The Female Fusion Podcast!

The Female Fusion podcast is your go-to resource for inspiration, motivation, and practical advice for female entrepreneurs.

Hosted by Jen Blandos, a seasoned entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience building successful businesses, this podcast features insights and expertise from some of the world's top female entrepreneurs and industry experts.

Whether you're just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, the Female Fusion podcast is here to help you achieve your business goals.

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Episode Takeaways 

  • How did a lack of access to affordable clothing inspire Jelena Dancetovic to start her own business?
  • How did Jelena Dancetovic use her experience in both hospitality and second hand clothing to create a successful business model?
  • What strategies did Jelena Dancetovic use to collaborate with influencers and small businesses to maximize her success?

Show Notes

When this week's guest, a hospitality consultant and vintage aficionado, found her entrepreneurial dreams are in jeopardy due to the pandemic, she pivoted to a bold bartering strategy to keep her secondhand store afloat.

Jelena Dancetovic is the GM and part owner of Retold, a secondhand clothing store in Dubai. She has 15 years of experience in hospitality and has been passionate about secondhand clothes since she was a child.

When she moved to Dubai 15 years ago, Jelena quickly found that it was too expensive to buy new clothes. She combined her hospitality background with her passion for vintage, and in 2012 started her own online vintage shop. When the pandemic hit, Jelena was faced with bankruptcy, but she quickly adapted her business model and started buying second-hand clothes from those leaving the country. By using her contacts in hospitality, she was able to organize events and used influencers to spread the word.

Now, her business is thriving and she is helping entrepreneurs through her shop, providing a space for them to sell their products and offering barter deals.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  • How did a lack of access to affordable clothing inspire Jelena Dancetovic to start her own business?
  • How did Jelena Dancetovic use her experience in both hospitality and second hand clothing to create a successful business model?
  • What strategies did Jelena Dancetovic use to collaborate with influencers and small businesses to maximize her success?


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Show transcription

INTRO: Hi there. I'm Jen Blandos, the founder of Female Fusion Network. I've been an entrepreneur for over 20 years with experience in building seven figure businesses and working around the world. Originally, I'm from Canada, but I've been living in Dubai for the past 14 years. I've created this podcast to share my insights, expertise as a global entrepreneur, and help other women start build, grow, and scale their businesses. You'll also hear from some of the world's top experts and female entrepreneurs who will inspire and motivate you to achieve your business goals. So join me as we explore all that the world has to offer and build the business of your dreams. Let's get started. Welcome to Women On the Rise, and today I am joined by a fantastic entrepreneur who is going to share so much information with us today. And I'm joined in the studio with Jelena Dancetovic, who is the GM and part owner of Retold.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:01:13


Jen Blandos 00:01:14
Hi, Yelena. How are you?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:01:15
Good, how are you? Thanks for inviting me.


Jen Blandos 00:01:18
You're welcome. You've got such a fascinating story and such a fascinating journey as an entrepreneur. Before we dive deep, tell everybody a little bit about yourself and about your business.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:01:30
Of course. No worries at all. So I came in Dubai 15 years ago, and I was actually in hospitality. But since I was a kid, my family was buying only second hand clothes. So I'm in this all my life, pretty much. So when I came here, I was in hospitality. Still part of it. I am. And yeah, it started like that. Pretty much. When I came here, I needed a lot of clothes and it was just too expensive, especially at that time in Dubai, and to change it every day since I was in events. And from all of that, it started the story about Retold.


Jen Blandos 00:02:09
So Retold is a secondhand clothing store here in Dubai, but it's kind of like a second hand clothing store with a twist. I was in your store the other day, and one of the first things I said to you is, I'm like, it doesn't smell like a second hand.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:02:26
Yeah, you said that. I remember that.


Jen Blandos 00:02:30
It doesn't look like a second hand shop. It's a really beautiful shop, and it's got really interesting, unique clothes inside and accessories and shoes and all of those things. I need to come down and go shopping.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:02:45
You should.


Jen Blandos 00:02:46


Jelena Dancetovic 00:02:46
I'm waiting for you.


