Monika Anush, Founder and CEO of the newly launched LeZazzu.Shop unhesitatingly answered when asked about one thing she has never feared. “I’ve never been afraid to speak up, stand up for others or take a stand. ”
Anush left a 17-year career in the healthcare industry (most recently as Regional VP for Theradynamics Rehab Management in New York) to launch a new venture in fashion. She is bringing the visions of the East to a whole new audience of shoppers through the stories of LeZazzu.Shop’s designers and the inspiration behind their lines.
Nicole V. Cramer: Tell me about your biggest deciding factor in leaving the healthcare industry for the world of fashion.
Monika Anush: I soft launched my business on January 18th, 2018, which is also the birthday of one of my dogs, Zazzu, who we lost a year ago. The name Zazzu was derived from the Hebrew word Zazu, meaning movement…and yes, it also just happened to be the name of my Fox Terrier.
I launched the business because I had a mid-life realization. I had worked hard to climb the corporate ladder in the healthcare industry – I was the youngest regional director in my company with over a hundred people reporting to me. But, I looked down and realized I had been climbing the wrong ladder.
I also felt like I needed to make a difference in the world to feel alive. The healthcare industry has taken a lot of decision-making power away from doctors, therapists and caregivers and given it to insurance companies. As a healthcare executive, I was beginning to feel stifled with the restrictions on how I could assist my clients and felt I could do more for the world in another way. I believed that I could bring a difference to the world through fashion in a better way than in healthcare – especially as an outsider.
Cramer: How do you define fear?
Anush: Fear is usually seen as a negative, but it can also provide the opportunity to bring about the most positive changes in your life.
I fear not being in control. With this new venture, I stepped away from that and purposely put myself in a position of uncertainty. Overcoming it was a fabulous experience. I highly recommend it to everyone – whether it’s overcoming a small fear or a big one. Wake up every morning and seize the day!
Cramer: How do you define success?
Anush: Success is overcoming every little curve ball that comes at you. There is a solution to every problem; you just have to think it through, figure it out and move on to the next one. I am a very rational, positive person and I’m all about fixing it! Like most of us, I do have moments when I am absolutely freaking out. At such times, I’m blessed that I have tremendous support from my family, who help me stay positive and focused.
Cramer: What fears did you face during the process of starting your own business?
Anush: I can talk about the fear of walking away from paychecks, routine, and all those things that I had gotten used to for 17 years in the healthcare profession – but the biggest fear was the fear of regret. The fear that if I did not do this now, I would regret it for the rest of my life – and I absolutely had to overcome it!
Cramer: What specific tactics did you use to move beyond this fear?
Anush: As an Indian housewife, my mom single-handedly raised me after the death of my father to be a confident, opinionated woman. I approach every obstacle as a temporary disruption, always think of my final goal, and refuse to lose perspective.
Runvijay Paul, Boa Campbell and Lakme Fashion Week
A first look at LeZazzu.Shop and a sample of its designers with photos from Lakme Fashion Week.
Cramer: How did your fears change between leaving your job and starting your business?
Anush: I had come up with the concept for Zazzu in March of 2017. I shared it with a friend from the fashion industry and about 15 emerging designers a month later. The response from all of them was so overwhelmingly positive that the previous sense of fear changed to a sense of empowerment. For the first time in my life, it was empowering to know that it was ok not to know everything. I was able to be a sponge, absorbing all the new information as it came my way. Five months later when I quit my job, I was filled with more excitement than fear.
Cramer: What was the biggest surprise in moving from employee to entrepreneur?
Anush: I was surprised how much being an employee had prepared me to be an entrepreneur. Every decision I made in my career taught me something about dealing with my business. Running a business comes down to the bigger picture being executed in little details and I already knew how to deal with those details.
Cramer: You’re quoted as saying the best advice you ever received was “get a life” — how have you put this advice into practice?
Anush: After moving to the US, I initially had to stay home while working on securing my healthcare credentials. My husband would be busy at work and I was bored, lonely and getting a bit chubby due to inactivity (and a Haagen-Dazs rich diet). I was rather miserable. Luckily, my husband sat me down and told me to “get a life”. He encouraged me to go back to school while the credentials were being processed, so that I got out of the house, met new people and saw new places. It was one of the best decisions of my life to enroll at New York University (NYU) for an advanced Masters’ degree in Pathokinesiology. I graduated with honors and got my Physical Therapy license all at the same time.
Now I always “get a life” – whether it’s learning to ski in my late thirties or recently starting to play the piano.
Cramer: What advice do you give to the designers who work with LeZazzu?
Anush: I tell the designers I work with to go all out with their vision. All the designers we currently feature on LeZazzu.Shop have one thing in common – They bring a fresh vision and color to the world. They have all been limiting their color to serve their local market demands. LeZazzu.shop provides them with an outlet where they are able to explore fabrics, silhouettes and aesthetics that let them be who they envision.
Cramer: Do you have a motto, phrase or verbal boost that you say to yourself to keep going?
Anush: I have always lived by the adage “Tough times don’t last, tough people do”.