Since graduation, TRIUM 2009 Alumna Pavlina Marinova has smoothly and successfully navigated her professional transformation from corporate executive at Oriflame, a worldwide cosmetics company, to founding CEO of Pick N Dazzle, a beauty digital company in the personalized e-commerce space. Having opened its on-line doors to the test market in Romania only on October 14, Pick N Dazzle already boasts 12,000 fans on its Facebook page, 1,000 customer accounts on the site and followers on YouTube and Pinterest. Pavlina acknowledges her academic preparation at TRIUM, the advice of classmates and faculty, and the resources of TRIUM’s alliance alumni communities with helping her achieve her entrepreneurial dream.
When Pavlina initially considered enrolling in an MBA programme, she knew what she wanted. With over 10 years of executive experience in finance roles in emerging markets, Pavlina was ready to transition into global business development and strategy and broaden her knowledge in the other functional areas. As she states, “The program fit my aims. I had done a great amount of research before applying to TRIUM. The network of three schools with an international senior cohort, a flexible schedule across six modules and the possibility to explore something different via a capstone project were all key deciding points for me to enroll in TRIUM.”
Back to School
During and immediately after her studies, a series of events and experiences placed Pavlina on her journey, which led to her start-up. Among her fond memories of TRIUM are the courses taught by NYU Professor Sonia Marciano, which gave her a deeper understanding of how companies compete and protect their domains, and Professor Aswath Damodaran’s Corporate Finance class, whose financial summary, she describes as “the most beautiful song that I have ever listened to in a class room.” Her capstone project, focusing on the intersection of banking and technology, also widened her knowledge. More importantly, the work in the project team led to one of the team members, Wassil Kacha TRIUM 2009, to become a Board member of Pick N Dazzle to support technology development.
After TRIUM, with her new skillsets and business contacts, Pavlina was promoted to VP of Integrated Business Management & Strategic Planning at Oriflame and tasked with working in one of the company’s most troubled markets. In just under a year, she doubled the company’s revenue in this market, applying bold strategies in many of the business domains. As she puts it, “I had just come back from TRIUM with the knowledge, the confidence, a new view and courage. I was ready for the challenge.” The success in the market turn-around and the career track record before that landed her a position in the top Executive suit, working for the group CEO and President. Once at the top, however, Pavlina then realized it was time to branch out on her own. As she felt about the timing in her career, she explained, “If you don’t have the courage to pursue your own dreams, you will be building the dreams of other people.” After reflection, this was the right moment for her to take the leap. In late 2013, Pavlina decided to leave Oriflame and, in a swift time after her amicable departure from the group, she set up her own agency six months later.
The Business Launch
Pick N Dazzle opened its e-commerce on October 14, operating currently in the test market in Romania, with eventual European roll out within a year. As the company website states, “We believe that every woman needs a best friend who is a beauty expert to cut through the clutter and find the best products for her. And that’s exactly what Pick N Dazzle does.”
The Pick N Dazzle operating model is simple. The company chooses products for its customers based on their preferences and the firm’s algorithms. After creating an account on the site, a unique profile is built for each customer based on their inputted information around their preferences, personal features, etc. This information is then used by the search engine to create individually curated “beauty collections”, which are then mailed to customers.
The company is internationally and digitally born. The start-up team consists of seven people from six countries, with registered office in Amsterdam, management team members in UK, product marketing in Poland, e-commerce and operations in Romania, market intelligence and business development in France, and IT platform, creative design and content management in Bulgaria.
Pavlina used the time between her departure from Oriflame and the launch of Pick N Dazzle to gain additional entrepreneurial insights. Through her participation in HEC Ventures Platform, an HEC alumni-led initiative that promotes entrepreneurship via a worldwide networking and fundraising platform, she began investing in and mentoring start-up initiatives and joining the boards of French startups, LuckyLoc.com, Morning Croissant, and Dermance. These experiences, alongside mentoring start-ups in VC incubators, gave her valuable knowledge, which she incorporated into the development strategy for Pick N Dazzle.
In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, Pavlina was also keen to leverage social media in a creative way. When planning for the launch of Pick N Dazzle, Pavlina utilized a unique marketing strategy of building social marketing channels before launching the business. Pick N Dazzle created its company’s Facebook presence one year before its official launch, in addition to managing the YouTube channel with company proprietary video production. She explains her thinking: “We need to build a social community first and create our fans’ base. Then we can go into our investments.”
Pavlina is also keen to explain her personal vision for Pick N Dazzle. For her, it is not just about the bottom line: “I am prepared for a long journey – it is not the profits that are driving me. I am inspired to try something new with a customer base that is engaged and loves our brand. Most of all, I care about people. I want to have happy customers, happy investors and a happy team. When people believe in the idea and in the brand, and put their heart in it, the rest follows.”
A quote hangs above Pavlina’s desk at Pick N Dazzle’s offices: “Be truthful and fearless.” Five years after TRIUM, she is finally living her dream. And the rest will follow.
Press release here.