NAPW Career Spotlight casts a spotlight on one of our members as she offers insights into her life and professional career.
NAPW Member Anuja Tolia is the founder and CEO of Anuja Tolia LLC, a jewelry company specializing in sterling silver and 22-carat gold-plated jewelry with semi-precious stones. The New Yorker launched her company in June 2010 after studying at Studio Art Center International in Florence, Italy. Her educational background also includes a degree in Merchandising Management from Michigan State University and a distinction in Fashion Design from The Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Anuja and some of the designs from her jewelry line, Anuja Tolia
Inspiration and Influences
Anuja had always been passionate about fashion, but discovered that creating jewelry excited her most. She enjoyed creating statement pieces that put the finishing touch on an amazing outfit and decided to turn her passion into a business.
While living in Florence, Anuja fell in love with the architecture and artwork in the city, which has had a strong influence on her designs. Her travels around Europe, including Rome and Greece, have also played a role in influencing her creations. In particular, she was captivated by the old-world art, including scrolls, inscriptions, and the detailed works chiseled by hand on city cobblestones.
The Biggest Challenge as an Entrepreneur
Being CEO of her own company requires Anuja to perform many roles at once, from PR to merchandising. She has discovered that when wearing so many different hats, it’s often difficult to be great at everything. Instead there’s a balancing act that requires skillful multi-tasking.
The most difficult role for Anuja has been finding investors. She was quick to point out that none of the roles are easy, but networking has been the least difficult for her.
Shoppers at an Anuja Tolia shopping event
Living and Learning
While she fortunately has no major blunders to recount, Anuja admits that being a business owner has been an ongoing learning process. One of her biggest discoveries was learning the importance of determining her niche and narrowing down her target market. Clients’ preferences vary widely depending on factors like age and income, and defining the jewelry line’s niche, Anuja says, is something she expects to take years.
For now, she’s focusing on designs that appeal to a broad market, offering a wide range of jewelry at different price points and designs that appeal to a variety of tastes.
Anuja’s Tips for Women Who Want to Start a Jewelry Line
“Don’t!” Anuja joked. Starting a jewelry line, or any business for that matter, is very hard work, but it’s also very rewarding. Anuja suggests that aspiring jewelers identify and secure investors before getting started. This way you can put all of your energy into running and growing the business rather than seeking investors.
Knowing the ins and outs of the jewelry-making process is also a must, according to Anuja. The production process can be very complicated and requires forethought and planning. She can’t imagine how a jewelry designer diving in without the proper knowledge would survive.
Networking for Success
Networking has opened many doors for Anuja. In addition to meeting clients, she’s met contacts that have helped her secure media coverage—the time when Paula Abdul wore one of rings during an appearance on Live! With Regis & Kelly, and the other time when her jewelry was featured in InStyle magazine were both results of successful networking.
Anuja noted that many people don’t take advantage of networking enough and feels that it is often underestimated. However, she asserts that the benefits of networking can be huge and suggests going to as many conferences and events as possible.
When it’s time to unwind with a good book, Anuja likes nothing more than a light-hearted, humorous read. One of her favorites is Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres.
Connect with Anuja at on Twitter @AnujaTolia and www.AnujaTolia.com