For Mihaela Stinghe, managing director at BeeWorks Promotion, business is a way of expressing her creativity and increasing memorability, all while generating a turnover of about EUR 200,000 a year.
How did you enter the Romanian business scene and when?
I graduated from the Faculty of Sociology and Social Assistance within the University of Bucharest and have always wanted to put into practice what I learned during my studies. Back in 2000, I was a volunteer at a high school in Bucharest, but the need for psychology didn’t exist at that time. I made my entrance into the business world in 1998 when, together with my husband, I founded Scop Advertising. The business idea came while I was working as a sales representative at Parker&Waterman and customers seemed to want something more than just the company’s products. Feeling like I wasn’t able to refuse them, I thought to myself that I could do more than sell their products. I began by attending different international trade fairs in Germany, Italy and France in order to find suppliers of promotional materials for my business. And that’s how it all started; I was young, creative and full of ideas. Seven years later, in 2005, I decided to close Scop Advertising and started working as a client service director for an advertising production company. Despite wanting to work for a company, my entrepreneurial spirit persisted, so in 2007, I set up BeeWorks Promotion, a company specialized in offering creative promotional materials, corporate gifts and consultancy services.
Why did you decide to launch such a business in Romania?
My motivation was simple: I wanted to make my own decisions and felt I could do many things for the customers. I was, and still am, very focused on their needs. Since the inception of our business I have had the luck to work with large customers like Holcim Romania, Nederlanden Asigurari (the current NN Asigurari), ING Bank, Rompetrol and Regus.
What was the most difficult moment for your business and how did you manage to surmount it?
I couldn’t say that we had difficult moments, but rather challenges that we faced during the financial crisis. Back then, everybody was scared about what was going on, and I perceived that period as a significant tipping point. I thought about whether I could go on with our business during the crisis, but after an in-depth analysis, I realized I could. We got through that difficult time by working for large clients like Alpha Bank, ING Asigurari de Viata, Uniqa Asigurari, Generali Asigurari, HBO, BASF, AXN Romania, Holcim Romania, Porsche Romania, Ruukki, Sanoma Hearst, TBWA Merlin and many advertising agencies.
If you were to start another business, what would you do differently?
I would probably change nothing, as BeeWorks Promotion is a business that expresses my creative soul. BeeWorks is not just a supplier of promotional materials; by paying a lot of attention to details, I can give each product personality and turn it into something memorable. For example, Christmas is one of our most successful times of the year because I focus on something other than what the local market can provide, offering my clients products they can keep for an extended period of time. Regardless of the type of business I would start, I would still approach it in the same manner. I am not focused on quantity. Rather, I want to offer my clients fresh ideas fueled by my 17 years of professional experience in this field of activity. Additionally, the time when I wanted to do many things exclusively for our business has passed. I worked and the results came and are still visible. Now, I am at a different stage: that of focusing more on my family. If I started another business, I would choose something in the education field because I am not fully satisfied with the current educational system. Four years ago, I tried and succeeded in re-creating the experience of holidays spent at the grandparents’ house for children that live in large cities, as part of the “Casuta de vacanta” project. Through this project, we tried to connect children to nature through botanical activities and handicraft workshops like sewing and rock-painting, history, geography, drawing and painting.
What are the main challenges you face in your business now and how do you solve them?
We witness a significant turnover of sales personnel, as sales representatives come and decide to leave the company shortly after they sign up for this job. As a result, you end up coordinating the whole activity alone.
How fierce is the competition in your field of activity and what do you think differentiates you from the crowd?
The competition in the field is fierce but, both my experience, as well as the capacity to easily offer creative promotional materials, are two of our main advantages in this crowded market. I prefer to look to all external partners and suppliers for the right solution despite it being time consuming. At present, the local promotional materials market is split into two player-categories: those that offer standardized products and those that customize their offering. Customers need ideas that surprise them, and the market is quite fragmented and with plenty of players.
What are your plans?
I have never thought of myself as a business woman, rather a creative one. Many times, I thought about how I can reach the creative individuals that always want more. I would like to meet clients that pay a lot of attention to details and want to focus on creating memorable experiences. As for the future, we intend to maintain the same pace of growth for our business.
BeeWorks Promotion in numbers:
- Established: 2007
- The annual average turnover: EUR 170,000-200,000
- Number of employees: 3 employees and 4 collaborators
- Initial investment: over EUR 25,000