Helsinki – Anni – Singer & Producer

We love to feature some of the more interesting members in Helsinki. This month you meet ANNI (Mattila), she is Finnish and I ran into her at SXSW in March 2013 here in Austin, TX. She is now living in Helsinki but she lived in Boston for 1,5 years while studying at Berklee College of Music.

When and why did you start playing??

We had a piano at home of which I was really interested in ever since I could reach my fingers on the keys. My parents taught me some children’s songs and when I went to school I started piano lessons. I loved it, my first compositions and original songs started coming right away after starting the lessons.

Which instruments do you play?

My musical foundation is in playing piano.

Is your family musical??

My family has always been culturally active, though I’m the only one taking a professional career path. My older brothers played instruments, we read a lot of books, and we went to see art exhibitions quite often. The kind of “food for thought” aspect was somehow always there.

Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Obviously, there’s a lot of them. For different reasons. I admire jazz pianists like Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett for their virtuosity and eloquence. And on the other hand, different “pop” acts like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Common, Daft Punk… Anyone who’s able to create a whole imaginary world around his or her music amazes me. Also, I’ve got lot of friends and colleagues in the industry that I hugely admire because of their vision and perseverance.

Which famous musicians have you learned from?

I’ve studied a lot of Stevie Wonder’s songs, so I think part of my songwriting comes from there

What are your fondest musical memories?

As a kid, my mom used to accompany me with piano while I sang old Finnish movie tunes and jazzy evergreens. We did that a lot. And when my grandparents came to visit, I played piano together with my grandfather, who was a violinist. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was a nice, comfy way of being surrounded by music and your closed ones.

Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?

Recordings are the foundation of this craft. You have to listen to a lot of music to be able to play it yourself, or to write it. It’s the only way. I love music so much, and different genres. You might fall in love with one style or artist for a while, but you never really let go of the other stuff – it all just builds up.
If I have to name a few old records, I’ll give you three, though they might be quite obvious: Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. On top of that, I love bossa nova. I think it’s the Brazilian saudage that really connects with the Finnish melancholy – the beautiful melodies with sorrowful yet hopeful harmonies.

Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?

At the moment I’m really diggin The Robert Glasper Experiment and how they’re combining jazz with hip hop elements. Then again I love great songwriting and singing, so women like Kimbra and Luai really get me. It doesn’t even matter what genre it is, if the songs, the vocals and the production is good.

Have you been in competitions? Fleadh’s? Any prizes?

I haven’t been to any American Idol styled competitions, because I don’t believe in building a career like that. If I wanted to get my face on the TV, there would be other ways to do it. But I studied at Berklee College of Music with a scholarship, so I guess that counts as a prize!

Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions?

Yes, I love performing. I just finished a 3-week tour on the East Coast playing mostly in New York. I’ll be doing a live performance on a radio morning show in a month which is going to be very exciting.

How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

Mistakes are part of life – and performing. Actually I think it’s kind of fun, when something unexpected (i.e. “a mistake”) happens and then you can have fun with the whole situation. That also brings the audience closer, and builds an environment of trust, that I know what I’m doing, as an artist. Of course you have to master your instrument, your voice, your songs to be able to deliver the performance the best way possible, but it’s not about the little mistakes. In life in general, we shouldn’t count our mistakes, we should count our blessings.

Do you get nervous before a performance?

Yes, always.

What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?

It’s energy. If you’ve mastered your performance, turn the energy towards good. Think positive, enjoy the situation and be grateful of the possibility to perform.

How do you balance your music with other obligations?

Besides my career in music I’m studying world politics in the University of Helsinki. It’s a tough combination, yet extremely inspiring. Getting deeper into both, I see political science and artistry as the two ends of a single line: One is the extreme close up of an individual learning to connect with other individuals, the other is studying big systems trying to understand them as a whole.


Austin – Csilla Somogyi

We love to feature some of the expatriates in Austin who are members of EuroCircle. This month you meet Csilla, a Hungarian/European entrepreneur in Austin. Do you know other Hungarians in Austin?

What’s your name, from what country are you from and when did you come to Austin??

