HUMAN RESOURCES

Shooting From the Hip

A passion for belly dancing helps this CEO shake off stress.
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Zhena Muzyka has discovered a way to infuse her organic tea company with her Gypsy heritage: belly dancing. Though Muzyka, founder and CEO of Zhena's Gypsy Tea, doesn't perform at promotional parties anymore ("I'm too busy signing deals," she says), she gives lessons to female employees in the company's warehouse in Ojai, Calif. "It's liberating and confidence-building," she says. "It makes a difference in the way they carry themselves." Historically, belly dancing was a core-strengthening exercise to ease childbirth, not a seductive dance to bewitch men -- or customers. Be that as it may, Muzyka's three-year-old company now has annual sales of about $1 million.

Nurturing the company's steady rise is one thing, but Muzyka is a big believer in professional and personal growth as well. She conducts empowerment workshops for women in business and has instituted a companywide yoga program to foster work-life balance (in fact, her sales manager is a certified instructor).

Despite such modern-day trends, Muzyka remains tied to her roots. How can she not be? She was named for her great-aunt Zhena, who was known as "the queen of the Gypsies" in her Ukrainian town because she owned not one but two cows.

Last updated: Oct 1, 2004




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