Local Women Making History: Ana Manzano
Ana Manzano – Founder & CEO of Ana Apple
By Kelly Conroy
There are many reasons to wish Ana Manzano was your best friend – her creative genius, her can-do attitude, and her reverence for Ellen Degeneres to name a few. But even before our interview, when I had only seen her behind the Ana Apple merchandise at Good Design Market, I knew there was something fantastic about her.
Ana smiles, not because she has to, but because the genuine force of positivity within her can’t be contained. Even as we sit in an empty Old Sac storefront with stacks of drywall on the floor and butcher paper over the windows, her optimism shines. This will soon be the new Ana Apple retail store and she can’t help but buzz with excitement.
She landed in Sacramento, after growing up on Maui and earning a degree in photojournalism in D.C., in search of a new creative network. “Sacramento was still developing its character,” she explains of her first impressions, “I just loved the people.” She saw something special in the way creative people were shaping Sacramento and felt determined to participate.
Today, after winning the Calling All Dreamers competition in 2014, Ana is working furiously to open the new Ana Apple retail store. “My big vision from day one was to expand into creative education,” she explains of her new space, “I want this store to not only showcase California makers, but to be a venue that facilitates creative expression – a place where parents and children come together to do things like painting, sewing, yoga and balloon twisting.” Her enthusiasm for creativity and community is inspiring. It’s what drives her to conquer the challenges of business ownership and what makes her such a Sacramento gem. “It’s kind of crazy to balance all the pieces of being the CEO and the HBIC, you know?” Ana reflects as we discuss her biggest challenges, “But it makes all that stuff worth it to hear stories of families growing and including Ana Apple.”
Ana is the first to admit she’s not well balanced in her work life. Oftentimes, she misses special events and family occasions and needs others to help her enforce business bedtime. But, she says, separating Ana Apple from Ana Manzano isn’t what she really wants. “I get so much in return from all this work that a separation isn’t really the answer for me. Little tiny breaks like yoga or salsa dancing help me refresh and then, the power trousers are back on.”
Today’s power trousers are bright yellow and Ana rocks them, perched atop a stack of building materials, and dreaming about the future of her company. She talks at length of those that inspire her: scrappy, focused women that diligently work toward their dreams. The list includes her Production Manager, Jennifer Smith, who pushes her to stay confident and tackle each challenge, and her grandmother who taught her, “You use your life to help others.” With her new store, her philanthropic business model, and her truly contagious work ethic, Ana Manzano is doing just that.
In early March, her new store in Old Sac will open its doors and shine a light on local creatives. The space will sell all California hand-made merchandise from designers like Janie XY, Cuddlefish Press, Le Petit Elefant, and of course, Ana Apple. So while we can’t all be so lucky to have Ana Manzano as a personal best friend, at least our city will have the distinct honor of being home to her new creative space and storefront. Now, anytime you find yourself lacking inspiration, creativity, or faith in humanity, you can put on your own power trousers, take a stroll over to Old Sac, and repeat the Ana Manzano mantra: “I’m a hungry person – let’s do this thing.”