Woman Crush Wednesday: Zhenya Kuhne

She's seriously the cutest! Photo taken at the old location.

She's seriously the cutest! Photo taken at the old location.

A few years ago, I had the absolute pleasure of working for a woman who would quickly become my life mentor. I met Zhenya through a mutual friend (thanks, Lulie!) in Charleston, SC, one sunny afternoon, and I soon began working part time in her precious children's boutique, Sugar Snap Pea. Though I was only 21 at the time and knew nothing of children's products (aside from ones I'd seen in homes that I'd babysat), Zhenya took a chance on my clueless college self. By the end of the summer, I knew more about baby's clothes, toys, and children's accessories than any 21 year old who is unmarried and without children probably should.

When I first began working at SSP, there was only one small location at the quieter end of King Street. I was the only employee for the summer, and often times, traffic was a little slow. My entire goal for the summer was to sell a stroller, just one. (I finally did it with one week left to go in my employment! I'm sure selling a stroller is easy peasy nowadays...) Now, Zhenya's "little" shop is in TWO locations: a prime spot in the center of King Street shopping (twice the size of the original location) and one in Mt Pleasant + the online shop is booming! To say I'm proud to have been a teeny tiny little part of SSP's history and Zhenya's success (which I had NO part in) would be an understatement. I know that she would've kicked some serious a** and gotten to where she is today without my working for her that summer, but I still get the warm fuzzies every time I walk through those doors.

Zhenya has one of the most interesting backgrounds I've encountered. She's worked in advertising for Martha Stewart, lived in Chicago for a few years as a young twenty-something, was raised by American diplomats, and now owns a children's shop in good ole southern Charleston, South Carolina. Talk about diverse! She's a brilliant businesswoman who knows what needs to be done and does it--with style, I might add. She's warm and encouraging. We lunched and laughed as friends but when it came time to work, it was time to work. We could play when we were finished. She's smart, innovative, and I can only dream of becoming the kind of supervisor she was to me.

This was one of my favorite sections in the old shop. I realllllly hope it's in the new location too! STROLLER PARKING :)

This was one of my favorite sections in the old shop. I realllllly hope it's in the new location too! STROLLER PARKING :)

Last year, when I was struggling with what my next move would be: stay in New York through the winter or move back South, I contacted Zhenya to get her advice. Her response gave me such a peace for which I will forever be grateful. She told me of her moving to Chicago at my age and feeling the "romance of the big city." Every single word in her email resonated deeply with me. One particular thing she brought to my attention that I remind myself of daily is this: "If you are unhappy on the outside, then no money will bring you happiness. If you are successful but away from your family and that tears you up, then what is happiness in the long run?" My family and friends mean the world to me, and being apart from my people was killing me. So, I moved. And I've never regretted it, not for a single day. Of course I miss my New York friends, but I know in my gut that this was the right choice for me, and I'm so thankful for Zhenya's wisdom.

A few weeks ago, SSP brought Santa to the shop -- how cute is that?!

A few weeks ago, SSP brought Santa to the shop -- how cute is that?!

I am beyond thrilled to finally have a pregnant family member! As some of you may have seen on my Instagram, my wonderful big sis, Eleanor (The Crossing Arrows Ring is named after her!), is expecting a sweet baby girl next Spring. Obviously, I'm ecstatic to become an aunt for the first time, but I'm also super pumped to finally be able to make some purchases for someone other than myself from Sugar Snap Pea! It is seriously the cutest children's shop I've ever seen, and I can't wait to check out the new location when I'm in Charleston this weekend! Stop by The Finicky Filly for an MFF Trunk Show on Saturday then pop on over to Sugar Snap Pea and see their precious collection.

 

xo,

Mary Frances

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All photos used with permission.