My name is Csilla Somogyi. I am from Hungary, lived in Algeria for 2 years, Mexico for 5 and NYC for 9. Love Austin, happy to have opened my boutique on Congress Avenue (between 5 7 6th) where as a fashion designer I make and sell all CsillaWear dresses and tops.

What does fashion mean to you?

Love to see women wear items that are out of the ordinary. That makes you look at her again. Happy to see fashionable women be interested in my unusual hand crafted dresses.

3. How would you define Austin’s fashion style vs NYC vs Hungary?

It is phenomenal to see Austin getting quite fashion forward. The weather lends itself to resort or summer dresses nearly year round.
NYC has first hand influence of international designers and it is the home of many established designers who have been in business for decades such as Oscar de la Renta, Narciso Rodriguez, Donna Karan.
All I can say is that I am glad I am not a fashion designer in Hungary. I don’t think beautiful materials are in such wide selection nor are the affluent clients seeking high fashion.

4. When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer and what was the first article of clothing you ever designed?

My friend in Mexico asked me to work in his boutique on the weekends when I was 15. I loved the styles he carried and I realized that with the little salary he gave me I could buy fabric and create fabu dresses myself. That summer I made a new dress almost every day by hand-stitching the seams – in lack of a sewing machine. My parents bought me a sewing machine 6 months later.

5.Describe the general process you go through to design and realize a piece of clothing.

Unlike other fashion houses I get inspired by fabric and can visualize a fabu silhouette that would fit the feminine and slimming curves of us girls.
A few times I year I travel to New York and Los Angeles to buy fabrics for the season. Then each print or handfeel/drape of the fabric inspires me to create a certain silhouette (many designers come up with silhouettes first and then they source the fabrics to match).
Then I create the paper patterns, cut the fabric and then sew the dresses together.
The advantage I have built in my local boutique is that I can test out the success of the new dress immediately. Some new dresses don’t even make it to the rack. Customers see it on my sewing table half finished, try it on and pay for it (then I finish the garment and mail it to them). That defines a best seller look.

6. What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?

My first phenomenal fashion show in Manhattan in 2008 with models from Ford and MC2 agencies, followed by a Bacardi Bombay Sapphire sponsored after party at Flute Champagne lounge. This put CsillaWear on the map for both clients, fans and the Bacardi brands.
The many sponsored events that followed through 2008, 2009 and 2010 by Cazadores and Corzo tequilas, 42 Below and Grey Goose vodka and Bombay Sapphire – all Bacardi brands.
The opening of my store in Tribeca, Manhattan across the street from the Bubble Lounge and the Ghost Buster’s fire station, up the street from Robert DeNiro’s residency as well as Uma Thurman’s.
The numerous fashion shows for the past 6 years both in Austin and NYC.
Finally the opening of my downtown Austin boutique on March 9th 2012.

7.Who are some of your favorite designers/ your favorite clothing stores/catalogs/websites??

Diane Von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, Bottega Veneta – for Spring and Fall New York, Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks’ Runway shows
Vogue and Women’s Wear Dialy

8. Where can readers buy your clothes/jewelry?

504 Congress Ave – Corner of 5th St and Congress – Austin

9. Where do you buy your fabrics and other sewing materials?

NYC and LA

10. What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?

Work your hardest, put in as many hours as you can, don’t let ANYONE discourage you, your best feedback will come from customers and most importantly keep your INTEGRITY; meaning that never go back on your word, on your offer of a lower price even if it kills you and deliver on time (or give heads up if you are running late).
Use your own money, be frugal, keep overhead at its lowest, ask friends for favors, listen to your gut always.

11. How would you define your personal style and the style your line exemplifies?

Beach, resort, feminine, sexy, vivacious

12. You are going to be be mom soon…how does that work your work? Are you scared…

I feel very lucky that I will be able to bring my newborn to work with me every day. This has also prompted to grow more aggressively my business and hire capable sales and sewing staff. I hope they like babies and diapers. 🙂

Just one more comment: I am happy to have the opportunity in my Austin boutique to feature local talent, people that make jewelry, accessories and handbags. I am impressed by their professionalism, creativity and success they receive from my clients buying their creations


Miami – Ana Bozovic

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,, an example of an internationally inspired idea? 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,, 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 🙂

Twitter personal: Ana_Global

Austin – Manja Hossa

We love to feature some of the members of EuroCircle. In February you “met” online the lovely chanteuse from Switzerland, SILVIE RIDER. This month you meet Manja Hossa, a European entrepreneur in Austin.

