with Anna Starostinetskaya
by Aileen Kyoko Haugh
If you’re a Regular at our 11th Street location, chances are you have seen or spoken to Anna Starostinetskaya. Often curled up in her favorite seat by the window managing to play with her trademark long blonde hair and keep the baristas and fellow regulars entertained with her witty stories. You may have often wondered, what does this young women do?
Although she exudes a carefree spirit, Anna, it turns out, is also a hardworking entrepreneur and co-founder of the travel company, Off Track Planet, a Huffington Post favorite. Anna has even written a travel guidebook. You can understand why I was excited to sit down with Anna and dive into her fascinating background and hear how the café plays a major role in her daily routine.
Originally from the former USSR, Anna adapted to drinking morning coffee early on. It was a family tradition. Her taste in coffee has progressed with her world travel and she admits to being a bit of a coffee snob. Aren’t we all? Her perfect cup leaves off with a touch of floral. After living in Los Angeles for many years, she made the decision to move to New York. Brooklyn, not Manhattan.
Anna made herself at home in the South Slope and before she knew it, she was part of the community. “I have never felt part of something that is supported until I came to Brooklyn. So many people leave behind their families and friends when they move to NYC, and it’s tough but crucial to find a community to lean on.” Anna found Café Regular in 2010 and started going every morning due to the delicious coffee and neighborhood convenience. “I am a horrible mess without my coffee in the morning,” she divulged.
But the picture started to stretch when she began to meet other regulars and became friends with the baristas. There’s a certain intimacy. “You see the raw states of people as they begin their day or take a break, ” she explained. From families to freelancers to entrepreneurs, there is a hugely diverse range of people coming into the café. Recently Anna was out of town for a business trip and confessed she couldn’t wait to come back to her favorite little nook surrounded by comforting folks.
When she looks around Café Regular with its European-vintage decor and observes people buried in their computers typing furiously, she is reminded of the 1920’s in Paris – notwithstanding the computers. “That was a beautiful time when artists and writers spent their hours in cafes doing their work. Its very bohemian and very Brooklyn.”
Anna always believed she was a writer at heart. When she moved to Brooklyn, she decided to take that dream to the next level. Combining her passion for writing and travel, Off Track Planet was born. Anna and her partner have undergone the challenges of raising funds and creating a trustworthy brand. Off Track Planet operates as a platform to inspire 18-25 year olds to leave America and travel. “Too often do Americans decide to save traveling for their later years out of the pressure to secure a corporate job. In Europe, people are constantly traveling and therefore expanding themselves as human beings. We started the company to instill the mindset that it is important to travel. It is essential to explore the world and yourself!”
Anna’s success as an entrepreneur is due in no small part to her hardworking yet balanced work ethic. She prides herself on being flexible, yet making sure her voice is heard. After all, she reminds me, the business world is often male dominated. “I have worn many different hats. I have learned to work hard, give myself a break, treat myself, and enjoy it when things are working. It’s hard to stop and just acknowledge how well you have done.”
There’s a good lesson for us to keep in mind! We continue to feel grateful for all the interesting and talented folks who choose to make Café Regular part of their daily routine. To learn more about Off Track Planet make sure to visit: http://www.offtrackplanet.com/