Spotlight on Mumpreneurs – Julia Constantinidou

We have many working mothers in our MiC community, whether as employees in companies or self-employed and running their own business.All have one thing in common: trying to achieve a harmonious work/life balance under sometimes very stressful circumstances.

Being your own boss however, has the added pressure of financial responsibility – when there’s no monthly income guarantee the daily challenges seem greater. On the other hand it is endlessly rewarding to be fulfilling your dreams and ambitions, and these mumpreneurs often are an inspiration to others.

Our interview blog puts the spotlight on these entrepreneurial women among us: who are they, what do they do and how do they do it.

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce Julia Constantinidou (MiC nickname ‘’Multi-projects Mum’), Co-Founder of the Cyprus Independent Business Network (CIBN), which provides a platform for businesses in Cyprus to interact and network together. She also works in the family business, Masterful Creations, and has recently started a new project called @culture.

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Hi Julia. How and when did you come up with the idea for your business and what inspired you to become self employed?

I am actually involved in various projects / occupations that I love and feel passionate about:

– I work in the family business Masterful Creations by M. Constantinides Furnishings Ltd, that was started by my parents in 1976 and is specialized in the manufacture of custom-made furniture for the house and office. I am involved in the departments of Finance & Marketing that are especially critical during the crisis that we all encounter.

– In May 2012, I founded Cyprus Independent Business Network (CIBN) that provides a forum for businesses in Cyprus to network, interact & collaborate.

– I have just started another project called @culture, in my efforts to promote the culture of Cyprus in many way. The main concept is to organize seminars, conventions, congresses & other events in agrotourist establishments so that the participants will experience the traditions and authenticity of the Cypriot culture.

What business achievement are you most proud of?

Given the welcoming and support of the CIBN members, that they express very often, I would say for now that I am most proud of the foundation of CIBN because it is a networking group that has helped many SMEs especially in these challenging economic times that we all experience. Since May 2012, CIBN has 150 members, business people, from all over Cyprus. The members who attend the meetings regularly have benefitted from increased sales, collaborations and references. Some of them have even become friends!

A lot of new start-up businesses run out of steam when the going gets tough. Was there ever a time when you doubted yourself?

  • Our family business, Masterful Creations, is in a market where similar companies have closed down or are about to in the near future. This effect has both negative and positive effects on us. The negative effect is the feeling of uncertainty that we all experience when seeing the Cypriot economy worsening day by day. It is like being on the Titanic, feeling healthy and wanting to survive but the captain and sailors are sinking the boat! However, after almost 40 years in the market, we will not give up! We will not sink with the Titanic! One of our proud accomplishments is the word-of-mouth reputation that we have established over these years so that our existing customers refer us to future customers. In addition to our personalized service and the experience and expertise of the Constantinides’ family members, we are able to exceed our customers’ expectations! The positive effect of other companies in our industry closing is that their potential clients become our clients.

  • With regards to CIBN, the group has grown so solidly over its first year of existence mainly due to the crisis. Its members are perfectly aware that now more than ever, networking helps businesses become more widely known because at the end of the day, it is not only who you know but also who knows you. And as one of the CIBN mottos says “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

  • As far as @culture is concerned, the idea was born right after the March 2013 events, in the midst of the banking shock that the people of Cyprus were facing. This proves that when you go opposite the stream, new ideas can be born that are promising for the future.

Being your own boss means there are no mentors to learn from. Who do you go to for business advice?

  • My parents are a very good source of business advice, given their experience and expertise over the years. Our family business started right after the 1974 war in Cyprus where the people then experienced another crisis.

  • Given that I have also become friends with some of the CIBN members, we often exchange advice and suggestions about each other’s businesses.

  • I often attend seminars, presentations and various other forums where I listen carefully to what “experts” share with their audience.

What have you learned about yourself since becoming self employed?

I am not fully self-employed yet, however, I used to work in one of the big banks of Cyprus until four years ago and now that I am outside of that banking environment, I feel quite self-employed! That transition has shown me (as it shows now to lots of banking employees) that we can never take anything for granted, like a secure job, with a secure income, since the only certainty in life is change. I am quite flexible and can fairly easily get accustomed to a new environment, with new people and new processes. I enjoy meeting new people and love helping others. Founding and administering CIBN is absolutely fantastic for me! I want to keep busy with new projects and I really believe in the youth, so I try to collaborate as much as I can with the young generation of our island.

Do you feel you have achieved a good work/life balance?

There are times when the passion for my various projects absorbs a lot of my energy and I find that I need to give more attention to myself, my family and my friends. I try to overcome this by ending my busy day with something that I really enjoy, either alone or with my family and friends. In that way I rest and enjoy myself at the same time.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring ‘Mumpreneur’ starting out today, what would it be?

In times of crisis, most of the new projects that evolve are quite successful. Because of all the crisis constraints and the lack of resources, the people involved have to think outside the box, or even better, throw the box away! An aspiring “Mumpreneur” is very likely to succeed starting out today, if she possesses the above mentality, if she has a true passion about her enterprise and if she’s willing to entail a few “sacrifices” that will reward her in the end when she succeeds. Being involved in quality networks also helps especially if she was outside the “business market” for a while, trying to raise her children.

What are your future plans for your business?

  • Masterful Creations is already seeking new markets and new products that will further increase our sales. We are not quitters, we are fighters and seekers.

  • CIBN’s plans for next year are:

    • further growth in Cyprus
    • expansion abroad targeting Cypriot business people in other countries

    • formation of CIWN (Cyprus Independent Women Network) that is represented by other 3 lovely, active and professional business women all dedicated members of CIBN.

  • @ culture will continue collaborating with the locals in various parts of the island, promoting their products in as many markets as possible. Cyprus has a lot to offer and we can all benefit from the right exposure of its rich culture.

Thank you very much for your time. Best wishes for continued success and happiness, both in your professional and private life.


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Category:Spotlight Interviews

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