Girlbosses of Great Britain : The one with Hannah Soulsby the Interior Architectural Designer

Anima and Amare offer luxury interior design and the brainchild behind the brand is Hannah Soulsby, the director, a visionary and interior Architectural Designer. [...]

Anima and Amare offer luxury interior design and the brainchild behind the brand is Hannah Soulsby, the director, a visionary and interior Architectural Designer. Hannah has been on a real journey since launching the brand, having experience imposter syndrome and had to overcome her own limiting beliefs to be where she is today.

A true inspiration, Hannah is a force to be reckoned with and a name that should be on everybody’s lips in the world of interiors. We couldn’t wait to spend some time with her to find out more…

Tell us about the journey that lead to you launching Anima and Amare…

It started back in summer 2016 and moved quite fast. After working in high end residential for many years I was offered the opportunity to freelance on a restaurant design in Great Wishford, Salisbury it had a lot of media attention due to being the only pub in the village to shut down & a family run business of a mum and two sisters took it over and needed a designer to implement a design and project manage the renovation and Walla they found me.

Once completed I was offered a job within a leading hospitality design firm but pretty quickly realised I was ready to risk it all and go it alone. So one Tuesday afternoon I came home from work a told my husband I was quitting my job to start my own business, little did I know he was having a mini heart attack whilst smiling and supporting on the outside, as only he knew that in 3 weeks’ time we’d be starting to plan and save for a wedding.

The first year I worked my but off and actually would clean a local private hospital from 4:30am – 8am to ensure I always had regular money to pay the bills and then get home have breakfast and start working on my business till late at night. 

And if I wasn’t busy enough, I was offered the opportunity to guest speak for a local university offering professional knowledge and guidance to students. This role developed hugely and after a lot of hard work and determination I am now an Associate Lecturer & unit leader to over 5 modules 3 years on.

You have worked on some amazing projects over the years, which one is your proudest work?

Hmmm this is a hard one they all have a lot of pride attached to them.

I’m going to have to give more than one I’m afraid …

The first was when I was working for another firm it was a famous chef’s restaurant in Mayfair this stands out for a number of reasons but the main being it was the project that made me realise I was ready to go it alone. If I hadn’t worked on this maybe I wouldn’t have started my business!

The second was Nousha Lounge a coffee & cocktail bar, to this day I walk in and the design blows me away the clients really did let me have free reign to come up with a scheme. I took risks and it paid off implementing large amounts of black can seem daunting but with accents of gold it really does look stunning. 

And finally, a grade 2 listed building in Southampton ‘The Royal Pier’ this one was a real pinch me moment it had a two day media launch and although took a long time to get to completion the final outcome was worth the wait. This was a building I used to drive past when first at university In my 20’s (please don’t calculate how old I’m getting) & say to myself I’d love afford to eat in there one day as well as thinking to be able to design a building like this would be the interior design dream and only then I will know I’ve made it within the industry, I remember it as clear as day. Never did I realise it would happen so soon.

It’s not until you look back you realise how far you’ve come.

Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?

Unfortunately, yes! Two things stand out the most.

One: I wasted so much money on advertisement in my first year I felt if I needed to be seen in order to get work, I needed to advertise in the prestigious magazines and advert sources. I did not receive one job from one single advert I had posted, all my work came from word of mouth, and recommendation’s & people searching me through the internet. 

The second thing I would change was my confidence, I had just come from 7 years working in high profile companies working on multiple large scale projects managing from concept to completion, yet when I started by myself, I didn’t give enough credit for my worth. It was as if I felt because I was starting a new business, I was starting a new career and I really wasn’t.

Have you ever heard of the Imposter syndrome? Always feeling you’ve got somewhere by pure fluke rather than earning it and deserving it? Well that was me I did not value my knowledge enough and I was losing out on money by not pricing my services high enough. My passion for design would take over and I suppose this leads on to a third thing, I would shout about my accomplishments & projects far more as well as remember to take photos. I would always worry about coming across arrogant or appear to be boasting so I would quietly move on to my next project.  

In five years’ time, where do you hope to see the brand?

I am currently re-branding so by then we will have shiny new website logo and style hopefully that will be in 6 months and not 5 years. 

This is a really hard question for me to answer because every day is a new opportunity. You never know what project will land on your desk and in what direction it will take you, which is the best thing about my industry you can never get bored. What I do know is that we will have expanded with lots more High-end projects on the books, and we are currently working on introducing yacht Interiors into the fold after receiving a number of requests.

 I eat, live and breathe my industry and have a lot to talk about when it comes to Interiors and Architecture so to have a platform where I can talk about this on a regular basis is on the goal list within the next year. 