Jen Blandos 00:02:47
So before I want to talk a little bit about your journey to you getting to being involved with retail because you worked in hospitality first. And I think that's really interesting because we have some people who listen to the podcast who maybe have other jobs and are thinking that they would like to dip their toes into setting up their own business, but maybe feel like I've been doing this job for so long, whether it's hospitality or another area, and feel like there's not even a chance to go and do that. So maybe could you explain how you made the jump from being in hospitality to becoming an entrepreneur?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:03:27
Pretty much I never stopped with hospitality. I just combined two goods. I was working for restaurants and bars and clubs. And then suddenly I was still buying the clothes. It was second hand back home because here I couldn't find it. And then I was just becoming desperate to find something that I can actually pay for it because I was earning fine. But the problem was that all my money was going to the clothes. I wanted to look good, I wanted to have a good makeup and all this. So how the time was going? I'm a big fan of vintage and 2012. I had my own vintage online shop, so I was going here in a lot of markets. If you remember at that time, there was like one or two and I was going there every weekend and it was so good for me. And people love vintage because it was completely different. I had from cameras to clothes to suitcases to everything. And I'm a big fan of it. Then what actually happened? At that time, I met Jen. Jen is the founder of Retold now I'm a part of the owner and GM as well. And we kind of spoke after few years and we said, okay, let's combine both. So in our first shop we had vintage and secondhand as well. So the point was that I wanted to combine the two goods. So for example, I was working in the restaurants and clubs and I knew a lot of owners of the places, GMs as well. So they were like, we need something new in our place. Like they're having like ladies nights and all of this. And I was like, maybe we should just do an event of a second hand clothing over there so it'll be like a night shopping. Oh, great, drinking and all of this. Do you remember when we did it, your event? We just did it with like a breakfast.


Jen Blandos 00:05:31
So we just had a Female Fusion Network event over at Retold as well. And we brought all of our members down to the store and it was great because we had a bit of breakfast in the shop and some of our members came down as well and had showcased dolls in the shop. But I think everybody was really surprised because they hadn't actually been to retail before. And I was like, wow, this is a hidden gem that I didn't even know about. And to explore and to also know as well that the one shop that you have is not the only shop that you have, and that you have different types of vintage clothes, from the basic high street cheaper items of clothing to more expensive designer clothes as well. Which is why for me, I struggle to always have fresh things in my wardrobe because I'm on TV I'm speaking, I'm on online and I always feel like I'd never have enough clothes. And you were saying to me as well, you're like, just come down and get your clothes.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:06:34
Many times at the end I realized I just need to know your size. Everything on one rail for you. And then you just come in and you try it on and take what you need.


Jen Blandos 00:06:43
Perfect. I got to do that.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:06:45
That's way much easier.


Jen Blandos 00:06:46
Okay. I got to do that in the next couple of weeks because I have a lot of events coming.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:06:50
This is what I was telling you exactly.


Jen Blandos 00:06:54
Okay. So I want to go back even to a bit more talking about the story because I think this would really help all business owners. So when the pandemic happened, yes, it was tough for all of us. A lot of people lost their businesses, lost a lot of money. I know I lost all of my contracts with my other business within about ten days. It was not a fun time.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:07:17
Yeah. No.


Jen Blandos 00:07:19
What happened to retold?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:07:21
So at that time I was still in hospitality because they have so many contacts. Really? That's why I told you I have like from clubs to restaurants, we can do whatever you need. The point was that at that time we had a second hand shop which you cannot go in a shop because it was pandemic. You remember like we were all locked down and everything, but at the same time the hospitality completely went down. So I had businesses that I can't do anything, pretty much. And me as working as a consultant for all these places, hotels and et cetera was quite difficult because I can't do anything. So what we did do you remember when we had that 3 hours of going out only?


Jen Blandos 00:08:05


Jelena Dancetovic 00:08:06
My 3 hours was actually in the shop.


Jen Blandos 00:08:09


Jelena Dancetovic 00:08:10
So I would be actually going over there and take photos posted on Instagram and kind of trying to keep up our people still interested. I didn't want this one to go away. Then I realized and during the epidemic that a lot of people just want to leave the country because they got scared. They didn't want to. Especially people from hospitality business. They just wanted to leave me. I never wanted to leave. I said, Guys, it needs to come back regularly. So I realized there is a lot of people who are leaving. So I posted on Facebook and I said, whoever leaving, you can or donate your stuff or we can buy it for a bite from you. And people actually start calling me like crazy. Like crazy. Like crazy. And then I kept a list of people that I knew. It will not continue all the time to be locked down every day. So when we kind of open up a little bit that we can actually go out. That was the time when I actually started getting people in the store to bring their stuff and et cetera.


Jen Blandos 00:09:12


Jelena Dancetovic 00:09:12
The problem was that we were working on consignment. And when you start your business, you have one way of working. Then later on, you realize what better works. Then it's a process. We had only one shop. We were located in Umsukim Road and Consignment didn't work for us because there was a lot of administration. Ladies want to get the cash out of it. It was just a lot of things to be done. So I was thinking thinking what we can do. And after we went out from the lockdown, I said, Done. We're changing the whole system. People want to cash on the spot, let's give them People want to give donation? Let's take it. People want to get a credit in the store and just swipe the items. How many items you have in your closet.


