With more than 12 years’ experience in key PR positions on both agency and client side, Madalina Nistor decided to follow her long-time passion for silk and start her own business. The only silk clutch designer and producer in Romania of successful brand SILKDOM, talks to BR about beginnings and future business plans.
By Romanita Oprea
Where does your inspiration lay and what designer do you admire at an international level?
Well, I am inspired by everything I believe in, by my dreams, my childhood, my many travels around the world, by the people around me, by the events that come my way. I am a highly intuitive person; I work very well with and around emotions. I never work on a piece of silk that does not speak to me. And it has to voice out the many things that I believe in: beauty, sensuality, luxury, opulence, the joy of being a woman, statements, courage. The SILKDOM world is not a minimalist one. It is a storm of colors, sensations and intensions. Our creations speak out loud about the women wearing them. They tell stories, express dreams, communicate intentions.
I am in love with the work and legacy of Alexander McQueen. The way he reinvented shapes and textures, the incredible stories his creations voiced, the unimaginable creativity he put into fashion are unparalled to me.
I also have a crush on Daphne Guinness, with her magnetic and iconic sense of fashion, with her fairish appearance and aristocratic looks.
How did you choose the moment to launch your business?
The moment I launched SILKDOM was the moment my childhood fairy tales finally caught up with me. Every member of my family was an artist to a certain extent, but my maternal grandmother was the one who gave me this love for silk and the courage to pursue my dreams. She was fortunate enough to be close to Queen Mary of Romania when she was very young and was very impressed by the beautiful, elegant, valiant Monarch! During those times, she began to admire and treasure beautiful, rare things and to love silk and traditional Romanian costumes. I believe SILKDOM is somehow the legacy my grandmother left me. Every single gift she offered me during my childhood and later on was made of silk, gold or silver. Thanks to her, I own an impressive collection of Romanian blouses, all beautiful, handmade treasures embroidered with gold thread, silk or beads.
Getting back to your question, SILKDOM was born at the precise moment when my past collided into my present life and found me available and willing to venture into new territories. I started this business while on maternity leave with my son. It was back then that I realized I needed a story of my own, built around what I love most: precious things, striking stories and silk.
How did you choose your team?
In a disarmingly simple way: by mirroring myself in them. I would say that my team shares my interests and my values. We are highly compatible. Of course there were trials and errors but in the end only the ones sporting a similar creative, curious and disciplined structure as mine remained. For example I currently work on branding with Irina and Mihai Ilie from Anathomia and I am lucky to have an exceptionally skilled PR Advisor whose name I prefer to keep for myself.
Needless to say, I have a “Production Manager” who seeks perfection and who sometimes “costs” me meters of silk until the final product is ready.
What is your business plan for this year?
I launched SILKDOM six months ago. On October 30th, 2016, www.Silkdom.com was live and so were the social media tools supporting my silk business. I had been working on this project for almost 1 year prior to its launch with challenges of all sorts. I finally managed to fine tune all the pieces at the end of October and by the third week of November, 85 percent of our collection was sold out. It seems that women loved the idea of owning a unique silk clutch, an item that did not exist on the Romanian market before SILKDOM introduced it.
2017 comes with an “E designation”. We seek expansion both in terms of product range and sales channels. We are currently working on launching new collections in order to respond to the needs and requirements of our customers. Up to now, a selection of SILKDOM creations can be found in Azay Boutique, a prominent luxury boutique with special, precious gifts, but also at Molecule F Concept Store in Promenada Mall, where our SILKDOM clutches are proudly displayed among the creations of the most relevant Romanian designers.
What about the long-term plan?
My dream is to take SILKDOM to the fashion capitals of the world, right on the shelves of the most important shopping boutiques and centers. It is hard work and I do believe that such a goal requires a considerable timespan, but then, in my case it all started with a dream. I also plan to create a special division for brides. They are a fantastic category to work for because they are demanding and looking for spectacular, creative gems.
What is your target and how do you reach it?
We mainly address affluent clients, both women and men, although in order to facilitate access to our products, we implemented solutions on our website that allow payment through credit card installments.
During these six month of activity, we gladly acknowledged that our customers come from all over Romania. We were also positively surprised to find out that men are great shoppers with exquisite tastes and generosity. SILKDOM customers are either very young, or people in their thirties, who commonly use social media and enjoy the online shopping experience. That is why, in April, SILKDOM joined eMAG’s “Deschide Romania” platform, a marketplace dedicated to Romanian designers and producers.
How has your extensive experience in PR helped you in your current business?
I would say that it has been of great use brand wise. It helped me develop SILKDOM’s communication directions, rhetoric, key messages and storytelling. The PR work does give someone certain social skills that are necessary for anchoring and developing a business. Working in PR for quite a while makes it easier for me to understand the value of a well-established brand. I have been assigning important resources to every communication aspect and I do believe that this is an important part of a successful brand.
How competitive do you consider the Romanian design market?
My most comprehensive encounter with Romanian designers and their creations took place at Molecule F Concept Store. It felt like I had reached the wonderland of creativity, beauty, novelty and quality. I was looking around me realizing that our designers are absolutely fantastic! There was nothing there that I would not wear instantly. Great lines, great designs, great color schemes and fabulous fabrics! To sum it up, I would say that the Romanian design market is vast, bold, beautiful and competitive.
What were your main challenges so far in the business and how did you surpass them?
The ultimate trial for me is to find people who understand that quality is a top ingredient for success; that we need to continuously perfect out products. I still find it difficult to identify those people who take ownership for what they do and who put themselves in the buyer’s place. Long ago, when I was working in a advertising agency, I met a telecom Marketing Director who was constantly asking his team: “What’s in it for the client?” Now I find myself asking the same question: why would anybody buy a SILKDOM product? The answer I would like to hear is: because it looks out of a dream and it is very well made.
What do you believe are the advantages of being a woman in business?
What I admire in the many extraordinary business women I know is the resilience, the optimism, the constructive stubbornness, the devotion.
I love the fact that, in most cases, when a woman runs a business the financial report and her soul make such a great team. I believe that women have a keen intuition and an empathic way of approaching situations or people that makes working with them so much more enjoyable, generally speaking.