Enterprise Europe Network

A blossoming new partnership

The Enterprise Europe Network helps a Swedish designer land a Polish manufacturer for her new ceramic vase.

Designer Lisa Hilland is well-known in her native Sweden, where she creates unique pieces of furniture for a handful of domestic manufacturers. She recently launched her own collection starting with 'Flowerbed', a horizontal vase with a sloping bottom for creatively displaying flowers from head to stalk floating in a rectangular pool of water.

"I think it's beautiful to bring a piece of nature indoors," says Hilland, who had trouble finding a manufacturer in Sweden willing or able to produce the vase in small quantities at a reasonable price. Then she went to the Enterprise Europe Network, whose experts in more than 50 countries match SMEs with the right partners. "We don't just wait for a response to a request, we pro-actively contact colleagues abroad," said Julia Parker, a Network business developer with Invest in Skåne AB.

Julia Parker put Hilland in touch with Stanisław Kucharski, whose family runs a small ceramics firm in south-western Poland and a Network client of Karolina Sobocińska at the Lower Silesian Regional Development Agency, who forwarded the request from Sweden. "We also gave them advice on taxes and created a profile to help them find business partners abroad," says Sobocińska.

"Mr Kucharski was eager to expand his business beyond Poland," she adds, noting that he received expert advice on EU-wide VAT transactions. "He also recently participated in several training courses at Lower Silesia Technology Park, on investing in renewable energy sources as well as developing a firm internationally using web tools and techniques. All these events were organised by Enterprise Europe Network in Szczawno-Zdrój."

Impressed with the sample vases made in Poland, Hilland ordered 600 custom-made versions. These are now sold online and at high-end shops in Paris and Dubai. "When you're starting out," Lisa Hilland says, "the Network is a brilliant resource."

Emboldened by the success of this ongoing Swedish-Polish collaboration, Lisa Hilland is planning to cooperate further with Kucharski's firm with a view to extending her collection as soon as she has sold out her first order of vases. "Our Swedish client has also recommended Ceramika Kucharski to other designers, as she is very pleased with their work," adds Victoria Lagnevik from Invest in Skåne.

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Women Entrepreneurship