Next in A Creative Life, the spotlight is on Athens-based solopreneur Dina Tsiknia. Her brand, Bloomey Handmade, is all about skin and body care products as well as home fragrances crafted with natural, fresh and unconventional ingredients. Read on for an olfactory experience – I'm getting a whiff of that Lemon Pie body butter all the way here!
Hi Dina! Tell our readers what first inspired the idea of a business built around fragrances. How did you acquire the skills to start your own line of products?
The idea behind my brand of home-made products stems from my desire to always know what the beauty products I use contain and how safe they are. The inspiration came during a period when I had tried many products in the market but felt that none of them really met my needs in terms of the texture, the hydration they provided, and the quality and intensity of their scent.
Around the same time, I came across an ad online for workshops on making skincare products with pure ingredients. That was my big start. After attending a couple of workshops and devoting hours to experimenting with ingredients and scent notes, I realised the power I had in my hands. I liked that it gave me control over the ingredients I used, while at the same time sparking my creativity.
When I made the first product variations, I gave some samples to my friends for feedback. They were impressed by the texture, the smells and the long-lasting freshness of my products. That's when the idea of starting my own product line and making it available to a wider audience began to mature in my mind. In late 2015, I opened an Etsy shop with my first product category – body butters and body oils.
I continue to enrich my knowledge and boost my skills to optimise my products, but what I have realised is that customer reviews are the best source of information on how to become better. I really want to provide my customers with high quality products that fill their day with waves of freshness. Bloomey Handmade is not just a beauty product brand but a whole experience that aims to lift your mood and inspire you to truly bloom.
I realised the power I had in my hands. I liked that it gave me control over the ingredients I used, while at the same time sparking my creativity.
How do you come up with the recipes or ingredients of your soaps and skincare products? What's the conceptualisation process like?
The product recipes are based on the three basic principles of my brand. Firstly, I am a great fan of the idea that less is more, and I like to keep it simple and use ingredients that give my products a high quality and effectiveness.
Secondly, I have formulated my products so that they meet the needs of all skin types. Even the products I create for sensitive skin are perfect for every skin type.
Finally, my products are safe, effective and affordable. Every ingredient used is for nourishing, soothing and repairing the skin. The preservative used in most of the products keeps them intact for approximately 10-12 months.
What's your favourite soy candle or reed diffuser from your collection of home fragrances? And which one is most popular with your clients? Does it change depending on the season?
I really love all the scent variations from my home fragrance collection, as each of them reminds me of an experience or story. However, I’m strongly influenced by the season when choosing the scent notes for my space. During winter, I really love burning my White Sandalwood Soy Candle, a very special and sensual fragrance that contains notes of wood, powder and green elements with oriental influences. It is reminiscent of feminine perfumes from old times but with a refreshing contemporary twist.
For the summer season, I can’t get enough of my Coconut Island Reed Diffuser. Whoever doesn’t love coconut? Its scent takes me to tropical beaches with white sand and palms, reflecting in turquoise waters where this magnificent fruit grows!
However, this is not always the case for my customers. For many of my repeat customers, when they like a scent, they stick with it regardless of the season. Now that we are in the middle of July, the fragrance that sells the most is the Sugar and Vanilla Reed Diffuser which I launched for the coldest days of winter, especially the period leading up to Christmas, as it is a cosy and warm fragrance.
What do you keep in mind when writing and sharing stories about your products on social media, blogs, newsletters etc.?
Now you've struck a sensitive chord! Being a small business owner – let alone being a solopreneur – means that I have to be involved with most aspects of my business, from product design and supply management to order fulfilment, packaging and shipping. In addition to this, creating content for social media and being active on multiple platforms is a big challenge for me. That said, content creation is a part of my business that I really love and which I’m always trying to optimise. I see the content creation for my brand more strategically, as an opportunity to build a relationship, create connection with my audience and not just as another way to display my products.
The key axis I follow when I create my monthly calendar is based on the three pillars into which I have segmented my content. The first pillar is more lifestyle-based and inspirational content aiming to build a relationship with my audience and find common ground. The second pillar focuses more on product features and all their benefits for the user. The third pillar involves behind-the-scenes content, testimonials, and stories that most people don’t know, such as the challenges and disappointments I face as a small business owner.
My main goal when creating content is to give value, connect with my audience and create a community of people with the same interests. I don’t want a feed filled with hard-selling products. That’s why I put some personal touches in my content so that the audience can learn more about me, the soul behind the brand.
You also create beautiful customised items for clients and events such as weddings and baptisms. How do you collaborate with your clients to create the perfect gifts or favours based on the theme of their event?
Yes, I really enjoy collaborating with people and creating something unique for their special moments. Approximately five years ago, I had the chance to collaborate with a fashion designer and make a customised batch of soaps as guest favours for her upcoming fashion show at the Athens Xclusive Designers Week. We made 250 pieces of transparent cranberry-scented soaps containing fabrics from the designer’s spring collection. The success and positive feedback from my first soap collection made me realise that I really enjoyed this creative process.
A few months later, when we were about to christen my nephew, my sister came to me with a concept for the favours for the baptism. I made 150 pieces of baby powder-scented, double-layered soaps with a dog's paw print on them, inspired by Bella, my nephew’s lovely dog!
That’s how the idea of customised products for special events and projects was born. The favours I design are usually soaps, candles or beeswax salves made with pure ingredients and customised according to the client's tastes and concept.
And finally, are there any new products, fragrances or ingredients that you are working with now or are excited to experiment with in the future?
For the time being, I am not launching any new product line, but I am thinking of enriching my home fragrance collection with some new scent notes for the winter, especially for the Christmas season which is the most commercial season of the year. This category sells the most during the holiday season as a soy candle or a reed diffuser is a great gift idea.
However, I want to focus on the optimisation of the existing products – for example, more eco-friendly packaging. Finally, I want to create and publish more video content on my brand’s social media channels, for which I need to work a little on my camera-shy side!
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