Ep. 211: Lisa Pongrass – Turn Your Fashion Dreams Into Reality

Most people who chase their dreams don’t aspire to build a company. We all know that an endeavor of that magnitude takes a huge commitment of your time and energy. Making a career out of your passion is a rare achievement that few are fortunate enough to do. Today’s guest shares a candid behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and successes in her journey to entrepreneurship. 

Lisa Pongrass is the founder and CEO of Canvas & Hyde, a luxury handbag company based in Brooklyn, New York. An acclaimed interior designer and fashion stylist in her Australian homeland, Lisa has over twenty years’ experience that has propelled her to the forefront of fashion and beauty on the international stage. In 2006, Lisa was named one of Harper’s Bazaar’s 100 Best-Dressed Australians, recognized for her classic style, an element that has been the mainstay of her direction and inspiration for Canvas & Hyde. With the rise of digitally trend-driven “it” bags of the moment dominating the fashion world, Lisa sought to create her own line of “anti-it bags” through Canvas & Hyde. With an intrinsic love of design and fashion, she focused on creating a brand that emphasized quality craftsmanship and a minimal urban aesthetic. Although Lisa was at the forefront of the fashion industry in Australia, she immersed herself in a new challenge–an intense education of the intricacies of the manufacturing process. To assure luxurious quality control, Lisa delved into researching and learning the craft of luxury handbag construction for over a year. Determined to source the finest quality and sustainable materials in partnership with environmentally responsible factories, Lisa collaborated with factories in Italy and the US. With her strong vision and meticulous research, Canvas & Hyde was born. 

A lifelong love for fashion

How many people get to turn their passion into a company and career? For Lisa, her nerdy and obsessive love for fashion was never what she thought her career would involve. After working in interior design for about ten years, she made the shift into the connected field of designing handbags. It was important to her to start her own business and give birth to a meaningful brand, which she calls a “dream come true.” Launching out held a certain degree of uncertainty because there were so many things she didn’t know about the business. Lisa says, “As a solo entrepreneur, I feel like I have one pizza and ten children to feed.” 

TWEET: “As a solo entrepreneur, I feel like I have one pizza and ten children to feed.” @canvasandhyde #chasingdreams

Handling the rough patches

How do you handle life’s rough patches? Lisa says that challenges come up constantly when you run your own business. Being kind to yourself is essential. Lisa rewards herself with a nice hot bath to relax at the end of the day. She realizes that what she’s doing isn’t a matter of life and death, like the challenges many people around the world are facing each day. Another important aspect in handling challenges is not to take yourself too seriously. Lisa likes to take a “big picture” view in being grateful for the opportunities.

TWEET: “Being kind to yourself is essential.” @canvasandhyde #chasingdreams

Balancing work and life

Don’t we hear a lot about “work-life balance”? Is there really such a thing? As a single mom for four years, Lisa found it difficult to juggle the demands of motherhood with building a brand, and she gave up sleep at times to make it work. As an empty-nester now, Lisa finds the balance even more difficult because she’s on her own to create the balance. Sticking to a schedule to eat and sleep well is harder to do. It’s rewarding to achieve each milestone of success, whether a large or small one because you know you’ve done it for yourself. Lisa says that success is the greatest high in the world and is what propels her to get up the next day. 

TWEET: “Success is the greatest high in the world.” @canvasandhyde #chasingdreams


  • [1:10] Young Lisa and her dreams
  • [3:35] An avenue of uncertainty
  • [6:42] What Lisa would have done differently
  • [8:49] How she knew it was time to hire more people
  • [10:07] What surprised Lisa on her journey
  • [13:40] What networking is all about
  • [14:46] Handling challenges as they come
  • [17:45] Balancing work and life
  • [22:32] Goals vs. journey
  • [25:48] When you’re struggling to pivot
  • [27:33] It’s never too late
  • [30:11] Get to know Lisa better


Lisa on Facebook

Lisa on Twitter

Lisa on Instagram

Lisa on LinkedIn

Lisa’s Website  


It surprises me every day how much people want me to succeed. @canvasandhyde #chasingdreams

Knowing one’s weakness is a strength. @canvasandhyde #chasingdreams

At the time I considered launching my business, I thought, “How difficult can it be?” @canvasandhyde #chasingdreams

It’s important to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. @canvasandhyde #chasingdreams

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