Entrepreneurial Women Mentoring – Interview with Mrs. Desislava Avdzhieva, Founder of Alternative Advertising

An Entrepreneurial Woman With A Mission to Inspire and Empower Other Women Along the Way

Being a woman in business in this day and age can be challenging. The world expects women to be bold and brave but, at the same time, stable and reliable. We strive to remain authentic and follow the trends. We aim to generate an unstoppable flow of creative ideas and turn them into reality using smart tools and effective solutions. Women need many sources of fulfillment to feel genuinely satisfied with their lives and as if they are living their true purpose. Striving for success in every area of your life requires women to master feminine and masculine practices. But most of all, it requires getting out of your comfort zone, which is inspiring for surveillance itself. Because it builds confidence and true leaders who are quiet and well-skilled. Confidence is built in situations where you prove your great capabilities to yourself. This is how faith in you is born – through overcoming challenges. And it is substantial for every entrepreneur to have faith in what their capable of and to be confident enough to express it to the world by turning their creative idea into a successful business model.

There is no better teacher than real life’s challenges. However, staying connected to entrepreneurial communities, making friendships with other business-oriented people, and having a qualified and experienced mentor by your side who has been in your position before and has grown into a greater leader who knows how to inspire and empower you, helps. Even if that means telling you to slow down, set boundaries, and prioritize work-life balance. We at WorldStreet are delighted to have an interview with Mrs. Desislava Avdzhieva, CEO and founder of Alternative Advertising agency and a thriving entrepreneurial women’s mentor.

WorldStreet Introduces Our Guest

Born in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, Mrs. Desislava Avdzieva is a successful business owner of Alternative Advertising agency. As a CEO and founder of her thriving business, Mrs. Avdzieva has had various interests through the years. Her business story is exceedingly inspiring because it is a brilliant example of how to grow your start-up company into a true leader in a competitive industry. Mrs. Avdzieva established Alternative Advertising in 2008 during the economic crisis and has faced many tough challenges along her way to success as an entrepreneurial woman. The results of her successful business model are precise – ten years after its establishment, her company has entered the media rankings as one of the largest agencies in the BTL and events sector.

Besides her career in advertising, she is a co-founder of the innovative brand Business Storm, which connects businesses and mentors from around the world and gathers them at round tables and events in different countries. Nowadays, she shares her experience and mastered skills as a mentor to other women who have started or are about to start their own businesses. As a prosperous female entrepreneur, Mrs. Avdzieva is a member of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Bulgaria – Selena and co-organizes the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day – WED.

“Entrepreneurship is a particular kind of mastery because it means it would help develop ourselves.”

The Interview

We at WorldStreet sat down with Mrs. Desislava Avdzieva, CEO and founder of advertising agency Alternative Advertising, in an inspiring interview about women’s business, power, and development. 

Mrs. Avdzhieva, nowadays, you mentor and inspire women to strike out independently, develop their entrepreneurial ideas, and start their own businesses. What inspired you to establish the Alternative Advertising agency in 2008?

This a challenging question because I never imagined having a company or inspiring someone. Creating “Alternative Advertising” and developing in other directions at the time seemed to be the natural, most logical way to realize my ideas. I can only be glad that the result of my efforts is so inspiring for some people.

You say, “business is, in fact, a reflection of ourselves.” What qualities of yours does your business reflect on others?

One of the qualities I most value in myself is thinking outside the box. For this reason, the slogan of “Alternative Advertising” is “Think alternatively!” – because the company was created at the dawn of the financial crisis in 2008. Then it was constantly necessary to think of alternatives so that with minimal costs, maximum effort could be put in and optimal results could be achieved. This led to alternative thinking, which, in turn, contributed to our future success.

You established Alternative Advertising when you were only 24, adventurously without loans in the bank and with no clients, a site, or described services. Looking back on the first years of your business development, do you have any regrets you wish you have done differently?

I do not like to have regrets. I am the type of person who sees the obstacles I face as lessons and as an upgrade. Everything that has happened to me in fifteen years has helped improve me as a person and professional and has contributed to shaping my experience.

The first few years since founding Alternative Advertising have been tough for you due to the country’s economic crisis in 2008. However, in 2016 and 2017, you entered the media rankings as one of the largest agencies in the BTL and events sector. What lessons were these approximately ten years of growth filled in with?

The lessons are many, but one of the most important is thinking globally. To think, but not to spend globally, even when the company is growing, because a new crisis may occur tomorrow, for which a reserve is needed. With such an attitude, I can find a solution to any problem and avoid its realization at any cost – regardless of whether it is determined by the client or myself.

There is a saying, “Rough seas make stronger sailors. Tough times build greater people.”What kept you going through the turbulent times in your career?