Talk us through an average day in your life…

An average day fortunately doesn’t exist for me, I could not cope with the same routine day in day out which is why I love my Industry and running my own business.

I tend to wake up around 7:00am do the normal routine with my son. Sorry guys no “I get up at 6am go to the gym, do a session of Pilates followed by a celery juice all before work”. My David Lloyd membership card has been collecting dust at the bottom of my handbag for months now. On the days I am not Lecturing at the Uni I get in to my Office around 8:30 and pretty much work consistently the whole day however now with the new addition of a mini Intern hanging off my leg demanding to sit on my lap and smash the laptop. (I’m talking about my Son of course; no staff member has ever been quite that enthusiastic yet) I tend to work remotely where possible to help increase inspiration and new ideas. I’m a creative person so therefore need to be surrounded by creativity to be motivated. I will always when possible attend London showrooms and shows always ensuring I am update to date with all current suppliers. 

What quote do you like to read when you are lacking motivation…

It’s not so much one quote it’s a serious, I am huge follower of ‘The Law of Attraction’ and what you put out you get out. When I am really lacking drive, I put on ‘Motiversity’ and William King Hollis videos on You Tube, all the great motivational speakers preaching really gets me going again and I always find after a morning listening I will somehow get a new project land my way. I’m all about the power of positivity. 

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your Bucket list? 

Oh wow how long have you got?…. I’ve been extremely fortunate to see some wonderful places which were already on my bucket list such as Dubai, Yo Semite, California, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia and so may more but my highlights and ones I extremely recommend would be Havana in Cuba, the absolute kindest people I’ve ever met and still in its original raw architectural state and not yet ruined by tourism, however I’d be quick they are starting to slowly put up new hotels on the waterfront.

Second, Vietnam but North Vietnam as far as you can go in a place called Sapa you cannot get more authentic and rural, high in the mountains where they still live from the land and work hard for everything, no next day Amazon deliveries here I’m afraid. 

And finally the Philippines, I’m going back with my family for Christmas I spent a month travelling all-round the Philippines and I can’t get it out of my head how stunning it was so to be able to go back with my husband and son will be really special .

One thing on my bucket list I haven’t completed yet is whale watching in Vancouver Island, Canada in spring to hopefully see Orca, grey, Humpback and Minke whale. And finally, Lake Como in Italy, every year I say I’m going to go and yet I still haven’t.

How much has social media played a part in your business?

I would class my use with Social Media like a bad relationship, it’s all or nothing, I know it’s not really the best thing for me, yet I keep going back.

The @Anima_and_Amare Instagram account goes through waves of being updated and neglected. I am extremely bad at being consistent and uploading projects. Then when I have a day when I can finally relax, I will spend hours on it. I tend to use it for project research and inspiration more than anything. I wouldn’t say it had a huge impact on getting work but personally I do check out someone’s Instagram account before using them so I’m sure people do the same to me so actually maybe I should be a bit more consistent with the account. In terms of other platforms of social media, I don’t seem to use anything else other than Instagram. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the social media world and I much prefer doing things my own way rather than comparing against others in my industry. 

For anyone thinking about launching an interiors brand, what advice would you give?

I would strongly advise getting a proper degree related qualification and not falling into the trap of short courses offering you the chance to be an Interior Designer in 3 weeks or months. This industry is extremely large and has a lot to learn it’s not just pretty cushions as most presume, its building regulations, planning applications, structural alterations and project management, I am still learning to this day. 

Get yourself industry experience in large practices first before going it alone.

Find yourself a business mentor this is something I wish I had done in the early days. 

And finally just get yourself out there, there is no time like the present to follow your dreams you’ll never have enough money and there will never be the right time so why not start from nothing and watch yourself grow in to something.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you

One piece of advice I found to be so true “Never judge a book by its cover”

I learnt this very early on in my business the most unlikely candidate can become your client so never dismiss someone because you ‘don’t think’ they will benefit you. 

I can’t remember if anyone in particular has given me advice that has been a driving force. I’m quite a strong-minded person and try to figure things out on my own, I tend to give myself pep talks and advice (whether it’s good or not is debatable but I’ve got this far by myself). 

However, one thing I do always say is “Never judge anyone for what job they do now, you never know what job they are working towards in the future. “I know this from personal experience with myself and many other great entrepreneurs who started from nothing. Hopefully if we all followed this advice the world would be a nice more accepting place. 

Where can people find out more…

Instagram @anima_and_amare

www.animaandamare.com

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Laura Bartlett

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