For our very first blog post, we sat down with the founder of DURA|NATURA and powerhouse Engracia Castelo. We wanted to know how she found the motivation and strength to start her own business, what she recommends to other people who are dreaming of founding their own company, and why she decided on an agency that focuses on sustainability. Meet Engracia!
Q: When did you found DURA|NATURA and were you scared to take this step? DURA|NATURA as the final brand was born four months ago but the company has been around for almost a year now. When I first started, I actually wanted to do virtual assistance jobs for brands. My service was named PMV Office, which stands for Professional, Multilingual & Virtual. After registering the name and buying the domain however, I figured out that the services I wanted to offer to entrepreneurs were in fact no regular VA services. Instead I wanted to help brands to enter new markets, and use my knowledge in sales and marketing, as well as my language skills for this. What I had planned to be a VA office turned out as sales agency.
Fun fact: Ever since I was a young girl, I had always dreamed to be an independent sales representative - it seems like the universe conspired and gave me what I asked for. Yes, surely I was scared to take this step. The unknown is always scary but my boldness pushed me to do it anyways. So I did.
Q: What is the best thing about your job?
Knowing that the work I’m doing has a good purpose, that I am helping amazing brands to grow and at the same time work for a better planet. The fact that I can walk around spotting new stores and concepts which could be potential resellers is great. Every time it feels like going on a little adventure through vibrant cities like Rotterdam, Dusseldorf and Cologne.
Q: Why did you choose to focus on Sales for organic or sustainable products?
I am very connected to the nature and care a lot about the environment. After working for an organic and fair palm oil producer, and seeing the good that producers like this do for our world, I just knew I could never work in a field that that it is not organic or sustainable.
Q: What is special about DURA|NATURA?
We are a full service agency. We help our partners no only with Sales & Marketing but also transitioning their already great brand into a brand that especially caters the German and Dutch market. We really aim to make their market entry easy and smooth. Since we know the market and speak the languages, we also take on tasks like customer service and translating websites, product descriptions etc.
Q: You are originally from Germany. Do you enjoy living in the Netherlands? What do you miss the most from Germany?
Yes, I come from a town called Neuss. However, because nobody knows Neuss, I usually say that I grew up in Dusseldorf (not to say that Neuss isn't a beautiful city ;) ). I love the Netherlands, funnily I have always had the feeling that I was meant to live in Rotterdam one day. I have to say, I really do miss 'Baecker Broetchen'( German bread, fresh from the bakery) and the big choice of various food brands!
Q: You speak a lot of languages! How many and why?
I speak seven languages in total, six European and one African language. My goal is to speak ten languages by the age of 50 (I am 31 now). It's almost like my brain has some kind of 'decoder' for foreign languages - it just comes very easily to me. By the age of four I already spoke three languages fluent, which is when my mom knew she gave birth to a genious (haha). Since then, I was keen to learn more and more languages.
I speak Portuguese and German - I am originally from Angola, was born and lived the first ten years of my life there before moving to Germany. Lingala, a language spoken in DR Congo, I learned through listening and repeating by the age of four. English, French & Spanish I learned in school and through a lot of self teaching and last but not least Dutch. Just like Lingala I learned most of it just through communicating with people.
Q: Finally: What do you want to tell people who dream about starting their own business?
You will definitely feel the fear and pressure but I am telling you: do it anyway. Remember that you don't need to have everything figured out before starting. Just focus on your passion, your purpose, WHY you are doing this and build your business around it. Go for it!