Creating What You Want To Be Part Of with Anastasia Giancola | Inspire YEG
Anastasia moved to Edmonton four years ago to be with the love of her life and left everything she knew back home, including a business she co-founded that was just having a great start. Upon getting here and waiting for her papers to process, she went through a challenge as her life takes on a pause. She didnt have many friends, she couldnt work or even drive.
I found myself in Anastasia’s story. When I first got here, when people would ask me what I miss I would always answer, “Aside from my baby cousins, my sense of independence for sure.” And that’s why I felt compelled and Im grateful I get to share her story here.
Now, she has founded Inspire YEG and puts together creative masterclasses for people in Edmonton, a city she found to be full of creatives and kind people. (Can’t agree more!) I sat down with her and asked her what her vision for this project was, I didnt have to hear her answer to know that Id never be able to say no to her. She was just glowing and full of love talking about it and I swear, every person would want to be there when it unfolds. I know I do. (It’s the first month and she has four workshops! FOUR. Attagirl!)
Anastasia’s story teaches me that if we only look and dig deeper, we will always find what we are looking for. And even if we don’t, we can always ALWAYS create it. Read more of her story here:
What was the hardest part about leaving home?
Apart from leaving my family and friends, I think the hardest thing was leaving my business that seemed to be at a very exciting stage at that time.
My friend and I started our Interior Design business shortly after we graduated from university and we were working very hard to get it of the ground. 1.5 years later we were taking on bigger and more exciting projects when my boyfriend at that time (now husband) and I decided that it was time for me to move to Canada.
What was it like leaving everything you knew and moving to a different country? What kind of challenges, emotions and frustrations did you face on your first years?
Moving to Canada was very exciting. I absolutely fell in love with this country when I first came here for a visit and got a sense that this is the place where I can feel at home. So 3 months later I moved to Edmonton with just one suitcase! I was happy that my 2.5 year long-distance relationship with my boyfriend came to an end and we finally got to be together.
But not everything was peaches and cream. My immigration process lasted 1.5 years and during that time I wasn’t able to work or go to school. After having a pretty busy life back in Russia, being stuck at home and having nowhere to go or nothing to do was a challenging time.
I didn’t drive so that made it even harder to get out of the house and explore the city (advice to everyone who’s planning on moving to Edmonton: get a car first! It’ll make your life much easier haha).
I lived in Russia and Europe before and did a fair amount of travelling but moving to North America turned out to be mentally the most difficult thing I’ve done so far: moving to a different continent and trying to fit into a totally new way of living is not easy. But definitely very exciting!
How did you come up with the idea of Inspire YEG? Tell us abit about this new project!
INSPIRE YEG is my baby. For 6 months it was just this big cloud of ideas in my head that slowly started forming into a project that I finally shared with the world last month.
INSPIRE is the creative platform that joins local artists, entrepreneurs and makers with YEG people who want to participate in fun events and learn directly from the industry experts. My masterclasses are very laid back, intimate events that give people a chance to create, learn, meet new people and enjoy the art of slowing down.
I look for the most talented local experts that want to share their knowledge and do everything I can to help their talent truly shine at these beautiful offline events.
Collaboration is the core of my project. I bring all kinds of local businesses together to give them a chance to get more exposure and promote their amazing services and products.
So that’s INSPIRE YEG for you in a nutshell but honestly, I can talk about my project for hours!
How did I come up with this idea? I love seeing talented people doing what they love. There’s nothing more inspiring for me! So, one day I thought, why not surround myself with what makes me the happiest?
What can you say about the creative community in Edmonton?
What I discovered since I started my project, is that Edmonton has SO MUCH to offer. This city’s creative and entrepreneurial community is thriving right now! The difference between let’s say Vancouver or Toronto is that you just need to “dig a little deeper”, but believe me, if you make that effort, you’ll be blown away by the amount of talent living and creating in this city!
What have you learnt so far in the process of reaching out to different people?
Reaching out to people I’ve never met before and sharing my ideas with them was super intimidating at first but I was shocked by how friendly and helpful creative Edmontonians are! I’ve arranged so many awesome collaborations that started with just a simple friendly email to a person whose talent I admire.
So that’s definitely one of the most valuable lessons I learned since I started INSPIRE: never be afraid of reaching out to people. You’ll be amazed by how many incredible opportunities it can bring to you!
How did you come up with the name INSPIRE YEG?
You know, I feel like you can spend a lot of time coming up with the most perfect, the most original, the trendiest name for your business. And as much as the name is very important for your business, it is NOT your business.
When the time came to decide on the name for my project, I thought: what is the purpose of what I’m doing here? What am I trying to deliver to my customers? And the only word that felt right was INSPIRE. It answers the questions of Why and What for.
Which skills you acquired from the interior design business do you use with this new venture?
Oh that’s a good question! I am a perfectionist and it can be both good and bad for my business. At the early stages of my Interior Design business I had to decide whether I’m going to spend months and months working on the perfect logo, flawless website, making sure that I have a wide enough portfolio, know answers to ALL of my clients questions (because God forbid I sound incompetent) etc. or I allow myself to have everything not so perfect and learn from my mistakes and my experience as I go. I chose the latter and believe me, this approach brings you waaayy better results and turns you into a true entrepreneur (and not just a theoretical one).
Who are the workshops for?
My masterclasses are for people who want to learn new skills, get creative, meet like-minded people or spend some quality time with their friends. They are for the people of YEG that appreciate local talents, want to support them and learn directly from them.
My workshops are also for those who feel a bit intimidated to get crafty by themselves and don’t want to spend a lot of money on tools and supplies. At INSPIRE classes everything is provided and taken care of. Just come and have fun!
What kind of masterclasses are you planning to have? What is your vision and goals for Inspire YEG?
Right now I’m having creative classes like Calligraphy, Watercolours, Jewellery Making, Macrame but in the future I’m definitely planning to expend the variety of events. I’m excited to plan inspirational meetings, maybe some marketing meetups, classes that would be more appealing to men, couples classes could be fun too! Wine tasting, flower design, mixology, make-up, interior décor… That’s just off the top of my head. There are so many options!
As for my vision and goals, INSPIRE will always be a platform that helps the local creative and entrepreneurial community but there are a lot of forms that INSPIRE.YEG can evolve into: markets, festivals… The ambitions are definitely there but let’s see where this road takes us!
The masterclasses differ from each other, but would there be things that would remain the same for each of them?
Yes, definitely. My guests can always be sure that the topics are interesting and trendy, instructors are very knowledgeable, the venues are beautiful and the atmosphere is fun, relaxing and very inspirational. Those are the core values of every event.
Four workshops right away in a month! Way to go girl! What’s the secret for a successful startup?
There’s no secret: do your research first, make sure people need your product or service and if they do, genuinely put your heart and soul into it. And love what you do! That’s how I see it.