Tania - Curvaciones
Continuing our series speaking to Barcelona entrepreneurs, we interviewed Tania Gauder about how she created her Barcelona lingerie company, Curvaciones
Who are you and what is your business?
I am British and arrived in Barcelona in October 2003 with my partner. At the time I was pregnant with my first son. When we arrived we did not initially plan to stay forever. We had talked about setting up our own business as we had both worked for large companies in the UK. The longer we spent in Barcelona the more we thought we would be able to settle here and set up our own company. We set up Curvaciones, which sells bras for women with big breasts, in 2005. We started selling underwear online. In 2008 we opened our first shop and in December 2010 we opened our second shop. Our aim is to provide a lingerie experience similar to that you can get in the UK. All our staff are fully trained and can provide a fitting service. We can advise you regarding size and style. We aim to sell pretty, comfortable bras and bikinis which make you feel good about yourself.
Where did the original idea come from?
I arrived in Spain pregnant. I went to numerous lingerie shops asking for a fitting with a view to buying a maternity bra but no one offered fittings. I jokingly said to my partner we should set up a lingerie business and the idea grew.
How long did it take to get your business off the ground?
Curvaciones started selling online at first as I had two small children at home. We found online retailing is not so popular here as it is in the UK. Firstly, many Spanish women have no concept of how bra sizes work and secondly fewer people buy online in Spain. It became obvious that we needed to open shops to get our message across. Another factor affecting our business is that we opened our first shop in September 2008, just as the economic crisis started to kick in.
What do you wish you had known when you started?
How much hard work and stress is involved in running your own business. Before we left the UK we both worked for a large bank and it is easy to take for granted a large infrastructure. I am the MD of my business but I am also the filing clerk and cleaner and I have numerous other jobs too.
How easy was it to get the financing for the business?
We started the internet side of the business with some of our savings. When we decided to open the first shop we tried to get some financial assistance through Barcelona Activa. Although we had several meetings with banks it never came to anything. It was early 2008 and nobody was willing to lend us money unless we had security. In the end we borrowed some money from family.
Did you find the paperwork difficult?
We employed Sanchez Molina to set up the company and they do all our accounts.
Did you get help from any particular official organisations or associations (e.g. Chamber of Commerce)? If so please describe:
Barcelona Active helped us prepare our business plan and arranged a couple of meetings with banks but in reality they were no help in getting actual money.
What is your business background/experience/qualifications?
I’m a qualified English solicitor and I specialised in employment law before I left the UK.
What are the positive aspects of having a business here?
The idea is to be in control of my own time. I want the flexibility to fit my work around my kids. We are selling a product that makes people happy. Generally the customers are very happy when they buy the bras and bikinis as it makes them feel good. It is lovely to get positive feedback, people tell us and their friends when they like our products and they come back to buy more.
And the negative aspects?
There is lots of bureaucracy here. I find it difficult navigating the tax system. The employment laws make employing anyone very restrictive.
Are there any other useful contacts, tips or information you think would be useful to other foreign entrepreneurs?
Get good advice. There are forms of assistance for working mothers such as a rebate on the social security payment. Do not start an SL until you really need to. There are many hidden costs. Marketing in a foreign language is difficult.