HOW IRMA ZOVAK, FOUNDER OF BLOOM HRVATSKA FOUND SUCCESS ONLINE IN CROATIA

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Irma Zovak is one of those rare energies one comes across in Croatia. She is as hard-working as she is selfless. Her knowledge doesn’t come from what she heard from another, it is all from personal experience because Irma isn’t afraid of stepping out of her comfort zone and actualising her vision. What works will work, what doesn’t she is confident she will know how to fix or change.

She is the founder of Bloom Hrvatska, an online florist based in Zagreb, Croatia that could be considered ambitious as well. I use the word ambitious because the Croatian consumer finds it difficult to part with their money online courtesy of a lack of consumer confidence in the world of e-commerce. We have many dodgy dealings on Njuskalo to thank for that. The Croatian consumer is far easier to sway in purchasing after physically seeing a product in real life, online imagery just simply isn’t enough.

However, Bloom Hrvatska has seen great success through efficient use of social media, personalised giveaways and some influencer marketing (in the beginning), which Irma goes into detail on why she no longer gives away product in exchange for content.

This is a really open-minded conversation about business, one from a female entrepreneur who isn’t afraid to try and also make mistakes. One who is transparent about her knowledge and all that she has learned from being in business in Croatia. And one who continues to push forward.

I really hope you enjoy this insightful interview as much as I did.

What inspired you to start Bloom Croatia? ☓ Što te inspiriralo da započneš Bloom Hrvatska priču?

I was planning my own wedding when I realised that floral design was either dated or very expensive. I have a retired florist in my family so I asked her basic things about flowers and decided that I wanted to be a florist. A couple of months later, I saw the trend of flowerbox online and I decided to start from there.

The main goal was to bring flowers back to millennials, and sell not only flowers, but experience of giving flowers to loved ones. Also, I think our generation is very conscious about design so when I got to the point of doing weddings I wanted to provide a modern design for an affordable price.

Dok sam planirala svoje vjenčanje, shvatila sam da većina cvjećara drže vrlo visoke cijene. Budući da imam umirovljenog cvjećara u obitelji, pitala sam ju nekoliko osnovnih stvari vezanih uz temu i shvatila sam da je to posao kojim se želim baviti. Nekoliko mjeseci kasnije, na internetu sam vidjela trendi aranžirane kutije s kojima sam odlučila započeti Bloom priču. Cilj je vratiti se u prošlost te ne prodavati “samo” cvijeće, nego iskustvo darivanja cvijeća svima dragim osobama. Također, mislim da je naša generacija modno osviještena te kada sam započela raditi i na svadbama, htjela sam pružiti uslugu dekoriranja na moderniji način sa prihvatljivom cijenom.

Where do you source your florals from? ☓ Od kuda dolazi tvoje cvijeće?

I source my florals from the floral market. It took me a while to figure out which sellers have the best quality and the best prices. In some cases I get my florals from private sources or from my own garden.

Većinu cvijeća pronalazim na tržnici. Trebalo mi je vremena da shvatim gdje je najbolji odnos cijene i kvalitete, ali ponekad znam ubrati cvijet čak i iz svoga vrta ili kod nekoliko bliskih izvora.

How do you use social media to increase brand awareness? ☓ Na koji način koristiš društvene mreže kako bi povećala brand awareness?

When I have the time, I try to do different things than my competitors on social media. For example, we did a day with Bloom on Insta story and that was a great success. For Valentines day we did a set of videos with Croatian Youtubers that weren’t romantic but where more comedy type of videos. For international women’s day we did short videos with random girls about womanhood and so on.

All these things aren’t directly connected to my product and services, but are doing wonders for brand awareness. Just showing your work on social media isn’t enough, when you provide interesting content to your followers you can get amazing results.

Kada uhvatim malo više vremena, trudim se napraviti malo drugačije stvari od ostalih cvjećara. Na primjer, radili smo “Dan sa Bloomom” na Instagram storiju što je bilo vrlo uspješno. Za valentinovo smo snimili nekoliko kratkih videa sa hrvatskim youtuberima koju su nas sve dobro nasmijali, budući da nisu bili baš romantični, nego više komedija. Prilikom internacionalnog dana žena nekoliko nasumičnih djevojaka smo snimili te su pričale o temama poput ženstvenosti. Sve što sam spomenula nije izravno povezano sa samim proizvodom ili uslugom koju Bloom Hrvatska nudi, ali uvelike doprinosi brand awareness-u. Samo pokazivanje svoga rada na društvenim mrežama jednostavno nije dovoljno, kada pružiš zanimljiv sadržaj svojim pratiteljima, tada nastaju nevjerojatni rezultati.

