While there’s no recipe for business success per se, some entrepreneurs seem to have figured out how to make their ideas a reality.
Anahit Grigoryan, class of 2016, who earned her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Woodbury University’s College of Liberal Arts, is an artificer, influencer, and entrepreneur. Her senior thesis led her to manifest her manuscript aka business plan for her first company, Grigoryan, a couture lifestyle brand. In the process of creating the personality of Grigoryan, Anahit launched creative design studio, GriPress Agency, followed by her latest endeavor, GriCakes, a custom all-occasion cakes, and pastries bakery. All this, just four years out of college.
After launching and operating the companies with her siblings, Anahit pursued yet another title – this one as an educator, with a focus on entrepreneurship and leadership, teaching Social Entrepreneurship, Business, and Marketing at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School—part of her dedication to helping Armenian youth in L.A. A conversation with Anahit follows.
I definitely have a strand of entrepreneurial DNA, I call it the disciplined nucleus of ambitions because entrepreneurship is a mindset that is built on skill sets. What’s fascinating about startups to me is the thought process of getting the idea and then developing it to the point where you see exactly what you had visualized from the beginning. The storytelling aspect is compelling because people take in information differently and with startups, you are literally creating your story from scratch and you tell it yourself since you have the freedom to do so. And that’s where I get excited to witness it all from start to finish.
Launching a couture lifestyle brand means quality and experience. You have to create and give the one of a kind experience to all of your clientele. Couture means it is specifically tailored to that individual, therefore you craft bespoke pieces for your clients. When you choose to be couture, it’s more about quality and craftsmanship than anything else. It’s forming relationships and brand loyalty with your clients, giving them that experience that they can’t get anywhere else and making sure the quality is as superb as it gets. For us, it has always been about the quality and craftsmanship for every piece we have ever made from samples to the final piece, and even our customs. We offer a broad spectrum of categories such as apparel, jewelry, accessories, home decor, and more with limited exclusive counts of each. It’s about creating a space to give the experience of customization, individuality, and longevity. I am the executive director, my sister is the creative director, and our brother is the finance director at Grigoryan. Since it is a lifestyle brand we always incorporate our own lifestyle and maintain the heritage of our family: the Grigoryan family has been crafting leather since the late 1930s in Yerevan, Armenia. We are the fourth generation of leather crafters.
Grigoryan is a versatile artisanal lifestyle brand. We concentrate on superb craftsmanship and on our legacy, fusing fine art, fashion and fine living. When we launched Grigoryan, we started looking for an agency to work with, but every agency we met with didn’t have the right energy for us. We decided to open our own creative design studio since we had the design and branding experience and wanted a tailored experience. We knew exactly what the brand had to look like and how we wanted it to make our clientele feel. We say this about the brand: Grigoryan is a reflection of the G trio influence; we created Grigoryan and introduced it to the world by embedding our visions, values, and philosophy. The brand carries our namesake, which reflects our lifestyle, ancestral heritage, and avant-garde concepts.
The passion and talent of the pastries are solely my mother’s. I am grateful to have such an incredible team (and family) behind me. Thanks to them, we have had a smooth transition since we started the business. I’m just the business brains in all of the family enterprises and value the creativity that they bring into all of the companies.
A few months ago, I started teaching social entrepreneurship, business, and marketing at the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School. I help them develop their leadership skills and walk them through producing an idea and then executing it as a socially conscious startup while enriching their entrepreneurial mindsets. I must say Woodbury inspired me to teach and I largely have to thank the incredible professors I had; they really did make an impact on my life.
I fell in love with the campus and the student-teacher ratio for each class. I loved the atmosphere and how personal the experience was tailored to the students when I first came in for a personal tour. The opportunities you can embark on while being there was limitless since we were so close to the Burbank/Hollywood studios and having so many resources to utilize while being there.
I transferred in as a Communications major and didn’t know what I wanted to do since my whole life up to that point I wanted to go to medical school. I had a change of heart and transferred to Woodbury instead of continuing with the medical field. That’s when I was introduced to Will McConnell, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts, and he gave me the opportunity to switch to interdisciplinary studies, where I picked my strongest subjects and carried out research for my thesis, the genesis of the business plan for the Grigoryan brand. It made sense to me to get the Interdisciplinary degree since it was research-based and it really made you think and process the key components of the subjects. It gave me the flexibility to view the skeletal end result and work backward to get where I wanted to be which is exactly where I am today.
In addition to McConnell, Wendy Bendoni, Chair of the Marketing and Fashion Marketing programs, and Jason Keller, who was the Interdisciplinary instructor and research mentor. All three of them mentored, influenced, inspired, and guided me through my Woodbury experience while I was juggling classes, research, internship, and a job. I couldn’t have done it without them, they were there for me through thick and thin and for that, I am forever grateful to have had them as mentors and to be able to call them friends now.
I just had my first decade of schooling and being a business owner come to an end. I am beyond excited to see what the universe has in store for this next decade of my life. I see myself being laser-focused on our companies, growing our teams and space while remaining sustainable and ethically in all of our companies, and opening up the brick-and-mortar location for Grigoryan, where the full Grigoryan Experience will be curated and catered to our clientele. I will definitely remain an educator since it has opened up new doors for my passion for giving and gaining knowledge. And starting a family of my own as it plays an important role in my life.