Jen Blandos 00:10:00
Too Many.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:10:01
Too Many. Exactly. So we were on an ad job. Bankruptcy.


Jen Blandos 00:10:06


Jelena Dancetovic 00:10:06
And I was thinking how much money we actually have. We were like literally, I think around 5000. Durhams we had a budget.


Jen Blandos 00:10:16


Jelena Dancetovic 00:10:16
And I said what I can do with 5000 Durhams. Nothing.


Jen Blandos 00:10:20


Jelena Dancetovic 00:10:21
Well, not true. Because people were leaving the country and they just wanted to donate it. And I felt sorry for them. So I was like, don't donate everything. I'll buy it for less money from you and the rest. What I feel is not good. I will just donate it to the charities that we work with. They loved it. And then word of mouth was going on. And then a Cole Yellena. She's buying it now. Blah, Blah. I had that budget and then I started selling it. So it became if I buy something 510 Durhams. 15 Durhams. I was reselling it. And then again, I was buying it. And this is how we worked.


Jen Blandos 00:10:54


Jelena Dancetovic 00:10:54
Pretty Much. And I lost half of my stuff, to be honest with you. And it was so painful.


Jen Blandos 00:10:59
Of course, when you have to let staff go, because they become like family. Especially when you're a small business. And this is hard because you have to put the business hat on and not think about the personal side, even though you so much want to, that sometimes the business has to definitely survive.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:11:19
At the end, I was very happy that I had the stuff and I told them, what's the situation? So half of my stuff, they said listen, we just want to stay with you anyways. I'm in Corona. What will I do for the next two months?


Jen Blandos 00:11:30


Jelena Dancetovic 00:11:30
Let me sit and let's start it out over when everything after three months, we start working. People actually continue with me, and they're still with me. So it's kind of we went through pretty much the hell what I was thinking all the time. Okay. Oh, my God. We're going to the bankruptcy now. What are we going to do? We are second hand shop. Then There Was stories about the second hand clothes. Oh, that's actually things what brought the Corona a lot of black magic. And I don't know what the people start thinking, which wasn't true. What happened actually did Corona help us out? Thank you, Corona. Why? Because many people here didn't want to buy secondhand, they never traveled the world, they never saw many things, and many people are kind of disgusted with those items. Then I start explaining a lot to them that if you go to any shop in a mall, how many times people try the shirt that you're trying on? Of course, minimum 30 times.


Jen Blandos 00:12:34
And you can have the people who will buy it, wear it for a night out and then return it and.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:12:40
Return it back with the tax, because the tax, they keep it aback. So when you come inside, the staff nicely steamed the item, you will not even notice it. Yeah, so that item was worn more than that one person who actually brought the item inside the shop.


Jen Blandos 00:12:58
Well, I was surprised at how pristine everything looked in the shop. And you've even got some, thank you very much, the tags on it as.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:13:05
Well, which is quite cool, which is actually, to be honest, I think only in Dubai, many ladies tend to buy items that they never wear and they're like oh my God, I never worn it. That's the point. You bring the items that you don't want it, it just started changing it from the stuff you need in the shop. Especially, to be honest, we started all of this because many of the ladies that we know, they needed items to change all the time. Come on, we live now in a world of influencers and bloggers, right. They get all the time stuff for free. Many items they will never wear in your life. Correct. But they need items for events. For example, you have your events every single day, but you don't like going typical shopping, right?


Jen Blandos 00:13:50
No, I don't have time.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:13:51
Exactly. So now we have in town is a lot of stylists. I realized that I can help out people a lot. So what people do, they call me, they say this is my size, can you help me out? I'm not charging you actually for that, because you will come in my shop, I'll spend 2 hours with you and I'll give you the items from the shop that you need. Yeah, I'm trying to get that kind of a sense of the people that if you're buying stuff in our shop, you don't have to pay me as a stylist because I am giving you something for 2 hours. Later on, if you want the total makeover everything, it's a different story. But I want to help them out. So the point is, I want the people that are coming inside the store go out in an outfit that they actually like. And it's difficult when you go by yourself because you're like, oh, I need this. No, you don't need ten shirts. You don't need the ten black trousers. You don't need it.


Jen Blandos 00:14:47
So we have Yelena in the shop saying you don't need ten of those shirts. Take those two, they look the best on you, and leave the rest.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:14:55
This is funny part. That's why people like to work with me. It's not typical about the cash. It's not typical about making money. It's because if you come in and you need three dresses for three events, but you like six, I'll tell you, you don't need it. Because maybe in the next one month, maybe you will gain weight. Maybe you will lose weight. Come on, you're training now, right? So maybe you will lose. Maybe you will gain. Come back when you know, actually when it's your event, I want you to go out and say, hey, that girl gave me the items that I need. I didn't need them extra. I'll come back again. Point is, come back again. Bring even more your stuff you don't need. Exchange with the items in the store. You can even shop for free. This is the point.