The need for financial, physical, and emotional survival triggers thinking outside the box. When I created “Alternative Advertising”, my slogan was, “I am looking for a job to get hired”. Joking aside, I always said I know two, two hundred, two thousand, and two million. It happened to me, from excellent material conditions to zero income and a salary five times lower than the one I was supposed to pay the lowest-paid team member. In those difficult moments, courage gave me the thought that I was doing what I wanted and assumed responsibility for the rest of the team. I realized that if there is for them, it means there is also for the company and, finally, for me.

Here I would like to recall something from aviation – when you protect yourself (in this case, I mean the company) and think about others, everyone can survive.

As a successful business owner, what are your primary tips for establishing a start-up company?

First, I would tell them to be patient and persevere, prepare for an outrageous amount of work, and expect something new and unexpected to happen every day – sometimes good, sometimes not. Owning a business is about more than sipping cocktails in the Maldives while your bank account fills up. From the outside, it looks great, but I only recommend it to some because it comes hand in hand with many responsibilities. I, defining myself as an ambitious and organized person, have sometimes dreamed of not being so ambitious.

What is the most significant challenge you have overcome in your career, and how has it affected you personally and professionally?

Undoubtedly, the second economic crisis was one of the most challenging periods of my career (not only that, I created “Alternative Advertising” on the eve of another crisis). At that time, I had no income and rediscovered life in the village. In an abandoned house, I got the internet and made a studio where I started training for online events. When thinking about it, I realize that the most challenging thing was to smile and say that everything was fine when it was complete chaos and getting worse.

After a long working experience in the field of BTL (everything in the field of advertising that can be implemented without media means of communication), financial management and management; Public Relations (PR); Marketing & Brand Management, you decided to start your project for mentoring women entrepreneurs with their own business. What is required to become a good mentor for women in business, and how does your mentoring approach stand out? 

A mentor is someone who has gone through the things he is helping people with. He does not just consult with his client on a particular day and time but guides and supports him at any time and for any decision because he thinks of his business as his own.

It is heavily advocated in my approach. For each client, I prepare an individual business analysis, a forecast of how he could develop his business, and a personal action program. I call this method “the three-step system” because we first outline the global picture at the moment, then we discuss the possibilities for the future and define three key moments. Structured in this way, the process becomes significantly easier to understand and implement and to have measurable results; I like the constant exchange of information and the conduct of real-time work process research. Generally speaking, it is collaborative work, so I mainly work with long-term clients.

What results can clients expect from your mentoring programs? Could you share a story about the following business development of an entrepreneurial woman who has participated in your mentoring programs that inspires you to keep going as a mentor? 

The goals that the participants of the programs pursue are comprehensive promotion and development of their businesses and themselves as a personal brand. This is exactly what they should expect. By creating order, clarity, and structuring of the processes together, we achieve better monetization and better financial and media, communication, and advertising results. They can expect that they will have more free time, which, I hope, they will devote to themselves and not to another business because I have also had such cases.

Regarding the story, I would like to share one that is unfolding. Several months ago, I was contacted by a woman who introduced herself as an early childhood development consultant. At first, I decided I could not be of any use to her in this area, but I liked communicating with her – she was a very highly intelligent woman and also quite insistent, so we ended up meeting. During our conversation, I realized that the lady’s expertise is not counseling children but parents. In fifteen years, she has developed a whole catalog of ideas on how to make them more successful. Listening to her various skills, I began to visualize how I could help her develop professionally, and now we are working together on an annual subscription.

In this short period, we have created a brand identity and a complete identity for all its channels. We created a logo, a website, standard and non-standard advertising materials, a professional photo shoot, and a video presentation to achieve a complete media and public image. We also created a concept for mentoring programs related to her international professional qualification to apply to parents. We are currently working on developing educational games for children focused on the formation of various skills. The impressive thing is that my client is also a mother of three in the background of all this dedication to work. After our first meeting, I remember she told me she would give birth in twenty days but would not interfere with our work together. This is a unique energy!

What is your suggestion for women with a dream business idea who lack the confidence to strike out on their own? How can a woman build her confidence?

My first advice is to imagine if they would like to be in the office in ten years and develop this business. If the answer is “no”, it is better not to get involved.

The highest percentage of companies go bankrupt in the first year. The percentage is also high in the first three years, then in the first five. The reason is that every person initially has an incredible ambition to fulfill his dream of building something of his own. Still, when the wheel of success and failure turns, his enthusiasm is quickly replaced by sleepless nights filled with worry that not only is there no profit – even he owes thousands, and he has worked tirelessly. Self-confidence is mainly based on an objective judgment of the potential gain-to-loss ratio. Therefore, confidence will be gained after making a detailed plan and seeing concretely what needs to happen until the business starts giving results. Planning is fundamental because it gives abstract ideas a quantitative and qualitative dimension, i.e., it may yet be ascertained here that to take this path would cost more than one is willing to give. 

