At 24 years old, Anisa Telwar Kaicker was left without a job, a college degree or much self esteem when her mother’s business collapsed.
Now 47, Kaicker is the founder of Atlanta-based Anisa International, which has $30 million in annual sales. She owns a factory in China that produces 22 million cosmetic brushes a year for customers including Sephora, Target, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and other major brands. Here’s how Kaicker says she did it.
(My mom) started her business by importing rugs from Turkey, putting them in her car and riding around to places in Nashville (where we lived), to rich doctors and selling them. She was raised in Turkey. She’s Russian. She was self made before women were self made. It was amazing what she did.
She landed contracts to sell uniforms to the Kuwaiti military, Malaysian latex gloves to local health agencies in the U.S., and supplies to Yugoslavia before it collapsed into civil war. The business bounced wildly between big gambles and failed efforts. Kaicker’s job as a young woman was to find buyers anywhere in the world for the odd assortment of products her mom secured.
She’d come home, and I’d say, “OK, what are we going to do with two million latex gloves?” She was like, “Figure it out.” So I would figure it out and I would start to sell it.
I was not a natural salesperson. I was very nervous. I would walk into meetings and literally leave there sweating. I had to do a lot of positive-thinking tapes and reading. I was very insecure about how I came across to people. I felt like I looked different. I felt like I wasn’t educated. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there. It took me a long time to say, you know what, I have something to offer.