I met Michèle a couple of years ago through a group of mutual friends in the city. I remember thinking she was cool and smart, but it really wasn't until late while spending too many hours on the dock of a bay that I realized she was a serious girlboss. By day Michèle works in broadcast media, but by night she teaches a multitude of exercise classes and partners with her sister, Andréa, who is in pursuit of an entrepreneurial dream. Their business, House of Ansley, is a Toronto-based company that specializes in uniquely designed home-made furniture, made from sustainably sourced wood and home decor accessories from local artists. Intrigued by their vision and compelled to spread the word, I asked them both to join us and "tell all" about their business.
Welcome Michèle & Andréa!
Tell our readers how House of Ansley began?
Andréa: House of Ansley started out as a passion project and grew very organically. I was finding used furniture and refinishing/repainting it just fun and I eventually collected enough pieces to start selling at local markets. That's when I realized Michèle would be a great asset in helping me build the business. We still sell our furniture at markets and also do custom projects for people who want their own furniture refinished. We've since opened an online shop where we sell our ready made furniture and home decor goods made from Canadian artists.
Two sisters in business together! I bet it is both exciting and challenging. What is the pit and the peak of working together as sisters?
Michèle : Having a family member as a business partner is beneficial in so many ways. Trust is the foundation of a business and knowing that we can rely on each other and have each other 's back no matter what is really important. We're also not afraid of being 100% honest with one another, which is key when making business decisions.
Andréa: The only downfall about working together is that we have a hard time not talking about work! Because we're so passionate about what we do , we 're always throwing around new ideas and concepts whenever we're together!
Do your customers typically come to you with a vision in mind, or do you impart your wisdom?
Michèle: We get a bit of both. Most of the time, someone will come to us with an idea and we help them fine tune their vision. We always ask customers how they would want to describe their final piece, whether it be modern, rustic, classic, etc., and for them to send us inspiration photos. Those details help us get a feel for the style they're looking for and a bit of their personal aesthetic. We'll then suggest smaller details, such a such as changing knobs/handles, distressing, etc. depending on the piece.
What's been your biggest challenge with your start up?
Andréa: Not having a brick and mortar store can be challenging at times. Our online platform has been great since it's accessible to everyone, but we are finding more and more people want to come into a physical store. The good news is that we often participate in markets around Toronto, so we always encourage people to meet us and see our work there!
Who and what inspires you both to be entrepreneurs?
Michèle: Being part of a few markets around the city has really opened our eyes to all the small local businesses Toronto has to offer. It's inspiring to see these talented individuals follow their dreams and create locally-made goods that is meaningful to them. That motivates us even more to be part of this incredible community that is supportive, dedicated and just all around awesome.
Link to House of Ansley: https://houseofansley.com/