Cześć Ewelina! If you were to describe your work, in your own words, what actually are you doing at Czerwony Guzik?
I am a designer and a tailor in one person. My job consists of scouting out various materials and textiles, and then inventing how to put them together, cutting a bag or a sack, then drawing the pattern, selecting proper materials, and then sewing. Generally speaking, this is what I do, but it is much more time-consuming than you might think – I to sell high-quality products, so it takes time to make them unique and original!
In what way are your plans turning into reality? How did you start your own business?
Actually, I was forced to start it by my life situation, I mean by burnout with my previous job. I was sick of my job as a translator in a big production facility (in the corporate world), I was constantly living out of a suitcase, with a chronic lack of time for anything. The issue was clear: either I would find a way to be doing what I love, which is sewing, or my health would collapse and I would be finished off by demanding bosses. I had had enough. Of course, I was afraid of starting a new story, a new chapter in my life. I had to reinvent and reorganize my whole life, but I do not regret it. I had to be strategic, invent everything, compile a good plan and above all answer the question “What do I want to do?!” That is how you begin to build your own business: it takes persistence, discipline, and work, work, work – hard work! But this time, the whole effort is for us and without any bosses, so without any extraneous pressures or nervous anxiety.
Did your studies help you to develop your career, or did you develop your entrepreneurial skills on your own through practical experience? Could you tell us how that process worked?
Unfortunately, my studies did not help me with my entrepreneurial adventure, in practice I am learning every day through my own experience – that is why very often I feel like an amateur, but I do not give up. I am doing my best to stay up-to-date with all the required information in my field. I am always scouring the internet, Facebook, Twitter, and exchanging interesting information and ideas with other people who run similar businesses – this is how I keep learning: by giving and receiving knowledge, based on real experience.
Could you tell us specifically what your products are, their “character” and how they attract people in the market?
My products are mainly handmade bags and sacks (rucksacks). I sew using various materials (some new and some recycled) which means that I buy some of the products I use over the net, while some are recycled materials, as for example old banners which are worn out. The bags and sacks which I am creating have a cosmopolitan character and urban style, and they are for everybody. The people who are buying from me (I have some regular clients now) are attracted, amongst other factors, by the unique character of my products: every item is different, and the details are fashionable and specific.
How do you find your place in the market?
Finding the right compromise is an enormous challenge: I am constantly debating the particulars of every single item which I am making, I am analyzing, calculating and pondering how to reconcile this… In the end the best approach is always to put real heart into each job! The final result is much more important than any other thing for me. I think that the quality of our products is quite often higher that those bought in the stores, where almost every product is made abroad, and we, as small entrepreneurs, give full attention to every key point in the process. Of course, there is also a problem about putting the right price on each item: to make it possible to sell, but also it cannot be too cheap, because customers who buy handmade products are knowledgeable about it – the hand work is immediately recognizable.
Sometimes people think that being an entrepreneur is easier for men than for women, is that true? What do you think about it?
I do not think that this is true. There are businesses where women are definitely better than men and to the contrary, some businesses where men are much better than women, or simply men are more durable. I believe in giving a chance to everybody, actually: I think that everyone should do what is the best for him/herself and what he/she does the best: it is about choice.
What difficulties have you faced in your career?
I have constantly encountered the same issues: the lack of funds, especially in the winter time, when it is more difficult to go out and find customers. That is the price for running your own business – not always having financial liquidity.
What do you think: how should a young person start a business? Could you give us four tips?
Young people have more options for starting careers or running businesses, because the government has more to offer them such as, for example, a lot of grants, both inside and outside of Poland. Young people also have more open minds, more power.
And here four tips: 1. To start with, you need a good idea for a business, one that is compatible with current demand in the market; 2. You need a good business plan; 3. You must be prepared to put real heart into what are you doing; and 4. You must provide real satisfaction for yourself and your customers.
If you could be again young, what would you do to develop your personal career?
If I could be young again, then for sure I would get more education related to my passion, which is creating clothing. That would have been a dream.
Tell us please, the Message you would like to share with young people to inspire them to develop creative businesses.
If you have a passion in life, follow that path, develop your plans, because your passion could become your job, your work, your source of income and, by the way, this way you can go through life smiling and, as we say in Polish, “the head in the clouds”. Good luck!