The Leap Stories #28: Anna Anagno

This week’s leaper Anna Anagno plotted her leap from scientific officer to jewellery maker for over two years. Running her business One Happy Leaf as a side gig to combat stress as a food safety investigator, she envisioned a life that would reduce her daily commute, foster her personal growth and provide stimulating challenges she was missing in her professional life. She allowed herself to entertain the possibility of quitting the career she had studied years for, to jump head first into jewellery design and working for herself.  It was a very considered, planned transition with a supportive partner cheering her from the sidelines.

While Anna still worries about the future and if she can sustain herself beyond the five year mark, she keeps focussed on moving forward and ‘getting it done’. Momentum to keep taking small steps forward helps deal with fear, and keeps her ideas evolving.

Anna’s philosophy is about creating a brand that connects wearers with the natural world, and she uses ecofriendly wooden materials in her products. We’re delighted that she’s offered The Leap Stories readers a giveway and a discount on her online store!

GIVEAWAY: Anna is giving away a beautiful Half Moon Necklace to a gorgeous reader. Simply leave a comment below about your favourite stress buster!

SPECIAL OFFER: And Anna also has a special discount for Of Kin lovelies – simply enter promo code OFKIN in the discount box on the One Happy Leaf online store to receive a 20% discount storewide!

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Anna Anagno, founder of One Happy Leaf, a beautiful jewellery brand based in Perth. Photographed by Lauren Jane Hall.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

When I was young, I wanted to work with animals. It didn’t have to be an incredibly fancy job; ideally it would involve just patting and feeding them. I was animal obsessed and still am today. I would still be happy with a job like that.

What did/do you study?

I studied a double degree in Environmental Health and Environmental Biology. After a few years working full time in a professional capacity, I was drawn back to the lure of studying, and studied a post graduate certificate in Occupational Health and Safety Management.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

The biggest leap I’ve had to take was quitting my stable, government job to work full time on my jewellery business, One Happy Leaf. I felt that quitting my job was both difficult and easy at the same time. It was difficult because I was closing the door on an academic career pathway that I had spent much of my life studying and working towards. I had invested years and thousands of dollars into educating myself in science. To be honest, I think a lot of my friends and colleagues were a bit miffed that I was leaving a relatively high income career that looked fantastic on paper.

On the flip side, my heart was already in love with running my own business and I no longer wanted to work for someone else. Being a solopreneur has so many challenges that both terrify and excite me. I guess the magnetic pull of working for myself finally won and I was unable to continue working corporately.

I still remember the day that I resigned from my “day job”. On the way to work, I received a phone call from the Life Instyle trade show organiser to advise I had been accepted into a trade show the following year. I was ecstatic! I leaped out of my car and practically ran into the office to quit. It was all the confidence I needed to take that leap.

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What were you doing before you made your leap?

I was working as a Scientific Officer for a government department that legislated food safety within the community. Primarily my role was to coordinate the investigation of food-borne diseases within the State.

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

Jess Van Den (from Epheriell) was my first big influencer. She is a jewellery designer and maker also; she was also the first person that I read online who was making a living selling jewellery that originated from a hobby. While we have never met face to face, her story inspired me and showed me that it can be done with hard work. The idea of working for myself in One Happy Leaf was no longer an unattainable dream but was now a goal.

Megan Auman from Megan Auman Jewellery is also a huge influence. Again, we have never met face to face. Megan is also an owner and designer of a jewellery business and teaches others to pursue their small business dreams. While Jess Van Den showed me that I can create a small business, Megan Auman inspires me to be bigger and better than I previously thought possible.

And finally, although it sounds cliché, without my husband Michael I wouldn’t be able to have made the leap. Michael is like my personal cheer squad. He’s always been there on the sidelines cheering me on, supporting, congratulating and celebrating with me every step of the way. He has been supportive of me taking the leap from day one. He believed that I could run a small business before I was convinced that I could. His support influences my decisions, so when I say outlandish things, he is the one that will say, “Sure, why not? Let’s do this!”

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One of Anna’s beautiful designs, the Bubble Statement Necklace. You can view it online here.

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

Before I took the almighty plunge there were several things I needed to have in place. Finances were number one. I’ve always been financially independent and I am fiercely protective of continuing this. Therefore, I needed to ensure that when I was quitting my job I had enough money saved up so that I could contribute to the household and not rely on my husband to support me.

After finances, I had to consider what it would be like working from home by myself. I thrive on company and enjoyed working alongside my colleagues in my previous job, so the idea of working from home with up to 9 hours of solitude (except for a very sleepy cat who keeps me company!) was a little daunting. Preparing mentally for this was important and I still have to manage this every day.

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?

There was no one defining moment, more a collection of little moments that paved the way. For the most part, I felt undervalued in my previous job. I had so much to give and wasn’t challenged. I also believe in the importance of ongoing learning and felt that I wasn’t getting the necessary education to grow.

In addition, I lived quite far from my “day job”, so travelling two hours (return trip) a day in traffic to work in a job where I was uninspired was soul destroying. I felt that the long days were also affecting my health as it left for little energy for exercise.

