Interview with Edijs Brauners: „We can not rest on our laurels and think that this will be forever”
Edijs Brauners is an experienced entrepreneur for long years successfully operating into textile industry – since 2011 his enterprise “Textilu4U” has been working in Ventspils after orders of the Laume Lingerie, as well as at the beginning of May a new enterprise of women lingerie tailoring “Baltic Textile Production” in Talsi began its operation providing 37 work places for Talsi people.
In the interview Edijs tells about beginning of his career, lifestyle, as well as shares opinion about participation of the Latvian ice-hockey team in the World Championship.
Edij, how does your way to textile products manufacturing began?
Beginning was in middle nineties when women lingerie producing enterprise “Lauma” was still one whole enterprise (before it divided in 2 enterprises – one producing materials for tailoring, but another – tailoring) and searched for a sales manager. At that time I lived in Riga but anyway decided to apply for this competition, and the enterprise’s director chose me as the sales manager.
Have you already had experience of sales management?
I was still young when I applied for this competition. However I had little experience in sale. I learned a lot there. Real manufacturing traditions and firm school coming from Soviet years could be sensed there in „Lauma”. It was interesting experience to know how does a big manufacturing enterprise works, how does a product had been sold and exported to a number of countries, the biggest markets and their peculiarities, and of course the biggest market of that time – Russia. It was the first big contact to textile industry.
If talking about export markets – what kind of cooperation is with Russia?
Historically this cooperation and traditions in the Russian market have already strengthened. We are very well known in Russia. Taking into consideration different culture and taste in Russia we still are acceptable and offer of our design and style in the made products are recognized. However in order to hold our ground we must do the things promised to a client, make new and interesting collections, and must go at least half step before the market. We can not rest on our laurels and think that this will be forever.
Do other export markets have also been studied?
Yes, of course, a part of products has been exported to Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Albania. Once a part of products was manufactured for Western market in which the so called “private label” business was implemented when fulfilling an order under a big and famous label, for instance, Quelle catalogue, but now along with increase in labour costs it is economically unprofitable to sold only labour force. We can compete to Asian market only when selling our own label. Currently we are working on our assortment, development of our concept in order to gradually enter the market with our own name.
Did you already know early in life that you are going to be an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur as such – I guess no. It was the beginning of the nineties when I started studies and of course didn’t think about what is business, what is entrepreneurship. I used to work for trade at that time, although I had always been interested into business-related topics. I travelled a lot and mastered English to be able to perceive information in a broader range. The first experience and insight into sale were then born.
What was the biggest surprise beginning your own business?
Sectors of sale and manufacturing greatly differ. Being introduced with the manufacturing sector I understood how complicated it is from both points of view of hands and current assets and funding. At the time I understood that not every man can start his or her business. It means that the competition is less if manufacturing is made effective enough with good assortment, good product, effective sales organization, and price. In manufacturing money is “longer”.
What is important starting entrepreneurship? To see commerce. Not only an idea is important and your subjective opinion about a product but commerce by itself. One more thing I have understood is that I have begun less to think with my head. I try to exclude my subjective opinion making a product, show it to market, and perceive reaction – does the product is acceptable. Only then decision about manufacturing of this product can be made.
Maybe you had though about business of different type?
I had different thoughts but somehow the things have gone so that everything is related to textile industry. Maybe it is also because I have operated in the field for some time, I manage it. It is an advantage and shortage at the same time as often experience in an industry is seen as advantage but from the other side it could be a shortage as there are stereotypes, things that preclude from implementation of new ideas. However I must admit that also satisfaction is gain owing to work with students and new entrepreneurs – lectures, seminars, or mentoring consultations. I had experience to work in Turība University as the guest lecturer. Sale and marketing are the sectors I feel comfortable enough in which.
Phrases “improvement of entrepreneurial environment” or “promotion of entrepreneurship” are very popular. How do you evaluate business support measures including operation of the Business Incubator?
Seeing the big Latvian picture related to business environment and improvement of it I must say that tendencies over the last years are more positive and encouraging. Frankly speaking if there would be no Business Incubator I should think over about positive decision of starting operation when beginning new projects in manufacturing. I receive substantial and “tangible” support from the VHTP Business Incubator – adjustment of manufacturing premises, development of new products, absorption of new markets and clients. It is a huge support for an entrepreneur! Team of the VHTP is professionals and understand what and how I as an entrepreneur need in order to effectively launch producing in Kurzeme region. Logically, the Business Incubator waits also from me corresponding return – work places, taxes in budget, increase in export transaction volume. It could be defined as partner relations using win to win model from both parties!
You are from Riga. How do you feel when working in Liepāja, Ventspils, Talsi?
Liepāja where I started my career obviously differs from all the other cities – it has its own handwriting. It is rather creative city in which creativity can be sensed in almost every step. Liepāja is also as a centre of textile industry as once a number of small enterprises formed around the big flagship “Lauma”. Traditions and history can be sensed in Liepāja, and it had its own story.
If talking about Ventspils where I live at the moment it has rapidly changed in 10-15 years. It tries to position itself as a growing and developing city. One of the development directions is tourism that successfully works. The second direction – industrial development due to reduced activity in the port has allowed investors of other sectors to enter Ventspils and develop thus creating new enterprises and work places.
Still for the present I can not see the ready made traditions as for the city with its own peculiar style and story. However I am very glad about being in Ventspils. Here you can feel no Riga throng. But it is a question of city marketing – how to do so that every Ventspils inhabitant in his or her mind, heart, and words thinks and says “My Ventspils”!
I have yet no a defined opinion about Talsi as I operate there comparatively short time. I still must get to know Talsi.
What would you change if there would be a chance to start your professional life from the very beginning?
I would obviously go in arts direction. Music would be one way to find fulfilment and satisfaction.
Creative side and active lifestyle as such are very important. I must say that I could find a lot of activities outside work. I like stories about men, travels, interesting places, photography. It is a way that never ends and there is no room for routine work in it. We can not forget about comfort and balance between mind and physical body. Therefore I am a participant of the Ventspils Marathon club and try to exercise myself physically running distances of different lengths! It can be called a type of “battery recharging”.
There is an opinion that sportsmen are those having consummate characteristics to become successful entrepreneurship. Do you agree to this?
Sport obviously encourages it but I am personally cautious and aware about these things. I know professional sportsmen. One must have purposefulness and strong character, must be very egocentric and self-oriented in order to reach good success. I am a bit afraid of these things. Also in my life I have fought with these things – how to suppress myself, how to avoid ambitions and huge aims. You reach the relatively set aims but what is the price for that? A selfish person is the one who lives not in a way he or she wants but the one who force their close men to live as he or she wants and wishes. It is the worst! I think that life quality is not made all by oneself. It is made by everyone around you.
Did you follow events of the Ice-Hockey World Championship?
Yes, I followed but I must mention that again there was a sickness typical to us – inability to focus and gather when it is needed. We as if do everything but often not for the 100 %. It can often be seen in ice-hockey, work, when working with clients, service rendering, etc. It is our shortage.
Therefore I call everyone to be professional in his or her field, to show that we are the best, knowing, and skilled, to convince about the things we are doing!
Thank you for the interview! May all the planned succeed!