Meet Anna, one of Staunton Creative Community Fund’s successful clients, and owner of Latitudes! Anna used our services to pull her business plan together and get some of her initial funding for her store on Beverley Street!
Who Are You?
Latitudes is a fair trade store that offers handmade crafts from artisans around the world, but mostly from the Global South. Fair Trade is a way of sourcing products that are ethically made and help to alleviate poverty in some of the poorest areas of the world while still preserving cultural and historical identities. Many of the products in the store are made by women in marginalized communities who are able to support their families (often as the sole wage earner) and ensure that their children are able to attend school.
Fair trade ensures that long-term, sustainable opportunities are created for socially and economically marginalized producers. “Shop for Good”really means that every purchase made in the store creates more opportunity for those less-fortunate around the world and empowers artisans who would not have a sustainable, safe job without fair trade.
I never saw myself as an entrepreneur, so I’m surprised as anyone that I now own my own business! I was in the corporate world for more years than I like to count and was able to move away from that about a year ago when I decided to open Latitudes. My background is in international education and I have always been fascinated with other cultures and how to help those in the developing world that have so much less than we do here in the US. I also have a love affair with downtown Staunton and wanted so badly to be part of that community. Opening the store on Beverley Street married so many of my passions together that it ended up being a no-brainer for me! I couldn’t be happier running the store, being involved with the global community through fair trade and the local downtown Staunton community.
I truly believe that no one should be miserable in their job/career. For me, entrepreneurship was the gateway to a happy and fulfilling career. I’m so grateful that I live in such a supportive community for business owners. Owning your own business can be tough, but also so rewarding. The greater the risk the greater the reward. This has been my philosophy since I made the decision to leave my safe office job and start a new adventure. C.S. Lewis put it best for me: “There are far greater things ahead than anything we leave behind.”
How did you get here?
About 6.5 years ago my mom took a trip to Guatemala and met with a women’s weaving cooperative while she was there. She bought many of their products and came home and realized that people were very interested in buying the items. From there she started buying more products and doing home parties and craft shows to sell the products. As she built up her inventory I helped her out in different ways in the background with administrative tasks and going to some of the shows with her. Then she opened a store in Warrenton, VA and it was super successful right away. I always thought that what she was doing was so great and that Staunton would be a great location for a store like that. We even looked at a few store fronts on Beverley Street over the years but the timing never seemed to be quite right. Then about a year and half ago I was in a job where I knew it wasn’t right anymore and I needed to make a meaningful change. So my husband and I were having a conversation about my exit plan from the corporate world at his restaurant on Beverley Street and he said, “Why don’t you just open a Latitudes here?” And I couldn’t think of a reason not to! So right then and there I decided that was my next step, it just made sense on so many levels. And a little less than a year later I opened the store! And I’ve never looked back!
-Anna Schoenduby, Owner of Latitudes, Staunton