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How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

I chose to be courageous in my decision to quit because I couldn’t live another year in a job that made me miserable. Working in One Happy Leaf excited me and it became obvious that I needed to make the transition. My husband and I had so many conversations in the 6-12 months leading up to that moment. We discussed different things like finances and how it might change the dynamics of our marriage. We both concluded that taking the leap was the only logical step to take to make me truly happy. Once the decision had been made, I was excited and couldn’t wait to take the necessary steps to reach my new goal.

I’m a big planner. I have a plan for everything! I had a plan on how I wanted to spend the next few years which saw the business and my personal day-to-day life intertwined. I had a very set goal in mind for how my life would look day-in and day-out. Because my life and my business goals were intertwined, if I had chickened out of resigning from my job, not only would I be saying no to my business, I would be saying no to a life I dreamt about. In addition, because I am a serial planner, the leap wasn’t a last minute decision; taking the leap just felt like the next obvious step in a long-term plan.

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How did you fund your leap?

I funded this step through lots of savings! For about two years before I took the leap I was working full time, then working on One Happy Leaf anywhere between 3-4 hours every week night and another 8-12 hours over the weekend. I had a full time income through my government job, any money I earnt in the business was placed in a savings account for the purposes of either reinvesting or using as my income during the seasonal fluctuations of the business revenue.

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What other leaps have you made in the past?

Other leaps I have made in the past have been changing career pathways about five years ago. I flipped from working as a government health inspector to working in the private sector as a health and safety advisor. This transition was more about working in an area that I was relatively new at and had to learn quickly in a fast paced environment.

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

I am most fearful that this is a phase and that potentially One Happy Leaf won’t survive past the five year mark (I am mindful that most small businesses don’t survive more than five years). My worries that come into One Happy Leaf include: do I have enough designs and ideas to sustain the business? Is there enough of an interest? What if my followers stop caring?

I try not to spend too much time on these worries though. Generally speaking I am not a worrier. I’m more a “let’s get stuff done” type of woman.

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Anna working on her designs from her studio in Perth. Photographed by Lauren Jane Hall.

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

I would rate my happiness to be 10! Overall I am thrilled that I took the leap – it was definitely the right decision for me. However there are days where I would rate it a bit lower as there is a lot of pressure to ensure the business is successful. When you are the sole business owner it is difficult as you are responsible for the business and you can’t rely on anyone else. I am also terrible at asking for help, and therefore I end up working long hours.

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What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

The biggest upside about taking the leap is having the control over my life to work when I feel like it, as opposed to the dreaded 9am-5pm. I work when my body feels like it and I rest when I need to. I love to work in the mornings and rest in the afternoons. I’m discovering old loves that I had previously neglected when I was working full time, like going to the beach and reading. I usually start work again in the evening as this suits my energy levels.

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

The biggest downside to the leap is pressure. The pressure I put on myself to succeed and also just to physically get everything done.

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What might be your next leap?

My next leap will no doubt be a personal leap rather than a business related one. My husband and I plan to live abroad in a few years’ time. I think this will bring lots of new life experience and a lot of new challenges along the way! In the meantime it’s about planning it to ensure we are ready when the time comes.

What are your favourite words to live by?

I have a few and I’m not sure about the origins of them:

“Fail to plan, plan to fail”
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon”

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Who do you admire who also made the leap?

Phoebe Lee from Little Grey Box. She also loathed her ‘day job’ and left it to pursue a job as a travel blogger. She is an amazing blogger and all round nice gal! She has recently brought her husband into the business – this inspires me to do the same.

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

In the words of Simon Sinek, “Dream big. Start small. But most importantly start.”

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Right now I’m:

Hearing: Can’t get enough of Downtown (feat Eric Nally, Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz) by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – pumps me up for the day!
Eating: Sugary and ridiculously unhealthy cakes!
Drinking: Water with fresh lime, cucumber and mint.
Reading: Start with Why – Simon Sinek
Loving: Sunny days in Perth – perfect weather to explore the wine region in Swan Valley (20 minutes from my house!)

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While side gigs don’t always turn into full time ones, they are surely worth exploring – you just never know what they can unlock in your imagination about what’s possible in your life. Stay curious beautiful kin.

Much love, Kylie x
p.s. Here’s a little Downtown to get your groove on! *language warning*


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  1. Thanks for another cracking leap story Kylie! Anna love your eco approach and designs. Biggest stress buster is hands down a five minute dance-like-no-one-is-watching break to something like Footloose, Flashdance or Kiss!

    Reply

    • Music and dance definitely help me deal with stress. I’m a fitness instructor in another life and I LOVE instructing a room full of pregnant women to get their heart rates up by moving their bodies to rocking music – I ALWAYS feel great after taking a class. And then of course their Spotify on my computer in the kitchen to bust out a few moves in the morning while I’m making pancakes!! x

      Reply

  2. My best stress buster is yoga. It is the athletic kind. I have to go 4 times a week to keep on top of my stress levels and monkey brain.
    I recommend it…

    Reply

  3. Oh yeah, bring on the downward dogs! I currently only do yoga once a week, but would really love to get in another class during the week… maybe I’ll do that tonight! xx

    Reply

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