How She Got There: Athina Wang & Florence Shin, Founders of Covry

Name: Athina Wang and Florence Shin


Twitter Handle: @shopcovry

Instagram Handle: @shopcovry

Let's face it: We all want to be the boss b*tches we were born to be, and we're willing to learn how to be the bosses of our own life because, frankly, we could use the insight. Thankfully, Covry founders Athina Wang and Florence Shin have a plethora of business and entrepreneurial knowledge to help us learn how to hone our personal version of professional success. 

If you aren't familiar with Covry and the company's stylish sun specs, then Athina and Florence might have something to fill that void in your summer lookbook because Covry's designs somehow make the most minimalistic frames seem extra. Beyond crafting Covry's fashionable fits, Athina and Florence talk about the importance of listening to customer feedback, how to ignite a business and learning from business hiccups. 

Her Campus: What does your current job entail and is there such a thing as a typical day?

Florence Shin and Athina Wang: When you have your own business and you’re an entrepreneur, no day is the same, ever. Both of us work very collaboratively. So we have a hand in pretty much every department, in product development, design, marketing to sales. So, it’s really common for something to come up and then that project has to take priority for the day, and we just try to plan or do the best that we can. I think that it’s the spontaneity that can come up that really keeps us on our toes. And, that’s what’s exciting about entrepreneurship.

HC: Absolutely, and having that malleable nature in your line of work kind of leaves you open to more opportunities in a sense.

F&A: Right, exactly.

HC: Then, what’s the best part of your job, in your opinion?

F&A: The best part of our job is definitely hearing from our customers. The customer feedback has been so instrumental in our business, from the products that we make to design details--everything, even with our customer service. We take our customer feedback seriously, and it’s really, really helpful.

We’ve made designs based off of what our customers have said, and they’ve become bestsellers. It is really awesome to hear what they think because we put so much effort into making this, and it’s really awesome to get such positive feedback and know that our frames have made a change in their life or made someone’s day. You know, things like that. That’s really motivating. That’s what pushes us forward in our business.

HC: Definitely, and just seeing how far your reach [to your customers] is, that’s amazing. Then, what was your first entry-level job in your field? And how did you get it?

FS: So for me, my last semester in college, I interned at the fashion organization. And as soon as I graduated, I was on full-time as an account coordinator, then I helped them with the branding and communications, beauty, fashion and retail brands.

AW: My first job, I interned at this fashion organizations, so they helped startup companies and growing apparel companies, and all ends of the fashion industry. Then, my boss, who was at the fashion organization, she connected me to an apparel production company. That’s where I started my career in the production. I got to travel overseas, and that’s all been really awesome for when we traded our own sunglass line because we manufacture overseas as well.

HC: That’s amazing. And then, what are some words of wisdom, whether is a quote from someone you know or a fun anecdote, do you find most valuable in your professional life?

F&A: Well, my boss used to say that fashion was always business, and it wasn’t just designing or making art. So, we already try to keep that at the back of our minds because, at the end of the day, our goal is to create a profitable business so that we can continue making beautiful products. And I mean, we work with a lot of designers, and it’s a common trait for designers to be really proud of their work and their art and to be focused on that. At the end of the day, you have to sell and you have to have a business, so that’s what we always try to keep in mind while we’re working.

HC: And what’s one mistake or a challenge that you’ve overcome that you’ve learned from along the way?

F&A: Well, there was a short period of time when we spent a lot of our time and energy and money on traditional advertising outlets. We did that mostly because it was something that we thought we had to do, because it was something that everyone was doing, and that’s what we were taught in business school and things like that. But, the results just didn't’ really meet our goals and expectations.

So, it forced us to kind of pull back and restrategize and just think of other creative channels to work on. But, I think the biggest thing that we learned from it was to don’t just do something because you think it’s the right thing to do because every business is unique. And something that works for one business might not work for your business. It just overall challenges you to think outside the box versus following the traditional route all the time.

HC: And I’m sure that helped you rebuild your personal brand, and as you said, you’ve restructured what you were doing with advertising. I think that’s a good piece of advice to learn from, in any industry.

F&A: Yeah.

HC: What’s been the most surreal moment of your career so far?

F&A: We were actually invited to speak at Harvard Business School’s Women’s Conferences in Entrepreneurship. We were on an amazing panel with such awesome women, and they all had very successful businesses. And, it was just such a great opportunity to share our experience in a room full of amazing women and to help them answer any questions they had. It was just fun to talk to other women who are interested in entrepreneurship.

HC: Definitely, and that’s amazing. Then, what do you look for when you’re considering hiring someone?

F&A: The biggest thing that we look for is people who are passionate and excited. I think it really shows not just in their personality but in their research. Like, have they researched our brand? Have they researched us? I think it just shows that they really want to be there, and they want to be a part of the team. Then, just overall, having a good attitude.

HC: Absolutely. I feel like attitude is often underrated in a lot of job seekers.

F&A: Yes, a great attitude goes a long way.

HC: And what advice would you give to a 20-something student who might have similar aspirations?

F&A: A lot of people have a bunch of ideas that they’re really passionate about, but the most important thing is just to get started. You know, it doesn’t really do much to have a bunch of ideas when you don’t actually execute anything. So, we always say whatever you think you want to do, just try it, and you can always start with baby steps. When we started, we started really slow. It was like one day we were like, ‘Oh, let’s get a business license.’ And the next day, it was something else. We didn’t try to go in tackling, ‘Let’s build a business today.’ It was baby steps, and we were able to think and grow because we took small steps. You’re able to actually go through the business and create the business that way. So, we always think it’s important to just get started, no matter what you’re doing.

HC: This is the last question: What’s the one thing that stood out to you most on a resume?

F&A: I mean, there are a lot of things, like experience is one of the most important things. If they have relevant experience that they can apply to their position with us, but we also like if they have a lot of experience working in different areas that may not be exactly the most relevant. That shows that they’re adaptable and flexible, and they have a great work ethic if they’ve had a lot of different positions.

We also really like people who have their own projects or hobbies that they’re really interested in because that tends to show more diversity in their life, as well.