Firstly, tell us a bit about you?
Katrina Borissova has a passion for ideation, a talent for taking a concept or philosophy and developing it into a product. Design thinker at heart, Katrina studied philosophy at university, where her passion for concepts and ideas first developed, before adopting practicality with accountancy studies later in the years. Inspired by her eastern European roots and childhood memories, Katrina embraced nostalgia while being “at the search of time lost” by creating a brand, Little Danube, that crystallised her journey from the east to the west, named after the river Danube that flows through much of Central and Southeastern Europe.
Tell us about your business, how did you come up with the idea?
Referred to as the “The vegan soap brand born on the day Britain went into lockdown”, I decided to unlock my creativity out of frustration for not getting the corporate job I really wanted.
It was a series of event that led me to creating Little Danube, one being articles about clean beauty, cherishing sweet childhood memories and the foremost having a purpose through creativity.
What is your main inspiration and driver for your business?
Our mission is to redefine the beauty standards and industry by providing plastic free products and delivered to your door in compostable and biodegradable mailer and packaging. We put SUSTAINABLY at the forefront of our design by using eco-friendly tissue made from acid free paper and soy-based ink, our soap boxes are recyclable, and our delivery bags are fully compostable.
What was the moment that everything changed for you?
When I hired a third party to help me, it never felt real until then and deep down I was hoping I would be made an offer until then so I don’t have to go through the launch. I was very excited about launching but there was this voice that was saying “You are making a fool of yourself, stop now before everyone starts laughing at you”. It all became real when you talk about market analysis, social media strategy and launch planning. It’s the best investment I made for my start-up and myself, as I learned a lot and the consultant I worked with, Patricia, along the way became a friend and I’m so happy she was part of my journey as it was a very special time for me.
Little Danube, soap product image
What were the initial challenges you came up against and how did you overcome them?
Lack of sales, or silent sales. I had this understanding that if I put that amount of effort or cash, I’ll have the same return, unfortunately the lesson was very quickly learnt.
Investing in growing organically, optimising partnership, and implementing the early feedback from customers was the best investment ever.
I also had to manage my expectations very quickly, bouncing back from disappointment or mistakes is not an easy task and takes time to learn and incorporate in your daily routine and character.
What was the first win that made you feel you were onto something?
3 weeks after launching we were featured in the Sunday Times, few days before I told my story to the journalist, and I wasn’t 100% if we would get published. This was my first publication, and it was an amazing feeling to wake up to. Champagne upon celebration always has a different taste, it was a bit of a confirmation I was on the right path and there was no U turn.
Did you take the investment route for your business or are you self-funded? Can you share some insights on your decision and the process?
The Sunday Time triggered few emails from investors, it was as well an amazing feeling to see that there was some interest for my start-up. This was the first big decision I made, after conversations and presentations having to say no when you need cashflow the most was a very difficult step, but I knew deep down that I was on the right path.
Self-funded for now and in few years we’ll be going the investment route, establishing your brand and building the base is a very difficult exercise.
What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business?
Frugality and resourcefulness. Throwing money at a problem or lack of sales makes it worse and creates more problems to solve. I had to manage my expectations from start, along the way and still now, I have this big picture and vision but when you have never done it before nothing can prepare you for this journey and you are set for failure. As an entrepreneur you tend to wear many hats and learn many new skills, this is the best investment of their time and money anyone can make as opposed to throwing money at something as the ROI is nil.
What books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?
I’ve read every single book from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, famous for the “flow” principle in creativity, I devoured the Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention before developing the idea. It was a great inspiration to unlock my creativity and also provided me with a great framework and understanding of the creative process.
Another book that help me to find my purpose was Discover Your Why: Unleash the Power of Why, from Som Bathla. The book describes the psychology of purpose and helps you to know how to find your why, it refers to Mark Twain’s quote “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” which leaves you questioning a lot in your life.
Enterprise Nation, is the one stop shop for small businesses in the UK, for expert advice, events, community and they’ve been an incredible partner and enabler as a business and personal journey.
Where can we find you?
About your author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.
more articles you might like
I am passionate about good design and women feeling comfortable inside and out. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m a multitasker and if something needs doing, I jump in. I hate rules. Knowing yourself and therefore being yourself is key to all things in life.
How often do you find yourself guessing in business? Guessing what your customers want? Guessing whether they’ll buy?
Mixing business with pleasure is always high risk, so when Lucy Cleveley and I decided to launch Discoco together, we knew there could be challenges.