Editor ANASTASIA HILL
Photography ANDREY BEZUGLOV, ANNA MARINENKO & ANNA GOLTSBERG
View in FANIQUE Magazine ISSUE 4 HERE
Most people may not be familiar with the name Ohhio but a majority of the Instagram junkies must have seen their insanely popular signature product, the chunky arm-knitting blankets, and scarves. The creative leader behind Ohhio is a sophisticatedly beautiful-looking Ukraine-based artist entrepreneur Anna Marinenko (as known as Anna Mo) who has now been busy building her team for her fast-growing e-business. “Don’t be afraid to fail,” says Anna Mo after she has opened five experimental online stores and then Ohhio, one of those e-stores, succeed.
FANIQUE: What makes Ohhio (www.ohhio.me) innovative?
Anna Mo: New look at well-known things through combining modern designs with traditional techniques.
FANIQUE: What was the original inspiration for the creation of super chunky hand-knit idea?
Anna Mo: Looking for new ideas, solutions, and shapes are my inspiration. Knitting is the only one thing that is close to me because of my mother [who is] a knitter. I was looking for new yarns for her and one day I discovered merino wool. It [merino wool] was surprisingly thick, and there was no needle to handle it. And I decided to try to knit with my arms instead of needles. When you understand knitting techniques deeply, you can knit with any two sticks.
FANIQUE: What is your business background and what got you interested in this business?
Anna Mo: For the last nine years, I’ve been living in Kyiv, Ukraine. I studied design and freelanced for 6 years (2009 -2015) as a 3D artist, architecture visualizator, interior designer, photographer, graphic designer, and interior designer. Product design and digital art used to be my “non-profit” hobbies. You can find my works at www.behance.net/impressive.
My mother is a good knitter. In 2014, she asked me to help her with searching clients on the Internet. So I did some research and found the website, Etsy. I took some shots of her works and created a small shop named Idea To Box. That’s how I began my first e-commerce business experience. Soon I realized that my talents in product design should not only be a hobby- Instead, I could design, create, and sell things to the world by myself without putting a big investment. So I created 5 more shops on Etsy in a very short period of time, and one of them was Ohhio.
FANIQUE: We notice that you’re currently launching a new project on Kickstarter, can you tell us more about it?
Anna Mo: We launched a project on Kickstarter in 2015 and it was successfully funded, but we had to deal with a lot of challenges to fulfill our obligations. It was a new and cool experience. I highly recommend entrepreneurs to try it out [Kickstarter], because it’s a great challenge.
FANIQUE: What is your focused market and how do you plan to grow through e-commerce or any other strategies?
Anna Mo: I plan to continue growing the business through e-commerce by expanding our products lines. Our main markets are United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan and Australia.
FANIQUE: As we know that, Ohhio has gained a lot of exposure and popularity on the Internet, in particular on Instagram, and constantly attracts customers to your online store. How did you initially plan for that?
Anna Mo: There was no plan. We started from Etsy shops. It was all about experimenting many “experiments” [Etsy shops]. Ohhio is the successful one. Our strategy is to continue learning, experimenting, and listening to intuition. Soon we will launch a new version of our website ohhio.me.
FANIQUE: What has been your greatest achievement so far to you?
Anna Mo: I think my biggest achievement is yet to come. But seriously, maybe it’s more about trying something new, experimenting, and putting myself in new environments that I’m not experienced in.
FANIQUE: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup founder and how did you handle that?
Anna Mo: The biggest challenge for me is to build a team of like-minded people, and I’m still working on it.
FANIQUE: E-commerce now becomes very competitive, how does Ohhio stand out against its competitors?
Anna Mo: I guess the secret is in my multidisciplinary design experience and diligence. I just cannot find other explanation.
FANIQUE: What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting up Ohhio?
Anna Mo: Don’t be afraid to fail.
FANIQUE: Use three adjective words or one sentence to define Ohhio.
Anna Mo: Eye-catching, innovative, and honest.
FANIQUE: How do you unwind and handle the pressure of being a startup founder?
Anna Mo: Unfortunately I don’t handle pressure very well, but I’m trying to take a trip every month or two to switch my mind.
FANIQUE: What is your must-read book, website or magazine for entrepreneurs?
Anna Mo: Purple Cow by Seth Godin.
FANIQUE: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself throughout all this (business)? (asked by last Business Innovator Interviewee Kyle and Kayley, co-founders of Wear Your Label, www.wearyourlabel.com)
Anna Mo: AMy state of mind is a freelancer, and I’m surprised that I can also work at the office.
FANIQUE: How do you define FANIQUE?
Anna Mo: FANIQUE is a place of inspiring stories and beautiful visual contents.