Anna-Marie Descartes is an award winning Presenter, DJ, Self Care Advocate and Founder of House of Embrace from London, UK. She has spent the last 7 years in music and entertainment and has worked with notable clients including Soho House, Puma and Sofar Sounds.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was always a creative child growing up although I was quite introverted I was really into performing music and television. My Love of performance and television came from watching MTV Channel 4, the news, different talk shows and seeing people communicate in ward time with celebrities. I also really loved Disney Channel and Nickelodeon so my imagination would run wild and I would have hopes and dreams of being in the next High School Musical film.
I went on to study politics and international relations at university but dropped out after being inspired to take a different career path during my study abroad. After that moment I worked a few hours part-time while hustling my way into the entertainment industry as a live event host. I had no hosting experience prior but I knew that it’s something that I needed to do and something that I would be good at. Since then I have hosted countless brands, award shows, created my own talk show and have interviewed amazing music artists and public figures.
After the pandemic I really wanted to create something that was substantial and could empower women. In my early 20s I felt like I didn’t have any guidance or anyone to empower me on my journey to womanhood. There wasn’t anything or anyone to help develop my confidence or life skills in general which sparked my interest to start my own lifestyle company.
Tell us something about your initiative/business. What is it about and how is it helpful for people?
House of Embrace is a lifestyle brand and community making self-care an everyday priority for everyday women. We believe that self-care is the key to self confidence and essential to helping you navigate the world as your best self. Over the years self-care has been portrayed as a luxurious lifestyle that can only be accessed by few, but at HOE, we go beyond the traditional methods of beauty and wellness by creating a self care culture that is inclusive, expansive and effortless through community-led content, workshops and everyday products and routines.
We also put Black women’s voices and stories at the forefront as we are not traditionally considered in the lifestyle or wellness space. It was important for me to create a space that catered to and consider the women who look like me.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Lockdown was mostly positive for me. It felt like the perfect time to rest, reset and reevaluate my life. Of course it was difficult on a humanitarian level and not being able to work as most of my hosting gigs were in person but it opened me up to so many more opportunities online that I did not consider before.
It was during this time that I launched House of Embrace the first time. I decided to sell natural skincare that I handmade as a form of extra income. It was very successful in the initial stages but the momentum dropped very quickly which made me take a step back to think about how to build a sustainable business.
What has been the response of the users/consumers towards your venture?
We had our relaunch and first in person event in April 2023 which was sold out weeks ahead of the date. It was a panel hosted by me with 2 Black beauty influencers from the UK on the topic of “Being Your Own Beauty Standard” Attendees expressed how impactful they found the conversation and how they wanted to see more. Our followers and mailing list subscribers doubled and I can now see the community aspect of the brand coming to life.
How has your life changed because of your initiative/venture?
Launching HOE has helped me embrace my divine right to be a leader. It is something I always shied away from because I was afraid of power and responsibility but after hearing positive responses from our community, I feel confident that I am on the right path.
Do you have anyone who is the biggest support system in your life? Please let us know.
I am fortunate to be blessed with supportive friends, family and mentors who I can turn to. I also have a good relationship with God which keeps me grounded.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity? OR Share a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.
Don’t be afraid to disappoint people if it means doing what you love. People are always going to have something to say so you might as well do what you want to make yourself happy.