Mom to Haley and Robyn // Creative Director of Creative Bag

Lorrie is a true Renaissance Woman. Whether it’s crafting, DIY projects, launching a retail business, or starting a stationery company – Lorrie has found success through following her passion for creativity. We visited the accomplished entrepreneur at her lovely new home. 

Tell us about yourself as a creative entrepreneur.

Where do I even start to answer this question. I’ve worked as a creative entrepreneur all of my life and I’m 58 this year. I was very lucky to find mentors that inspired me and provided me with opportunities that I needed to reach my aspirations at a young age. I started out as an executive for retail companies such as the Northern Group (Northern Reflections, Northern Getaway, Northern Traditions), Cotton Ginny, Tabi International and Cleo. 
I owned two businesses – North by Northwest in Square One and Leaves and Letters, a custom stationery business. I also worked as a freelance Retail Marketing, Visual Merchandising and Branding consultant and have worked with brands such as April Cornell and the Hudson’s Bay. 

That is quite a journey. What fueled you through all of these stages of your entrepreneurial journey?

I’ve always enjoyed DIY and crafting. I was encouraged by both my grandmothers to try pursue my artistic passions – I would go with them to artclasses and visits to the art galleries. I also got to a point where I was working corporate, just had my daughter, and after 8 weeks off was back at work. It just wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted to lead. I wanted to be more hands-on when my oldest daughter started middle school.

It’s always a delicate balance in terms of prioritizing your passions and the reality of raising kids.

I always felt like I was on the run trying to please everyone and appear like I had everything ‘under control’. It took me a long time to figure out that everyone struggles with finding a balance between work and parenting whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee and your children are 2 or 22. 

It’s elusive finding that balance, and often it’s more of a ‘some days are up, some days are down’ kind of situation.

Trying to find a balance between work and parenting is a little like looking for rainbows. You only see them after it rains and only if you are paying attention. Your children are watching and learning from you at every age – so I tried to manage my time wisely. Work hard when you are in business mode, be present when you are in family mode and remember to make time for yourself. 

Tell us about your family. You mentioned earlier that whether they’re 2 or 22, the struggle to balance it all is still present.

Haley has just finished her Masters and Robyn is in her second year of university. I had my children when I was in my mid and late 30’s and was working as an executive for a large international retailer when they were small. I realized, after the 8 week maternity leave, that I needed to work smarter at the office so i could leave on time for daycare pick up. I eventually learned how to say ‘no’ and to not allow insignificant issues to take up space in my head. 

What are some challenges in your work or with parenting that you’ve encountered?

My mother always worked and I knew from a very early age growing up that I wanted to have a career like my mom. Unfortunately, my mother’s work did not allow her to take part in most of my school activities and that really bothered me. I always thought that if I ever had children that I would make an effort to be there for school trips, presentations and sporting events whenever I could. I may not have made every event that I wanted to and am definitely guilty of having paperwork with me while I sat in the stands to watch my daughters play sports but I did make the effort to show up. My daughters may not have appreciated (or even realized) how much I had to do to work my schedule to be with them but as I look back it is one challenge that I am so happy that I made a priority. 

You’ve had some pretty significant challenges in terms of health, do you feel like that’s played a part in where you are today in your creative ventures?

Yes. About 10 years ago I had a major health issue that became a turning point in my life and since then I have made many changes in the way I view life and how I work. I was having a lot of headaches and migraines and finally got diagnosed with a brain abscess that required emergency surgery. After the surgery, I had to re-learn all of the movements in my right hand, arm and shoulder. A part of my recovery meant that I was doing various physiotherapy exercises to help with regaining those movements – but what I loved to do was something creative. I made this lampshade during my recovery using a paper cutter. It helped to have something creative to focus on. I wanted to make sure that I was spending my time with people I love and doing what I love – so I approached Creative Bag who I had worked with a lot in the past, and pitched a non-existent role that I thought I would bring a lot of value to. They accepted my offer and I’ve been working part-time as Creative Director for the last seven years. I have been very blessed that they have allowed me to work on my own terms and come up with special projects, many of which involved collaborations with local entrepreneurs. 

What was the most impactful advice you’ve received throughout your career?

I was once told to pick one thing to focus on. This advice was actually very wrong for me. I don’t think that makes sense for everybody – I simply want to do more than just one thing and I feel like I have the talent and passion to pursue more than one thing.  So I would say this advice was impactful in almost the opposite way.

And that brings us to your work today. What is your favourite part of your work and why?

Sketching out ideas for product designs, planning a styled shoot, or developing a branding program are hands down my favourite part of my work. I think that the planning stages are where I can get most creative and I enjoy pulling together the mood boards or presentations to show my clients or team what I envision. 

You’ve recently downsized. Tell us about your new work space.

Yes we moved into our new home just a few weeks ago. My new home office/studio and storage space are about a quarter of the size of what I am used to so I am still in the process of editing and purging to make my new studio work for me. I do a lot of photography using natural light and that is influencing a lot of my decisions on how I set up my work space. 

Your space seems very well organized – clearly you have a system!

I have a large chalkboard in my home office that I use to list my weekly appointments and projects. The majority of my tools, supplies and props for styling are neatly stored in clear boxes in my home office for easy access. 

How do you carve out time for yourself?

I spend a lot of time on my computer or sitting down so I exercise three or four times a week for my general health and as a mental break. I have a gym membership and like to attend classes at the gym at lunch time or later in the evening. After my youngest daughter started university, my husband and I began exercising together twice a week in our home gym.

It’s great that you guys are able to spend time together as a couple doing something that keeps you healthy!

We also enjoy going thrifting and antiquing together, looking for new pieces for our home. We’ve been together since university and a huge part of my being able to pursue my creative passions has been because Peter has been so supportive. 

“This was my graduation gift to my husband, Peter. I love crystals and believe in their healing capabilities.”

Time to talk favourites! We love your style. Do you have a daily uniform?

Most days you will find me in jeans and tee shirts. I tend to not wear a lot of colour so my tees are usually black, white or grey. 

Favourite go-to meal?

Lately it’s been turkey chili, and I tend to make enough so it will last for two or three meals. 

Favourite instagram accounts? 

I am really into home decorating right now – @vintagerevivals @mscraftberrybush @beckiowens

For entertaining inspiration: @sugarandcloth @styledfortwo @hrjevents

I follow so many incredible local artisans, makers, bakers and entrepreneurs on IG and it’s difficult to pick just a few. These are three that I always loved to see pop up in my feed this morning – @sophieandlili @allikdesign @jessiedoedesigns

Favourite 3 books right now?

I don’t read novels (someday I hope to have time to do that again!). I love books and magazines that teach me something or inspire me. These are three of the books/magazines that I took with me on holidays last week:

  1. Mending Matters” by Katherina Rodabaugh, I took this along with a denim skirt and embroidery floss on vacation. 
  2. Styling for Instagram” by Leela Cyd – I saw this book on a shelf in Winners as I was waiting in line to pay for a tee shirt. Note: buying this book is proof that good visual merchandising can make people buy things they really didn’t need!
  3. Willow and Sage Magazine – “The Candle Issue”. This magazine had just arrived in the mail and made great reading at the airport. 

Favourite software that you work with?

I have different versions of Adobe Creative Suite on all of my computers. I have used either Illustrator or Photoshop pretty much every day for the past 15 years. Could not imagine working without them. 

This inspiring and strong woman has demonstrated to us that having a fierce determination to have work-life balance has paid off and resulted in a life lived creatively and passionately. Can we all just be Lorrie when we grow up? 

Written by Jessica Gedge // Photographed by Joelle Segal