Author: Наталья Самойлова
28 Feb. 2019


When you do not know what you are capable of, and you are not confident in your abilities, all that remains is to dream of doing something and hope for luck. However, there is another way – just to think things through, to believe in oneself and sign a long-term agreement with luck. The last option, most likely, was chosen by Ania and Nastia, when they decided to conquer quite a saturated Ukrainian market of women's clothing. Apparently, it is dogged as does it! Or other words saying - right place, right time! But, how it goes in reality? In order not to think out the formula of success, Million decided to ask Anna Kovalenko and Anastasia Dziuba, the founders of MustHave, where the secrets of successful ones are hidden, and which of them will become a real treasure.

How do you think, people are born businessmen or anyone can be a businessman?

Anna: The main thing is the inner desire of a person. All other necessary skills, to include organizational, anyone can developed in oneself. But in fact, not everyone dreams of becoming a businessman. Moreover, there are people who are comfortable working in a large global company, developing and quickly climbing up the career ladder. Such people always follow the plans someone gives them. But, businessmen are the locomotive that leads all the rest.

Anastasia: I believe that the key point here is education! If a person has been told since childhood what to do, where to go, whom to communicate with, and if there was someone who always directed such child, then he is unlikely to grow up as a businessman. After all, business it is a complete freedom and responsibility. If a person in childhood was given this freedom, given the opportunity to make mistakes, then it would be easier for him to become a businessman. However, even if there was nothing of that, you shouldn’t put a cross on oneself. You just need to work harder on yourself and keep developing. And, most important is to keep trying! After all, you’ll decide whether doing business is yours or not.

Confirm or add the following words chain: idea – investments – hard work.

Anastasia: This chain lacks the most important thing that is to decide and start! A person can live all his life with an idea, die and never try it. Investments may not come. A person will buy flour and start baking buns at home and sell them. This is already business and a small start. The main thing is to decide, set deadlines and fulfil  tasks on time. For many people investments  are just an excuse, like: “I have no money, so I cannot start. It's all nonsense!” After all, there is a bank; there are start-up programs, companies that are ready to invest money, friends and acquaintances. There are always opportunities if a person is looking for them!

Anna: We do not believe in hard work, since in business it goes without saying. You cannot create business in order to work a little, or start it with the thought “I am tired of 9.00 to 18.00 work, something needs to be changed.” All this is a myth that needs to be debunked. We began to work many times more! When you are a hired employee, after work your head “turns off”. And when you have your own business, this never happens. You have a huge responsibility and you  always keep up with it.

What three advises would you like to give to entrepreneurs, who decided to start their own business? If you were given these advises at the beginning, would you 100% do all easier, faster and effectively…

Anna: First of all do not be afraid of lack of knowledge. You can easily find everything you need on the Internet - from business registration issues to information on a business plan etc. You can also learn everything from your surroundings or go to the government agency and get an advice. Everything is there and available.

Anastasia: The second very important thing is to set deadlines and follow them strictly! We always set ourselves too little deadlines and constantly urged each other. From a business idea to the opening of the first store, exactly one month has passed. We had time to work on the idea, to figure out where to get money, determined what we would sell, quickly drew a collection that we had to sew and find place where to do that. And it took us a month to manage all that.

And the third advice is to start business only in the niche where you can be an expert on the part of the consumer. We, for example, have all MustHave clothing. We always wear what we sell and we are consumers of our products. This allows us to be experts in the niche we work in, which is also advantageous.

What event or decision was a settler in your business and, thereby, defined your vector of success? And vice versa: what in your job made you to go negative?

Anna: Any problem or unexpected event in the process of work should be treated as current issues that simply need to be resolved. Previously, we, of course, were not so calm and very worried if something went wrong. And now our employees say that we have become more cold-blooded. All this comes with experience. We started to treat all problems with a “cold” head - less emotion, more common sense.

Anastasia: There is a problem, there are alternatives to its solution, and there is a solution itself. There are no our emotions in all this process. Our employees may have them, but not we, because they are dressing on us. If we sit down and cry, how will 230 of our employees take it? (Laughs) We may cave in only at home or when stay together. In this case, problems just need to be calmly resolved.

How important is intuition in business?

Anna: The first 5 years of our work, we seem to have done everything instinctively (Smiles). Many important issues were resolved this way.

Anastasia: Then, thanks to the experience, we began to think, count, analyse and make appropriate decisions.

Share those “magic” figures. How much was invested at the beginning? Where did you channel money and when did you get them back? 

Anna: We are not talking about building a large company. We have no such experience. We started our business with 4 thousand US dollars, so as not to risk big money. We invested that amount so that to be able to get it back doing other job in case of failure. This money was enough for us to pick up a small capsule collection in one size range and to open a store in Berdychiv. And then we constantly reinvested. It happened that we borrowed money from our inner circle for a week or a month.

Anastasia: The first year and a half, we continued to work on our jobs. We kept investing certain amounts out of our salaries. And only two years later, we realized that it was impossible to develop MustHave remotely, and decided to open a showroom in Kiev at the expense of the working capital. Then it became clear that MustHave could not support two of us. That is why Ania fired first and I followed her. It’s difficult to say when everything paid off since we reinvested all the time. We returned our 4 000 US dollars in about 2.5 years.

Do you manage to combine personal life and business? How does one affect the other?

Anna: Much depends on men. There are those who do not want a woman to work at all. It is good that we didn’t face such. In my case, both of us had and still have gloving eyes, because we are engaged in business, therefore, we understood each other from the very beginning. Still, we are constantly looking for a balance, we determined free time schedule. Sport is very helpful here.

Anastasia: Our men met us when we already had a MustHave, and they had to accept us for who we are. They simply had no choice (Smiles). I started to date with Dmytro and every weekend we went with Ania to Berdychiv to the production, to the store, and actually, I don’t know how he coped with all that (Laughs). Because on weekdays I worked at my main job, and on weekends I was engaged in MustHave. I spent very short periods of time for relationships. Now it is easy, maybe because we have no children yet. But we are ready for this. We'll have a baby room in our office soon. Most of our employees are young girls, and often with small children. And we decided to arrange such space for them, so that they could work and stay close to their babies.

Million always asks all our heroes to name 3 books that have changed their lives and thoughts to better…

Anna: It is always interesting to read about the experiences of other companies, the history of creation of such giants as Starbucks, IKEA and McDonald's. You can always find something useful in such books. The story of Starbucks struck me the most because the company’s employee believed in its success much more than its founder. As a result, the same employee bought the company and created a global network. Starbucks taught Americans to drink delicious coffee. Jack Mitchell's book “Hug Your Clients” is very light. It describes a very successful and effective experience used in the United States. This is a book about maximum care and loyalty to customers.

Anastasia: Tony Shay - “Delivering happiness. A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose” and Lee Cockerell - “Creating Magic. 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies.” When you read these books, you are very inspired and you begin to love and appreciate your employees even more. I really like HR. And these books are exactly about this.

Photo: Oleksandr Serbinov
Production: MilliON
Location: Space MUSTHAVE
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