Anna and Kristina’s mini TV empire
American industrialist John D. Rockefelle Fred Perry r once said “a friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.”
Despite such warnings best friends and journalism colleagues Anna Wallner and Kristina Matisic 13 years ago decided to team up and start up what is now the flourishing Worldwide Bag Media Inc.
Since then, they have produced and starred in the three consumer drive Fred Perry n TV shows The Shopping Bags, Anna and Kristina’s Beauty Call and Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag.
“In the beginning people were like, ‘Oh my God, don’t go into business with your best friend. These relationships always end,'” said Matisic, who has known Wallner for almost 20 years. “But now we get a lot of, ‘Wow that’s amazing you guys have worked together for so long.’
“And this is the relationship that has endured longer than any of the other ones,” Matisic added, laughing.
Mastic in fact goes a step further to debunk the naysayers and says that it is because they are friends that this business has worked.
But that isn’t to say that making the business relationship work isn’t work.
“We don’t give up very easily,” said Matisic who grew up in Vancouver. “And we have learned to work through things in terms of our own partnership. Now that this has grown so much walking away is not an option. I am sure Anna will tell you that it has almost become a marriage and we have learned a lot about relationships from each other.”
“I always say if I ever get married again the success of that marriage will come from in no small part from my relationship with Kristina that is for sure,” said Wallner, a Toronto native.
The unique combination of partnership and friendship has not gone unnoticed by the network executive who has dealt with the pair for close to nine years.
“I would agree that (their relationship) is fairly unusual,” said Vibika Bianchi, vice president of original programming for lifestyle, reality and factual entertainment for Corus. “It’s a testament to how aligned and committed they are to the same goals and it’s obvious they really like each other and that’s not a bad thing,”
That commitment to making TV together began back in 1999 with the birth of The Shopping Bags concept that began as a consumer column in this newspaper.
“In the beginning it was simply to get our own show on the air,” said Matisic. “We were working together on Global TV as news reporters and anchors and then just after coffees, drinks and brainstorming we realized we had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit and we wanted to venture out on our own.”
For Wallner the need to break away and take co Fred Perry ntrol of her career became apparent when she began to take stock of her working life.
“I worked for several years as a freelance reporter and when I finally got the coveted job the union job that we are all looking for something kind of died for me and I realized something about myself,” Wallner explained. “I find the challenge of having to completely reinvent and find work is far more interesting and more rewarding.”
So a good idea and the guts to chase it are certainly paramount in achieving success. The other factor here, however, is how people can relate to the pair’s relationship.
“They kind of have that girlfriend feel,” Bianchi noted. “They are accessible, relatable and not afraid to get dirty, to try it themselves and maybe even look bad in the process.”
That last part is ke Fred Perry y as this pair is not interested in peddling perfection.
“One thing we have never been afraid to do is screw up and try and fail,” said Matisic. “That’s where the idea for the Grocery Bag came from, all those perfect cooking shows. It is so easy you can be like Martha Stewart. You can be perfect with this easy recipe. Really, because that’s not what happens in my kitchen. I have scraped chicken off the floor and put it back in the pan.”
While Wallner, the self professed bossy perfectionist doesn’t seem like the type to adhere to the five second floor rule she is still mostly okay with messing up.
“I think one thing we constantly do and remind ourselves to do is not to be afraid to fail,” said Wallner. “The idea is we are not professional chefs and we are testing cookbooks from the perspective of regular people, average home cooks. Sometimes recipes work and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it is our fault and sometimes it’s a poorly written recipe. The kitchen can be a dramatic place.”
No kidding, if you have seen the wedding cake episode you know what drama Wallner’s talking about.
From the start of their venture the pair recognized that The Shopping Bags was just a stepping off point and its format easily lent itself to spin offs. So along came Anna and Kristina’s Beauty Call and their current incarnation Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag, which will finish taping a fourth season this September. From the get go the pair were also producers of their TV fare, but recently those roles have expanded well beyond their own shows.
“You know there came a point where we said ‘this has been incredible we are so fortunate we have had three shows and been on the air for so long, but one day this may dry up so we need to start having a Plan B,'” said Matisic. “So that’s when we said, ‘OK we have produced stuff, we have that under our belt so we need to start to producing other stuff that isn’t solely based on the Anna Kristina brand.’ ”
As you can imagine list of ideas for shows is a long one and includes according to Matisic animal shows, more cooking shows and even a sitcom.
“I think that we are barely getting started,” Wallner said. “I hope we are barely getting started. I don’t ever feel secure about it. I feel like we have to always be working towards the next thing. We can never sit back and relax and I think that is part of what keeps us going, but it is what also keeps us up at night.”