Passion for Fashion: Anna Sosnicki specializes in fine European style with Anja’s Boutique.

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Anja’s Boutique in picturesque Ventura Harbor Village.

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Comfortable, casual and beachy — that’s very much the vibe of the Ventura fashion scene. And it’s distinctly different from what Anna Sosnicki was used to.

“Europe is different than here,” the native of Poland explains. “Even for a dog walk we like to dress up.”

Shopping for herself, Sosnicki often looks for items that are high quality, chic and — possibly most important — original.

“I love fashion and I was always looking for nice, unique things,” she says.

But she struggled to find the kinds of garments and accessories she preferred locally. When she’d return to Poland to visit family, she’d “buy different kinds of clothes and shoes.” She also picked things up in Italy and other European countries. And when she returned to Southern California in her newly purchased, ultra-fashionable garb, Sosnicki never failed to attract notice. People often stopped her on the street to compliment her on her ensemble.

She knew she was tapping into something that fashion- and quality-conscious women craved. So she gave it to them, via her beautiful Anja’s Boutique in Ventura Harbor Village.

Anna Sosnicki, owner of Anja’s Boutique; founder and lead designer of Anke Designer Collection.
Photo by MK013BK/OUCUS Social Club; @o.u.c.us

Personal Satisfaction

Sosnicki admits that she’s not a trained designer, and that she can’t even sew. But she has an expert eye for style, and a love of fine apparel.

“I was always into fashion — playing with paper dolls, dressing them up,” she explains. “My country offers so many nice pieces and good quality clothes.”

She also loved to travel. To increase her opportunities to do so, she studied language in college in Poland, and then went into the hospitality and tourism industry.

A good friend had moved to New York City, so in 2007 Sosnicki decided to do the same, with the intention of improving her English…and, perhaps, taking in all that one of the major fashion capitals of the world had to offer.

She also met her now-husband in New York. After getting married, his job took them to Colorado and then Southern California. Sosnicki moved to Ventura in 2014, and became a stay-at-home parent to her two daughters.

“After I became a mom…all the work of the house, the kids, the dogs were on my head,” she recalls. “When my daughters got older, I wanted something more. To be a good mom, you have to do something for yourself, I think.”

European Elegance

In 2017, Sosnicki was in Europe visiting family and enjoying the wide selection of quality leather goods available.

“I love shoes,” she admits. “Poland and Italy have beautiful leather and good quality shoes. I decided to find some contacts with people making nice things.”

She discovered the brand Baldowski, based in her hometown of Częstochowa, which frequently works with Italian designers. The quality and style were exceptional, and much finer than anything available in Ventura.

“I started with shoes,” she said about her first store, which she opened in a small space in Ventura Harbor Village. “Here it’s hard to find fancy, nice shoes.”

Sosnicki learned quickly, however, that “it’s not a good idea.” People admired her offerings, but they weren’t buying. Elegant heels didn’t seem to be in demand in Ventura, where flip-flops and sneakers reigned supreme.

“So I went with jewelry and scarves…and I ordered a small collection of linen clothes. Bingo!”

Customers loved her linen collection, which Sosnicki described as “good quality, fashionable and 100% natural” — and wonderfully breathable. It was particularly popular with those shopping ahead of a cruise, where they needed something that looked dressy but could still be comfortable in a hot, humid climate.

“With linen, you look fantastic all the time,” Sosnicki notes.

ANKE features original designs, quality fabrics and unique style.
Photo by MK013BK/OUCUS Social Club; @o.u.c.us

Staying Pretty Through the Pandemic

Now that she knew what was in demand, Anja’s Boutique became busier than ever. Sosnicki’s fashion sense extended to interior design (“I love decorating!”) and she was able to showcase her sophisticated European apparel in an attractive and appealing shop — which easily caught the eye of even casual visitors to Ventura Harbor Village.

“I started ordering more,” she says. “The store was too small, so they offered me this spot.”

“That spot” was Suite 113, next to Deep Sea Wine Tasting Room and Le Petit Cafe and Bakery. A much bigger location, where Sosnicki’s style savvy and design skills could enjoy free rein. She moved in 2020.

“I made the store beautiful,” she says with a sigh. “I was really excited…and then I had to close for three months.”

COVID, of course, brought everything to a halt. The one upside was that by the summer of 2020, restaurants were reopening for outdoor dining and shops could welcome customers inside again — provided that they limited their numbers and allowed for social distancing. And, of course, everyone wore masks.

“When we reopened at the end of May 2020, it was crazy!” Sosnicki exclaims. With plenty of sunshine and fresh ocean breezes, Ventura Harbor Village was the perfect escape for people excited to get out and about after being cooped up all winter and spring. The area had a record number of visitors, and Sosnicki recalls that “it was the best sales ever!”

She even ordered linen masks that coordinated with Anja’s Boutique fashions. “I sold I don’t know how many masks. The summer of 2020 was amazing.”

Madison McShirley (@madison_mcshirley) models fashions from Anja’s Boutique
All photos by MK013BK/OUCUS Social Club; @o.u.c.us

Her Own Style

Things dropped off in the fall, when kids went back to school, COVID infections surged and retailers and restaurants alike shuffled through periodic closures and shifting restrictions.

“It was a hard time,” Sosnicki says.

But she spent the down time productively, attending trade shows and networking. She made a connection with a woman in Germany who represented an Italian brand called Yolly, a hipper and less expensive collection that Sosnicki thought might appeal to a younger clientele.

In 2022, she embarked on a new adventure: Her own clothing line.

“It’s called Anke,” she explains. “Very good quality, unique, fancy but casual at the same time. It can be dressed up or down. A little sophisticated but not too much.”

Sosnicki works with a team in Poland that helps her with fabric selection, colors, construction, coordination, etc. She also has someone handling shipping and customs — an arduous and involved process that she does not enjoy.

But everything else has been like a dream come true.

“I’m happy with my website,” Sosnicki says of the recently launched www.anke-fashion.com. “ Now the whole country san see Anke! I love it — I just love it.”

Madison McShirley (@madison_mcshirley) models a dress from Sosnicki’s Anke Designer Collection.
All photos by MK013BK/OUCUS Social Club; @o.u.c.us

Something Special

With an emphasis on quality and originality…and a price point to match…Anja’s Boutique is not necessarily for the casual shopper looking for a souvenir t-shirt. But for those wanting something a little more special, Sosnicki’s shop is a fabulous destination.

In addition to tops, dresses, skirts and coats (and selections from Anke, of course), Anja’s Boutique also features an amazing array of accessories — hand bags and totes in butter-soft and/or beautifully embellished leather, silky scarves, all manner of finely crafted earrings, bracelets and pendants. Most of her items are handmade by artists, one-of-a-kind pieces that you simply won’t find elsewhere.

“All of our merchandise comes from artists and small shops,” Sosnicki confirms. “We also support local artists — a few from Oxnard and Ventura are making jewelry. Mostly beachy stuff — seaglass and shells. Tourists want to buy a gift from Ventura.”

The next time you are in search of something wonderful, unique and top quality, head to Ventura Harbor Village to check out this very special boutique. It’s beautifully laid out (Sosnicki likes to redecorate for every season) with exceptional merchandise, and Sosnicki and her staff will offer up the customer service to match. And for those in need of a little style expertise, you’re in good hands.

“These clothes are meant to be finer, more dressy,” Sosnicki explains. “If you dress nicely, if you look good and feel confident, better energy is coming from you.”

Anja’s Boutique
1591 Spinnaker Drive, #113, Ventura
805.535.4150
@anjas_boutique

Anke Designer Collection
www.anke-fashion.com