Jen Blandos 00:15:36
Yeah, no, that's great. I want to go back to something business wise that you talked about for a second was the pricing around whether you do consignment or you pay cash or you take donations. And the reason for that is, I think sometimes that some entrepreneurs overcomplicate things when they don't need to. And it seems that maybe you realized that doing the consignment was just taking up so much admin time that it was actually easier to change your business model with that and say, we're keeping it simple. We're either paying you cash if it's a certain level, we're giving you store credit, or you donate. And that's it.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:16:17
The biggest problem was happening with entrepreneurs, and I realized that in 15 years here, is that nobody has a clear road where they're going. When I make my business plan, I make two options. What will be if I do like this? What will be if I do like this? Even when I work with me as a consultant for clubs and restaurants and bars, I make them a six months, a whole plan. But what I say always the first one month is introduction. We need to see in the first month what goes, what doesn't go. Maybe this month, because we live in Dubai, every month is changeable. You know this. So let's try and see what it works. Maybe we'll not work it out. Let's change the system completely.


Jen Blandos 00:17:00
Well, okay. Yeah. The UAE, Dubai is a little bit special that way. It is definitely everything's crazy, everything's fast paced. We've always got lots of ideas. Things are changing. But I think from a general business perspective as well, one thing that I see that the businesses that are the most successful is when they realize it's.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:17:23
Not working and they change immediately.


Jen Blandos 00:17:25
And they change immediately. And that's one thing that I even found with Female Fusion Network last year, that I had a plan. I was working to a plan. Everybody teases me that I like my plans, but I changed it like every six weeks because I was like, whoa, this isn't what I plan.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:17:39
Not only that, you realize that it doesn't work. Yes. And many entrepreneurs, they're like, okay, wait, I made my plan. Let me stick to the plan. It will take six months to one year, but it will go. No, it will not go. You feel it doesn't go, change it after one month. You feel it doesn't go, change it again. Who do you need in your life and with which people you want to work? This is the main point. For example, I realized that many people and we have a lot of small businesses in town, and people need a place. They need the place. So you and me, we know each other. And what happened is that actually you have a lot of small business. And I said, Guys, if anybody needs a place in the shop, instead of you going and paying for an actual spot, et cetera, this is your place. Let's work it out. So you need to change all the time to see what actually works for you.


Jen Blandos 00:18:30
And do you know what? I think that's so great that I see more and more businesses are doing that, that somebody like you who has the retail space, but you don't actually need all the physical space. You could probably fit in, what, five to ten other exactly. Easily.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:18:46
At the moment, we have five.


Jen Blandos 00:18:48


Jelena Dancetovic 00:18:48
So I can combine five more.


Jen Blandos 00:18:50
Yeah. And to be able to look at that, because that's extra revenue for you, that is savings for those brands who want to be able to exactly be in your shop.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:19:01


Jen Blandos 00:19:02
It's a win win for everybody, right?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:19:03
Yeah, exactly. Not only that, that when I start thinking about it, I realize that here we kind of need to work together. The problem is there is a lot of jealousy and there is a lot of how to say it, like people who are trying to say, oh, we're competition. To be honest with you, I realized a lot of places. I had the ladies who are coming inside my store. I had one lady, for example, she sold all my system, the way I work, everything she tried to run this business, didn't work it out for me, to be honest, I don't see the competition unless a huge company comes and they open their own and I don't know what you know what I mean? I do not see any of us competition. I only see that we can help out each other. This is what people need to figure around.


Jen Blandos 00:19:56
I see this and you know me as well, that I really promote that in Female Fusion Network, that we need to support each other because owning a business isn't easy. And when you see people who get that and when they work together and they collaborate together, they get more business. Definitely, they get more business.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:20:15
That's why I got more small businesses in the shop. And I told them, guys, you pay for the spot, little bit, whatever you earn, it's your money. But through the shop you're getting more people. The other five people are going to post about it that they're in the shop. So it will come clients, you never saw them in life. And if we work together, we'll get more women inside, we will make a bigger thing. And now we start doing in events.


Jen Blandos 00:20:40
Win win for everybody.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:20:41


Jen Blandos 00:20:42
Yeah. I think that's so great and I wish that more people would see that. And I think especially in the beginning when people start out, I see this, that there's this fear that people are like, people are going to copy my idea or they're going to steal the brands that I work with.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:20:58
Everybody will copy everybody's idea. But the point is who is going to succeed at the end? The point is that you can copy anybody's idea. Really? Do you have an actual plan when you copy this person?


Jen Blandos 00:21:11
Of course not.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:21:12
Come on.


