Business Girl je naše nová rubrika, ve které vám chceme představit zajímavé a úspěšné #Girlboss a tím vám přinést trochu inspirace pro váš vlastní byznys. Naší první business girl je Pauline, jejíž nápadité šperky stejně jako její studio a milou povahu obdivuju už nějakou dobu a konečně ji můžu představit i vám. Paříž a Londýn vyměnila tahle tmavovlasá světoběžnice před dvěma roky za Prahu a práci manažerky za výrobu jejích vlastních osobitých šperků z metalické kůže. Jaké je to stát se šperkařkou na volné noze, co je nejtěžší a jak se Pauline zpomaluje? Seznamte se s Business Girl Benu Made!
What were your first three jobs?
I worked in marketing and PR, first in a non-profit agency, then for a technology company. After I was made redundant from that job (a real blessing in disguise), I worked as a project manager in a branding & graphic design agency and this was particularly useful for the work I do today – I juggled budgets, client briefs and graphic designers, which really isn’t so different from running my own business.
„My friend Karolina recently told me about this quote: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’.”
Why did you decide to start your own business?
After a conversation with a Czech friend of mine, I realized that there was something abnormal about spending 40 hours a week in a job and industry I didn’t really fit into. So I decided to do something about it: one Sunday I found some beautiful gold and bright blue leather scraps at a market and it all started from there. I began experimenting with different techniques and materials, and gradually built up a collection which I sold online and promoted mainly via social media.
I would describe myself as risk-averse, so I played it safe and didn’t quit my job straight away. It took another three years of juggling a full time job and my jewellery business before I took the leap and moved to Prague to devote myself to making Benu Made happen. I was also inspired by a few of my Czech friends who didn’t have ‘conventional’ jobs, who were self-employed or hadn’t gone down the classic career route. My friend Karolina recently told me about this quote: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with’. They showed me that it was possible to succeed from creativity and I decided to follow in their footsteps.
What would you suggest to someone who would like to start a business in the same field as you did?
It’s a question of achieving the complex balance of adequate pricing, good product photography and presentation, promotion and PR, smooth production processes and excellent customer service – and many hours of hard work on top of that. But I’d emphasize that it all starts with ensuring the product is sufficiently unique, desirable or at least feeds into a trend – this is critical in the very saturated and competitive field of jewellery and fashion.
What is the most important thing you have learned thanks to your job?
I have learned that I am capable of running my own business and living from it, and that’s something that I’m really grateful for. I’ve learned that I’m able to accomplish things I hadn’t thought I could, which opens up many exciting opportunities and possibilities for the future.
What is the hardest thing about your business or what was the hardest moment?
I’d say it’s knowing when to stop and slow down, while still making sure I can respond to the demand. When the orders are coming in, it’s difficult to say no, to close my shop and work on things at my own pace. It’s very easy to put unnecessary pressure on yourself, which could be harmful in the long term.
I’ve also found it very hard to innovate, or to change my processes. It’s easy to find a (sometimes inefficient) system that works, and stick to it. But in order to grow my business I constantly need to find efficiencies and better, more productive ways of working. I’m trying hard to change this bad habit of mine.
„For me, success is about feeling like you’ve found your symbolic & physical place in the world. It’s feeling at peace where you are and not constantly striving for something else.”
How hard is it to make your own business profitable?
My business model is quite lean and the materials I use are relatively inexpensive. I also haven’t needed to invest in any expensive machines, and my costs are generally very low. I think the risk-averse side of me must have guided me towards this ideal position! I also don’t have any stock of products – everything is made to order. I recently moved to laser-cutting for some of my shapes & pieces – which has meant I’m able to produce in larger quantities and respond to demand a lot faster.
I unfortunately often see designers underselling their work and barely covering their costs and this is something I also struggled with a lot at the beginning – but I’m very aware that pricing is one of the trickiest parts of running a business. Evaluating my pricing correctly – ensuring that it covers my materials, costs, overheads & labour – enables me to sell wholesale to retailers or shops while still making a profit.
What makes you most proud professionally?
I’m really proud of the way my business progressed recently. A year ago, I moved to a shared studio – a super cosy, creative space I’m always very happy to spend long hours working in. This move really transformed my motivation – being surrounded by successful, creative people all running their own businesses is really inspiring. I also got my website up and running, was featured in the press and finally started to feel I was in control of my business. It’s amazing to be able to create for a living and to be so independent and flexible.
What does it mean to be successful today?
Being successful is all about finding a way of earning a living that suits my lifestyle and personality. In my case it’s all about reaching the perfect balance between work I enjoy and ensuring my social life is culturally rich while giving me the flexibility to travel. In my opinion, success is about finally feeling like you’ve found your symbolic and physical place in the world. It’s feeling at peace where you are and not constantly striving for something else.
How do you slow down?
I slow down by going for run, or going travelling somewhere to visit my family and friends who are dotted around Europe. It helps me to reset things a bit and gives me the motivation and boost I need. I also love listening to podcasts, which really help me to get through long days whilst I’m doing manual work.
What one book would you recommend?
Speaking of slowing down, I’m currently reading this book: ‘Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’ which is all about changing your mindset, breaking the cycle of unhappiness and stress, and suggests some meditation techniques to focus on that – highly recommended.
Do you have any surprising hobby?
I love to sing – anywhere, no limits! I am also hoping to invest in a piano soon, I’ve been dreaming of learning to play for a long time. Another time-consuming hobby of mine is learning Czech – progress is slow, but I’m determined to become fluent one day!
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Photos: Igor Zacharov