|26 Nov 2021|
|Written by Fabiana Papastefani|
|World Magazine Fall 2021 Edition- Rebirth, Reinvent, Reroute|
Like so many of us over the past year and a half, the COVID pandemic has shaped our lives in ways we perhaps were not thinking of before March 2020. For our little family, the move to Brașov was definitely one of the best decisions of our lives and, serendipitously enough, it took place just a short few months before the start of the pandemic. In our pursuit of a better, healthier life for ourselves and our son, Dominic - moving to Brașov (with its quieter, closer-to-nature lifestyle nestled in the Carpathian Mountains) was a welcome step forward from the hustle-bustle of living in Bucharest.
As entrepreneurs, we knew from the second we decided on the move that we wanted to start our own business in Brașov. As luck would have it (if you can call it that), the pandemic hit just as we were starting to discuss various ideas and business concepts for our new venture. This enabled us to plan the entire concept, from A to Z, taking the pandemic into account, and creating a business model which would not be affected in a major way by the new realities of post-pandemic life (future lockdowns etc.). After some intensive months of planning and going through several ideas, we finally developed Meliora, a one-stop-shop packed full of healthy choices for the family and for the home. Virtually all of our products contain healthy ingredients only, whose names you can easily pronounce. Our rule-of-thumb is, if we wouldn’t give that particular product to our 3-year-old son, then we wouldn’t sell it at Meliora. And these are products that we, ourselves, use in our daily life. Our enthusiasm and belief in the products we sell makes it very easy to provide informed, personalized suggestions to our customers. Our guiding principles emphasize providing local products as much as possible, following the principles of organic and biodynamic agriculture (where available). A lot of the products we sell are made in artisanal fashion, in small batches, by enthusiastic, ethical and knowledgeable producers – a large proportion of which are young entrepreneurs such as ourselves. We believe this to be the key to developing the healthy food market in Romania, a market which has seen major increases from year to year (and especially in the last year and a half).
The pandemic has clearly played a positive part in this, in a sense, as it made people focus on their health and realizing that a healthy lifestyle starts with the choices we put on our dining room table. In retrospect, it was a logical step forward for our family. In pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, we moved to Brașov, and by opening Meliora, we are sharing our knowledge and strong belief in these products with the local community. The products are so qualitative that they are basically selling themselves. It’s true that they are more expensive than their mass-produced hypermarket equivalents – but this difference reflects not only their superior quality, but also the higher production costs from field to shelf. It costs more for a small biodynamic producer (for instance) to grow a tomato the right way, using natural fertilizers and traditional harvesting methods. Likewise, it costs them more to process and distribute their product, and it costs them more to achieve and maintain their production certifications from year to year. It also costs us, small, specialized stores, more to obtain and market these products (and the store itself) than it does a big hypermarket with large, established logistical and marketing networks. All of this obviously reflects in the higher price. But the rewards to your health are ultimately worth more than that difference in price. We knew from the start that we were going into a niche market, a niche which unfortunately is still not accessible to everyone. Nevertheless, it is a niche which keeps growing in Romania, slowly but surely. In our view, it is fundamental that everyone should have access to quality food in the nearest-as-possible of futures.
Six months into opening and running Meliora, we are more than thrilled with the response we have received so far from our customers, and this enthusiasm enables us to already think of exciting ways we can develop and take the Meliora brand into different future directions, ideas which all fit into the healthy living paradigm. The name “Meliora”, in Latin, translates to “the pursuit of something better”. Simona and I are glad to be able to give “something better” back to the world, particularly at such a pivotal moment in our planet’s history. With so much confusion and challenge around us, amid the COVID pandemic, global warming and global political unrest, it is our humble and heartfelt hope that small positive steps such as ours will be the rays of light that this world needs to heal itself, and emerge all the better for it.
Read the whole World Magazine Fall 2021 Edition here:
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