I love to hear from a happy third year FEMBA. This week, meet Sheeva Sairafi ’15, Founder at Local + Lejos.
Dylan: What had you choose Anderson Sheeva?
Sheeva: I chose Anderson because of its entrepreneurial focus. I had been working in the corporate world, and always knew that I had a passion for new business. While I didn’t have an idea or a business plan in mind at the start, I wanted to spend my time at Anderson exploring these possibilities and immersing myself in the start-up culture of Los Angeles.
Dylan: You came to Los Angeles from back East right? How’d you get started once you were here?
Sheeva: I joined the Entrepreneurship Association, signed up for all classes necessary to go the BCO (Business Creation Option) track, and started working on a business plan with a fellow student, Jenny Grewal ’15. Shortly after, we both left our corporate jobs and made the leap into the world of entrepreneurship.
In between freaking out about the decision we had just made, and trying to figure out how we would pay rent until our business was cash flow positive, we learned about the Wolfen Fellowship. The fellowship is granted to four students a year based on entrepreneurial spirit and allows them to work on an idea for the summer, instead of working at an internship. Jenny and I applied, interviewed, and were chosen for the fellowship.
I can honestly say that it was one of the most pivotal moments in my career thus far. Here we had seemingly perfect strangers willing to invest in US. Not our idea, not our business plan, but us. The Wolfens are a truly remarkable part of the Anderson family. Their generosity, kindness, and interest in the advancement of Anderson students is unparalled.
They allowed me to take the summer and work on a new business idea. As it goes in the start-up world, this one did not work out. We made the decision not to move forward, and as difficult as that was; it was an incredible learning experience that has shaped a number of my decisions go forward.
Dylan: I love this Sheeva. So many great things at Anderson; embarrassing but true, I myself didn’t know about the Wolfen Fellowship until you won it! So where are you now, coming up on graduation?
Sheeva: Exactly. That brings me to now. With four weeks left till my credits are complete (another perk of leaving corporate world and doubling up on classes), I could not be more excited about my next chapter. After the summer, I worked for four different start-ups–all of which I found through Anderson–while working on a passion project of my own. The passion project has turned into a real time, “OH MY GOD I’M DOING THIS,” (very) full-time job and I can only attribute my learning and experience at Anderson for giving me the guts to do it.
And I wouldn’t be a true entrepreneur if I didn’t leave you with a little pitch…. : )
Local + Lejos is a home décor brand that partners with artisans in the developing world to craft contemporary designs using the traditional techniques of each culture. We allow our customers to design their homes with intention by providing them goods they can’t find in traditional retail stores that have an impact. By providing fair wages, training, and most importantly, steady employment, the artisans we work with can provide for their family. You can take a peek at www.localandlejos.com.
Dylan: Well I hope we send some business your way! Maybe we should have a Local + Lejos booth at Mega-FEMBApalooza this summer!
P.S. Here is more about the Wolfen Award.
The Larry Wolfen Entrepreneurial Spirit Award was established so students would have the financial means to work on an entrepreneurial project…The award was created in memory of Larry Wolfen, a 1993 graduate of UCLA Anderson…Larry was a great enthusiast for promising start-up companies, and he poured his efforts into venture capital…The award is intended to help a student conduct exploratory research into an idea, or otherwise advance an entrepreneurial endeavor.