Baruch College - Marketing
Perhaps the story on the Uptown Soap website says it best. One beautiful day two years ago, armed with passion, Silvia Dontcheva decided to change the world one soap at a time, and so she started the company even though she had zero experience in the bath and body industry. Now multiple items in the line have been featured everywhere from Vogue to Vanity Fair, and products are sold everywhere from The Four Seasons to Urban Outfitters. So, when Silvia told us that every day is pretty much a dream day, how could we not believe her? Plus, she gets to play with fragrances and develop new product ideas all day long. And her creative side is ever-present. When she's not working she's collecting photos on her iPhone. (She has more than 10,000 right now!) She's also always in search of the next greatest-hole-in-the-wall restaurant and enjoys spending time with her dog, Kuppy.
In order to be successful you must always have perseverance, but be patient as well.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
I've always been business driven. I remember during second grade I had a collection of miniature toys that came from chocolate Kinder Eggs. I put them into a giant cookie tin and took them to school with me and sold them to the other kids during my lunch break. I made a fortune that day ... and so my thirst for selling began.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
Since then I've opened a few businesses in very different industries. I have learned so much from every single one, and there really is no education greater than the one you'll receive by jumping into things and learning along the way.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
There is no typical day whatsoever! And to be honest, I prefer it that way. My weekly schedule usually revolves around running around the city to attend various meetings with retailers, following up with clients, designing new products, and managing production to make sure everything runs smoothly. I am also in charge of placing our bath and body products in magazines and newspapers, and since they work on very tight deadlines, you never know when they'll call and ask you to drop everything and deliver various products to them. That's what keeps my job exciting though, because I never know what will happen.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
We truly have the most unbelievable clients in the whole wide world! They get so excited when we introduce new products to them, and it's an amazing feeling to see someone appreciate everything we do. So much work goes into making everything, and it's so rewarding to see our products do really well in their store.
What is the most challenging part?
I think juggling everything can become somewhat of a daunting task. Although I think that as time goes by, you learn how to manage your time better, and it becomes a little easier day by day.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I have always dreamed of moving to San Diego, because it's one of the most magical places I have had the privilege of visiting. But our company is based out of New York, so unless I figure out how to be in two places at once, my dreams of working on the beach while drinking pina coladas are slightly put on hold for now.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
I have learned that in order to be successful you must always have perseverance, but be patient as well. There have been so many occasions when retailers have said that they're not interested in our products, but I still kept in touch with them because I knew that our products would be a perfect fit for them. Usually the stores that have taken me the longest to persuade into offering our products have become our best-selling locations.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
I think most women shy away from opening their own companies because they don't believe in themselves as much as they should. I have so many incredible friends that are so talented and would give anyone a run for their money, but they think it's a huge risk to work for themselves. My advice would be to start small and grow the business from there. Another suggestion I would make is to not be afraid of entering into a field that you're unfamiliar with. I knew nothing about the bath and body industry when we started, and we are now sold in almost 200 stores nationwide including The Four Season Hotels, The Guggenheim Museum and Urban Outfitters. All of that has happened because we never looked back and just kept going -- no matter what.
Who are your role models?
I have many role models. Some include Sarah Blakely from Spanx, Roxanne Quimby from Burt's Bees, and Carly Fiorina, a former HP Exec.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
Believe everything is possible, and shoot for the moon.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
It's a really fun industry to be in, but it's unbelievably competitive. There are millions of new beauty products that are introduced every year, and you have to stand apart from all the clutter. You have to have a fresh spin on a product or an idea that nobody has thought of. Either way, never give up because there will be many more "no's" than "yes's." But in the end, if you are truly meant to be in this industry, you will love every bit of it!