For this week’s Motivation Monday, Sofiticated caught up with Catherine Cornelissen to discuss the motivation behind her brainchild, Decor A List, and her long-term success formula as well as some. as well as some key tips on success.
Seun: Hey Cath! Good to have you and to be interviewing you, albeit slightly strange, as we went to school together and I don’t think either of us ever thought we’d be doing the things we now do.
Cath: Hi Seun, thanks so much for thinking of me! It certainly is strange, but also just shows how small the world is after so many years!
Seun: Not sure where to begin, but I am really quite chuffed about this opportunity, super proud of you and what you’re doing. Let’s start from the beginning. At school I remember even with the small spaces we had you were particular about the appearance of your space, you always tried to personalise it, do you remember?
Cath: Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, I remember our tiny little desk/bed/closet arrangement we had in those rooms — how could I forget! I think that being at boarding school and being far away from home, it was only natural for me to try and make the space I was ‘living in’ as homely as possible, I’m sure you can agree? I remember trying to arrange as many photos as I could on my desk, keep all my stationary in cute little boxes and use blankets and cushions to add comfort and create that cosy feeling.
Seun: I remember that too. And I certainly agree about it being natural to try and establish some sort of personalisation/ownership over the spaces we had. I just remember my big hockey bag taking up a great deal of space and sports team photos being dotted across my table. Cath, how would you describe yourself in one word?
Cath: Unconventional. I have a strong belief system that revolves around not conforming to what is typically done or believed. I think this sense of individuality in my mind pushed me to launch a business rather than aspire to go into a 9-5 job. For example, I more often than not prefer to work at home with a glass of wine and make progress with Decor A List than go out with my friends and drink cocktails. Nowadays, I feel that society has framed the way we should be: who we should date, how we should be treated, what our job should be — but I disagree. I think more people (men and women) should be unconventional and follow what they believe will create a fulfilling life for them, whatever may fall into that definition, rather than be yanked into a conventional way of living and thinking.
Seun: Yes I can definitely resonate with that. You know, you have, we both have matter of fact, had quite traditional influences; the schools, the parents and the expectations, so how were you able to break the mould and create your own path, how did Decor A List come about?
Cath: For the longest time I really wanted to create an interiors blog. But I soon realised that so many people were doing exactly that and thought it would be tricky to break through the already established bloggers. Plus, I wanted to help people and have more of an active role. So I decided to merge the two and launch Decor A List in December 2016 after many ups and downs, but with a view to curate a platform that does not subscribe to one ‘style.’ I noticed a gap in the interiors industry which was that many online platforms are a) far too commercial and b) relied on one particular style or ‘trend.’ And even the word ‘trend’ bothers me as it suggests that people should be following the crowd. Instead, I view the variety of art, decor, and furniture on Decor A List as entities in themselves with their own stories, which I hope people can resonate with and use in their own spaces so they feel that their home is as unique as they are. All the designers and artisans I work with are people, talented people who lovingly hand-make furniture and home furnishings — I love the idea that there is love and commitment that goes into something as simple as a bespoke scented candle or as complicated as a custom sideboard. Decor A List is the result of my passion, which lies in design, art, and interiors, combined with a desire to connect people with global talent based on their personal styles.
Seun: That’s amazing, it’s really inspiring to learn about the thought process behind it all and your commitment to the customers you serve. What keeps you awake at night Cath?
Cath: I’m always constantly trying to figure out how I can reach more people, and help them. It only takes a couple minutes talking to some of my clients to realise that I will go above and beyond to help them find that one item they are looking for. I think a home is a special place, and I really value what a home entails and the feelings it evokes. My biggest question at night is how do I convey this message and help more people.
Seun: I can definitely resonate with that. You create an amazing product/service but once you start interacting with clients you begin to see more opportunities and think about more ways to improve the service you’re providing. Sometimes it can even mean you’re unable to appreciate the strides you’ve made. This brings me to my next question, what are your success habits?
Cath: To be successful, I really think that you need to love what you do and have an affinity for it. I’m still yet to figure out how my habits might turn into success, but what works for me now is the joy and excitement of waking up and deciding my own daily routine. That is a luxury within itself. But it is something that requires handwork and commitment. If I didn’t put the work in, I don’t get the results. I think that’s the sheer reality of entrepreneurship that is hugely underestimated.
- Something I am a fan of is saying ‘no.’ Saying no enables you to prioritise what is important to you. Unless I am jumping over the moon about an event or invitation, I won’t go to it. In other words, sitting on the fence about something means you probably shouldn’t the doing it. It’s important to realise your time is so precious not just with a running business but on this earth, I don’t want to waste it.
- Staying fit and healthy. I now make sure I am hitting around 10,000 steps per day (or more!) as well as going to the gym 3-4 times a week. I spend time each night cooking my dinner as this gives me a chance to disconnect from the digital world of running a website and focus on perfecting a healthy and delicious meal.
- No sleeping in. I used to sleep in a lot, but then I realised that sleeping in (for me at least) was an excuse because I wasn’t passionate about what I was waking up for. At present, if I don’t wake up and send out my emails and design that newsletter, sign those agreements, I’m not making money or making progress. It’s both exciting and stressful — but the adrenaline is my best alarm clock.
- No TV/screens. Despise is a strong word, but I have a strong dislike for sitting lazily and aimlessly watching TV. I’d rather work out what my goals are for the rest of the week, have a conversation, play a game, meal prep, be outdoors, meditate or read a book.
- Settle for more. I read Megyn Kelly’s biography about a year ago and just loved what she had to say. It’s called ‘settle for more’ and this resonated hugely for me as it ties in with my unconventional nature. I think it’s always important to continue to aspire to do more, be more and to never settle for a life, a job, relationships etc that are ordinary.
Seun: Thank you so much for this Cath! I can’t wait to have you kit out my home when the time come!
Cath: My pleasure! And I would be more than happy to help design your perfect home in the near future.
Be sure to check out the Decor A List website