Today’s Notable Young Professional is Andrea Ford, founder of reupholstery company RE:Style Studio and stylist, designer and maker extraordinaire.
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
Founder of RE:Style Studio, a DIY workshop and custom upholstery studio. I’m also an interior stylist and a maker-educator.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
Growing up I did carpentry projects with my industrial arts-teacher father, and I sewed with my mother. After completing two degrees, I mashed everything up into design and upholstery. Workshops came from a love of hacking crafts and DIY projects, as well as sharing how to do it and diversifying income streams.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
I’ve been lucky to use my skills in transferrable applications, so each iteration of my career has had a milestone: guest designer on CBC’s Steven and Chris, acting home editor of Chatelaine, and finally growing RE:Style to need a bigger location and getting to design the space to fully reflect a brand and retail business.
Where do you see yourself in five years, 10 years, 20 years?
I want to write a DIY book and grow RE:Style to expanded workshop experiences and a line of furniture/decor product. I don’t know if my hands will make it through 20 more years of upholstery, but I’ll try!
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be resourceful. I never would have imagined this career for myself growing up in Newfoundland. I joked about going to fashion school (which I did in the end) but had no idea how to map that trajectory as a teen. Each aspect of my career came together because I asked questions, researched the job and thought really hard about what makes me happy every day.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why?
I work with a great Toronto charity called New Kindness, which helps makers create items for people in need, spreading the love of handmade to a web of deserving people—from children with cancer to women escaping domestic violence. Time and creativity have such a cyclical healing effect, both for the maker and the recipient.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The ebb and flow of being self-employed is always hard to ride. You’re either stressed about too much work or panicked from not enough. If you look at slower times as a blessing for creative harvesting, you may just find your next idea.
What does the word notable mean to you?
A mental bookmark. Sparking a mental pin that is either an inspiration for an idea or reinforces a current thought.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in the city and why?
Salad King. I didn’t eat there at all in my four years at Ryerson, until a classmate introduced me on one of our last days of Fashion School. After that I was hooked, and I will drive there from North York in a snowstorm.
What’s the most visited website on your internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
For frequency, I must visit Amazon at least three times a day, but for sheer time spent, Pinterest is a dark, dark hole. I’m an avid CBC radio listener (alarm clock, shower radio, car, studio…) so it’s rare that I even open my music app.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. As a solo business owner, it can make you feel like you’ve done nothing right day after day, but it can also be a great source of inspiration and community. Managing it for a business is also a full-time job. So personally I try to keep my Insta feed full of images of interiors and furniture that I find to be inspirational.
What’s your favour country to visit and why? And what’s the next one on your list?
I worked with clients in the south of France in 2o15 and loved the food, the climate, the views. Everything. My husband and I both have Portugal (so many amazing makers there right now) and Italy on our must-see lists, but I’m afraid I’ll never leave Italy.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
My nephews and niece in Edmonton. I miss them terribly. I’d give anything to be able to pop by each day or babysit.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Nacho-flavoured Crunchits. They’re only available on the East coast, so I request bags when my dad visits or stock up when I go home to Newfoundland.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
A brick-and-mortar business location is expensive, but there’s no way I could have grown RE:Style in a Toronto apartment. I wish I spent more on travel. It’s always worth it, but there are always things to invest in with a growing business that vacations and inspiration trips take a backseat.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play or otherwise.
The elusive, if not fairy-tale, work-life balance!