Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Giovanna Rusin, Owner of Otaku Shop NJ, located in Newark, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Otaku Shop NJ is an online based store. We currently have a pop-up store in a brick-and-mortar in Newark, NJ. We sell manga and officially licensed anime merchandise ranging from keychains to figurines. Our customers are any individual who loves anime and/or manga. We see a wide range of ages and individuals. Lately, at our pop-up, we have been seeing many college students and families.
Tell us about yourself
I am 28 years old, turning 29 in January. I am a BIPOC woman. I have two degrees. One is a Bachelor's in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the other is a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. I was a nurse prior. Anime, in particular, has always been around for me. As it started with Pokémon and Sailor Moon when I was younger, evolving to Naruto, and then everything else that is now out. I read a few chapters of manga every day still. Basically, I was brought to exhaustion from my job, working as a nurse throughout the pandemic. I had lost many loved ones in a year- the rest of my grandparents, people I knew, my patients, and ultimately my boyfriend also passed, all for various reasons.
When I think about why I started the business, a few memories come to mind. The support from that boyfriend to start my own shop (a dream I already had), my best friend who sat next to me at my lowest, who said I should just do what I wanted to do instead and quit my current job, which was only adding to my stress. And, of course, my mother, who had already been running a small business almost my whole life. I saw a lot of stress from her, but what I remember the most was how hardworking and determined she was with it. I took a few days off during that time and started rewatching Naruto. I thought about it all, and when I went back, I turned in my two weeks' notice. I used the money I had saved up and started the business. I knew immediately I wanted it to be involved in anime and manga. The lessons taught to me from it have changed who I am for the better. It gave me strength when I needed it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is opening up my current pop-up store. Otaku Shop NJ only started over a year ago, but it has already grown a lot. The customers that come in, full of surprise and excitement, always make it worth it. As well as compliments from others.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Honestly, the beginning of slowly getting the knowledge and understanding the logistics of it was the hardest part. Taxation is always a huge headache as well.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- If you are determined to do it and willing to give it your all, then do it.
- Start looking up information now because there is a lot to learn.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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