We had the good fortune of connecting with Alenka Gomboc and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alenka, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I actually never thought about having my own business, this idea wasn’t premeditated at all. I am a graphic designer by trade and somehow I always had this belief that business and creativity don’t mix.
I had no prior knowledge of business – I’ve always been a creative person and
business wasn’t something that came naturally. Or at least that’s what I thought until I embarked on this journey.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I was working as a freelance graphic designer and got approached by this cool lady to do a type of project I’ve never done before – creating the illustrations for a reusable bag brand she was about to launch. Long story short, the brand became a success. The first launch of bags was featured in MoMa San Francisco and then recently Design Museum London, amongst other cool places. That got me thinking “Wait a minute, maybe I got something more to share with this world other than fulfilling other people’s briefs. It looks like people like what I do and maybe I should do more of it!”
So that was the first step that got me thinking about my own business although it took a long time before it came reality. The idea started brewing a few months before but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I started thinking about it properly.
This was the first time I ventured on the business journey, and, all on my own.
I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into to be honest, it just felt right and I felt I have to do this. Something was just drawing me in, like I had some sort of calling for it.
ABOUT THE PRODUCT
Thinking about it now, I basically designed the perfect product for myself lol. I was my target audience. I travel a lot and most of the time it’s beach places I go to. I am a very active person too so wanted a product that ticks as many boxes as possible. Also, I am very concerned about the environment so didn’t want to be just another brand making more mess on this planet. Sustainability was my top priority.
Finding the right fabric that ticks all these boxes was a mission. Looking for It took me across the world – Brasil, India, Turkey, China, I’ve seen it all! There were so many obstacles on the way to get to the end result but somehow, the solutions always appeared as fast as the problems.
To launch the product I started selling towels myself, in person, as I really wanted to get to know my customers. The thought of selling was such an uncomfortable thing for me at first – in all honesty, I hated anything to do with sales and the thought of doing it made me cringe. First week was difficult – I had not idea how things work, how to approach people etc. and I just felt out of place. Then, my high school friend who’s a top-notch salesman gave me a few tips and I tried testing them out – and they worked!
All of a sudden, loads people were buying the towels and some kept coming back for more. They loved the super vibrant colours and fun designs, it was such joy to be able to experience this! I was like, how did this happen?! Is this real or am I dreaming haha! It made me so happy people loving my creations. It was amazing. I met so many cool people during this process, I even made some friends.
This business has tough me so much about myself, about my undiscovered capabilities and so much about trusting the process and not freaking out every time things go wrong. All these lessons have become valuable life lessons too – and I’m still learning. Over all, it’s been a challenging and exciting journey – but never once I thought, “why am I doing this?” This has always been clear and still is. I want to share my colorful designs with people and bring Joy and smile to their faces. At least that’s how I feel when I see bright colors and my designs. Hope it transmits! 🙂
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
One of my shoutouts goes to Nancy from Herd Bags (https://herdbags.com). She is actually the reason why I recognised my skill that made me launch my business. She has been a valuable client as well as a (business) friend ever since we started working together. Very grateful to have met her!
Also, my boyfriend Alejandro has been a great support through ups and downs of this journey. Very thankful for his patience and faith in me.
Oh, and my friend Steve who turned out a great handy man helping me build stuff for my launch. And of course, all my customers I’ve met selling towels, people that supported my cause and invested in me. Very grateful!
Juan Villalobos, Roberto Hernandez, Alejandro Victoria