What’s your name, from what country are you from and when did you come to Austin??

Manja Hossa, I am from Slovenia and came to Austin in 2006

What do you do for a living?

I’m the founder and an esthetician at LePA Skincare – an authentic European day spa in Central Austin.

How would you describe what you do?

I my profession, I am lucky to be able to help change people’s lives. Specifically those with problematic skin. In the process I get to be their trusted friend – something that I am so grateful for!

What does your work entail?

Technical; complete skin care, hair removal, body treatments, anti-cellulite treatments, and make-up
Customer Service; take care of my clients in every way that I can; help them take care of their skin; help them feel their best.
Business; manage shop and LePA team.

What’s a typical work week like?

Owning own business is a 24/7 job – I breathe it, I live it, and I love it!

How did you get started?

I got started as a 13 yr old at my mom’s spa in Slovenia. Was lucky to look over her shoulder and learn the technical and customer-service side of the business at a young age. Since love brought me to Austin, I wanted to continue the family legacy in Austin as well so we opened LePA Skincare in 2008 (on my mother’s birthday).

What do you like about what you do?

truly enjoy the craft and the rewarding feeling of helping people.

What do you dislike?

Sometimes the commitment required to run a business weighs heavily on personal/social life.

Is it hard as a foreigner in this business to make it success in Austin?

No, being a foreigner in this particular industry is an advantage.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

In Europe, esthetics is regarded more of a clinical/medical industry than it is in the United States; we were required to attend a 4-yr technical school to be licensed.

How much time off do you get/take?

Once a year when I visit my beautiful country – Slovenia!
And the occasional three day weekend to go fishing with my husband 

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

– Most people in the States only go to the esthetician on special occasions – for a pampering facial. I have to spend a lot of time educating clients on how skin care can actually slow down the aging process and help ensure healthy skin.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

My goal is to become an educator – extend the work that I do now educating clients about proper skin care to educating skin care professionals so that they can help change people’s lives as well….

What else would you like people to know about your job/career and YOU?

I love modern dance and am part of a dance company.

By the way, how did you find out about EuroCircle and when did you join?

I’ve been looking for other people in Austin from my part of the world because I was homesick and stumbled across the Facebook page (last year). So happy that I did because I’ve met so many great people since then! and telephone 512.468.4614.
LePa Skin Care is located at 2520 Longview Street · Ste 314
Austin, Texas 78705.

Austin – Silvie Rider

As you all know, we love to feature some of the lovely members of EuroCircle. I love chansons, Edith Piaf, Billie Holliday….old raspy jazz that has that elusive smooth quality. That’s how I found Silvie – the lovely chanteuse.

Who are you and where are you from?

I am Silvie Rider-Young and I come here to Austin because of Love…I am Swiss

Tell us a little about your life in Austin?

Music, music and music….

How would you describe your music?

Dynamic, creative, lyrical and… passionate.

When did you first start signing?

very early….bubbling crying and singing..happily in my crib….

What did your family do to encourage you?

bringing the House Piano to us “chez nous” from my Grand Parents House…..

Who are your musical inspirations??

Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy,Jimi Hendrix, Thelonius Monk,John Coltraine,Billie Holiday,Edith Piaf,Charles Aznavour,Cole Porter,Nat King Cole,The Temptations…Beatles….many more

What kind of music do you listen to today?

above…depending the occation and time of the day-night.

What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?

workout music to Pilates classes.

Where would you most like to perform?

Carnegie Hall, New York City.

Who would you most like to open for?

Diane Krall…Leonard Cohen…Mick Jagger….

If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing – or ff you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be?

Playing the piano… rock/jazz fusion.

What genre of music can’t you stand to listen to?

Elevator music.

What do you like to do outside music??

Sports,Pilates,dancing,…reading, traveling, meeting with friends and hanging out, enjoying fine wine…

What do you need more in Austin personally?

huh…more cool places to perform with my Trio and connecting with international great intelligent people……

Where else can we find you? (Blog, website, twitter, facebook etc)?

