Joanna Borov is a Polish-born model, and entrepreneur who currently lives in the USA. She studied at the London School of Economics, the University of Warsaw, and the University of the Arts London and graduated with two master’s degrees. She is the founder and CEO of Melulu Baby and Mila Babies, companies that produce and sell sustainable, organic, and eco-friendly toys and clothes for children. Currently, she is working on her new business which is about womenswear- also sustainable and custom made. Joanna has supported many charities and is trying to increase awareness about environmental issues.
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We’re happy that you could join us today! Please introduce yourself to our readers. What’s your story?
Joanna Borov: It’s a pleasure to join you and present my story and my current business projects. I was born in Poland I studied law and was very interested in environmental law but fashion has always been something that I was truly passionate about. That’s why I decided to continue my education and specialize in fashion. I launched my first business a few years ago. My companies Melulu Baby and Mila Babies offer organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly toys and clothes for children. As a model and influencer, I have worked with. many prominent designers and brands and recently I started to work on my clothing line for women. Again, my products for women are high quality and sustainable.
CEOs and leaders usually have different motives and aspirations when getting started. Let’s go straight to the beginning. What was your primary goal for starting your business? Was it wealth, respect, or to offer a service that would help improve lives?
Joanna Borov: Before starting my first company I worked for a few big fashion houses. I always wanted to have independence and choice I also wanted to make a difference for people and our planet. That’s why I thought of creating a sustainable and ethical brand. I’m a very creative person and I want to have freedom in implementing my ideas rather than working for someone.
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Tell us about 2 things that you like and two things that you dislike about your industry. Share what you’d like to see change and why.
Joanna Borov: I have always loved fashion. To me is an art, It’s a way to show our inside and present creations. I love that the fashion industry is about creativity and anybody has a chance to succeed. I really don’t like so-called ‘fast fashion’ and that people don’t realize how harmful it is. Fast fashion is what some of the huge brands offer- very low-quality products, stealing and altering designs from other brands, and offering those at very low prices. Customers are happy because the products are cheap but don’t realize that the garments will need to be disposed of after a few washes and ultimately pollute our planet.
Companies around the world are rapidly changing their work environment and organizational culture to facilitate diversity. How do you see your organizational culture changing in the next 3 years and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Joanna Borov: I have always been a supporter of diversity in my European companies. I want to do the same with the business I’m working on currently in the USA. I would like to create work opportunities for disabled people in the USA.
According to the Michigan State University “An organization’s culture is responsible for creating the kind of environment in which the business is managed, and has a major impact on its ultimate success or failure.” What kind of culture has your organization adopted and how has it impacted your business?
Joanna Borov: My companies adopted innovative and people-oriented cultures. I believe that people are the greatest assets for each company. I only work with the factories that respect human rights and treat the workers in a good way (sadly, this is not very common in the fashion industry). I want all the employees to identify with my company and its ethics by treating it not only as a workplace but also as a place to be creative and bring excitement. I deeply believe in innovation in all the industry and I work on bringing innovative products that will contribute to a positive change.
Richard Branson once famously stated “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” and Stephen R. Covey admonishes to “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. What’s your take on creating a great organizational culture?
Joanna Borov: I think it’s important to recruit good employees who have a genuine interest in projects and the same values and then make sure that they are happy at work. I don’t like to put pressure on anybody and I like to reward people who bring excellent ideas and work hard on the assignments
The overwhelming majority of more than 9,000 workers included in a recent Accenture survey on the future of work said they felt a hybrid work model would be optimal going forward, a major reason for that being the improved work-life balance that it offers. How do you promote work-life balance at your company?
Joanna Borov: Most of my employees have flexible hours and can work remotely as well. I believe this is great and as they are happy with their private lives they are able to perform better at work and get better satisfaction from their jobs.
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How would you describe your company’s overall culture? Give us examples.
Joanna Borov: I’d say it’s very ethical and it applies to both – outside (products that we offer) and inside (creating a friendly workplace).
It is believed that a company’s culture is rooted in a company’s values. What are your values and how do they affect daily life at the workplace?
Joanna Borov: The values are sustainability, high ethics, high quality. People who work with me are aware and fully understand that we are bringing a positive change to the world (protecting the environment by creating eco-friendly and sustainable products) to the customers (we offer high-quality products at competitive prices) and to the employees ( everyone who works with us needs to be treated with respect and understanding. This rule doesn’t only apply to the employees in different positions but also to subcontractors, interns. Everyone has a special mission and position in the company and all the people need to feel safe and without pressure). I personally experienced unethical treatment while I was working for one of the big brands before starting my business and I can not imagine this kind of situation taking place in my own company.
An organization’s management has a deep impact on its culture. What is your management style and how well has it worked so far?
Joanna Borov: I’d say that I present a motivational management style. I read a lot about motivation and self-development and I believe that a positive attitude is very important in all aspects of life, including work. I try to have people who work with me motivated and with a positive attitude. I realize that sometimes they need to be encouraged to do so by monetary rewards and I always recognize their achievements and contribution to the overall success.
Every organization suffers from internal conflicts, whether functional or dysfunctional. Our readers would love to know, how do you solve an internal conflict?
Joanna Borov: Thankfully, I haven’t had any big internal conflicts in my company so far. The minor ones between employees were usually temporary and solved themselves with time.
According to Culture AMP, Only 40% of women feel satisfied with the decision-making process at their organization (versus 70% of men), which leads to job dissatisfaction and poor employee retention. What is your organization doing to facilitate an inclusive and supportive environment for women?
Joanna Borov: The majority of my employees are women. I never put pressure on them and I discuss the decisions they made with each one personally, meaning I reward them for making good decisions and always try to understand why the decisions they made were potentially bad for the company.
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What role do your company’s culture and values play in the recruitment process and how do you ensure that it is free from bias?
Joanna Borov: I always want to meet each person that is employed in my company and I present the company’s values. They need to be aware of those and believe in the same values as they apply to each person. I think making sure that proper people are recruited is crucial. I’d rather employ somebody that needs to learn some technical things and has the same values than an expert who has completely different values than my company.
We’re grateful for all that you have shared so far! We would also love to know if there was one thing that you could improve about your company’s culture, what would it be?
Joanna Borov: I live in the USA and my business is based in Europe, so at this point, it’s hard to meet people in person and organize meetings for all the employees that they can integrate. The business that I am building in the USA will be more personal and as I mentioned before I will create work opportunities for disabled people.
This has been truly insightful and we thank you for your time. Our final question, however, might be a bit of a curveball. If you had a choice to either fly or be invisible, which would you choose and why?
Joanna Borov: Hard choice! I’ll choose flying. This way I could avoid traffic in LA (it’s really bad as most of you might know) and I could visit employees and factories that are in different parts of the world.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Joanna Borov for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Joanna Borov or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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