For Mila Litvinjenko, the production of cosmetics has been a business that allows her creativity to flourish. She started this business a little more than two decades ago, and has run it with unwavering passion and enthusiasm ever since.
“There was that moment of recognition. I felt it was the business that would allow my creativity to take charge. At that time, no one in Serbia was dealing seriously with decorative cosmetics. Trends were not followed either in terms of packaging, or shades, or products themselves,” Mila recalls.
She founded the business almost 21 years ago. The company was established in Niš in 1996 under the name “Aura d.o.o.”, as a cosmetics production and trade enterprise.
The name Aura comes from the Latin word aurum, which means gold and morning light; it also refers to a subtle light surrounding human figure.
“I got the idea at Cosmoprof Bologna - the largest beauty fair in the world,”says Mila, adding that her initial capital amounted to some 300 German Marks atthetime.
She remembers that there were many problems in the beginning, many of which stemmedfrom reluctance and mistrust towards domestic producers, the prevalence of the black market, and an outdated Law on Cosmetics that had not been changed since 1974.
“All those problems brought us new experiences and insights, and today we don’t deal with problems, but challenges that only take time to overcome,”she explains.
One of the key principlesMilais guided by in her business is that the end consumer is both at the beginning and at the end of everything she does.
“You need to predict and recognise the needs of consumers, and offer them productsand servicesof the highest quality. It goes without saying that quality matters in every segment of our work, in our relations with employees, suppliers, and the community. We introduced the ISO standard more than 10 years ago, even though it was not required by law, and it has been a year now sincewe’veoperated in compliance with the GMP standard that is required in the pharmaceutical industry, but not in cosmetics. Thanks to all of this we can export our products to any country,” Milaemphasises.
She recalls that the market conditions in the beginning were far from ideal. Unstable political and economic circumstances affected the business, as was also the case with the poorly regulated payment system and black market economy.
“Starting the business in such conditions made us resourceful, adaptable, and capable of predicting critical moments and making decisions to minimise their impact on the business,” she thinks.
The challenges she and her team face today have a stimulating effect.
“We work with the same, if not greater passion than in the beginning. The last two years have been full of challenges. We expanded our production facilities, made them compliant with the GMP standard. Westrive to always keep pace with world trends and never cease to surprise the end consumer with our innovativeness and quality. Our current challenges are the markets of Northern Europe, expanding to the markets of Middle East, increasing exports.”
Tothose who plan to start a private business Mila says they should choose an industry they like, something that fulfils them.
“It takes persistence, resolution, continuous learning, and openness to change and innovation. You also need to be patient, because resultsdon’t come overnight – they come gradually if the house is built on a sound foundation,” Mila concludes.