Global initiative She's Next Empowered by Visa supported by NARGIS magazine is now in Azerbaijan! The main goal of the project is to support women entrepreneurs, owners of small businesses, as well as those who want to open their own business.
For many centuries, women took an active part in the political and cultural life of Azerbaijan. Our country was the first in the Muslim East to give women the right to vote in elections. It was us who had the first female pilot in the Caucasus and the first female lawyer in the history of Turkey. And today, our compatriots, who boldly realize wide opportunities in entrepreneurship, without looking back at gender stereotypes, motivate us.
As part of the initiative She's Next Empowered by Visa, famous women from Azerbaijan will share their success stories, talking about the difficulties they had to face when starting their business and overcoming them.
Our first heroine Madina Gulieva always followed the call of her heart. And even the pandemic could not make her abandon her dream: in 2020 she opened the Cozy by Madi showroom, which, according to Madina, helps people find comfort and harmony.
When and why did you decide to open your business?
Initially, I did not have such a goal, I just really liked to serve a table and decorate rooms. Friends once in a while told me that it was time to open a page on Instagram to post photos that I took having guests at home and inspire others to create coziness. I had enough equipment for table serving: dad gifted me a large collection of antique dishes and accessories. I started sharing photos and got a lot of nice reactions. People wrote that they would like to see the same decor at home. Then I wanted not only to create comfort for myself and loved ones, but also to give this invaluable experience to everyone. Two months after the opening of the page, one subscriber asked to make wedding decor for the house. And a little later, a big order came from Cartier, and I thought that if we can handle it, we can open a small company where we will provide table serving and decoration services. That's what we did. In 2020, Cozy by Madi was officially launched.
What inspired you at the beginning of the journey and what moves you now?
Cozy by Madi is a great tool for sharing experience in the field of decor, a clean canvas on which me and my team constantly create something new. This is the realization of our fantasies.
My goal is to help people find harmony. I like to bring beauty to everyone around me, to create what makes people happy. If a person is not praised, he will begin to get tired at some point. But with support and encouragement of others, there is an incentive to develop. You want to surprise people - start doing something differently. My inspiration was and will be you!
What difficulties did you face at first?
I worked in my favorite government job, and at some point a choice arose in front of me, because it became physically impossible to combine two types of activity. Otherwise, I would have to be in several places at the same time. Leaving work was not easy, but I calmed down when I began to receive feedback from customers. After all, state work can be gone, but if you do something with your own hands, you can always earn money. In a short time, we created a team that consists of 90% girls, and sometimes we were not taken seriously. Not everyone believed that women could come and install tents and lighting overnight. For example, there was a project in the Meysari village, where we were called at the last moment: we arrived at nine in the evening to design a large space, and by noon the next day it should have been ready. It was a challenge for us. At first they asked us: "Can you really do this?". But gradually we were able to defend our positions, proved ourselves in business and proved that there are no gender differences in business. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to officially open the showroom and mark the launch of Cozy by Madi, but we were still able to stay afloat. And now, without bringing our hands down, we are going forward with new projects and ideas.
How did you gather your team?
I was familiar with some of them before I decided to start a business. We understood each other half a word. I got even luckier with the chief decorator: she is my niece, who graduated from the Academy of Arts. When it was time to expand the team, I started looking for creative guys through my friends and ads on the Internet. In fact, there were a lot of applications, but, unfortunately, there were few open positions, and I was able to take only a couple of people into the team. They are all young, but very goal-oriented guys.
Can you, looking back, say what was the right decision for you to open your business?
I think that doing your favorite business, which also makes a profit, is happiness. For coming to this so soon, I am partly grateful to my beloved team. They're as crazy and creative as I am. As we like to say, "We're on the same wave!". We respect each other and understand from a half word.
How do you see Cozy by Madi in ten years?
We became the first company on the Azerbaijani market, with an individual approach, which, working with all styles, always focuses on details. It is the details that create the atmosphere that can be seen or felt in our works. Like any entrepreneur, I would like to occupy the first ranks in this niche in ten years, continue to bring something new, helping people develop and realize themselves.
What advice would you give young women who want to start a business?
What advice would you give young women who want to start a business? "Impossible is nothing". The main thing is faith in yourself! There is always a risk, but you need to try. After all, it's better to know that you did everything possible so that you could succeed, than wondering all your life afterwards: "What if I could?"
And I would also advise you to carefully maintain the documentation. Unfortunately, in our practice, we saw how this happens when you know a person and believe in his words, and ten months later you have a problem with payment... but if we had concluded an agreement in time, none of this would have happened. First of all, a young woman starting a business needs to hire a lawyer so that everything is according to the rules. It is necessary to calculate in advance what may not work out, and turn to a professional who will help fill these gaps. There can't be anything that doesn't work out.
What do you think the power of women is about?
We have eight girls and one guy on the team. Women mostly respond to vacancies in the field of decoration in our country, but personally I do not see the difference between the power of a woman and a man. We are all human, and everyone has his own soul, faith in himself and purpose. The main thing is to find your goal and go to it quickly, confidently, and then you will achieve everything.