Always look at the big picture and see beyond barriers. Don’t take no as an answer and always look outside the box. Question already established ways of doing things. Expansiveness is a vital ingredient to success as a leader. Having the ability to see things from various perspectives, question, don’t take no as an answer, are all valuable skills that contribute to a leader’s success.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Kyurkchieva.

Sara was born and raised in Bulgaria. Love for nature and the outdoors came at an early age, growing up in Bulgaria, known for its rich biodiversity. Sara has long suffered from hypersensitive and reactive skin, and always struggled to find a skincare product that was gentle yet potent, and wouldn’t agitate her skin. This led her to her search for a natural solution — after much time spent researching with her family for solutions, Sara discovered the rare Orpheus Resurrection flower. Sara’s family has 20+ years of experience in the personal care space and helped her turn this dream into a reality.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a little girl, I would sneak into my mother’s bathroom and dig into her beauty products, smearing layers of creams and makeup all over my face. My family still laughs about it to this day. But as I got older, I developed extremely sensitive and reactive skin so it was important that I use sensitive and natural products that would keep it healthy and not irritate it. My ongoing relationship with my sensitive skin, and growing up in a family that has been in the beauty business for many years, ultimately was the catalyst of my interest in this space. My graphic design and management education, equipped me with a strong understanding of product design, development, innovation and consumer needs. Five years ago, through my family’s business, I had the opportunity to manage a beauty brand and create a face care line to complement their already existing body and hair care line. I absolutely loved the process — searching and sourcing proven botanicals and potent bioactives, establishing the brand identity and packaging design, and especially working with the lab, experimenting with active ingredients and innovative product textures to create powerful formulas⁠. The scientific yet creative process was incredibly inspiring to me, and actually introduced me to the benefits of the rare Orpheus flower, native to our country. This experience shaped my future place in this industry, and encouraged my journey to make effective and sustainable products that are radically pure and safe, and powered by innovative biotechnology.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

When starting the Orpheus brand, we wanted to ensure we worked with top specialists in biotechnology and plant stem cells, who could ensure we were able to utilize the power of the Orpheus flower, sustainably. With that said, we searched for candidates across the globe, and had many failed encounters. After our worldwide search, we finally found a team who had 20 years of experience, specifically with the Orpheus flower plant, and they ironically enough, ended up being right here in Bulgaria.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the beginning when I first learned the benefits of the Orpheus resurrection plant, I reached out to organization who focused on its preservation, hoping they could accompany me in finding where it grew, so I could take a closer look, responsibly with experts who best knew how to interact with the botanical. They let me know that it was five hours away by car, but I didn’t care how far it was, I was just so excited to have the opportunity to see the grow site in person. After convincing a friend of mine to join me on this road trip, we set-out to the meeting point where we’d find our official Orpheus flower tour guide.

After arriving at what we thought was our destination, and a few attempts of finding the organization’s rep — we realized we had gone the wrong way along the mountain and were three and a half hours away from the correct part of “Devil’s Bridge.” While we were sad we had came all this way to see the plant, we made the most of it and decided to take a hike towards the top of the mountains towards the river. Upon reaching the top, we were surprised it find that the flower also grew on that side of the mountain! It was a beautifully, unexpected surprise.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

Our star ingredient — the Orpheus flower — and the methods in which we harness its power is definitely what sets us apart from other brands. We are the first brand in the world to create 100% clean botanical stem cell skincare devoted to the Resurrection flower. Our brand identity revolves around the flower and we stand out with our authenticity, integrity, and full transparency of our formulas and science. The flower itself actually originated and survived through the ice age, and has proven abilities to survive complete dehydration for up to 31 months, and only requires a single drop of water to spring back to life.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are working hard to develop the remaining full regimen of our skincare line, which will continue to be highly-multitasking and multi-correctional, that can be used alone or all together. We are also exploring new ways to produce new types of extracts from the rare flower with different properties than our current collagen-building Orpheus Flower Cell Peptide Complex in order to tackle aging through innovative formulas. There are two new SKU’s we are hoping to launch in the next six months. Our full line will help people by covering all skincare needs with a smaller selection of products, tailored for modern day stressors: aging, stress, lack of sleep, pollution, blue light, and UV oxidation to name a few. Through this pure, potent and multi-correctional system, consumers will be able to simplify their lives while maximizing benefits.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Honesty and transparency is crucial. Just as clear, mindful, and constant communication is. Make extra effort to be clear in your communication and encourage self-expression — creating a culture of openness and flexibility that can drive impact and stay flexible and fluid. Create a healthy workspace that inspires people, making it enjoyable to show up each day.