Jen Blandos 00:21:13
Of course not. And this is why I'm always saying it's good to look and see what else is out there on the market. But then create your own stuff. Don't try and copy it. Exactly. Because then people are going to be like, well, what's the difference between A, B and C? They all look the same. It's much better to think about who your ideal customer is and what they want from you.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:21:35


Jen Blandos 00:21:40
I also want to talk to you. So talking about collaboration, I want to also talk about things like maybe exchanging services or maybe providing certain things for free. Because I think the whole world over you have this that people will be like, oh, yellen. So could I come into your shop? Could I have all of these outfits and use it for this? Maybe keep a few of them. But I'm an influencer or I'll be at this party and your dress will be in this magazine, so you should give it to me for free. And it happens a lot in Dubai and in the UAE, but it happens all around the world.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:22:25
Yes, definitely, yes.


Jen Blandos 00:22:27
What's your view on that? I have a view, but what's your view on that?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:22:32
I am always for a barter deals. If both sides get what they want, what they need, for example, we live in a world of influencers and bloggers. They will tell me millions of times every day, 20 of them I get, show me what you can give it to me. So for example, if she tells me, oh, you will get this photo. No, I want this, this and this, this. So I always go beyond and I count exactly how much it will cost me if I do it by myself.


Jen Blandos 00:23:06


Jelena Dancetovic 00:23:06
And then I see if there's a lot because they can because everybody are like they're getting a lot of people, they're getting like come on, I work in hospitality and I'm getting the free dinners, free coffees, free lunch, free nights, everything. But what's the difference if you give me free? You know what you can get from me? Because people know that I will bring them the clients, they know I will tell the clients and it's a word of mouth. But you need to be very careful if you're deciding to do a barter deal with whom you're doing with the people. For example, you and me, we can always talk about barter but we know each other of course, and that's different. But if you have somebody who heard about you say hey, can you give me this? Who are you? Why are you coming and asking me for free? Who told you I work for free? You know what I mean? No, I had that the other day.


Jen Blandos 00:24:02
That I had an influencer DM me and say I'm an influencer. Can I have a one year Female Fusion Network membership and I'll come to your events and I'll stick it on my social media and she had something like about 500,000 followers on Instagram. But then I looked at her reels and I looked at her posts and her reels had like 100 likes and no comments. I was like, you're not an influencer, you're somebody who spent like $500 buying your followers. But I think sometimes if being in business is new to you, you don't know what you don't know. And this is what I hear from some businesses sometimes, that especially if you have a product, that a lot of times there's this perception that if they give their product for free to an influencer or to somebody or a celebrity of some type that if they wear it or if they talk about it, that then instantly sales are going to.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:25:06
Of course to follow. But I'll be honest with you. Two years ago I have a friend, she's Italian and she's married to French guy. This guy is my friend and I love him so much. He has his own business that is only working with influencers bloggers and a lot of famous people. So I told him listen, I have a one store and I want to be bigger. What do you suggest to me? He said let's work it out, let's work with influencers and everything. I said Why would I give to influencers for free? He said let's work it out together. You will see. He helped me out a lot. I can't tell you the name because you'll take my idea but the point is that he gave me all these ladies and he sent me once an influencer I'm giving them the voucher that they can spend like 50 Durhams 100 Durhams and everything they need to post on their social media about us and et cetera. And to be honest, because of them that they were posting all over the place, people started seeing it but I had a lot of them and this is why I got an extra two more stores because I didn't have a space anymore. I started getting a lot of stuff but how he helped me out, he didn't say okay, give them free this, give them free debt. No, we made a deal. You bring me an influencer. The influencer has like a 50 dirhams or 100 dirhams or whatever. Those influencers are coming back, spending the.


Jen Blandos 00:26:27
Money because they loved it so much.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:26:28
They loved it because I believed in the product I have. That's the difference. If you get one person who will do with your Female Fusion Network and she's showing up, what is she can bring in what show up around, do what?


Jen Blandos 00:26:42
It adds no value.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:26:43
It adds no value depending on the businesses you do.


Jen Blandos 00:26:47
Well, the other thing as well, a lot of people because there has to be a strategy behind everything, right?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:26:54


Jen Blandos 00:26:55
So you had a strategy behind what you did and you saw as well the power of having a lot of people in the repetition.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:27:02


Jen Blandos 00:27:03
Being very clear on what that was. But I think a lot of times people don't have the confidence and when you don't have the confidence it's just like oh, could you do a post about my product, about my skincare oil or my dresses that I make? And there's this view that because they think that if that one person does that, that sales change. And as I say to businesses, that that's just one working with influencers could be great, like it was for you.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:27:34
Depending on the businesses you're having the.


