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Anisa International: Starting a Business Out of Adversity

Were you ever concerned that your gender would inhibit you in any way from running the company or worried about a lack of respect shown to you?

Telwar:There is something about the business we're in that woman are more drawn to possibly than men. I didn't hire a lot of men in the beginning, they were mainly on the manufacturing side. In the last year, I have hired a vice president of operations in the last year, a CFO [and others] and initially when I hired them I was intimidated that they would know more than me, or they would not respect me for what I've done, but then I started to realize I lived it.

Yes they might have a lot more knowledge in a certain area, but I can complement them also. At the end of the day they are looking to me to make the final decision.

Have you considered or would you consider moving manufacturing to the U.S.?

Telwar: I've spoken about this quite a bit this last year. Cosmetic brushes are an art. They started in Japan. They went to Korea and then they went to China. It's a craft. It has [specific] raw materials. The raw material comes from China and the craftsmanship is innate in their culture. What they do with the hair, for instance. I do not have that resource pool in the United States. I do not even have that in Mexico.

I'm working with DuPont (DD). They're one of my partners because I don't know what's going to happen with China eventually. My costs are going to keep increasing. They're never going to decrease. They may stabilize for a little bit, but odds are they're only going to increase. So we have to look for options that. The U.S. is not an option for us at this point.

So what's next for the company?

Telwar: Right now I want to focus on our core, and our core has a lot to do with design, creativity and innovation. I would like to focus on product expansions that align with our core products and just do that for now. Really focus on our manufacturing, getting that very strong. I'm not looking to reinvent us on any level. I just want us to maximize who we are now. And we just rebranded our logo after 20 years, and I just feel like we have some real talent that is untapped. I want to bring all of that out right now.

How do organizations like The Committee of 200 benefit women entrepreneurs?

Telwar: It's truly inspiring to see what these women have done from the very beginning. That's where I want to go as a leader now and having these examples, these women, who can show me the way and create inspiration about giving back. Like they are so open to sharing their success stories and I'm relatively young to them, you know. It's funny because some of them will call me young and I'm like, "Seriously?" But I mean they are doing things that really blow my mind. I feel like by being around them it's elevating what's possible for my organization and the impact that I can have.

What advice would you share with other female entrepreneurs?

Telwar: If I could do anything differently it would have been from the very beginning the quality of people I would have surrounded myself with. I would not have sold myself short. I think the biggest asset in any kind of business, they need the right support and then creating the culture. Having that team support you in creating that culture, I think that really impacts an organization from the beginning.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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