💕 za jednu djevojcicu #love #girls #pink #peony #rose #flowerbox #cvijeceukutiji #bloom

A post shared by Bloom (@bloom_croatia) on

You’re also an online store, how do you the Croatian consumer responds to your online presence as opposed to a physical store? ☓ Koliko je teže biti online trgovina u Hrvatskoj nego prodavati fizički u prostoru?

It’s hard to sell flowers online in Croatia. It takes a lot of communication and education with consumers. Even younger the generation prefer to walk into a shop and pick their flowers. It is a even bigger problem with weddings. We try our best to make up for missing the physical store with the way we treat our customers. Every customer that buys online is met with a personalised service about flowers and design if needed.

Also, the fact that we don’t have a store is the reason why we can sell our products and services cheaper than our competitors. These two things are the reason why our concept works.

Vrlo je teško prodavati online i to cvijeće, u Hrvatskoj. Zahtjeva puno komunikacije te još uvijek učimo naše potrošače. Čak i mlađi radije odlaze u fizičke trgovine gdje odabiru cvijeće. Još je veći problem sa vjenčanjima. Dajemo sve od sebe kako bi nadoknadili činjenicu da smo samo online. Svaki potrošač koji kupi nešto putem našega web shopa dobije personaliziranu uslugu te sve odgovore na pitanja o cvijeću i dizajnu.

Također, činjenica što nemamo fizičku trgovinu nam upravo i omogućava zadržati prihvatljive cijene proizvoda i usluga. Upravo to je razlog zašto je concept uspješan.

Over the years have you seen consumer confidence grow in Croatia in regards to purchasing online, or the opposite? ☓ Jesu li Hrvati postali hrabriji tijekom godina prilikom online kupovine?

I haven’t noticed much of change in consumer confidence. At this point our business is booming because of word of mouth. I would say that Croatian consumers are still a little hesitant about online shopping but I do hope it will change in the near future.

Nisam primjetila veliku razliku. Trenutno nam posao raste zbog dobrih preporuka, a rekla bih da Hrvati još uvijek sa zadrškom kupuju online ali nadam se da će se to uskoro promijeniti.

What advice do you have for anyone wishing to start an online store? ☓ Imaš li neki savjet za sve koji žele započeti sa online trgovinom?

Patience. You can’t rush the process of establishing an online store and website just to get started, you need to take your time and do things right. Particularly in the beginning, you will need more patience before things take off. In the beginning it is important to communicate with all new and potential customers, until they feel comfortable enough to buy online from you.

The communication part is tricky because without customer feedback you often feel like you are talking to yourself (in posts, videos, etc..) but persistence and hard work do pay off.

Strpljenje. Ne možeš ubrzavati proces stvaranja online trgovine I web stranice. Moraš znati da treba vremena kako bi sve bilo kako spada. Pogotovo na početku, strpljenje je vrlo bitno. Također bitno je komunicirati sa svim novim I potencijalnim potrošačima sve do trenutka kada su dovoljno opušteni I vjeruju da mogu kupiti baš na vašoj stranici. Bez feedbacka potrošača možeš se osijećati kao da pričaš sam sa sobom ( u postovima, video uratcima…) ali učestalost I rad se uvijek isplate.

Do you deliver in Zagreb only or Croatia wide? ☓ Dostavljate li samo u Zagrebu ili diljem Hrvatske?

The flowerbox is delivered only in Zagreb. We haven’t figured out a way to deliver fresh flowers safely outside of Zagreb. Wedding and events is possible Croatia wide and also we are working on some new products that we will be able to ship wherever needed.

Cvjetne kutije se dostavljaju samo u Zagrebu. Još uvijek pronalazimo načine kako da dostavimo svježe cvijeće izvan Zagreba. Vjenčanja I evente radimo diljem Hrvatske, te novi proizvodi na kojima radimo biti će dostupni gdje god bude potražnja za njima.

How do you use influencers to increase brand awareness? ☓ Na koji način radiš sa influencerima da bi povećala brand awareness?

