We had the good fortune of connecting with Annie Waterman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I saw a niche in the field and went for it. The idea of ethically sourcing from artisan producers was new at the time but I saw potential. I knew a lot of artisan producers and buyers and saw a need for buyers to be able to work with someone one on one to help with buyer/ vendor connections. I also knew that buyers would be more and more interested in sourcing ethically handcrafted, unique goods.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Looking back at what shaped me.. well, I always loved travel and photography. I remember dreaming of trips when I was really young, as I would sift through National Geographic Magazines. My father is an architect/ photographer and my mother is an interior designer. They also loved to travel. So exploration was in my genes along with a love and appreciation for textiles and beautiful things. I first started my career when I met a designer after college. She was the first that I met to design home decor while working with artists throughout Latin America. I loved the business model and mission. It felt like a win win. I worked for her for 4 years, and since that time (15 years ago) I have continued to stay in the field. There is no masters program to get into this field.. its just experience and time to build a good network of buyers and reliable artisan producers around the globe. I learned a lot along the way.. the list runs long but essentially, persistency is key, and you have to pivot with the times. What set me apart is that I have a niche, working to connect artisan brands and producers with brands/ shops, and have specialized in this same niche throughout my career. This allows me to stand out from the crowd and fortunately, more and more buyers are interested in buying and sourcing from groups that abide by Fair Trade working policies.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I live in Paris, I would meet my friend here. We would start by spending a few days exploring Paris – coffee at my local neighborhood cafe in Le Marais, a morning walk by the Seine, lunch in the Japanese neighborhood, cafe at Kitsune (near the Palais Royal), and dinner at Septime. We would also fit in the flea market at Vanves. Then, I would head to the countryside in Normandy and spend two nights in Duneile, a beautiful country b and b offering the most exquisite local food, and beautiful country atmosphere. From there, we would go on long walks in Parc la Perche and cruise the flea markets on Saturday/ Sunday. When back in Paris, we would also try to fit in a visit to the Picasso museum and an evening cocktail at Mary Celeste.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shoutout to Karen Gibbs of ByHand Consulting. She was my mentor and someone I had the pleasure to work with earlier in my career.