Jen Blandos 00:27:36
Business, but also the strategy behind it and really being clear on what they're going to do for you, and also being clear on who their audience is.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:27:44
Definitely. But not only that, I had a lady, he sent me a lady, 2200 followers. And I told him it's not an influencer, come on. And then she came in, she spent 3000 dirhams in a shop, used her 50 dirham voucher. But love, she brought me four more friends.


Jen Blandos 00:28:03


Jelena Dancetovic 00:28:04
So this is what I'm saying. It all depends when somebody comes and tells you listen, I'll give me this for free, but you will get all of this back, I'm willing. But if somebody is showing up and just saying oh, give me for free because that's me, who are you?


Jen Blandos 00:28:18
Well, but it also goes to the whole one of the things I think we talk about this a lot in Female Fusion Network as well is that you have to go through being an entrepreneur, being a giver in a way, definitely. And not saying like give away a bunch of stuff for free, but not look at a situation. And be like, what are you going to do for me instead? How can I help you? How can I share my knowledge with you or come into my shop? You can use the shop for an event or I'll give you a 50. Darren Voucher I don't want to say the word charity, but that kindness and empathy towards other people reflects back on you.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:29:01
The biggest problem that I see between entrepreneurs is that when we are talking, they're telling us, they're telling me, oh, but yelling, I'm just in the beginning, I need to give to get it's completely wrong. At the beginning of every business, I didn't give anything because I first need to realize by myself what actually works for my business. Later on, if I want to expand like I did it now if I want to expand, then I will start calling people or they will call me and say, hey, let's do some barter deal together because I can get this, this, this, let's do this free, blah blah blah blah. But at the beginning, the biggest problem that everybody does is they start everything for free. And the funny part is when you start at the beginning for free, people will know because word of mouth will start in any country you live. Of course people know, people who knows people who will tell to this person that you actually, oh, you're not doing well because you're doing everything for free at the beginning. Later on it's up to you if you're going to expand and give and et cetera.


Jen Blandos 00:30:09
Of course. And I think also as well, so it devalues definitely your offering and also as well, it makes it very difficult to put your prices up. Definitely. And I've met some people who have really struggled with their businesses, had their businesses for like a year or two years and not charged anything. Charity this is the thing that we need to get past this mentality of working for free, providing things for free. And it's okay if it's win win, but also as well, we as business owners need to stand in our power and say, I'm not doing this for free. And I think the people who only want things for free or massive discounts are the wrong clients or customers.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:31:00
Again, it all depends how you started. If you start strong later on, you can make any deal with anybody you want. I mean, I'm so glad I'm a part of the Female Fusion Network. I met so many people and anytime I have a problem, I call and say, jen, come on, I need this one. Do you have any deal with me? And you know I cannot pay that much for that kind of marketing agency. I know there are a lot of money. Of course then you say, hey, call this lady, check if she can give you a part of a discount, never for free, but some kind of a discount or make a deal with her, maybe you can give something and et cetera. It's all about how we work together.


Jen Blandos 00:31:34


Jelena Dancetovic 00:31:35
This is the main thing. And I met like, a lot of ladies from Female Fusion Network that I actually work now with them. And then we're helping out each other.


Jen Blandos 00:31:42
And it makes it so much easier. But I think we also have to stand in our power, as I constantly say, and not do these massive discounts out of the fear of scarcity or that you're not going to have clients or you need to charge for what you're doing.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:32:00
I have three stores now in Dubai. One is an algorithm city center, which is on the other part of the town. I have in Alcuz, where you went, and I have in Glt. The thing is, on every one week or two weeks, I do a lot of big sales. And then people are like, oh, why? Because you cannot sell it or because you're maybe closing it down? No, because I have a lot see.


Jen Blandos 00:32:26
That'S what I was thinking.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:32:27


Jen Blandos 00:32:27
For the sales, I would think it would be because you have so much stock.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:32:31
So much stock that goes in first, I want to thank all the ladies who came in seven days. We had the submission. I got a lot. Not only from ladies, from men as well. They brought even the kids stuff and everything. We got so much. And to be honest, we are the company that want to everybody can buy for themselves. So I am giving the discounts in order to clear out the stock so we can bring you in. That's so good because they have so many clients who are coming every week. They want something new. I cannot keep up all the time.


Jen Blandos 00:33:04
And I think that you're the largest vintage secondhand clothing shop in the country, probably the region, right?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:33:13


Jen Blandos 00:33:13
GCC. Exactly. The whole region.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:33:16
Thank you so much.


Jen Blandos 00:33:18
So on that because Retold is such a great concept. And honestly as well, even when I've been in other countries, I have not seen anything to the standard of what you do.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:33:32
Thank you.