And for smaller teams or start-ups, never get too discouraged. I remember some of my initial roadblocks gave me a heart-attack at the time being, but you grow and develop coping practices that make things easier to deal with. Don’t give up. Fight for what you believe in and never doubt yourself or your product. Especially for founders, never doubt your own judgement, and don’t let the negativity of others cloud your “why.”

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Our team is very small, but I think the importance of thorough and clear communication is important at any stage or size of one’s business.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

One person who I would particularly like to express my gratitude and without whom this project would not be where it is today. That is our brand manager, Alexandra Djoukanova. She is an excellent soldier in execution and has been of tremendous help in bringing the brand to life. She joined a year after I initiated the project and she complement my skills perfectly. I’m extremely grateful for her loyalty and impressive dedication. Additionally, my amazing father, with his trust, eternal support, and for allowing me to make mistakes and grow. He has always strived to be a teacher and and without him, none of this would have happened nor have been possible.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We support a local NGO Foundation (BIO-B-ECO) in Bulgaria, responsible for the preservation of the Orpheus flower and the area of Borino village in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria — where the biggest population of the flower is found. We also participate in charity activities in restoration of natural Eco paths passing through this area. Our future objective is to be able to consistently contribute to the development of this beautiful mountain area by giving away 1% of our sales to the Foundation.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be as honest and authentic as possible with your team and reward them when deserved.
  2. Be compassionate yet uncompromising.
  3. Don’t micromanage, give people trust and a chance to learn and grow. Try to understand well and beyond the psychology of your team. Everyone is different, make sure you get to know them well and that would allow you to manage and balance your team and be a true leader.
  4. Be mindful and respect your team’s time.
  5. Always look at the big picture and see beyond barriers. Don’t take no as an answer and always look outside the box. Question already established ways of doing things. Expansiveness is a vital ingredient to success as a leader. Having the ability to see things from various perspectives, question, don’t take no as an answer, are all valuable skills that contribute to a leader’s success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A movement of self-healing and self-love. Self-healing of ourselves first, our relationships, our communities and our planet. Now more than ever, it’s apparent we need to improve the way we live and change the way we live for the better. I think the world needs healing, people need healing, and our planet needs healing. I’ve always believed meditation and music (dancing) should have a place in everyone’s daily lives. It has always saddened me that there are so many lonely people in the world, including children that need love, social acceptance, and encouragement. In this innovative, tech-powered world, I would love for people to live in communities together with understanding more compassion and not division, less fear, loneliness, jealousy and self-hatred. A movement where we teach people to understand that it’s more important to be compassionate than always being right.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Always do your best. Never take life so seriously.

I’ve always been a perfectionist and strive for the best, or the perfect situation, and I always ensure I give something my all. However, our best is always different depending on where we are in life at the moment and we need to accept that and be mindful of it. Sometimes we can get seriously trapped and saddened by things in life that in the end, are just not that important. This pressure can be exhausting and can lead to creative blockage and burn out. If we allow ourselves to play, to have fun, and to enjoy what we do as much as possible then the success and growth can come along with that.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have a private brunch with Elon Musk.

He is an incredible example of a successful leader with incredibly innovative ideas aimed at changing the world for the better. I would love the chance to understand his vision of sustainable energy. I also appreciate the fact he is a team-oriented leader who is known to be easy to work with. Musk is able to take the most outrageous concepts and feasibly bring them to reality in an efficient way. I especially appreciate his passion for innovating completely out of the box ideas for a cleaner future, especially now more than ever, given the current situation around Covid-19. Hopefully this will lead people to live more sustainably and invest in technologies that aim to improve our lives and rethink the way we live on this Earth.