Catherine Cornelissen

founder of Decor A List

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 13.58.00.jpg

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

I spend my days doing what I absolutely love - sourcing beautiful homewares, furniture and art for my curated e-boutique, Decor A List. The most unique element about my business is that every item has been handpicked by me and I ensure that the pieces are made to order with bespoke options, nothing is made in a factory. Essentially, the pieces are unique in themselves which makes my business unique!

Alongside Decor A List, I also offer luxury interior design and an art concierge service where I use my inventory from Decor A List and primary / secondary market contacts to source art and design for single purchases or a complete redesign of a residential or commercial space. 

How did you get your idea for Decor A List?

Initially I aspired to start an interiors and art blog, but I wanted to have a more hands on approach with the pieces and really curate a collection that embodies a variety of styles. I did start a blog for all of three months and then decided to launch a curated marketplace instead. It kind of just happened to be honest!

Starting your own company can be so challenging! What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

Something I was very naive about was doing your research. I made many mistakes that in hindsight, could have been completely avoided. It’s ok because I’ve learned from them but it can be frustrating when you realise how much time and — very often — money can be wasted as a result of a lack of research and crystal clear goals.

What does success mean to you?

Success to me very much revolves around happiness; and much of happiness relates to what you do on a daily basis and if you truly love what you are doing.

I think the fact that I am so very engaged and passionate about my field and business will eventually lead to success, alongside other factors such as a relationship (which I am in), hobbies (I love to horse ride and ski), being healthy (working out, walking) and so on. There are many ingredients, but ultimately I think you should love what you do - life’s too short!

Loving what you do is so important! Is there anything that keeps you awake at night?

Ideas! It is so difficult to switch off at night when you know that you always have a gazillion things to do the next day - it literally never stops and I think any entrepreneur will agree. I really believe that your business is you, so my brain is always working and often keeps me up at night. (I could also scroll through Pinterest for hours and get lost in a world of interiors…)!

How do you stay productive and motivated?

I follow similarly minded people on Instagram who are entrepreneurial and can relate to similar struggles. I find it motivating (and reassuring!) when you read about people who experience the same problems that I do and then discover how they overcome them. I also like to dip in and out of books; one of my favourites is Megyn Kelly’s biography ‘Settle for More’ — where the inspiration is in the title.

Have you personally had any career defining moments, or hurdles that shaped who you are and where you are right now?

At present, I think I am yet to experience a career defining moment to be completely honest. I will say however that I had the misfortune of dealing with some untrustworthy IT developers which set me back close to a year with constant technical problems. I felt like giving up and it was really, really hard since there was literally nothing I could do… I mean, I’m not an IT genius! I barely know how to turn a TV on! But I buckled down and learned and kept trying. The biggest struggle is not giving up and try, try, try again.

If you had one piece of advice for someone who is just starting out, what would it be?

Follow your dreams but expect the worse. As a natural optimist, I thought the whole process of launching a business would of course be difficult, but not to the extent that it was and has been. When you expect the worse, the worse comes as an expectation and you are better prepared to deal with it efficiently and quickly. Also do your research - find out who your competitors are and what sets you apart.

What are your goals for the future?

I would love to open a physical space at some point as a studio / curated interior — not quite sure where in the world that will be yet — but definitely a dream of mine! At present though, I aim to continue to grow Decor A List and work with more talented designers and artists!

Do you have a particular life motto that you live by?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s live” - Steve Jobs.

I love this quote so much because especially with social media, we’re all so involved with what other people are doing. Of course it’s great to keep in touch, but I ultimately think that you should focus on what you’re doing, what you will bring to the table and how you’re going to get there. And don’t let anyone ever tell you what you can and cannot do or what you’re capable of, only you know that.

This is so true! Finally, which women inspire you?

Many women (and men) inspire me, but Tory Burch is one of the women that inspires me and with her foundation which looks to empower women entrepreneurs. I also LOVE her clothing…!