Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Calgary-based interior designer Amanda Hamilton, who specializes in both residential and commercial marketing with projects that range from custom-built homes to large-scale renovations…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
Interior design; art in three dimensional form. I rarely fluff pillows or throw around a hammer, despite what reality television says.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
At five, I wanted to be a ballerina. The only problem was that I lacked coordination, balance and grace. Most of my endeavours were of the “right brain” and I explored my creativity through the visual arts, writing, literature, theatre and music. Interior design has brought together all of my strengths under one profession. I sketch daily alongside my clients and team, I have a library growing faster than I can read, and you should see my stage skills on karaoke night. I realized several years ago that I could do all of the things I loved as an extension to the brand we have created.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
One of the most memorable milestones was being the recipient of Mount Royal University’s Horizon Award in 2012, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of alumni early in their careers. This acknowledgment fuelled my continued commitment to my school and the students. Since this time, I have acted as a mentor for the Harry G. Schaefer Mentorship Program and this fall we will be launching our own scholarship program.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Five years: Expansion of the business to more actively service clients along the West Coast in both Canada and the United States.
10 years: Full expression of our self-titled collection of lifestyle goods, available internationally.
20 years: Drinking perfectly chilled rose from a beach chair with internationally recognized projects in our portfolio, feeling fulfilled and like I’ve left a mark on the design community.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
The importance of “growth” has been drilled into our heads, however it often translates into more projects, more clients, more overhead, and more stress. While this is a fine goal to have, I’ve redefined growth for AHID to mean better projects, better clients, less overhead, and less stress. Ensure you personally define success on your own terms.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
We support many charities including The Alex, Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids, and the Mustard Seed. Dedicated to championing the career development of young women, I am the current chair for the World of Choices Committee hosted by Junior Achievement, an interactive career forum for young women in high school that provides mentorship in a variety of career sectors.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
A client once told me to “eat problems for breakfast” and then continued to say, “and for lunch… and for dinner.” It sounds idiotic but it works. As a recovering people pleaser, I’ve learned how to be much better about approaching conflict. In our industry, with so many hands involved, things can and will go sideways. We live by the ideal that we are “solutions-based.” It’s amazing how creative we all become as a group when we push past the difficulties.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable is the extra magic. The unicorn in the room. These are the people who relentlessly push forward with style and leave their mark on the world with their passion for life.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Pigeonhole. It’s my neighbourhood watering hole and they always have a perfectly chilled bottle of rose waiting for me. It feels like home to me and it’s not a “scene.”
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
I’m embarrassed to say its Scotiabank’s online banking site and then Basecamp, our project management software. Sorry – I’m sure you were probably hoping for something more glamorous or racy but apparently I’m all business when I’m online!
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
I’m really digging @thetiffanypratt right now. I found her through a restaurant I started following in Toronto (@pianopianotherestaurant), which I haven’t even been to yet. She is unapologetically colourful and quirky. I like a bold, unconventional spirit to shake things up.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Vernazza in Italy really left a mark on me. Anyone who has been there knows this is a very special place. I’m headed to Paris in the fall for Maison & Objet but I’m dying to go to Morocco – it’s at the top of my list right now.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
When my clients go on R&D trips and don’t invite me.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Watching Netflix and drinking chai lattes in the shower. It’s a really big shower; you could really just hang out in there for hours. I swear.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Like many women, I wish I didn’t spend so much money on hair. We are either spending money removing it, adding it, or dying it. I would much rather spend all of my disposable income on travelling.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is strange because it’s so difficult to measure. Right now, success is the courage to take on bigger challenges, embrace all that happens as an opportunity to be a better human, and the commitment to myself that while I live my brand, I am more than just a business owner. Allowing myself some grace and some self care has been the greatest gift and measure of success to date.