Spotlight Series Featuring Alyssa Kovach

Introduce Yourself. I’m Alyssa Kovach- owner of A|VA Apparel. BC (Before Children) I enjoyed traveling, hiking, reading, scrapbooking, long afternoons at a coffee shop. Now, I’m just giving myself grace and space to figure out how to manage life with all my boys!

Tell me about your family. My husband, Brad, and I are high school and college sweethearts. We’ve been together for 20 years, and married 13 of them. He’s one of the funniest people I know, and a great dad to our three boys. Edison is 5 and going into Kindergarten. He’s crazy smart, Lego-obsessed, and a great big brother. Penn (short for Pennsylvania) is 4 and got an extra dose of personality when he was born. Dress-up is his favorite, and anything around the house is fair game for the characters he creates. Lincoln is 2, and is determined to keep up with his older brothers, which makes him a total daredevil! 

How long have you lived or worked in NoVa? What area do you live/work? We moved to Alexandria in 2013 after working and teaching abroad in Grand Cayman for three years. We found out we were pregnant with Edison the same day that my husband was asked to interview at Episcopal High School, and all the pieces fell into place! He is a faculty member in the Science department at the school and we live on a dorm on the campus. I stay home with the boys, but keep my teaching skills sharpened by tutoring students on campus, and now also running A|VA Apparel. We absolutely love, love, love where we live and consider ourselves lucky to be in such an amazing place. This is definitely our “forever home”!

What is your business? A|VA Apparel- we sell tshirts and other items inspired by the neighborhoods of Alexandria.

Tell me the story of how you got started. My husband and I grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh. Hometown pride is something we do well in PA. I mean, we named our son Pennsylvania! When we moved to Alexandria I wanted my sons to have that same strong sense of pride. This is a wonderful city and an amazing part of the world to live. I started looking around for “Alexandria” shirts for the boys when they were toddlers, and couldn’t really find anything that wasn’t “touristy”. I asked myself, what kind of shirt would I want them to wear? And then just started making them myself. It turns out that there are many others that “get” what I’m doing and have that same sense of attachment to this city.

What’s your favorite thing about this area? The access to opportunities. Any interest we might have- there is some sort of venue/studio/shop/outlet for us, all within a short distance. Hiking, breweries, waterfront, farmer’s markets, great parks, concert venues, festivals, community events- this place has it all. And if it isn’t happening in Alexandria proper, then it’s just a short drive into DC with even more offerings. It doesn’t get better than this location.

What’s something you struggle with being in this area? It can be very expensive for a single income family, but we are thankful for what we have.

Do you feel supported as a female entrepreneur? Through A|VA Apparel, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of other female entrepreneurs in Alexandria- they are all incredibly creative, talented, hard-working, and quick to support other local businesses. I’ll shout out to Katie at AR Workshop, Megan at 529 Kids Consign and Willow at Urban Reduex, to name a small few. I’ve learned a lot from them, and many of them have empowered me to continue to grow this business. I also have an incredibly supportive group of girlfriends- they were my first customers and are my biggest cheerleaders!

What is the biggest obstacle you face as a working mother? Balance. Raise decent human beings, Have a clean house, Dedicate all the time needed to make A|VA a success, Have a social life, Be a great wife, Have some alone time… Pick two of those- that’s all I usually have the bandwidth for.

My kids are just old enough that they can play independently, yet still need my undivided attention the majority of the time… I can’t get any work done when they are around, so a lot of my work is done before they wake up and after they go to bed.

What advice would you give to someone just starting as a business owner? Get a hold of your local Small Business Association. They are there to support you! The Alexandria one is amazing!!

What do you do when you’re not working or being a mom? I have a great group of girlfriends and we get together regularly for post-bedtime hangouts. I also enjoy spending solo, quiet time in local coffee shops- my favorite is Killer ESP!

Favorite local restaurant? There are too many to choose! But I’ll go with Lena’s. The kids love it, they are accommodating to large groups so we can go with another family or two, and have you had the Diavola?? If not, you need to go, like, right now.

What do you do as a family on the weekends? A typical Saturday morning involves my husband and I grabbing coffee and heading out to a playground with the boys. There are SO many good ones in this area, and we are always discovering new ones. My boys love to climb and run- so this is perfect for everyone.

We also enjoy hiking, but usually when the weather is a bit cooler. Basically we just love to explore- we’ve lived in this area for almost six years, and I feel like have only scratched the surface of all that there is to do.

We also enjoy hiking, but usually when the weather is a bit cooler. Basically we just love to explore- we’ve lived in this area for almost six years, and I feel like have only scratched the surface of all that there is to do.

What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about being a mom? I was surprised that motherhood came much easier than I expected, a lot of primal instincts kicked in (thankfully!). Also, becoming a mother made me a much better person. It is incredible knowing that I have already accomplished my life’s greatest work by bringing these boys into the world. 

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to start your own business? My husband has been supportive and encouraging of this endeavor from the start. He believed it would be successful before we even had any inventory.

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you? I live in a dorm at Episcopal High School- a boarding school. Yes! There is a boarding school in Alexandria! A lot of people don’t seem to know that…

Anything else you would like to share with the reader? I love meeting new people and connecting at pop-ups. If you ever see our tent at an event, be sure to stop by and say hi!

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