Anna Balkan’s uninhibited use of color and bold innovation come from a lifetime of seeing beyond limits and following the signs of her own journey.
Anna grew up in the Chernobyl area of the Ukraine, when the culture was grey and resourcefulness was a necessity. She learned to knit and crochet, making the things that were needed from what ever was on hand. The circumstance proved to be the perfect training ground for an inspirational designer. “I’ve never had any preconceived notions of which colors did or did not go together. Because I lived in a world that was so drab, I thought all color was beautiful.”
During this time Anna developed her strong, playful connection to nature that inspires her designs. Her first creation was a pair of earrings, made for her mother at the age of five. Anna sculpted the piece from homemade clay and embellished with rhinestones repurposed from a dress.
Her childhood cultivated a strength of spirit that fed her independence and taught her to see the possibilities beyond boundaries. This openness and independence is directly reflected in her jewelry designs.
Anna rose above religious persecution and discriminatory quotas to earn access into a prestigious masters of engineering program. The experience honed Anna’s expertise in three dimensional design now so evident in the layered artistry of her jewelry. Anna immigrated to the U.S. as a political refugee in 1992 at the age of 20 -- alone, unable to speak the language, and with barely enough money to survive. Of this trying time, Anna recalls “It was an unexpected opportunity, but I knew from within that it was the right thing to do. I had to let myself be vulnerable and trust and then keep trusting no matter how difficult things were at times.”
Trust, tenacity, and constant renewal enabled Anna to transition from the streets of NY to the halls of a Top 5 consulting firm in just four years. Over time, Anna learn to converse in English and soon earned the means for her to relocate and return to school where she earned a B.S. in Economics from Michigan State University.
Anna’s project management skills led her into an evolutionary e-commerce company where she continued to innovate. “Creativity is all around us. Sometimes we just don’t recognize it for what it is. Every moment of life is unique and creative. I am very fortunate that both of the companies that I worked for valued entrepreneurship. I worked in math, science, and economics. They are all very creative fields when you look beyond the expected.”
Delivering the unexpected is still part of Anna’s journey. She returned to her true passion and birthed Anna Balkan Jewelry shortly after having her daughter. Her business maintains 50% year over year growth despite global economic trials. Her collection captures all the colors of her history and the natural beauty of a life well lived. Anna Balkan is a woman of renewal and her journey has just begun. It is her mission to honor, inspire, and celebrate feminine power and beauty. Today, she does that with a commitment to exquisite creations, designed especially for the exquisite beauty she sees in every woman.
Anna Balkan is also proud to sit on the Board of Directors for STOP, an international organization helping victims of sex trafficking. Visit www.stopinternational.org for more information.