Are you tired of your job? Maybe you lost it? Have you considered starting your own business? Read our interview with Dominika Małecka-Buźniak about unusual circumstances in which she founded her e-shop Roser.pl.
Ula Lachowicz: Is Roser.pl a shop made by women, for women? Or are men your customers as well?
Dominika Małecka-Buźniak: Our shop was created mainly for women – they’re the ones buying jewellery and our other products. We haven’t had a male customers yet. Generally speaking, this type of jewellery is bought by women, whereas men who want to but something for their girlfriends or wives tend to choose a more classic one at traditional jeweller’s. And if they’re shopping for themselves, then it’s not with us as we currently have no male products. When it comes to crocheting or knitting e.g. Zpagetti accessories, it’s also women that buy them – most men I know can’t even tell the difference between them.
UL: Where did the idea of running your own shop come from?
DM-B: After my maternity leave I wanted to go back to the company I used to work for, but they subtly implied that I should go on a child care leave. It wasn’t the best moment in my life, but it was a push to start something new. I knew that hand-made jewellery wasn’t enough, but by accident, on foreign blogs about eco handicraft I came across a product called Zpagetti – the next day I was already in touch with the company owner. I’m looking for other original handicraft and jewellery that are a novelty on the Polish market. My idea for an e-business comes from my passion and hobby, and my support of recycling. I used to work in a completely different profession, but to stay in touch with it, I sometimes do part-time work.
UL: E-shops are usually run by men. Do you feel that you’ve entered a ‘boy zone’?
DM-B: This question is quite surprising, as I have never thought of it this way – more in terms of the field of business – my e-shop is for handicraft and my circles are almost exclusively female-only.
UL: Besides running an online shop, you also take care of your babies. Is an e-business a good solution for young mothers that still want to work?
DM-B: E-business is a good solution for everyone with the right product. The problem lies with search engine optimisation, advertising or finding the right target group. It’s a long and hard process that sometimes involves a lot of creativity. Moreover, you have to learn a lot, e.g. legal matters, such as how to write terms of service. You may think that it’s a nuisance, but I had it prepared by my lawyer, who has a liability insurance – thought it’d be safer.
Needless to say, running an e-shop is much cheaper than a regular shop. However, it’s very hard to become a popular site on the internet. I don’t want to give any tips or promise that they’ll make it, but one thing is for sure – if you don’t try, then you won’t succeed.
UL: How do you balance running your shop and raising your child? Do you run Roser.pl on your own or do you have co-workers?
DM-B: My husband is a great help, especially with the formal side of the business, as it’d be difficult for me to go with a baby to the City Hall etc. It’s not even about architectural difficulties, but rather about the little one waiting patiently in the queue.
UL: Do you make your own jewellery, work with other artists or get ready products and just sell them in your shop?
DM-B: Both. Some of the jewellery was made by me. I also work with another craftsman UmaArt – also a woman. I would like to have a wide variety of products in my shop, so I try to work with many other artists – while still maintaining the quality. I also require these artists to send me high quality pictures. Such a cooperation, especially in the beginning, is based on limited liability, because roser.pl is responsible for the product’s quality and customer’s satisfaction. Maybe it’s not a good approach, but I also must like the jewellery that artists want to sell via my shop.
UL: Did you create your own ecommerce platform or did you use a ready solution?
DM-B: I used a ready solution, as I’m not good enough with programming to create something like that on my own. It speeds up the whole shopping process, the money is quickly on my account – thanks to that I can ship the bought product the same day. The platform I use is widely popular in Poland. It’s supposed to make it easier for customers to shop – it has happened a few times that I abandoned my shopping cart because I couldn’t be bothered with typing in all the needed data for the wire transfer. Same applies for shops that require creating an account. That’s why I’ve decided to enable my customers to shop without an account, and such a solution has become quite popular.
UL: How can your customers pay for the jewellery?
DM-B: Right now they can do it via a wire transfer, online payment system or, in some cases, with cash.
UL: When you started your business, did you have any financial support (investors, EU funds etc) or did you create it on your own?
DM-B: I founded my shop with my own funds. If I can call my husband an investor, then he was very much involved in it too. As for EU funds, projects in my region are for specific target groups, which I don’t qualify for – people younger than 25, older than 50, or disabled. Another thing is that getting financial aid from the EU is a long and time-consuming process. First there’s a preliminary selection, courses, writing a business plan, consultations – it all last about a year, and you don’t even have the guarantee that you’ll get the grant.
UL: Do you run roser.pl only for the local market or are you planning to expand abroad?
DM-B: Expanding abroad is quite a challenge. First I’d need to prepare for it – create an English version of my shop and integrate with a payment system that allows accepting credit cards, as it’s the most popular payment method in western Europe and the USA – Poland’s not far behind either. Entering foreign markets means also hiring new people, having a larger office and expanding customer service. It’s also connected to higher costs – maybe then I’d try to get help from the EU, so who knows…?
UL: What is the most difficult in running your own e-business while on child care leave? What gives you the biggest satisfaction?
DM-B: I get satisfaction from creating new jewellery, getting artists interested in my shop and selling my products. Although when it comes to sales and jewellery, I sometimes just like to give it away as a freebie to my customers or to friends and family. I like it when someone likes it and wants to wear it. The most difficult part of running my shop is something that a person without a baby “on their lap” might not understand, but I often have to work in the evening or at night. The average day of an office worker is that they work for 8h and focus only on it. Women (and men) in my situation are in a more complicated situation – you try to balance taking care of the baby (that’s what child care leave is for) and professional satisfaction. On the other hand, creating jewellery requires some creativity. When the inspiration doesn’t come, I run out of products. It’s not something I can change – I don’t run a bakery.