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23rd Sep, 2021

Former Hatton shop owner from Russia says timing to take shop online was 'perfect'

Laura Kearns 21st Jun, 2020 Updated: 21st Jun, 2020

A FORMER Hatton shop owner says the timing to take her business online could not have been more ‘perfect’.

Anya Gunkova moved to the UK from Russia when she was a teen and set up shop Sofya and I at Hatton Country World in 2018 selling clothing and accessories.

But the demands of the business led to her taking the store online at the end of last year – a decision which unwittingly saved her financial struggles.

Anya – who also runs a magazine and radio station – said: “My lifestyle had changed and the shop was a seven-day-a-week commitment and I couldn’t afford to hire any help and I needed to be at home on weekends.

“As it turns out with the coronavirus situation, it was perfect timing. Now I’m so relieved I closed when I did because that wouldn’t have worked out at all well for me financially and it’s been doing well online.”

The business was started by Anya’s mum Elena who gave up her career as a teacher in Siberia when she relocated with her daughter to start a new life in the UK.

Single mum-of-one Anya said: “We had no family here, no friends and I had to try and adapt quickly. The language was a barrier. I was picked on for the first couple of years because I was different because of my language and my upbringing.

“It was a challenge making friends and finding people you could trust again. The lifestyles in the two countries, especially 20 years ago, were just so different and it took some time to adapt.”

But Anya has not forgotten her Russian roots.

Her monthly beauty magazine Sofya Style – named after her young daughter – is now going to be translated by Anya and her mum for the UK Russian community.

She added: “The big driving factor for me is that I want Sofya to see it as well, to see that I’m finally doing something for me. How many people can say ‘I’m doing what I love?”

Visit www.sofyaandi.co.uk for more information.

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