I used influencers in the beginning of Bloom. I tried different types of bloggers from fashion to lifestyle. They would get my product and then I would give them the freedom to tell the story about it. I tried my best to get to know them personally so that the promotions would feel organic. It worked with some, but mostly it just didn’t feel on brand for me. Now, I mostly use random people that love life and flowers for my content. I feel like it’s a better approach for my brand since it feels more natural and honest.

Kada je Bloom tek započinjao, surađivali smo sa influencerima. Pokušali smo sa različitim tipovima blogera od onih koji se bave modom do lifestyle-a. Dobili bi proizvod I slobodu pisanja priče. Dala sam sve od sebe da ih upoznam osobno tako da promocija bude organska. Uspjelo je sa nekoliko njih, ali sa nekoliko influencera nisam osijećala da je to u skladu sa brandom. Danas većinom promociju radim sa random osobama koji uživaju u životu I cvijeću. Mislim da je to bolji pristup za Bloom, puno je iskrenije I prirodnije.

What does an influencer need to have within their own branding to be able to collaborate with you? ☓ Kako se treba ponašati influencer da bi ostavrio suradnju sa Bloom-om?

I like influencers that promote brands they like and are not in their industry just for the money. There are a few influencers like that in Croatia that I have mayor respect for. If someone is doing it only for the money and free product, people very quickly catch on and it can only harm your brand. For me, it’s a waste of money to produce.

Sure, someone with a lot of followers can get you followers but it means nothing if those people aren’t interested in what you have to offer. I often say that you don’t make a living with likes and it is true.

Sviđaju mi se influenceri koji promoviraju brandove koje vole, a ne samo iz razloga da zarade. U Hrvatskoj je samo nekolicina takvih prema kojima imam veliko poštovanje. Ako netko radi promociju isključivo zbog novaca ili besplatnog proizvoda, ljudi to primjete vrlo lako I to može samo naštetiti brandu. Smatram da je to samo trošak.

Naravno, netko sa velikom bazom pratitelja ti može pomoći da ti brojka pratitelja naraste, ali to ne znači ništa ako svi ti pratitelji nisu zainteresirani u ono što nudiš. Ne možeš živjeti od likeova.

I often say that you don’t make a living with likes and it is true.

Where do you see your business in 3 years? ☓ Gdje vidiš Bloom za 3 godine?

Even though I’m happy being online, I would love to have my space in the future. At this point, I think it gives you freedom to show off your design to the public. Also, I hope that in 3 years Bloom will be a go to place for weddings and events in Croatia.

Iako sam zadovoljna sa online poslovanjem, voljela bih imati I trgovinu u budućnosti. Trenutno smatram da ti to omogućava slobodu pokazivanja dizajna javnosti. Također, nadam se da će Bloom u naredne 3 godine postati go to mjesto za vjenčanja I evente u Hrvatskoj.

How do you feel about competitors in your market? ☓ Što misliš o konkurenciji na vašem tržištu?

I used to spend my days thinking about my competitors and it was a waste of time. Sure, you need to know what they are up to,but also it can take so much of your time that you could be spending on developing your brand. Now, I don’t feel much about my competitors. I wish them the best of luck and hope that there is a place for all of us in the market.

Prije sam znala provoditi dane razmišljajući o konkurenciji I to je bilo glupo potrošeno vrijeme. Naravno, treba znati što rade, ali ne potrošiti previše vremena, radije razvijajte svoj brand. Konkurenciji želim sve najbolje I nadam se da će u budućnosti biti mjesta za sve nas.

What advice do you have for anyone wishing to start a business in Croatia? ☓ Koji je tvoj savjet za sve one koji započinju vlastiti posao u Hrvatskoj?

It’s a great feeling to create something that you can call your own. There are a lot of ups and downs and don’t let the bad times define you. Just because other business owners don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean we all don’t fail from time to time. It is perfectly normal to make mistakes and those mistakes shouldn’t define you or your brand.

Osijećaj stvaranja nečega što možeš zvati svojim je odličan. Postoji puno rasta I pada ali loša vremena vas ne smiju kočiti. Samo zato što ostali vlasnici poduzeća ne pričaju o neuspjehu, ne znači da se ne događa s vremenom. Griješiti je sasvim normalno, ali ne daj da pogrješke definiraju tvoj brand.

BLOOM HRVATSKA 

 

 

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