Name: Claudia Orna-Sampson
Business Name: Peruvian Qulqi
When did you know starting a business was right for you? Tell us about your business: I knew since I held my first job, when I was about 15 years old and still living in Peru. When I returned to visit my country in 2009, I finally knew what I wanted to sell and proceeded to buy some beautiful pieces of silver jewelry. I had never seen so many beautiful and unique pieces, even when I lived there. I fell in love with the work of Peruvian artisans, and finding out the cultural legacy was very important to me. After a year of seeing for myself that the quality was great, I decided to start my small business, which also gives me a chance to show people a little about my culture. I love my business, I love what I sell. I feel proud of what I sell and also having my own business gives me the opportunity to spend time with my kids and show them that there are no excuses in life to stop doing what you love. Even when it takes some extra steps to get where you want to be.
What is the most disheartening thing you have encountered in your career as a military spouse?: My husband has been deployed three times, but it was terrible when he deployed last time. We had two children by then, so that has been the most disheartening situation I have encountered. I also feel the same for other families who did, are, or will go through the same situation.
What career challenges have you faced because you are a woman?: I have not faced any yet!
What advice would you give a woman, in particular a military spouse, interested in starting her own business?: I would tell her to believe in herself, ask for help or advice from people she trusts, and do not get discouraged like I did when I moved. Get informed on business, look everywhere you can to offer your products and never forget you are a military wife, you are powerful and resilient!
What is the most challenging thing about being a military spouse and business owner? What is the most rewarding thing?: I believe the most challenging thing is being relocated, but thanks to technology I have started to look up groups of small business owners around where I am moving. I contact the ACS on my new duty station and start investigating upcoming events around the area. The most rewarding thing is to meet people who have been there before you and you can learn from them.
How did it feel when you made your first sale?: Oh my goodness, I felt butterflies in my stomach, I was shaking, ha ha. I know it is silly, but I still feel that way when I go to events or when I make a sale online.
What is one obstacle you have faced as a business owner, or on a personal level, as a military spouse, that you would have never expected?: I will say again, it is the moving from one place to another. I am working on my goal, which is to own a jewelry store and then hire military wives once my dear husband retires.
What is one business goal you hope to accomplish by the end of this year?: To have created a much more stable business.
As a military spouse, or business owner, I know one thing for certain. It is . . .: Do not get discouraged if you cannot make it into an event, or if there are many people selling similar items to you. Keep going, do not give up, feel proud of your little or big achievements.
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur?: My perseverance and persistence.
My biggest fear is . . . : To give up.
My greatest accomplishment is . . .: Overcome my insecurities.
When I grow up I want to be . . . : When I grow up I want to be a spiritual support for everyone who needs it.
In 2050 I hope women are/can/have . . .: I hope women work harder for what they want and do not feel intimidated. I would like to see them keep building up their self-esteem, to feel proud of themselves and to educate themselves as much as they can.
What is your legacy?: Love, honesty, tolerance, respect and hard work.