Our CEO & founder Anna Shi never imagined she would be where she is today. Before Ever-Pretty was created, she was living in Suzhou, China with her husband and daughter, but felt too comfortable and secure. “A sense of adventure was missing,” she says. “I wanted to have new experiences and see the world.”
Anna qualified to emigrate to Canada, but ended up working as a laborer in a commercial laundry facility when she arrived, which wasn’t the adventure she was looking for. A government-sponsored training workshop helped her find a new job in sales and improve her spoken English, and her journey began. She started selling kitchen supplies, then Indonesian artwork, then saw how eBay and e-commerce were growing platforms with incredible potential. “I took the risk [and] decided to follow my true passion,” she says. “I knew nothing about the fashion industry when I started my company, but I loved clothing and I was determined.”
The earliest version of Ever-Pretty was an eBay store where she sold dresses, until eventually in 2006 the Ever-Pretty we know and love today was born. It grew into something even bigger and better than Anna had imagined was possible, and it continues to grow into a place where every woman can find the perfect style for her taste and budget. And with the company’s management being 60% female – a rarity in almost every modern industry – it’s a place that uplifts and empowers women professionally as well. We asked Anna about the early years of her business and her goals for the future, as well as her advice for young female entrepreneurs looking to create something new and unique.
Q: Why dresses? What drew you to create a business around this product?
A:I always loved how dresses are a whole outfit that can be accessorized in countless unique ways. There are so many exciting and wonderful events that occur in a woman’s lifetime and finding an outfit for them shouldn’t put a damper on the excitement. [We] started in the special occasion market and dresses in this sector typically cost a fortune for something you only wear once or twice. We don’t believe it should be this way.
Q: What sets Ever-Pretty apart?
A:We are proud to offer such a wide selection of styles so that every woman regardless of her personal style can find their dress here. We think women should have access to high quality, affordable styles no matter what – whether they are a bridesmaid in their best friend’s wedding or just looking for a dress to wear to work.
Q: What helped you stay focused in the early years of Ever-Pretty?
A:My father gave me the advice to work hard and trust yourself, which was so impactful to me. In the early years, I ate, slept, and breathed Ever-Pretty. If I hadn’t worked so hard I would never be where I am today. His advice really got me through the hard times… I really did believe that I could and would do it.
Q: What are your goals for the future of Ever-Pretty?
A:My biggest goal is that Ever-Pretty [will] become a household name. We are currently well on our way to achieving this.
Q: Do you have any advice for other women hoping to start their own businesses?
A:Be persistent! Life is hard. Work will be hard and frustrating and make you angry at times. You need to persist through the tough times and not give up on your passion. Take your strength from within and think about what you can do to change the situation… Keep trying, never give up, and you will see success and progress.
Our CEO & founder Anna Shi is an incredible and inspiring woman. Anna took her passions and made them into a career that’s fulfilling and empowering for women – and you can too! Whether your goal is to start a business or tackle a new challenge, persistence and trust in yourself is key. Ever-Pretty was only an idea years ago, and now it’s a place for women of every style and shape to find apparel that makes them look and feel as amazing and unique as they are – and a company that invests in female leadership. We’re lucky to have her leading the way!