“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up.” Serena Williams
My mission is to empower women and to help them tell their story through their business and personal branding. Everyone has their different “why” and challenges as they begin setting up their own business, and moving forward to a successful career. What better way to learn than from the incredible women who have already taken that first step towards living their dream? I would like to give these women an opportunity to share their wisdom and stories. Hopefully it will inspire others to follow. As you will see, they are just like you. They all had an idea and they all wondered if they could make it work. Well they did; let them tell you how.
First interview is with wonderful Vladka Fremuthova, the founder of Meadows Bohemia Scent. I was delighted to take her personal branding photos in Prague last year, we covered different stories that were close to Vladka’s heart: passion for books, fresh flowers, art galleries and on the work process itself.
What career did you have before you set up your own business, and what made you want to try something new?
After school I worked several years in advertising agency and then I become a marketing director for cosmetic company Wella. I was thinking about my own brand for many years but due to work commitments I didn’t have the energy to start anything new. Finally after my son went to a nursery I could started. The success didn’t come over night as first I was exploring which options I had as an entrepreneur that I can connect with. Then the idea came to combine my passion for scented candles with my love of design and the tradition of Czech glass-making. The brand MEADOWS was born in Prague – purveyors of the finest handcrafted candles contained in signature hand-blown glass. It took me a year to create first six scented candles and two gift collections that became the key brand pillars.
What were your main concerns about going it alone?
From the beginning I new I want to be the master of my free time. I believe the way is not to have responsibility for an employees. In busy months I hire freelancers and this type of cooperation has worked for me.
What was your main source of motivation?
At the begging I definitely wanted to prove that it is possible to start a company with small resources and build a brand that will be high quality and become the object of desire. Now I am motivated and happy by the fact that I provide work to several glassmakers, designers, printers and others.
How long did it take you to go from just having an idea to actually starting your business?
Finding suppliers, creating a brand as such and testing candles took little over a year. The candles were first lit in 2012. Next year I will celebrate 10th anniversary!
What did you find hardest?
The hardest part was to get good quality suppliers. I built the brand on the fact that I want to cooperate only with local suppliers. However I had no idea how challenging process it may be to find them and explain my quality requirements. I am happy for this journey. I have been working with the same companies since the beginning of business and thanks to that we can grow together.
The production of candles is often physically demanding, I handle 20kg boxes of wax, so I am often very tired after the season. But for me it is still the most creative part of my work, which I would hardly give up. Even after ten years, I really enjoy the production.
If you could go back and do it all again, would you do anything differently?
Yes, for sure. At the very beginning, I did everything with my heart and didn’t really have a business plan. I made the glass sketches myself as well as the packaging and web design. Now I would focus more on brand positioning and strategy setting. I then caught up with these things, it actually cost me more money than I would pay at the beginning.
What made you decide to have a personal branding photoshoot?
For a long time, I presented the Meadows brand without my person. I tried to build it mainly on products. It was only after giving some interviews for magazines, I realized how important is to share who is behind the brand, my „why“ , how I live, what I love. I know that personal branding is important part of the Meadows brand. Brand photoshoot helped me to create the human connection with my customers. And in a way that is honest, it captures my hobbies and passions.
Where are you hoping to be in a year from now?
I would like to extend the portfolio of scented cards that can be placed in dressing rooms, cars or books. Also I wish to continue work on special projects for companies. It’s always fulfilling for me to step away from Meadows products and tailor made limited collections. For example last year it was cooperation with Czech company Petrof or glassworks Rückl.
Who would be your 5 ideal dinner party guests?
5 are not enough:) My big passion is interior design, food and art. Therefor I would definitely choose from this area to discuss and learn more about my favourite topics.
My choice would be the owner of Lasvit company Mr. Leon Jakimic. Vojtech Kovarik that creates amazing paintings. Any architect from the K Studio that created interior from my favourite hotels. The writer Karin Lednicka that wrote wonderful novel Leaning Church. And married couple Zuzku & Jan from Taste of Prague. I like to listen their podcasts with great tips for restaurants.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom for other women who have just set up their own business or are thinking about it?
I probably wouldn’t dare pass on wisdom or advice, I’m still in learning process. It is important to build a name on the right foundations. I perceive that one has only one change in a given field. For me, it has always been fulfilling obligations, meeting deadlines, good relationships with customers and suppliers. Be proactive. Orders will not come to you, you have to go after them. Don’t be afraid to contact large companies or stores. Yes, you may be rejected, but it’s much worse not to try at all!
Are you looking for a personal brand photographer who can help you grow your brand that emotionally connects with your audience?
Then I can help! I can help reveal your uniqueness and your essence that capture the heart of your ideal clients. Wherever your path has brought you today, I want to celebrate you and support you on your journey to tell your story and shine! I cannot wait to hear from you.