#WCW: Ana Torres

Epicenter Community introduces our #WCW for this week, Ana Torres! Ana is a alumni of our #AccelerateBos program and is the owner and founder of ACT Designs. She uses reclaimed materials to design customized pieces that match her clients needs. Ana’s style and approach is always evolving to meet new challenges. Her artistic approach was shaped by her upbringing in El Salvador. For play, she used to gather raw materials from around the farm, including constructing her first tree house at age 11. She learned entrepreneurship from her first role model, her grandmother, who tended the farm to care for her family. Ana lives in Mattapan with her partner Wilnelia Rivera.

Learn more about Ana and her work on her website act-designs.com

Ana will be featured in Mattapan’s Open Studios on October 21st. Meet her and see her incredible designs in person. You can RSVP here.

Who has been your most influential mentor?

My most influential mentor has been my grandmother: Irma Maria Torres. She played a big role in me becoming the person that I am today. My grandmother was a mother, grandmother, the boss, the brains behind the business operation and the ultimate business entrepreneur. She ran and managed the business operations on her family farm. From selecting the grains to selecting the trucks she was going to purchase for the farm. Everyone in the family has a role and a job to do. And the ones that didn’t were being taught learning skills to put to use later. She managed acres of land being cultivated by the farmworkers:. Sugarcane, corn, cattle, milk and cheese were some of the produce coming out of her farm.

She taught me to be strong and kind to people. She also taught me that being a woman doesn’t mean that you are weak or less strong than men. She never said, “You can’t do that because you are a woman.” Women ride horses, run the business, make decisions inside and outside the house. And yes, we make furniture too!

How did you get where you are today?

It all started on my grandmother’s farm in El Salvador, my motherland. My small frame at 11 years old did not stop me from bringing a big vision to life: my own treehouse.

I spent my summer days gathering raw materials from her sprawling farm to build it with my own hands. It’s still one of my proudest projects yet. I was taught that your environment is not a limitation to what you want to achieve but to look at it as a rich place of resources.

I was taught that your environment is not a limitation to what you want to achieve but to look at it as a rich place of resources.

You just need to look past of what is not available around you. And utilize whatever minimal resources that are available to you at the moment. This helped me evolve my sense of problem solving & to see life in a different way. This allowed me to be creative, innovative, resourceful and crafty. Not to focus on what I don’t have but instead to work with what I do have around me. This translates into many aspects of my life as an adult.

My mother has always been my biggest supporter. She has been buying tools for me since I was very young. For my birthdays and Christmas she would buy a tool for me to put to use around the house. To this day she still does and Ii could not be any happier to know that i am going to get a cool gadget from her every year. My mother trusts my ability to handcraft and build different things for her. My schooling and education came from my mom’s house. Her house was where I gain my skills and trust to build and design. From me building a small compartment to put the towels and tissue paper to enclosing a porch area, to taking down the old fence and putting a new one.

What can I say? I come from a handy, crafty family of entrepreneurs. It runs in our genes.

Nowadays, I’m using my self-taught carpentry skills to create refurbished furniture from reclaimed and recycled materials.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, ACT Designs will be exclusively working with individuals and corporate companies- earning over $250,000 in annual revenue. I see myself working with the community in developing programs for women and minorities to teach them handcraft skills as a form of art and a business. I see myself living in Boston and investing in a larger wood workshop. I also want to continue learning, gaining more skills and investing in myself and continue to learns more skills around woodworking and business management.

What about this city inspires you?

This city inspires me to continue pursuing my career as woodworker artist and designer. Being in an environment that exudes arts, custom, unique, struggle and entrepreneurship inspires me to continue evolving as the city itself its evolving. Being in Boston has given me giving me the opportunity to experience the great work of the local creative economy. some programs are doing around the city to help artist like myself. Being a member of Epicenter’s business accelerator entrepreneurship program, #AccelerateBos, opened my eyes to becoming a business owner and gave me needed experiences . Not only was there the emotional support but the logistical part that involves being a business owner. Being able to access these type of programs is crucial for artist and business startups.

Boston should be…a welcoming place for artist and entrepreneurs, especially for women and people of color. from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Boston could be…inclusive and welcoming place that creates an infrastructure of different cultures that works together for the betterment of the people living in the city.

Boston wants to be…a leader and a competitor in a high demanding economy.

Boston needs…more places and platforms accessible to local artist