Two entrepreneurs from Romania have shown that starting a new business in a foreign country does not have to be as daunting or as stressful as it seems.
Andreea Curca and her sister, Luisa Hüttinger, have recently turned their business idea into a success in Spain, saying they found the procedure relatively easy.
Originally from Constanta, a city on the shores of the Black Sea, Andreea came to live in Malaga last year, whereas Luisa, who is based in Germany, spends just part of the year living on the Costa del Sol.
The sisters have been involved in the wedding decoration business for many years, so it was only natural for them to want to do something similar in Spain.
Their previous company supplied natural flowers and floral displays for weddings, communions and baptisms, but in Spain, with the soaring temperatures during the summer months, they realised that using fresh flowers had its drawbacks.
Andreea has been an entrepreneur and businesswoman for most of her professional life, so she soon set about the task of getting over this obstacle.
After doing some market research, and taking the climate into consideration, she realised that paper flowers were the answer.
Andreea and Luisa called on the services of another Romanian resident, Laura Socol, who has been in the wedding decoration business for more than 20 years.
Laura, originally from Bucharest, has lived in Benalmádena for three years and she jumped at the chance to help the sisters with their new venture.
Being citizens of a country belonging to the EU, they were not required to obtain a visa, however, the residency process caused them a few problems.
Andreea's husband, who is in charge of the logistics side of the business, had no problems with obtaining residency, but for Andreea, the process was slightly more difficult.
"It was harder for me, because the Spanish authorities have some peculiar rules regarding the validity of foreign documents, such as a marriage certificate, but we managed to sort everything out, although it was no easy task," Andreea told SUR in English.
After the paperwork was all in place, Andreea launched Paper Flowers Spain, a company that rents handmade flowers and floral decorations for any celebratory occasion.
"Setting up the actual business has been relatively easy, at least compared to other countries I've set up businesses in. The process of becoming 'autónomo' (self-employed), even for a foreign resident, is surprisingly easy and affordable here in Spain. This is very good news for entrepreneurial people who want to settle down and open a business here," Andreea explained.
Other red tape included registering the company name with the mercantile registry, obtaining the tax number (CIF) and preparing the incorporation documents.
Lifestyle and business
Laura admits that she, like Andreea, came to Spain for the weather, the food and the beach, although they both shared a desire to start a unique business offering a service that they feel is unique in Spain.
The team is well accomplished in the art of paper flower making, and they claim that, even though paper flowers are available in Spain, theirs are unequalled because of the process used to make them.
"Our flowers are all made with special crepe paper. We only use white paper because the dye used for the coloured paper is often too bold. We like to use subtle colours, so we paint the paper in order to achieve the shades we need," Laura pointed out.
The flowers are made with thin strips of paper, which are hand painted and then left to dry, before being transformed into flowers.
At the moment they concentrate on weddings, baptisms and communions, but they have plans to branch out into all forms of celebrations.
"We would be willing to undertake any type of celebrations, like the feria, or Semana Santa, and we have even thought about offering our service to funerals," said Laura.