We spoke to Izabela who runs the very successful chain of stores in Sofia, Bra Clinic, about what it’s like to be an expat woman in Bulgaria.
How long have you been living in Bulgaria?
I’ve been living in Bulgaria since January 2013. I came 2 months before opening Bra Clinic in order to find the right personnel for the bra fitting consultant positions and to make sure I had time to train them properly.
What are you doing in Sofia?
I am running Bra Clinic lingerie salons, which specialise in bra fitting consultation and offer 120 bra sizes from A to K cup, so that every customer can find the ideal bra or swimwear top for herself, according to her individual needs.
Do you speak Bulgarian? If yes, how did you learn?
I would say that I speak basic Bulgarian, but to the level that I am able to communicate with my staff and with customers in the language.
What have been the biggest challenges for you running a business in Bulgaria?
Finding staff who would understand and implement in day to day work the need of exceptional customer service.
Do you think that as a business woman in Bulgaria you are well respected?
Yes, I believe so. 🙂 Very often I receive positive feedback and congratulations from my customers, who went through a bra size change. For most of them it was a life changing experience, which resulted in improving their self-confidence. They are very grateful that such a business exists in Bulgaria and for the offering of ‘unusual’ for the Bulgarian market, sizes and unique customer service.
What do you like the most about living in Sofia? Anything you don’t like?
Being originally from Poland, I absolutely adore Bulgarian weather! I like as well the fact that in Sofia everything is very close, not like in other capitals. Being a mother I like the attention people here pay to children and the importance of family values.
How do you spend your free time? Any favourite places?
Running two businesses (for 12 years I have also been running a lingerie distribution company in Poland) I usually do not get much free time. However, if I get any, I try to spend as much time as possible with my children. Also, from time to time, I see my Bulgarian and international friends for a dinner or a night out.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone moving to Sofia to start a business, what would it be?
The Bulgarian market is smaller and not as developed as other western European markets so bringing a new business concept requires patience and it takes time. You also have to bear in mind that the mentality of people here is different, a mixture of South European and Balkan, which means more laid back and relaxed!