I said to myself: “I want to live by something that I really like doing.” Tony, Art.E
“Before starting Art.E my business partner and I had no idea how to do business. I worked in the theatre and he was a state official. At a certain point we got bored of everyday life and decided to find something that would help us escape. We found a ceramics class on the internet and we joined. So every weekend for a period of a year a girl would bring clay and instruments and teach us. We were so into it that we bought an oven and opened an atelier simply to have a place to work.
We never started with the idea to do business or to make money. We simply created things that were deficient in Bulgaria and slowly but steadily started to get requests from shops and galleries in Sofia. People really liked our mugs.
For me personally, Art.E turned into a business when I left the theatre and tried a job at an office – it didn’t work for me! I said to myself: *I’m going in the atelier. I want to live by the things that I like doing. I don’t want to wait on a salary every month to pay my bills.* This statement made me feel determined because it meant that everything from this moment depends on me. 7 years later we are a well developed and recognizable business in our field. We work in Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Denmark. A coffee shop in Coppenhagen served its customers in our mugs.”
“What did the business teach you?”
“To make no compromises. We could have easily become a business that produces 5 dollar mugs, has a factory and be lacking individuality. But we decided to take a different road – preserve our identity and vision and clench teeth whenever we needed to in order to stay who we are.”
“What is the sweetest thing a customer has said about your mugs?”
“*Your mus are addictive!* I remember a woman who bought a mug for her son. She shared that the kid refuses to drink from a different mug. Whenever his mug is dirty he says to her: *Wash my mug!*
One night, 30 minutes after midnight, I received an e-mail from a worried father: *My son just broke his mug and we cannot calm him down. He won’t stop crying. Please send another one as soon as possible.*”
What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business of their own?
“Save money! We’ve had to do all kinds of side jobs just to save money and invest in our business.”
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