Romanian entrepreneur Alina Ana Alecu has never studied design or art, and comes from a chemical engineering background. However, her passion lies in hand painted porcelain. In 2011 Alina, who at the time worked in an international trade company, had an epiphany. She has always had a longstanding love for drawing and fashion despite having a drastically different background. This rapidly led to starting Porphyras, a design studio specialising in the decoration of porcelain objects.
After several months of porcelain painting courses, Alina started preparing the paperwork necessary to register Porphyras and created her online shop which went live in October 2011.
What originally started as a simple online shop has now turned into a company with an international reach. “I wanted to make people happier when drinking tea or coffee from a beautiful cup. I wanted to bring the small joys in life,” said Alina.
Looking to the future
Over the years, the company has grown organically; Porphyras does not have any employees but works with other freelancers and small businesses. However, she relies on word-of-mouth and does not do any advertising or marketing. This ensures the objects are created as exclusive pieces. “My greatest accomplishment is being featured in the Romanian Contemporary Artist Encyclopaedia,” said Alina.
Porphyras does boast an international client base but most of the demand is based in Bucharest, Romania. Looking to the future, Alina wishes to venture into producing designs for mugs at an industrial scale while keeping the hand painted side of the business.
Alina joined a women’s business association soon after founding her company. She believes that finding women who are not afraid to recognise how hard entrepreneurship is, really helped her.
“Meeting them and seeing them say ‘that is a real struggle’, helped me see things as they are. I was relived to hear that I was not the only one struggling.” She often takes part in different workshops and forums to meet other female entrepreneurs and share tips and advice. Some of the women she has met have become her regular customers. Alina also organises porcelain painting workshops with other female entrepreneurs.
According to Alina, challenges happen very often, she now believes she is “1% designer and 99% problem solver”. Small things crop up every time, but taking care of them one by one helps.
Though everything is planned, things frequently tend to change, adapting to them and enjoying these small challenges is what Alina finds most useful. “The greatest quality for a business is flexibility.”
When asked about what could be done to encourage women and empower them, Alina states the power of good education as an example.
What advice would Alina give to aspiring entrepreneurs? “Be persistent. When you have the idea and possibility to start a business be resistant no matter what comes towards you.”