Jen Blandos 00:33:33
You're welcome. Because I have a teenage daughter, and she loves teenagers, love vintage as well, and we've gone to different ones, and she's always maybe found a few things, but also been like, it kind of.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:33:45
Smells in there and it's too much vintage.


Jen Blandos 00:33:49
Yeah. And yours feels like a real shop that would have brand new clothes in a way. Well, most of them are very brand new. You have started looking at international expansion.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:34:03


Jen Blandos 00:34:04
That's kind of the next step for a lot of businesses when you get to a certain level, and then you're like, okay, where do I go? Do I expand? Do I expand in the country? Do I go global? What do you do? So you've been looking at other markets. What's that process been like for you?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:34:21
So I always wanted to go global. Because for me, the GCC countries are the places where you actually have a lot of stock. And in Europe, people will never buy that much clothes. Never, ever. But here they buy all the time. So I realized that these kind of items, they will never have it in Europe because back home, you're just buying it like one, two, three pieces. So I said to myself, I travel a lot. Almost every month I travel. And I always wanted to start with Belgrade. I'm from Serbia. And this time I decided to start with Greece because I have a lot of friends over there and I travel all the time over there. And I had a great opportunity. They approached me, they gave me a great deal for the space and everything. So I opened in a ski resort, believe it or not, in the middle of a Greece. And I've been there.


Jen Blandos 00:35:17
It is kind of the middle of nowhere, but it's niche, right? Like that's the thing you go for the niche and the difference that it has.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:35:24
I decided to open in places that are very niche. Like, for example, I open in a places in ski resort and I know what I want over there. Shop is very small, 30 m². We're the only one. There is nobody else like us. All other shops are the same. They're selling like skis this one, ski that one, and people love it. I have so many people coming inside, taking photos, et cetera. Especially we're next to the delphi. So everybody, all the tourists are passing. And I had the tourists from Dubai as well. So this lady, she saw it and at the end she came to Dubai and she bought it in the shop. So the point is, I decided to go global because I wasn't scared. Many people who are starting out there saying, oh, come on, I'm okay here, let me just not expand. It better we stick where we are now. We are okay. The biggest problem is when the people say we are okay. Let's do not do more than this. No, try. Just try and say yourself, okay, if it doesn't go, I lost this much, how much? I have money or possibilities to lose it in case I lost it. So I was very secure about myself. I'd open it up and go, well, and it's only three months.


Jen Blandos 00:36:36
I love it that you think big.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:36:40
I cannot think small.


Jen Blandos 00:36:41
Everything I do is thinking big from the time I've been little. And I think that that's so important in entrepreneurship. I mean, thinking big, but also thinking about risks, right?


Jelena Dancetovic 00:36:53
You need to always think about we.


Jen Blandos 00:36:55
Need to make sure that we're not going to lose it all.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:36:57


Jen Blandos 00:36:58
But I mean, what a great idea to take that, because it is this concept. I haven't seen it anywhere else in the world. So it's really fascinating that you started with Greece and I guess you're going to be looking at other markets now as well.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:37:11
To be continued. Keep you posted.


Jen Blandos 00:37:14
Top secret. Fantastic. But I also love as well seeing brands from the UAE going global because it always used to be that it would be the other way around that would only grow here. And I really love it when I see brands from here that are homegrown from here. And if you travel and you see them in other places and you're like, they're from the UAE, it feels so cool. Yesterday I met the woman who is one of the co founders of Hunter Foods.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:37:48
Yeah, of course I do, yes.


Jen Blandos 00:37:50
Never met her before. So fascinating. And she was talking to me about how she'd been working on the branding and the packaging. And she was saying to me, she's like, we're available in more than 100 countries around the world.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:38:02
You know that, right?


Jen Blandos 00:38:04
Because I said to her, I said, Are you expanding like a little bit? Because I said, I'm pretty sure when I was in Greece this summer, I saw Hunter Crisps, like for sale at the airport and in supermarkets. She's like, yeah, we're in more than 100 countries. I was like, rock star. I want to have her on the podcast. This is what I love about thinking big and as women as well, to not have that fear, like, to dare to dream big and go, I came up with this idea here. It worked. Let me take it to the world.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:38:38
Definitely the biggest problem is that the people are scared. I understand that you need to know exactly. You need to make your own plan and say how much I have, what do I have, and et cetera. I saw many entrepreneurs that were like, if I bring this investor, who will invest? And then this one is an extra people, extra work. First you need to realize by yourself what you want. Do you want to do this or not? If you want to do it, you need to find a way. And of course, not to go in a complete bankruptcy or something, but make a plan. I have €10,000. I mean, 50,000 Durhams. I have 50,000 terms. Let me do that.


