The first thing that Cathrine Ann admits is that, “I’m totally phony.” From hair extensions to plastic surgery, there isn’t much left that you could call authentic. The one thing that is not fake? Her new book, Beautiful Buttons: A Memoir of Survival and Triumph. She has no real secrets there reports The Globe and Mail.
An offer for an eight-month government course for entrepreneurs, enclosed with her last unemployment cheque (she had been selling dental implants as well as moonlighting as a hooker), convinced her — “It was a sign!” — that it was time to change her ways.
Her business idea was Consumer Connection. She hires freelance “mystery shoppers” who provide anonymous reports to companies so they can improve customer satisfaction, but at the beginning she, her boyfriend and her son would wear disguises to shop in various stores.
She frequently offered the service without pay, to prove herself. “I was so determined,” she says. By the time she graduated, the company’s revenue was $85,000. (She won’t divulge current financial details. “I don’t want to brag about it,” she says demurely while pointing out that her purse is Louis Vuitton.)
In Beautiful Buttons, which reads like fiction, it seems so improbable, she recounts her chaotic life. Sexually abused by a family friend as a child, she became a single mother at 15 and, in short order, a prostitute. By her 20s, after her nose job, she was an office temp and party girl.
Not that there’s a fully realized fairy-tale ending. Her son, now 38 and married with two children, hasn’t spoken to her in five years after starting a rival company to Consumer Connection. Her father is dead and she is also estranged from her mother, who lives in Vancouver.
“I have no special gifts. You just get it done. As human beings we have that strength in us,” she avows, which is the content of her inspirational talks.
Photo from Beautiful Buttons Facebook Page