New York – Zhanna Rohalska

Meet – Zhanna Rohalska who currently lives in Manhattan as an artist, linguist, teacher and model.

Where are you from?

was born in the Far East of Russia and grew up in Western Ukraine (L`viv region)

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a professional linguist, teacher, model and an artist. Art is my passion though I have discovered it for myself relatively not that long ago – around 5 years ago.

How long have you been an EC member?

I`ve been a member since July 2006

What’s your favorite piece of art that you have created?

I love this particular painting called “Cup” because it came out very spontaneously and effortlessly. However it radiates with the emotions that I have been experiencing at that time. The core theme is the conflict between a woman and a man and how sometimes love is mistaken for something else.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am mainly concentrating on big-size colored ink pen drawings at the moment. In particular, I am reworking a lot of Old Masters` paintings since I`m fascinated by the supremely balanced and graceful lines of their work that is often absent from contemporary works. I should admit that my reinterpretation of their themes does gain a certain angularity & awkwardness but that`s just how I do it. (: After making a drawing on the basis of a painting of one of the Masters, Girodet for example, I feel that I have touched the masterpiece and connected with a great source of lasting inspiration.

What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?

I would like to be more patient and understanding towards others. I would love to maintain an open childish gaze at this world and keep finding harmony in our existence, in spite of all daily tribulations facing us. I would not mind becoming famous one day as an artist but it is not a direct goal for me, it would be more of a side-effect of my creative activity.

What are you doing when you are not creating? What other hobbies do you have?

I love reading poetry (recently I reread a Russian poet Anna Akhmatova – she has wonderful lyrical poems that are punctured quite often with pain of unrequited love), philosophy; translating literary works; watching independent and older European cinema; meeting my friends.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I play NY lottery on a weekly basis (:.

Do you have any favorite blogs that you read?,

Where else do you sell your work?

online stores and art platforms such as Saatchi Online, art fairs in NYC

Where else can we find you? (Blog, website, twitter, facebook etc)?, FB page:,

What else should we know about you and your work?

I think we live in beautiful and at the same very conflicting times- a transitional phase where sustaining one`s individuality will become a core obligation of every conscious human being. In my art I explore my inner universe and at the same time reflect on the happenings around me.

Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?

Be always amazing and amazed! Nowadays people sometimes go from day to day without paying attention to the beautiful things surrounding them, deeply absorbed in mundane activities of earning money, making a career etc. You have to view this world as a daily miracle, which it is.

Do you admire any artists / photographers? (Famous or not!)

Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani.

What is your favorite:

Color: Yellow, blue
Animal: Dog
Season: Spring
Movie: Requiem for a Dream
Book: “Gadfly” by Ethel Lilian Voynich

Anything else you would like Eurocircle members to know about you?

I am happy to be able to share my thoughts on the role of creativity in life with you. I hope my artwork brightened up your day or made you look at things from a slightly different angle than before!

Chicago – Codrina Balan

Starting this month, we are introducing “EC member of the month” AND since our annual Valentine’s party is around the corner, Codrina will also be co-host Cupid…Male co-host coming up next…Thanks

Where are you from?

I am from Romania

When did you come to the US?

Came to the US as a child in 1986

How long have you been an EC member?

EC member since 2001

What do you do?

Consular Assistant at the Canadian Consulate

Since you’re our co-host Cupid, we have a lot of questions about love! What’s the most romantic city in the world?

Paris and also anywhere where you fall in love. The rosy glasses through which one sees the world will dress up everything in beautiful colors.

Best place to go to in Chicago for a first date?

I like Tocco for a first date 🙂

American men or European? Discuss.

I have more in common with European men but chemistry is chemistry and when one connects on the three levels of mind, body and soul, then it does not matter which country one is from. Differences in culture can enhance one’s life experience and your understanding of the world expands.

Which language do you consider to be the language of love?

Italian is the language of love.

Most important quality in a man is?

Since an individual is multidimensional or “a whole package” it is hard to pinpoint just one quality. I think that once there is mutual chemistry between two people, character is very important since it encompasses the mental and moral qualities of a person