was the most stereotypical Irish thing ever! I was literally going from store to store selling this convenience mashed potato. So yeah, I needed a change.
So once I came over here I took a contract role. I figured I had experience so I will definitely get a job in food styling or product development. Nope. I was wrong. I was submitting my CV everywhere and I wasn’t getting calls and I was getting really disheartened by it. I really thought I was going to the city to get bigger and better chances. So that’s when I started to decorate our apartment to fill my time and it also allowed me to scratch my creative itch that was starting again.
I figured I’d just put all my focus in that. My contract role I ended up getting was helping people who lost homes due to a fire, it was very rewarding work and It was a nice balance initially because I also had the time at home to do the decorating and designing. Then the longer the contract role was extended, I started getting to the point where I then wanted my design work to be more of a full-time thing, not a side hustle. So I switched and got a sales job. That’s when Covid hit and I ended up getting and losing a few jobs. It was a rough time. I was upset as I felt I didn’t work so hard to be in a role that means nothing to me so my friends really encouraged me to start my @Anne_terior page.
So I decided I’m just gonna put it out there. If it takes off, great. If not, it is what it is. At least I had fun doing it. I’m a year in now and I’m around 200 followers. I realize I could get hung up on that because last year I would have thought that I'd have more by now but I'm happy with the quality I'm putting out there. I’m not doing it for the followers, I'm doing it because really I love it. That’s all that matters. So my contract role is now still paying my bills for now.
Anne McCormack of @Anne_terior
I talked to my dad this morning about my job situation. I actually have 3 job offers right now for a full time role so I really needed his thoughts. He had his own business at home in Ireland back in the day so it's great that I got to lean on him for help. I admire him so much for all that he does. He has a no bullshit attitude (He’s where I get it from) .His advice was not to think of Anne_terior as a pit that's making no money. That’s just right now, you have to think about the future and long term. You have to put in the time and effort now and if you take a job that is too demanding then you have no time for Anne_terior you are losing out on the quality and the content that you will need to grow your business. He's all for taking risks and thinking outside the box. So I’m trying to implement that advice into my decision on the role. Sometimes you just need a parent to reassure you and tell you not to worry about the money. If I can afford a roof over my head and food, then I should be very grateful regardless.
@MackofalltradesNY: I think that is wise that you are able to see that at your age. I was not that wise. Work-life balance is key. Put in the time now and that will pay dividends later. Don’t worry about the money.
@Anne_terior: I have the time and energy now, so I need to focus on that. I also have the drive and the passion for learning and growing. I don’t know if I’ll have the energy in like ten years’ time who knows what path of life I will be in then. Even though I might not know exactly what my product is, I know that’s something that I'm working towards. I just want to be ready when I come up with it. I know my long term goal is to have a loft in the city with full creative control. Maybe one day I’ll be painting, maybe the next day might be macrame. I just want to have a space with full reign for my creative outlet.
@MackofalltradesNY: You will definitely get that one day, I have no doubt about it. How would you describe your style?
@Anne_terior: My style is basically like my personality, Eclectic, every day it’s different.
If there are pieces that speak to you, who cares if other people like it? Pretty things make me feel comfortable. Even if it all doesn’t go together. I love clashes of color. I love pink and red. I also like colors you don’t see together a lot like green and pink. That’s my style. I like to always change it up and try different things.
@MackofalltradesNY: In terms of DIY projects is there a project that you have completed that you are most proud of and why?
@Anne_terior: My bathroom. I love that was pure on a whim. I had just gotten the chalkboard stickies from ikea, I think they were like $12 dollars. I cut them up into cacti to put on my wall and tried to make it look like wallpaper. Now when you go into my bathroom to look at the wall it’s just a whole wall of cactuses. It actually started as a challenge for some home decor competition on IG. It was a bathroom challenge and the only thing I had were these two little sheets of chalkboard sticky paper and I was like I don’t want just a square on the wall. Hmm, what if I cut them up? They’ll be decals. Then I thought of a shape and I came up with a stencil. It was probably one of my cheapest DIYs yet, but it makes such an impact when you go into the room now. Everyone thinks it’s wallpaper which was my goal. Everyone asks where did you get the wallpaper? Actually, it’s not wallpaper, it's just chalkboard sticky!
Photo Credit @Anne_terior
I also love my DIY peace sign for sure. Just made of cardboard! My friend was throwing away this box from his new couch and I was like, “Don’t throw it away!” Then I started collecting sticks and got moss and that’s how the peace sign came together. The only thing I bought was the air plants and moss. Everything else was collected from the streets for free. I even collected newspapers and made my own paper mache. All the news articles put on the back are all Covid and Trump-related just to show what 2020 was all about. I call it the “2020 Peace.”
Photo Credit @Anne_terior
@MackofalltradesNY: I love that it’s budget-friendly because part of my blog is about managing finances and helping younger people get on the property ladder.
@Anne_terior: I’d love to be into house flips. That is one of my goals as well in the future. I would love to flip houses and make them look like a piece of art. I’d love to get into real estate over here.
@MackofalltradesNY: I heard Ireland’s system of buying homes is totally different. Do you mind telling me a little about it?
@Anne_terior: The property in Ireland has gotten so bad because it ‘s so expensive. I don’t know if I would be able to build a place on my land even though we own it. They can refuse building for no reason and also every house has to look the same. That goes completely against what I'm all about. I'm all about your own expression in your place. That’s really the only thing that would put me off building a house in Ireland. I don’t think I'd ever move home because of that fact. But we will see. For me, my house is my nest. I build and decorate my home to represent me. And if I can’t do that in Ireland, I don’t think I really want to live there.
@MackofalltradesNY: Well, I love that you made the move and it seems to me like you aren’t afraid to take a risk. Is there anything that causes you fear and if so how have you overcome that?
@Anne_terior: Not really. I know that sounds weird but Covid helps because I’m in my own bubble. I don’t see anyone else. I don’t see people looking at my videos so I don’t think about them. When I’m uploading stuff on my social media it’s because I want to. I just want to make people’s day better. Try to give them a bit of a laugh. I’m not easily embarrassed. In the past I got hung up on that but not anymore. Yeah, it can be intimidating because you are putting personality out there to be judged. I want to help create a community where we all confide in each other. Someone reaching out to me saying they saw my video and it made them laugh means the most to me and if they get design plans, that’s even better then.
@MackofalltradesNY: Do you have any advice for young women who find it hard to show up sometimes?
@Anne_terior: I'm all about women power. My mam is the exact same way. I’m all about female supporting females. If we’re not there to support each other then who is? It’s hard. There are so many women around the world with no rights still. If we are talking and encouraging other women to start businesses, they’re not competition, they are our community! I know some women are afraid about being judged. We are by nature judgy. It’s just a fact. I think at the end of the day if they are judging you and they don’t like what you are putting up, they are not your customer. And if they are not your customer, they are not your people that you need to worry about. It’s your creative outlet and don’t let anyone bring you down. If they don’t like you it doesn’t really matter. We should never take critision of people we wouldn’t go to for advice. We are so connected nowadays. And I always try and remember that if your neighbor doesn’t like you and what you are doing, it doesn't mean no one out there likes it. Sometimes it's the people that don’t know you that like and support you even more. Just go find them.
Anne is figuring it out and it’s inspiring to see her work through her different ideas. I think it’s important to realize that as an entrepreneur you don’t have to start off with a clear vision always. Yes, that can be helpful, but that is not how all businesses are created. I’m super excited to see what Anne ends up doing and we will be sure to check back with her in the future to show how far she has come. If you want to support her and watch her journey, be sure to follow her on Instagram @Anne_terior!