For our new website launch we have decided to call the Co-Founders of Market Collective forward. Angela Dione and Angel Guerra met on a stoop 9 years ago, and the rest is history. Today, they have been invited to interview each other and not hold back. Ask the tough questions, hear the real answers, and show the city some of their most personal thoughts and fears.
Angel Interviews Angela:
Quite a few years ago I wrote and performed a rap on Angela’s birthday. The chorus went as follows: “Her name is Angela, my name is Angel. Our names are the same, hers is just a little mangled. Today is her birthday so I’d like to say, I like her in almost every single way.” A few months ago I found the lyric sheet while I was cleaning out some old boxes, and when I read them over I realized just how true the last statement was. I admire so many things about Angela, and the things that I don’t always immediately resonate with, I have learned so much from. I am so grateful to know her, and grateful that our similarities and differences have been able to work together in tandem for so many years.
This friendship and partnership fell into my lap in 2008, when we met over a front stoop breakfast in Sunnyside. The minute I met her I knew that we would be friends, likely good friends, but I had no idea where our journey would take us. The past 9 years have been amazing, difficult, fulfilling, challenging, loving and unprecedented. A big thank you to Angela Dione for her hard work, for sticking by my side all of these years, and for continuing to push me to be a kinder human being each day. She has offered me a sense of grounding and has taught me how to make more definitive decisions. Angela is wise, has a huge heart and an insanely hilarious wit, and MC wouldn’t be what it is today without her.
AG: Prior to founding Market Collective, you held over 30 jobs. Can you share one of your experiences?
Angela: I once made a list of all the jobs I’ve held, and it came to 35. To me, it is a lesson that you don’t always know what you want, and you never have to settle for what doesn’t make you happy. I’ve sold diamonds, started teahouses, and took flights around the world. I’ve worked with Sudanese refugees, babies in foster care, and at-risk youth trying against all odds to live happy and stable lives. I’ve met and spent time with people from all walks of life, and have learned so much about how people live, what people love, and the struggles in between. I count myself grateful to have had these interactions as I grew into the person I am today.
One of the most random jobs I ever had was pouring concrete as a labourer. Not very interesting, but it was completely different from anything I had ever done. I worked for a one-eyed British man named Carl, and he just swore and called everyone a sissy all day long. The record of working with him was set at two months for anyone that tried. He didn’t relent and he hated his days. It was awful.
At the end of it, I had him taking breaks and buying cinnamon buns and coffees on the way to a job. I even got him to open up and start talking about his passion, which was mosaic flooring. He was quite the guy and one of the hardest workers I had ever seen. I’m happy he randomly made it in here.
AG: How do you think these varied experiences laid the groundwork for MC and your personal life?
Angela: I started working at 12, and it was instilled in me at a very young age the importance of a strong work ethic. I also grew up in a family where you get one stable job and commit yourself to that until you retire. My dad worked in an engineering firm for 40 years. When he started, he got paid a salary of $1680/year (this isn't a typo). He drove an hour into Winnipeg every day, leaving the house before 5am. Through snowstorms and blistering traffic he never missed a day of work. When he left after four decades of service, they handed him a pair of brass cufflinks and his last 2-week paycheque. My dad always told me that the only way to live this life is to be your own boss. I live by that today.
Learning that invaluable lesson at a formative age pushed me to take risks and find out what I like and dislike. It made me find the courage to end something that doesn’t feel right or that wasn’t supporting my happiness.
I took the plunge and became an entrepreneur in 2008. I had a stable job that I enjoyed, dreams and ideas I wanted to accomplish, and a student loan that hung over me like a dark cloud. It was a big decision and I didn’t make it lightly. The Market Collective was a project I believed in and I saw the potential that it could bring to the city and to other artists and designers. I knew to follow this path and see where it would take me, and I took the risk to break that unknown.
AG: A couple of years ago, you had a beautiful baby girl. How have you managed to balance your family and work life?
Angela: The balance and peace that I have found is that there is no balance. You will always be making decisions and carving space. You will always want more time in a day, an impulsive road trip, or a cup of coffee that stays hot until you’re finished.
But for me, having a daughter was the single-most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. Becoming a mother was the one true thing that I wanted from my life. I still have personal ambitions and dreams, but everything that happens now is just in addition to being a mama. Now is the time for me to spend with my daughter and to guide and support her as she grows.
I am very fortunate that at the MC, we have created a studio environment that is supportive and sees the importance of balance. On my work days, Eve visits me, and calls everyone here her “big friends”. She is collecting memories of what a positive and creative work environment feels like and I am happy this exists in her world and mine.
AG: Like any partnership, whether it’s business or romantic, it’s always consoling to know that someone knows you so well. It’s also terrifying. What is one thing that you know drives me crazy? What drives you crazy about me? What’s your favourite thing about me?
Angela: It is true that business partnerships are pretty fascinating. You have to be with that one person so much, and the relationship develops over years and years. Unlike a romantic relationship, you don’t have all of those extra moments that make it worthwhile. For the first five years of any start-up, things can become very stressful, and you see each other in very different ways.
