Startup Stories: Anna’s Friends

What a difference a dog makes! I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve lived in 11 cities and 3 countries. It usually takes about 6 months to settle in and stop wishing I was back where I came from. The first two months are crazy busy setting up a home, buying forks, putting together Ikea furniture, hooking up cable TV, getting the girls ready for school, and just figuring out how things work. But once things settle down I realize I’m lonely because I’ve been too busy to make friends.  Before I had children I would make new friends through work. Once I had children I made friends by hanging around at school drop off, after school activities and the occasional PTA meeting. Happily many of the other mothers became lifelong friends and they were typically very much like me. They had children my age, were socially and economically similar and spent their days doing similar things. Now that my girls are teenagers they no longer allow me to loiter around their school prowling for friends.  So after our latest move I got a dog. His name is Rudy. I like Rudy but I like what he’s done for my social life even more. Dogs are people attractors. You can’t lay in bed and feel sorry for yourself when you have a dog. If you do they will chew all your shoes and shit on your rug.  Dogs force you to have a routine, get outside and interact with people. On our walks around the neighborhood Rudy and I met all the locals. On one of our first tours I meet a woman who told me about a park where dogs can run blissfully off the lead.  It was there that I realized every type of person from all walks of life loves a dog. I also discovered the Tea Pavillion where dog owners sit with a coffee or tea, talk and watch their dogs run free. In many ways it’s the playground all over again.  Yes, there’s a lot of “dog” talk. But there’s a lot of “life” talk too. I’ve had some of the funniest and most interesting conversations of my life at the Tea Pavillion. I think that’s because the cast of characters is so varied and represent such a wide segment of society.  I have never been happier sooner in a new city. My new friends include a 60 year old fashion illustration director at St. Martins school of Design, a 27 year old who started her own PR firm at 24, a 37 year old massage therapist, and a 73 year old retired BBC news reader. When we meet for dinner or a movie we must seem an odd collection of women but we don’t care.  I have never laughed so hard, learned so much, made so welcome and felt so loved.  Thank you Rudy

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
ANNA’S FRIENDS is a business/service for WOMEN who travel and/or women who simply want to connect with woman who share similar interests and values.
Our website will be a place where members can chat, follow our blogs covering subjects related to fashion, travel, professional and personal networking, recipes for food from all over the globe, women’s issues, and female friendship. We will keep you current on what’s going on and how best to access and enjoy a new city or country.
We help you make the most of your travels by planning coffees, lunches, and days out with you and an ANNA’S FRIEND who lives locally.
You simply tell us where you’re going and we tell you about the female friends we have who live there. All of my FRIENDS are WOMEN who speak the local language and we match you up with a FRIEND who speaks yours.
Your new FRIEND will answer all your questions, help you discover the joys of a new city, provide you with her contact information for the duration of your stay, and just, well be a friend to you.
A portion of our proceeds for this service are donated to the WOMEN’S charities that ANNA’S FRIENDS support. Having fun, making friends, giving back.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
I believe that our female friendships have the power to change the world. I am 43 years old and have 2 teenage daughters. My husband and I have been married for 20 years and in that time we have lived in 3 countries and 8 cities. We have packed our bags and moved 11 times. When I’m not busy being a wife and mother I do the other things I love, which include reading almost anything, getting together with friends, persuing my passion for fashion (ie. shopping), napping, dancing, and laughing. Because I have been fortunate enough to travel to and live in many different cities and countries I am often asked by friends who are traveling if I “know anybody” in the city they are planning to visit. Happily, I often do, and this is exactly what I want to do for you. More often than not these friends of mine become friends of each other. I love that.
Now that I have the time and the energy I want to help women who might be my friends but for the poverty, abuse, and oppression they face everyday in the poorest parts of our world. In giving I find happiness. I am hoping you will too.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
As a member of ANNA’S FRIENDS no woman will ever have to experience a new city or country without the benefit of a local female friend. ANNA’S FRIENDS enables women from all over the world and from all walks of life to connect, meet, communicate, and share their life and travel experiences.
ANNA’S FRIENDS is essentially a not for profit business. After covering our cost all proceeds will be donated to the women’s charities AF supports which are Tostan, Fistula Foundation, Polaris Project, and VDay.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
My biggest challenge is my lack of knowledge about business. I have been a wife and mother for 25 years and aside from working at The Gap and as a waitress years ago I have no professional experience. My learning curve has been huge.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
I have just joined but I hope Project Eve will be a resource for information and advice about how to run a successful business and how to effectively address women’s issues through entrepreneurship.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Make a friend.



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