As a LaSalle College’s Interior Design E-learning program alumni, Anne Grillot is the majority shareholder of the HumanSkills Agency. She recently won the Richelieu Design Award at the Prix Habitat Design, awarding her a $1,500 bursary. Get to know this creative and inspiring entrepreneur!
What career path did you follow and what are your accomplishments?
I always wanted to be an interior designer. However, I was warned as soon as I left secondary school that this path was difficult and very contingent. So I opted for related programs (visual arts and design presentation, as well as professional training in computer graphics).
I was sure of one thing: no matter the field, I wanted my own business. I am an extremely creative artist, but I didn't know how to exploit my talent because it was not as specific as that of someone working in illustration, for example.
After my coursework, which I still find to be quite useful, I decided to pursue interior design. I enrolled at LaSalle College, and I felt that I had finally found the right program to help me start my business. And that is what I did immediately afterwards, without ever having worked in a design office.
My creativity also led me to make interior design products using preserved botanicals. After receiving several orders for large quantities from suppliers overseas, I decided to rent a commercial space, located on the South Shore of Montreal, to serve as my showcase and workshop. And thus, a little girl’s dream came true! And since I still have several other dreams to attain, I keep moving forward and work very hard!
Where does your passion for interior design come from?
I was passionate about design even as a child, without realizing it. Not necessarily interior design, just design in general. I’ve always been an artist, so I had many hobbies related to design.
At one point, I had a book on clothing design. From piano to dance, to painting on flowerpots, I felt that I needed to explore all of these passions. I also loved real estate, so I decided that interior design was the perfect way to combine several arts that I find fascinating.
In my business, I make decorative accessories for the home, technical plans, color choices, and custom wallboards and come up with innovative ideas and texture mixes, etc.
You are the first recipient of the Richelieu Design Award for emerging designers. What does this mean to you?
The Richelieu Design Competition took place at a time when I was very busy with the company and my contracts, but I absolutely wanted to participate in it. I was so happy to see that there was finally a competition that matched my profile exactly. Such competitions are rare, and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity.
I spent a month working on the competition; I wanted everything to be perfect. I worked relentlessly, treating the project as if it were a real contract. At times, I grew discouraged thinking about all the hours I spent working without knowing if I would be rewarded for my efforts!
I cannot describe how I felt when I found out I had won! I was very emotional, and I received confirmation that it pays to work hard, without giving it a second thought. I also approach my business this way on a daily basis. I felt that I was in a good place and that my career could finally take off.
How did you develop your entrepreneurial spirit?
I believe that the entrepreneurial spirit is innate. As I mentioned previously, I've always wanted my own company, even before I knew what type of business I was interested in. I think having your own business is the result of a dream, because it is an extremely difficult path and only those who really want it will succeed.
When I founded my company, I started my career as an interior designer, but I also became an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is a profession within a profession: it involves accounting, marketing, website design, advertising, paperwork, professional network development, etc.
How did your coursework at LaSalle College help you?
Since I completed my coursework online, I was able to reconcile my work and studies. The education I received was so complete that I felt ready to go out on my own. I didn’t need the office experience. The technical basics of interior design were covered extensively, so I only needed the creativity to push forward and launch my own business.
What advice would you give young people who are training in the same field as you?
I've been in business for almost two years, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of interior designers. I’ve realized that, in this industry, being a designer means that you're unique. There are designers for all types of projects, and so each designer develops his or her specialty.
It’s a very diverse field, and you must never give up or compare your work to that of others. If you feel that this path is for you, then you should go for it. I took several different paths before I understood this. You have to have confidence in yourself and your inner abilities, because everyone's creativity is unique.
Joan Guay, a fashion tutor at the LaSalle College E-learning School, has an original approach in exploring different creative spheres and passing on her knowledge to students, with whom she is keen to make a difference.