Be authentic. People say this all the time but they say it because it is true. The world has so many people pretending to be someone they are not. If you want to succeed and resonate with people, they want to know who you are, not a cookie cutter version of someone else. So take the cliche advice and be yourself.
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Anya Zofia is.
Anya Zofia is the founder of Outfitz, a curated online boutique of vintage and pre-loved fashion. She is also a stylist and has appeared on national television as an expert on thrifted fashion, latest style trends and how to create an ecofriendly wardrobe.
Anya at the young age of 13 had a vision. A style for everyBODY. Unhappy with how people were portrayed and treated by the fashion industry, she set out on a mission to change perceptions, empower people with fashion and make a statement.
Early on she learned that the only way to achieve her vision was to believe in herself before others did. Her company Outfitz was born. Her business was launched during high school where she faced support but also speculation from her peers and adults. She was committed to seeing this business through as it grew into a thriving business for her now at the age of 20. Anya knows that not everyone will believe in you and have the same passion for your vision as you do. When people are negative about her business, she is reminded of the 14 year old with a purpose and how far she has come in addition to the many who have supported her on her journey.
And her journey is not over yet.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been pretty shy and reserved but I found I could express myself through fashion. It helped me feel more like myself, made days easier and to find joy in the little things. Fashion became a language in itself.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I came up with Outfitz in sixth grade. It was one of those ideas you get as a kid, plan out every detail but it felt like a dream. I remember rushing to tell my mom about it and she surprisingly encouraged me to pursue it. I never imagined ever doing it and it was just a dream. Ever since then my mom taught me about business and entrepreneurship and has inspired me and helped me to get where I am today.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started out I was selling on eBay. I had 2 orders to go out. Very far apart geographically. One going to China and one going to the U.S. One was a cutesy elegant dress the other was a goth dress with a spider web back. I packed beautifully and shipped them out. I actually got a great review on the first one in China. But the second one gave me a horrible review. She didn’t get the dress she ordered, in fact she got the spider dress. It was an unfortunate mistake and one that could have been avoided. The woman who received the spider dress was extremely unhappy as she was arriving in the U.S. on a trip and wanted a dress to be at her hotel when she arrived. I learned to always check your labels and completely package something from beginning to end vs. multitasking.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?
I think believing in yourself is when you stop trying to fall in line with other peoples standards or versions of who you should be. In order to truly believe in yourself you need to fall in love with who you are and what you love. I truly became who I was and became confident when I stopped caring and worrying about those around me when you realize that your confidence isn’t measured based on what other people think and your value is not based on what other people think of you. When I stopped caring about other people’s opinions of me is when I discovered fashion. Being able to express myself in that way without fear of judgment and having such a purer version of myself and the essence of me is so empowering. It feels like you can do anything.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
There are many times where I don’t believe in myself. Just because you are confident doesn’t mean you don’t have doubts. A big thing about being confident is being able to build yourself up again. Especially in business and as an entrepreneur trying to create something meaningful and close to my heart. When your business is so close to your heart, failing or not achieving your high standards can prevent you from taking risks, but taking those risks are often required to succeed.
At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
There was never a turning point but rather an epiphany. Believing in yourself takes time. You need to get to know who you are as a person. Since I started my business so young, there was a lot to get to know. Despite how confident I am now, there is always work to do and always will be work to do because I will always face new challenges and exploring new parts of myself as I grow.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Disregard everything else. That doesn’t mean be a jerk. When it comes to expressing yourself don’t let other people’s judgments limit your self expression.
2 . Don’t overthink it. Follow your instincts.
3 . Do what makes you happy. The happier you are the more confident you will get. Find joy even if it is feeling hard.
4 . Take reasonable risks. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It could be worth any hardships. You never know what is at the end of something. The risk you are not taking could be blocking the future you are working towards.
5 . Be authentic. People say this all the time but they say it because it is true. The world has so many people pretending to be someone they are not. If you want to succeed and resonate with people, they want to know who you are, not a cookie cutter version of someone else. So take the cliche advice and be yourself.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
This is a constant battle and honestly it never goes away. There will always be a voice in your ear telling you you aren’t good enough. The key is having the ability to tell that voice to F*ck off. Sometimes anxieties are going to win but once you believe in yourself to challenge it, it won’t be as scary any more.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
The biggest misconception is that confident people are full of themselves. There is nothing wrong with loving ourselves, it’s incredibly healthy. I cannot count how many times someone has thought or told me I am being rude or vain just because I compliment myself, and accept a compliment. I am allowed to check myself out in store windows as I walk down the street. It’s not being obsessed, self absorbed or better than someone else. It’s completely and wholeheartedly falling in love with who you are. That is the goal, isn’t it?
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
What helps me alot is to remind myself that other people feel that way. Everyone that you are envious of or deserves more than you, they are looking at you and saying the exact same thing. “Wow I wish I was as beautiful, smart, confident, talented etc. as them. We will always compare ourselves to others. The key is to not let it diminish your light.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
If I could choose anyone it would be Michelle Obama, for so many reasons. Her quote “When they go low, you go high” reminds me of something my mom would say to me. It’s something I say to myself whenever someone says something cruel, would break my confidence or tear me down. It reminds me to remember who I am and stay true to who I am as a person and my values and to focus on my journey instead of their hate.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.