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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA JOB MARKET: WORKING INTO THE NEXT CENTURY : OPTIONS : A SHOP OF HER OWN : After Years as a Secretary, Marilyn Mojahed Is the Proprietor of Victori Ana Gifts in Glendale

May 15, 1988|MEREDITH F. CHEN

Marilyn Mojahed remembers seeing her aunt and uncle run their clothing stores in the Imperial Valley. "The retail business was always very exciting to me," she recalled. "And I remember thinking, at age 15, someday I want to have a business."

And now she does. The 49-year-old from San Diego runs Victori Ana, a gift shop in Glendale.

During most of her career, she worked as a secretary for various unions.

In 1975, she left secretarial work and went into real estate. She and her husband, an interior designer, bought houses with the idea of refurbishing and then reselling them.

When the real estate business slumped in 1980, Mojahed returned to secretarial work and took a job working for the Glaziers, Architectural, Metal and Glassworkers Union's Local 636.

For the next seven years, she continued to think about owning a business. She attended gift and furniture shows with her husband and talked with people in the retail business. With her 50th birthday only a year off, Mojahed decided to make her dream a reality.

She quit her job in January, 1987, and in September opened her shop.

"As we get older, we get more fearful," Mojahed said in a recent interview. "But I'm not fearful. If I were on my own, I would be more hesitant, but I have my husband and he's very supportive."

In Mojahed's Victorian-flavored, potpourri-scented store, customers browse through merchandise that is often handmade. Some items, including the Spanish christening dresses trimmed in antique French lace, are one of a kind.

It didn't take long for the shop to catch on. Deborah Beaulieu, senior editor of Victoria Magazine, a Good Housekeeping publication, heard about Mojahed's store while visiting a local artist. Impressed, Beaulieu arranged for Victori Ana to be photographed for an upcoming issue of the magazine.

"I'm down here seven days a week," Mojahed said. "Service is the name of the game today and that is what I try to give. I'm a one-woman operation, so I'm the one who's going to make it happen."

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