You say, after all these years, you have discovered the secret of balancing personal and professional happiness. Could you share it with us?

Do you have a million? For a million, I can tell you.

Aside from being a successful business owner and a mentor yourself, do you have a mentor you look up to in your life? 

I would not want to emulate anyone but instead see the good examples around me, keeping my authentic image. Different people inspire me in terms of the qualities I want to develop in myself.

I admire, for example, Oprah – her impressive story and drive to make what she wants to happen and her inimitable energy and presence on screen.

As a Bulgarian example, I will point to Yana Marinova, whom I am lucky enough to know closely. No matter what happens, she remains steadfast and continues to visualize and realize her dreams in a magical, spirit-filled way. In her, I deeply value the calmness of being yourself, despite the publicity.

I will also mention a man who speaks twelve languages and is in incredible physical shape at a reasonably advanced age. I wish I was this athletic at his age and had mastered several languages and many more skills. His name is Alexander Iliev.

As a member of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Bulgaria – Selena, you co-organize the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day event. What do you celebrate at this event, and why shall people visit it?

We celebrate a woman’s power to fight against the various injustices she faces in pursuing her dreams.

In Bulgaria, on this day, the focus is on women being more successful in their various roles – as a mother, wives, entrepreneurs, business partners, and anything else they want, but first and foremost – as a woman.

The event is suitable for anyone looking for all-round development. Various skills are taught at the master classes, and outside of them, at the exhibition, along with exchanging contacts, experience is exchanged, partnerships are created, business is actively done, and friendships are made.

What projects do you work on now? Please tell us more about the International Beauty Conference 2023 you organize.

I am actively engaged in many exciting projects, mainly related to implementing innovations in various fields. One of the events is a candidate for the Guinness World Record. It will take place in September in Vidin, on the banks of the Dunav. In parallel with “Alternative Advertising,” we are preparing for the third year in a row the holding of the International Beauty Conference. The goal we pursue by organizing events of this type is to stimulate the exchange of international experience, which, however, should be used for the local development of the industry.

This year’s forum featured several foreign speakers who spoke about the latest innovations in the beauty industry, particularly in its non-invasive part. Among them are Dr. Sharbel Abi Sahin, a specialist in endobiogenics and natural medicine and President of the Belgian Institute of Endobiogenic Medicine and Integrative Physiology, and Anthony Whittaker, a world-renowned motivator based on more than thirty years of experience in the beauty industry.

We also held a large exhibition where more than thirty leading companies in the industry were presented. Free access was available to anyone wishing to get acquainted with the most up-to-date services, products, procedures, equipment, and appliances for maintaining and building a perfect appearance and balanced health. Quite expectedly, the event enjoyed a lot of media attention.

What is required for a woman to feel satisfied with her life? What do you look forward to in your personal and professional development to reach a higher state of satisfaction? 

For me, a woman who is fulfilled in her various roles is satisfied – who, while maintaining her femininity, is also a good mother, wife, and lover, who maintains good relations with her family and makes time for her friends, who loves and allows herself to be loved.

As for me, professionally, I am preparing for the launch of a startup in the field of innovation. Also, with “Alternative Advertising”, we are organizing Women’s Entrepreneur Day on November 20, 2023. At the end of the year, I have a book coming out, and until then, many successful events and work to help the businesses I consult become more and more successful.

On a personal level, I am about to travel – it is something I love, and I might switch from one role to another.

Alternative Advertising to Establish Brand Recognition

Alternative Advertising is an advertising agency specializing in self-execution, from creating creative concepts to the overall realization and organization of events and BTL activities. This agency was officially established in 2008 as a start-up company which, by 2016 grew into one of the largest agencies on the market in the BTL and events sector. For over fifteen years, the agency has been providing all the means to assert a brand offline, such as indoor and outdoor promotions, presentations, samplings, degustations, and comprehensive event organization and management. In 2021, Alternative Advertising became a part of SEOMAX, a digital marketing agency. As a result, the two companies offer a richer portfolio of services and provide effective tools to develop businesses online and offline.

Alternative Advertising Services

Alternative Advertising provides a wide range of services proven to impact brand recognition positively. Through the years, the team of Alternative Advertising has worked with numerous Bulgarian and international customers to help them establish their brand identity and promote and popularise their services via various promotional activities. The agency comprehensively prepares and implements creative concepts for BTL activities and events.

