How to scale-up in the organic cosmetics industry
Silviya Pavlova is on a mission to make organic skin care products so pure, you can eat them for breakfast! This Bulgarian entrepreneur started her business from home in 2014. Today, she maintains three labs exporting 70% of a wide range of natural products for adults and babies. We talked to Silviya about the challenges of starting a business, the highly competitive cosmetics industry and her plans for the future.
How did you get the idea for your business?
As a student, I had the opportunity to travel and study on three continents meeting local families and sharing their everyday life. The most exciting part for me, were their beauty rituals. Old recipes, herbal remedies, rare roots, precious oils, all mixed together in perfect synergy – forgotten ointments that revive the world of beauty.
I wanted to be part of it, to create and to make products that make a real difference for the health and beauty of women’s skin. Products so pure, that we can eat them for breakfast! And that’s how it started. We founded a cosmetic company that makes edible cosmetics with food grade ingredients and following the rule: if you cannot eat your cream, do not put it on your skin. It took me 20 years to acquire enough knowledge and to find the courage to finally open my own lab and follow my own rules for making beauty products.
What challenges did you face as an entrepreneur with little business experience?
We lived through the initial challenges with the excitement of creating and growing a new business. Every little step, we celebrated as a big achievement. We tried to ignore the little rocks on the road and stay focused on the main idea. As a proud European company, we had an amazing international start. The doors were open for us and we were selling on eight markets just two months after our launch! The adrenaline and our devotion made our first two years something to remember for a long time.
The real challenge came when our small lab could not manage all the orders any longer. We had to think fast how to expand our business while keeping the initial idea of handmade products made with food grade ingredients. The logistical challenges are something no one can prepare you for! Financing was crucial for the success of our expansion. We had to increase the volume of packaging and raw material held in stock and, for this important investment we needed to make sure we had the right financial partner. The intense preparation paid off: securing this investment meant that we decreased our production costs and became even more attractive to foreign markets.
How do you see the organic cosmetics market developing in the coming years?
We are at the very beginning of a huge organic wave. Today’s consumers want to know the origin and the way their products are made. They read labels and pro-actively look for information. At the same time, we are seeing a rise in skin disorders and skin health issues. This combination of factors has opened up the market for organic cosmetics, which bring back forgotten natural remedies that are simple, smart and pure. I believe that this trend will lead to organic cosmetics becoming mainstream rather than staying as an alternative.
Wooden Spoon benefitted from advice on accessing international markets from Enterprise Europe Network partner Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), in Bulgaria and Invest in Skåne AB, in Sweden.