DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
Katya Ananieva, She’s Unique Jewelry Boutique. Since taking ownership in March of 2012, Katya Ananieva has transformed She’s Unique Jewelry Boutique into the ultimate shopping destination for minimalistic jewelry. Focused on style and quality, She’s Unique offers a carefully curated selection of up-and-coming, local, domestic, and international designers and brands. Our goal is to offer our customers the most exciting variety of products, educate them on innovative styling techniques, and create a welcoming and inspiring shopping environment!
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
KA: It means waking up feeling inspired (maybe not every single day) but at least 90% of the time. Doing something you love naturally gives you that jolt out of bed because you have a million things you actually really want to do to grow your business! My path was interesting. I worked in Real Estate for a while then came the crash of 2008. I embraced my International Politics degree and went into Government consulting. It was a great experience but it didn’t give me the inspiration I needed to make it a life long career. The creative side in me was slowly dying and I needed a change. In 2012 the opportunity to purchase She’s Unique came on the market and I jumped on it without thinking it twice. It wasn’t easy but it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
KA: After my immediate family and closest friends I have to say that it was Marshall Johnson of ANTHOM. He had experience with starting his own businesses in the past and I confided in him when the opportunity came up. I was a bit intimidated but he made me feel so comfortable about the whole process and offered to help along the way — and boy did he help along the way. He’s the person who pretty much helped me transform the old She’s Unique into what it is today. His interior design skills and business savvy is unparalleled. (DCF: So important to have great mentors and people that will help support you!! Yay Marshall!)
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
KA: I feel like every step I have taken has led me to this path but I have to say that starting Spicy Candy DC with Carla was one of those majorly defining moments. When I decided to purchase She’s Unique I knew exactly the vision I had in mind. Minimalistic, trend forward, inspiring, cool. These were not the usual adjectives that described a business in Old Town Alexandria but I said “what the heck, why not do something I truly love and let’s hope everyone loves it as much as I do”. The vision was easy to achieve because I was on the forefront of the fashion trends thanks to everything blogging taught me along the way. It was a very natural transition.
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
KA: Pinterest, favorite style blogs, Instagram, my friends, and everything in between.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
KA: It’s being able to disconnect from the shop once in a while and having time for myself and my social life + my other passions like Spicy Candy DC and travel. Being 100% submerged in the business can also leave you feeling overwhelmed and uninspired. It’s important to take that step back once in a while.
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
KA: A good salary and great benefits. As a small business owner I had to take a major pay cut in order to invest as much as possible right back into the business. The other big sacrifice has been social life on weekends and holidays. Retail is tough for anyone but I have a vision and even these sacrifices no longer feel like sacrifices, they feel like investments and that’s a whole lot better! (DCF: Such a great way to think about it!)
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
KA: I can’t say that I have struggles as a woman in my industry to be honest. My customers are amazing + I am part of the Old Town Boutique District where I get to learn from other amazing small business owners.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
KA: “Don’t try to do too much at once. Take it one day and one project at a time. ” These were my mother’s wise words of advice. (DCF: Yasss momma!) Often times I overwhelm myself trying to accomplish everything at once, but it’s important to scale back and approach everything with a clear plan of action.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
KA: Thankfully I can’t say that I have a great failure but sometimes I tend to ignore some aspects of my personal life and put my personal needs on the back burner. For example, dating as a small business owner who works evenings and weekends has proven to be a total failure 😉
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
KA: After we completely transformed the shop with new cases, shelves, decor, and our new designers were really interested in being part of our vision. The media started to write about us and the events we were hosting were really successful. Also, it’s really nice to hear people compliment every aspect of the shop on a daily basis. It’s a really special feeling.
DCF: So what’s next??
KA: Our WEBSITE! It’s been four years in the making (or not making) but we’re finally on it. We’re working with our dear friend Lacey of A Lacey Perspective and Ronzio Digital so stay tuned. There will also be a fun party to celebrate the launch!