November 27, 2023
Meet Anna Zmiievska, the heart and soul behind Anzy Home, as she shares her experience of turning passion into a thriving business. From the discovery of chunky cotton yarn in 2016 to crafting beautiful home decor, Anzy Home's story is rooted in family resilience during the conflict in Ukraine. Juggling motherhood and business brought its challenges, especially with the added complexity of war. Yet, amidst the hurdles, Anna finds joy in reaching new goals and cherishes positive feedback from both customers and the talented women artisans on her team. Pivotal moments, like introducing Baby Moses baskets, fueled Anzy’s impressive growth. Anna's commitment to continuous learning and supporting fellow entrepreneurs shines through, making Anzy Home a beacon of warmth and inspiration. Their headline? "Ukrainian women's business crosses borders, capturing hearts worldwide."
Anzy Home is participating in the sponsored WMarketplace Accelerator this month and we are thrilled they have joined our community.
I've always been fascinated by home styling and decoration and realized that with this new, “t-shirt yarn”, we can create beautiful and cozy home decor, like rugs, poufs, and storage baskets.
Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?
My parents, who are originally from Horlivka in Donetsk region (East of Ukraine), lost their work and fled to Kharkiv in 2014 after the conflict with Russia started. I was living there with my husband and having no work because she was in a new place, my mom restarted her life-long hobby of knitting and crocheting, exploring new materials and techniques. In 2016 we discovered a chunky thick cotton yarn and fell in love with it. I've always been fascinated by home styling and decoration and realized that with this new, “t-shirt yarn”, we can create beautiful and cozy home decor, like rugs, poufs, and storage baskets.
I decided to support mom's hobby and started promoting her crafts on Social Media. We got a lot of interest and started to make the items to order. Eventually my mom taught me to knit and crochet and I helped her with the orders. But I had a permanent job and not a lot of time until 2019, when my I had my daughter and started my maternity leave. I put all my efforts into the development of this venture and the Anzy Home brand was created.
How did you hear about The WMarketplace?
During the Webinar "Supporting Ukrainian Women Entrepreneurs through Trade”
What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?
When I started Anzy Home I did not have any experience in business. I am excited to develop as an entrepreneur together with my brand's development. I have taken several different types of training, focused on business, marketing, financing, etc. I still know that I don’t have enough knowledge in specific areas of business. But if I had known everything I know now, when I started, I think the brand would have developed so much faster.
Why did you decide to join The WMarketplace?
Because we are targeted on the US market, having the most demand from US-based customers. Also our positioning and values are aligned with the ones of the WMarketplace.
What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?
The most challenging is the lack of time. I am a mother of 2 daughters, 4.5 and 2 years old. So throughout my entrepreneurial journey I have been trying to balance between motherhood and running my business. Another challenge emerged when the war in Ukraine started. We had to flee from our home city, and relocate the manufacturing to another location. Since 2022, I have been running the business remotely, as my younger daughter was 4 months old in February 2022, and the older one was 2.5 years old, and for safety reasons my family decided to move to the West of Ukraine. I have so much gratitude for the team who manages to keep operations on site during this difficult time. I am getting used to remote work, with my key responsibility now being strategic development and fundraising for business. But I really miss the manufacturing very much: the processes, the girls, and I'm very happy when I manage to visit them.
What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning your own business?
The most exciting thing is achieving new goals all the time. The most rewarding thing is to get positive feedback from the customers (regarding the quality of the products) and from our team, especially the women artisans working with us, who are able to work doing what they love most.
Can you identify a moment in your business that was pivotal in your success? Have you had an “AHA!” moment(s)?
I think that the pivotal moment was the development and introduction of the Baby Moses baskets and the newborn product line. It gave us very fast growth in foreign markets. Also the development of a brand identity was pivotal to initiate real growth.
The most challenging [thing about getting my business up and running] is the lack of time. I am a mother of 2 daughters, 4.5 and 2 years old. So throughout my entrepreneurial journey I have been trying to balance between motherhood and running my business. Another challenge emerged when the war in Ukraine started. We had to flee from our home city, and relocate the manufacturing to another location.
How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?
Formally, I started the business in 2019. Informally, I started to sell what my mom made in 2016, but until 2019 I did not have an office or administrative staff, and did everything by myself with the help of family members.
Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?
We had mentorship experience in 2 programs in Ukraine that we participated in. They weren’t particularly successful as they weren’t committed enough to our business. I was recently asked to be a mentor for other Ukrainian women entrepreneurs who want to start exporting their products. I just need to find the time!
What communities have been important for you as you grew/developed your business?
I am a member of a women entrepreneurs community in Ukraine, an exporting businesses community, and an Etsy sellers of Ukraine community. All chats and groups of these communities usually are very mutually helpful, to find answers to questions, or get some recommendations.
Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?
Unfortunately after the war in Ukraine started, I had to leave my home, and never went back. During the last almost 2 years I haven’t had a consistent place to live and we are often having to move with my family. My laptop screen saver and phone screen photo are the only ones I can use all the time for inspiration. They both feature a photo of me with my daughters at the photo shoot decorated with Anzy Home's doll Moses baskets - so the combination of the 2 most important parts of my life: motherhood and business.
Do you have any advice for other women who are getting started in business?
To learn all the time. To pay attention to other inspirational and successful businesses. Never be afraid to take a step forward.
If a journalist were to write a headline about you/your business, what would it be?
“Ukrainian women's business erases borders and wins the hearts of conscious consumers around the world.”
Are there any apps or business services that you just can’t live without that you would like to give a shout-out to?
Shopify, CRM systems, Google
Is there a non-profit or other social/mission-oriented business that your business supports? Can you tell us about this?
We are a social-oriented business, with a mission to support Ukrainian women of different ages and social positions by creating meaningful and fairly-paid jobs. Also I am one of the founders of the NGO "TradewithUA" whose mission is to unite Ukrainian craft manufacturers to start or expand the export of their products.
Thank you, Anna for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!
SHOP anzy home
Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit ThWMarketplace provides to sellers.