Andreea Schiesser, a Romanian young entrepreneur, spent two months in Belgium with an experienced entrepreneur, Barbara Geusens, from the skincare industry, in 2021, within the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme. With the help of Fundatia Danis, Andreea gained more confidence in the entrepreneurial path she wants to follow. In fact, on her return from Belgium, Andreea started a new business in international marketing – Brigua Concept – https://www.briguaconcept.com/.
Here is an interview with Andreea talking about the impact of the #EYEexchange one year after the experience and about her new brand – Brigua Concept.
When did you first become interested in becoming an entrepreneur?
I have always admired entrepreneurs for their small part in the community’s life. Be it a grocery store, a niche beauty salon, or a boutique marketing consultancy, I was always interested in businesses that take one thing and do it really well. The artisans. Brigua Concept it’s just about that, brand craftsmanship. I bring brands to life and ensure they tell their story.
How did the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme impact your business? How did your business grow/expand since the exchange? What new markets did you reach?
First of all, I was an aspiring entrepreneur; I did not know how to handle all the paperwork, all the steps that one needs to take to establish a company. The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme helped me overcome those challenges. It allowed me to learn from an experienced entrepreneur in a different market than mine. Also, while there, I realized that I could make an impact on the businesses of small to middle-sized entrepreneurs as much as I used to as a marketer in larger companies.
I am using my international experience in Marketing to help entrepreneurs understand their brands. Hand in hand with the brand consultancy, I attend the medical cosmetics track of a pharmacy university here in Romania. A skincare business is something I also see myself establishing a few years from now, once I graduate.
How has your business plan changed or influenced by your Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs experience?
I learned entrepreneurial skills from my host in Belgium, which otherwise would have been very hard to acquire. Sharing my international marketing expertise with my host and her team made me realize that there would be other entrepreneurs I could help as a brand consultant.
What is the relationship with your host entrepreneur – Barbara Geusens – now, one year after the exchange?
We get in touch once in a while. I can always contact her and vice versa. I think we easily connect not just as professionals but also as individuals. Seeing Barbara at work and how she manages her team made me realize I wanted to become an entrepreneur myself. It made things easier for me by learning directly from her.
What would be the highlights of your business since the exchange?
I am connecting with brands, analyzing branding, establishing brand essence all of these, and many others. Some brands have vibrant energy others are very delicate and soft. I look at form and contrasts. It’s not pure marketing.
What are the latest innovations you brought into your business or the latest innovative changes you made to your business?
Being a student again in the medical cosmetics track, it’s just another industry on top of banking, beverages, and pharmaceuticals that I get to understand from the core. It’s always refreshing to learn something new.
How do you reach the EU/international market, or how do you plan to reach the EU/international market?
Having an international marketing background, my expertise does not purely relate to a certain country; some brands are global, and others are immersed in the local culture. Being lucky enough to have had the chance to work with colleagues from different countries was important to me. From country to country, the aesthetics differ as much as the consumer behavior… different markets and different ways of being.
What are the key components of your business strategy for the following years?
I would like to conduct workshops and offer training courses to teams of marketeers in various companies. I enjoy working with various teams from one’s company. Their level of expertise has a major impact on the brand. Never just the logo.
Helping now other young entrepreneurs to enroll in the programme, what were you nervous about before the exchange?
I wasn’t nervous per se. But I didn’t know where to start. The paperwork needed to start a company was new to me. Finding an accountant was challenging initially, as I was looking for a perfect fit, someone I could trust. Nowadays, I am looking for an excellent commercial lawyer. So I guess it’s a never ending process.
What challenges did you face during the exchange?
I lived in the Middle East for many years and in Amsterdam for a while. When being in the position to go for the EYE exchange in Belgium, I imagined those very few things would have made me uncomfortable. However, the exchange happened during the pandemic, and the entire world was on lockdown. I had to stay in quarantine for the first ten days. I was lucky that a close friend hosted me in Brussels until the quarantine was over and I could shift to Ghent. Ghent is a lovely town in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. I rented an apartment in an old stunning building close to the city center. My days were spent between the office where I offered brand consultancy sessions, studying the skincare industry intensively and visiting factories.
What would you say to recommend the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs experience to others?
It’s a very fast and dynamic route. Practical. Take it and immerse yourself in an exciting company from where you can learn and grow! Definitely, someone interested in entrepreneurship should try it.