We love to feature some of the expatriates in Miami who are members of EuroCircle. This month you meet Ana Bozovic, a Serbian/European entrepreneur in Miami. Do you know other Serbians in Miami?
What’s your name, from what country are you from and when did you come to Miami??
My name is Ana Bozovic, and I am originally from Belgrade, Serbia. I have been here in Miami for the past eight months, and arrived at the end of a multi-year international journey. In the last five years, I have lived in six different countries.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
My story starts in Belgrade and quickly turns to NYC. At three years old I moved to NYC, and I lived there most of my life. About five years ago my husband and I embarked upon a journey and have lived in Panama, Switzerland, Serbia, the Ukraine, Canada, and of course the USA.
The exposure I have had to different countries and cultures has been a defining force in my development as an entrepreneur. Seeing how other people live and do things gives you invaluable perspective: your eyes are opened to different and perhaps better ways of doing things. You start being able to identify inefficiencies in your home country that could be improved by what works in other countries.
Is your latest venture, lazooli.com, an example of an internationally inspired idea?
Lazooli.com is a perfect example of a business directly inspired by exposure to different cultures! A strong inspiration for the site was seeing how jewelers based in Asia sell gold jewelry. I was shocked to see unique pieces being sold at prices directly linked to underlying gold weight and value. Prices were much lower, and most of the money was paying for the actual gold! I learned from my Asian friends that this is how they buy gold jewelry in Asia: based upon actual, lasting gold value.
So you saw a method, a way of selling gold jewelry, that could be brought from Asian culture into western culture?
Exactly! In America, and the entire Western world today, gold jewelry is sold like disposable fashion. The prices in the stores are all high retail markups that have absolutely no relation to the underlying gold value of the jewelry. We all know that when you buy a dress, most of the value is lost the second you put it on. Well, most people here don’t know that gold jewelry is sold the same way. Typical retail markups for gold jewelry are 300-600%. Even classic pieces with no unique design components, like hoop earrings and wedding bands, are sold this way.
Throughout history gold jewelry has been the perfect glamorous investment for women: beauty plus value. The way that it is sold today in the USA is a historic anomaly, and perhaps a reflection of the current consumerist culture.
My new site, lazooli.com, is trying to change this. We sell 18K jewelry at prices directly linked to the gold price. The site updates the price every hour, and for each piece you see exactly how much gold you are getting. We have the best prices, per gram of gold, of any western jeweler, including online shops.
What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?
The biggest struggle for me has been not getting to too personally attached to ideas. You don’t want to get so emotionally invested in an idea that you refuse to see when it needs to pivot or simply be put aside. It is very important to realize that even if an idea is not working out, it may serve to lead you to something better. As long as you are learning you are moving forward. Now this is all easier said than done, because after putting a lot of work into something, the last thing you want to do is walk away!
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
I have three pieces of advice: One, surround yourself with the best people you can find. And two, share and collaborate as much as you can with those people. No ideas are born in a vacuum and we all pick up on the energy around us. And please do not be scared of anyone stealing your ideas. Ideas by themselves are rather worthless, it is execution that is key. So surround yourself with the smartest, most interesting entrepreneurially minded people you know, and create an open environment in which you call can share your ideas.
The third piece of advice is to help other entrepreneurs. Help others make connections, and not only will it feel good, but your value in the network will increase and the good deed will come back to you.
You are a big believer in physical fitness, do you find it helps you with your work-life balance?
Absolutely! Fitness is really key to keeping a healthy mind and a healthy balance. A reporter once asked Richard Branson how he, the reporter, could be more productive. Branson replied, “work out.” Exercise literally fuels the mind, improves brain chemistry, and keeps your body healthy. There is no better way to get a boost of energy and happy chemicals! I actually lead a workout group here for friends in South Beach, and my business partners work out with me as well. I can easily see what a positive effect it has on my friends’ moods, energy levels, and health. So my advice: when you feel most busy and disbalanced in life, this is when you need a good workout 🙂
Have you had much experience with EuroCircle?
I first found EuroCircle in NYC about six years ago. I went to some events, but shortly thereafter I left the USA and embarked upon my five year journey. Now that I am back in the states and in Miami, I am hoping to be a part of the EuroCircle community here! I am a huge fan of EuroCircle and the concept behind it. I hope to be able to contribute to growing the community here in Miami.
Who is the cat in your picture?
The cat is Maca (pronounced “Matzah”). She is from Belgrade, Serbia. She was born on the same street that I lived on as a baby, and we have had her since she was two months old. On a visit to Belgrade six years ago, she approached us on the street, and next thing you know, we took her to NYC. She has been with us for the whole journey. Racking up her frequent flyer miles, in her life she has been to the USA, Panama, Switzerland, Serbia, the Ukraine, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Canada, Italy & France. She is an intrepid traveler, loves new places, new foods, new languages, and new people 🙂 She is never phased by travel, and each new place is immediately her realm. She makes each new home feel like “home” and I personally like having another girl from Belgrade along with me 🙂