You and I have grown so much over the last 9 years, and anyone in our lives could attest to that. We drive each other crazy at times, we’re completely different in many ways and yet together the Market Collective worked because the both of us infused our own personalities and skills into it. I am grateful that we have been able to make it what it is along with the rest of the team and community.
For you, I began to understand early on that you have a high capacity for social knowledge and people’s opinions are really meaningful to you and your identity. This has inspired you to try to discover what is important to people and to understand what you can do to improve someone’s experience.
You always have a truck ready for a big move, a bonfire to warm hearts, and your door open to a stranger needing a couch. It’s a beautiful thing, and many people count you as their friend. You are the Kevin Bacon of Calgary and have the ability to infuse adventure and connection into the lives that you touch.
AG: What is one piece of sage wisdom that you would like to offer to anyone reading this who currently is in a business partnership?
Angela: It’s not supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be worth it.
Angela Interviews Angel:
I met Angel Guerra in the spring of 2008. Little did I know that this meeting would change the course of my life for the next 9 years. There were times in the early years that I thought we wouldn’t make it, and there were times that we almost didn’t. But as it grew, I softened into the acknowledgment that our differences were the exact thing that we needed to create the Market Collective. Angel is a beautiful soul, a new soul, and someone that would do anything for a friend or an adventure. We may not seem to be cut from the same tree, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I hope Angel Guerra will always be in my world. Maybe it will be to organize a wedding, a house show, or a search party. Maybe it will be to show me how to use a wheelchair in the mountains or to invite me to a last-minute senior's trip to New Mexico. I don’t know. What I do know, is whatever it is, Angel will have put careful thought into it, connected the right people to make it happen, and will be there until the sun comes up and the last joke has been shared.
AD: We all have that moment. The one that transformed you or sent your path on a completely different trajectory. What was the most defining moment of your life?
Angel: By far the most transforming moment in my life was when I was born. After that, everything was just a series of small steps in one direction or another. At times I look back at life and see everything that I have accomplished as a series of distinct choices that I made along the way. Yet other times it feels like everything was set into motion far before my life began, and that I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. Either way, I’m not sure that I could explain one defining moment, as much as I can look at the thousands of micro-moments and experiences that each helped set and redirect my path.
I am incredibly grateful for the journey. I am grateful for the people that I have met along the way, and feel very privileged to live in a country where we have the ability to blaze our own trails.
AD: Life is full of opportunities to face your fears. What are you most afraid of?
Angel: For years I have been inadvertently afraid of missing out. I mean, I wasn’t lying awake at night worrying about what I was missing out on, but the fear was there, deep within me. I had the sense that if I didn’t say yes to everything, I might miss the opportunity of a lifetime.
Now, I find myself afraid of missing the point. Afraid that I might get so carried away saying yes to everything around me, that I’m actually missing the big picture. Or the message living far beneath the surface. Or both.
I currently find myself trying to delicately juggle between the yes and the no, so that within my choices I am carving a path of intention and purpose.
AD: We have dedicated ourselves to MC for the last 9 years, and often talk about the sacrifices we have made for this project. If you had to completely transform your life, no MC, no teaching, what would you do next?
Angel: If tomorrow I woke up and I was no longer able to teach or to do Market Collective, I would take a bit of a sabbatical. After that, I’d go on a long motorbike trip and perhaps move to a coastal town. Once settled, I would love to work with my hands more. I am inspired by gardening, cooking, pottery, building and fixing things, and learning musical instruments - to name a few. These are all things in life that I love and admire, but honestly haven’t given myself much time, or space, to perfect any of these crafts.
AD: You have a beautiful community and relationships are very important to you. Why are these connections important to you and how do you think your friends would describe you?
Angel: I absolutely love people. I love hearing different stories, seeing different ways of living, and learning about the things that people are passionate about. I also love learning about the way people grew up, and the way their upbringing influences their teen and adult lives.
I think that my friends would describe me in many different ways, based on each relationship. Many would describe me as adventurous, passionate and kinda dorky. Some would describe me as one who talks way too much, and yet others would describe me as a good listener. Some would describe me a being really easygoing, and yet others would describe me as quite particular and at times very specific and militant. Some would describe me as humorous and silly, and others would see my more fiercely serious side. With every connection, I feel like I am giving a piece of myself to the other person, and those pieces vary from relationship to relationship.
Overall, I’m a bit of a dreamer, and I love thinking up new ideas.
AD: You've had some pretty wild adventures and your are one of the most adventurous people I know. What have been some of your favourite adventures? How do you feel that all of these adventures have carved how you see life?
Angel: Honestly, one of the biggest adventures of my life has been navigating the Market Collective. There have been highs, lows, times that I have cried myself to sleep, times that I have stayed up all night because of a new exciting prospect or idea, and all of the times up, down, around, and in between.
But aside from Market Collective, I have gone on a plethora of adventures that didn’t go quite as planned, misadventures if you will. I absolutely love a good story, so let’s go out for a tea. I’d love to tell you a long, detailed, riveting tale someday.