Anna Pierce and her boyfriend Geoff Miller. She says he always gives her perspective. PHOTO COURTESY ANNA PIERCE

Not So Average Jane

Pineapple pools and palm tree hotels: Shifting dreams and finding happiness in the world

Anna Pierce is refreshingly quirky – a self-described nerd with a cat named Penny who is currently reading a book about the history of the design of the national parks pamphlets – “for fun.” Next, she is buying the one about NASA. She is in the middle of Inktober – a month of daily challenges in the illustration community. 

“It’s my passion,” Pierce said of graphic design before describing herself as a “lifer.” 

Life led her to her passion, even if she did not recognize it at first. She did not take an art class until she was in college at Montana State University. Now, she believes everyone can be creative, they just have to find the right medium. As a kid, though, she had a different plan. 

“When I was at an age where I could think about careers from about 9-12 years old, I thought I was going to be a hotel owner.  My hotel would be shaped like a palm tree and the pool would be shaped like a pineapple. And then when people would fly over they would say, ‘Wow! There is a hotel shaped like a palm tree and a pool shaped like a pineapple!’ I would sketch it out all the time: a sketch book of pineapple pools and palm tree hotels.”  

Now 24 years old, she found her way to Big Sky Real Estate Company in 2017. Before that, she worked as co-director of media at a massive summer camp on the east coast. When camp ended, she made her way back to Montana and worked as a residential housekeeper in Bozeman until she could find something in her field. Housekeeping was not her passion – at all – but she  feels it built character. 

“I truly believe every millennial should have to do some kind of labor like that, even for a short amount of time: dish washing, lawn maintenance, housekeeping.  I think our generation, we are a very instant gratification focused generation. To take a breath and do something where you just have to work hard every day. It’s a different kind of work, not a privileged  kind of work,” she said. 

She further explained that some of the jobs that have come up in the 20th century can be viewed as luxuries: a social media manager, graphic design. 

“Luxury in the sense that it’s a luxury to have it. I love what I do, so I’m glad that graphic design is an industry,” she said. 

That kind of openness and acceptance of life was ingrained in her from the time she was young. Pierce gives her mother much of the credit. Her first international trip occurred when she was 8 years old. By the time she turned 18, she had been to 11 countries. 

“Thanks to mom,” she said. “She was very much a proponent that school can’t teach you everything. She would take us out of school for weeks at a time.” 

When she was in her teens, she and her brother went to Austria together – “unchaperoned minors all the way there.” 

“Traveling that far of a distance when you are 14 is absurd, but we did it,” she said. They stayed with family in Austria, but were mostly left to their own devices for 6 weeks after learning how public transit worked. 

Her mother, a leather seamstress, has a knack for finding adventures and interesting people and then finding other people to jump on-board. One such instance was a wedding invitation from a man named Abhay – originally from India – who was living in Norway. 

“Indian food, right and proper, takes three hours to cook. He found a lot of solace in doing that, my mom and her friend cracked open a bottle of wine and got his life story,” she said.  

The wedding happened in India. Pierce, her mother and other family members were welcomed as honored guests. 

“India is the most hospitable country I have ever been to. They just wanted to show us their culture,” she said. 

When she is not working and not traveling, she cuddles up with Penny the therapy cat who “parrot cats” on her shoulder when she reads her industry-specific books for fun. 

As for her boyfriend, he has become a cat person for Penny. 

“He loves that little nugget,” Pierce said and noted that sometimes when she gets home from work “he picks her up by her armpits and has her dance to ‘Hello my baby, hello my darling.’” 

If she ever loses perspective, he helps her find it again.

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