How This Savvy CEO Transformed Her Passion Into a Global Business
In most cases, your life's greatest passions are the ones you discover growing up. From art and science to sports and community service, the things that really speak to who you are at your core can also become the most satisfying of careers.
Sparked by her high school passion for social activism, Ann Wang, cofounder of Enrou, was searching for an easy way to draw large-scale attention to the causes close to her heart. She found the answer in something that unites women everywhere: a love of shopping. Now, this CEO is responsible for an online global marketplace that sells one-of-a-kind products from talented artisans around the world. Though still barely in her mid-20s, Ann has learned quite a bit from her world travels and is sharing her story and advice for young entrepreneurs ready to chase their dreams.
When you're building a successful company from the ground up, even the smallest of feats can feel like a major success. But in Ann's case, one of her proudest moments was topping the pack as a winner of the coveted Forbes 30 Under 30 competition, a title that landed her a life-changing investment of $400,000. "Before that, Jessica, my cofounder, and I were developing Enrou very slowly with only $5,000 of our own savings. Being first-time entrepreneurs and still students, we had a lot of questions and very few answers," she tells POPSUGAR.
It's undeniable that consumerism is at the heart of our world. And while many would suggest that our obsession with material items is a flaw, Ann chose to look at it from a different point of view, which created the foundation of her company. "Customers invest in makers, who are able to generate income, master skills, and support their families. We enable customers to make a positive impact in their everyday," she says. So next time you're on an online shopping binge, consider where your items are truly coming from. When you can make a change in someone else's life while indulging your online shopping addiction, how could you possibly say no?
Though she's sitting in one of her company's most important positions, Ann is committed to staying involved in every part of the business. This means visiting places like Guatemala and San Juan to meet artisans and see their work up close. Since so much traveling leaves her constantly touring the world's airports, she's become an expert at getting things done in transit.
Among her tips for fellow travelers? Beat the stress of a fast-paced setting by finding an environment that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. "A friendly face and positive energy is so refreshing," she says. And never underestimate access to the most crucial amenities — free WiFi and plugs for your devices can be game changers.
It's pretty clear that Ann did more than a few things right along the way to building a company she's proud to stand behind. Thankfully, she had sage words to share with young entrepreneurs looking to achieve success. First off, just knowing yourself well is a great place to start. She suggests asking yourself, "What are your weaknesses and strengths? What do you need to be working at max capacity?" Next, she advises learning how to ask smart questions to the right people. Be strategic, and it will get you far! Lastly, don't fear messing up here and there — especially in the early days; work out the kinks and learn from from. "Make as many mistakes as quickly as you can before the stakes are high."
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Click here to see more about Ann's journey to Guatemala and how she strives to bring her passion projects to new heights.