Alternative Advertising BTL Services

Through the years of operating in the market, Alternative Agency has established its base of promoters and supervisors across the country. The agency specializes in creating online and offline training modules, designing and producing branding and advertising materials, and monitoring stock turnover. Clients can also request filming, processing, and editing of the productional promotion or event. The agency offers a wide range of equipment available for rent and branded clothing rental and production.

  • Creative
  • Promoters and supervisers
  • Trainings
  • Digital communication
  • Advertising materials and branding
  • Merchandising
  • Photo and video recording
  • Branded clothes
  • Equipment rental

Alternative Advertising Event Management Services

Alternative Advertising offers complete event management and organization. The agency specializes in comprehensively preparing and implementing creative concepts for events of different natures. Clients can request the overall organization of their events, whether personal events, parties, experiential events, sports events, corporate meetings, or more. What shall be expected from this agency is the design and production of advertising materials, construction structures, sound equipment, lighting, and screens, as well as Kettering and hosts for the planned event. Event management includes scheduling the media in which the advertising campaign will be carried out.

  • Creative
  • Design, pre-print, and print branding materials
  • Technical assurance
  • Hosts, performers, and DJs
  • Script
  • Kettering
  • Photo and video recording
  • Rental equipment
  • Production and branding of advertising materials
  • Hosts, waters, and caterers
  • Branded clothing
  • Media planning

Alternative Advertising VR and AR Services

Alternative Advertising’s work specifics include combining creativity and precise attention to technical details. The agency comes up with a complete concept idea for training, presentations, games, and various simulations. For the agency to create the final project, it provides screenplay, organization, direction, audio, video, sound, actors, props, editing, and post-production. In recent years, the agency has specialized in building a 3D environment and branding and producing VR glasses.

  • Creative
  • Creating a finished product
  • 3D modules
  • VR glasses

Mentor Program for Entrepreneurial Women 

Mrs. Desislava Avdzieva has a background in BTL (everything in the field of advertising that can be implemented without media means of communication), financial management and management; Public Relations (PR); Marketing & Brand Management. After an exceeded experience and numerous learned lessons, she started her mentoring program to help women in business. By sharing her experience, she strives to contribute to the success of other businesses. For this aim, she has created four mentor packages, each focusing on different parts of the business process, depending on the particular business’s needs.

In her mentor program, Mrs. Avdzieva focuses on sharing successful business practices and strategies for building the brand’s image and the importance of work-life balance. It is intriguing to perceive her approach to balancing personal and professional happiness. To master satisfaction, an entrepreneurial woman needs not only to be perceived as successful by the external world but also feel as if she is living her purpose. For this aim, she has to have a passion and love for her work and her whole life, which starts by taking care of herself. Therefore, Mrs. Avdzieva’s mentor program includes tips on how to take care of yourself while successfully leading a business and team.

For a woman to grow successfully as an entrepreneur with her own business, she also has to grow as a person in her real life. To do so, she has to overcome any inner objections and fears of failure or rejection. Working on building confidence and self-esteem is part of the process of becoming a thriving entrepreneur and leader. It is not something you learn quickly; it is a process of overcoming challenging situations and building trust in your capabilities. Mrs. Avdzieva also works toward empowering women with generated business ideas to strike out on their own and express themselves to the world through their businesses.

“We never know what we are capable of until we are faced with difficulties and situations in which our mission seems impossible.”

Mentoring Approach:

  • Creating a business step by step;
  • Building a brand identity;
  • Brand promotion and development;
  • Optimizing and structuring business processes;
  • Event management.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day – WED

The Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Bulgaria – Selena and “Alternative Advertising” are the organizers of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day – WED. This celebration is dedicated to inspiring and empowering women along their business journey. It could positively impact both men and women who successfully manage their own businesses and want to meet up with other entrepreneurs to share ideas and knowledge. The event is also perfect for entrepreneurial-spirited people who strive to develop their business ideas into reality and who can make valuable business contacts and gain know-how. WED is a movement throughout the year in support of female entrepreneurs to develop their start-ups and stimulate the economic and social development of the communities in which they live.

Save the date: 20.11.2023 / Grand Hotel Millennium, Sofia, Bulgaria.

WorldStreet Thoughts…

Entrepreneurship is challenging because it builds character. For a woman to become a successful entrepreneur, she has to have much more than just a business idea. A dream is required, but it is simply not enough. Along her way to building her dream business, a woman has to go through challenging situations, and by overcoming them, she will build confidence, trust, and faith in her capabilities. Being bold and brave are masculine qualities perfectly mastered by female entrepreneurs today because they are required when striking out on your own and out of your comfort zone. At the same time, women who know how to be creative and follow their intuition bring a lot to the table regarding business. Mastering masculine and feminine qualities is an art practiced by successful women entrepreneurs.

Alternative Advertising Business Card

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