The 2023 Women of the Year Awards: Entrepreneurial Leader – Runner-up

The runner-up of the Entrepreneurial Leader category of the 2022 Women of the Year Awards is Ami McKay, founder of Pure Design Inc.

Ami McKay
Founder, Pure Design Inc.

Ami McKay started her interior design business in 2000, when she was in her 20s carrying her newborn around in a sling. “People would look at me with my baby and think I wasn’t a serious designer,” she recalls, her voice more wistful than annoyed. “I felt that judgment when I would walk into showrooms. And here I am all these years later—that’s just life I guess.”

These days, McKay has three companies under the same umbrella in North Vancouver, with the interior design biz operating side-by-side a project and construction management arm that executes the former. A retail store was added to the mix last year to sell both local and global goods and artisan wares.  

Originally from Niagara Falls, McKay calls herself a true entrepreneur—”I dropped out of everything I did.” That included interior design school and a UBC costume and set design program. But that never stopped her from working in those fields, as she spent years doing costume, set and production design for theatre and film.

“I can’t believe that after 23 years, I’m still as excited, if not more excited, about everything going on in my life,” she says, recounting a path that included living in Alberta for five years where she worked in a fire tower during the summers. “I climbed up there and sat all day and painted, wrote, did all this reflection, read almost a book a day. It opened me up and got rid of all my fears. I’m an interior designer, but I’m also just an artist—interior design is my outlet.”