Jen Blandos 00:39:16


Jelena Dancetovic 00:39:16
If I lose it, I lost it. You need to have a plan is number one.


Jen Blandos 00:39:21
You need to always have a plan. And I think anybody who's thinking about either growing their existing business in the country or looking international, anything, there needs to be a plan. You can't just go, yeah, I'm going to do this and hope it works out.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:39:36
Definitely. But not only that, because you said we're the homegrown business in Dubai, we went to Greece and I was thinking, okay, let's just start it up 30 m². We'll see what will happen in six months. People start coming. People start calling me. I got invitation to open a shop in Athens. I to open a shop in mykonos to do the collaboration in places like Hakidiki and these kind of places and then suddenly they start calling me from Holland. I got an offer. So it's like just people start hearing about it and it's amazing when you have this feeling. I feel so good that it's oh my God.


Jen Blandos 00:40:14
But do you know what I think is so special about you and your business? And I see this with a lot of women though is your business is something that you're so passionate about, right? It's kind of part of your soul.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:40:28
The whole it's actually my whole life.


Jen Blandos 00:40:30
Your whole life. And so that for that for you, the passion, like I can see this and I'm sure everybody can hear it in your voice as well. Just the love and the passion for the sustainability and offering that other alternative to the world is so important, to.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:40:46
Be honest with you. My mom and I were buying since we were kids and the dream of my mom in the 90s was to open her own secondhand shop in Belgrade. And two years ago when we went to Craziness and everything, my mom died. And my dream was that I opened a shop in Belgrade under her name and everything just in the memories. Then I was thinking, why to keep up with the one shop only. My mom was always saying you need to kind of go towards your wishes and what you love. Because to be honest, I finished economics, I was working in HR, I was HR manager. And then I started doing as a hospitality and then I went through changing a lot of things and then I realized this is what I love. I love changing clothes, I love being different, I love being unique, I love being crazy. So if you love what you do, you can do anything, really. I know money is also important and I know many entrepreneurs will say now, yeah, but what if you have this much? And this with little, how much you have? We started after the craziness of corona. We started with 5000 Durhams. This is what we have. What can we do? And this is exactly what you should do. Make a plan. And if anybody needs a help, I'm here. Really. I don't mind helping out, seriously.


Jen Blandos 00:42:03
But I love that I'm seeing just so many themes as well behind you and your business. I mean, one is just really the power of thinking big and what it can do but then also having the passion and the values behind that, that really drives it. And it's so true that you don't have to have a major investor or major funds. It's great to have that, definitely. But with my businesses, I've never had investment. I've had a bit of money but not a lot had to work. And I think that what you're saying as well, that if you have that passion and drive and you're thinking big, that you can make it happen. So long as you have a plan.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:42:52
You need to have number one, you need to have a passion. If you're not passionate about your I met so many entrepreneurs, and I need to say sorry to say this, they're not passionate about it. They're like, okay, I'm here now. What should I do now? Girl, you need to work 24/7. You need to work twenty four, seven to think about the business you love so much and make a plan about this business. And then if you need the help, I'll call you. I'll call other friends I know and ask you, like, Guys, can you help me out? What do I do now? I'm stuck in the middle of this, but I want this, this and this, and everybody will help. But if people feels you don't have that passion and you just kind of want to work, to work it out and make some money, to kind of have in your, it's not going to work.


Jen Blandos 00:43:36
That's a hobby. That's not a business. That becomes a hobby. And look, it's okay to have a hobby. If you want to have a hobby and make a little bit of money, that's okay. But then that's a different kind of business, definitely. And different people. And I find this when I speak with some entrepreneurs as well, some entrepreneurs are very honest, and they're like, look, so long as I make a certain amount of money every month, I'm just going to do the bare minimum.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:44:03
That's all I care about is the problem. Because people are all the time okay.


Jen Blandos 00:44:07
Yeah, but do you know what? For some people, if they don't need the money, if they're happy with that, that's okay. But then you have crazy ones, I think, like, you and I, who are like, which countries are we going to go to? How many more services are we going to? Exactly. It's like, Where are we going to go? And I think there's a place on the spectrum for everybody. Like, there's no right or wrong, right? Because the way that I run my business and the way that I approach entrepreneurship, some people look at that, and that's terrifying for them. Are you serious? No, I don't want to go international. No, I don't want it. I don't want it. Somebody said to me the other day, so how many members do you want to have in three years? And I just looked at them really straight, and I said, 10,000. And he's like, but can you manage that? It's like, of course I can. I have a plan for that.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:45:02


Jen Blandos 00:45:03
Oh, okay. And for some people, it's very natural to go, I'm going to go as big as I possibly can. And other people are like, I'm happy with having a certain amount of money, having that flexibility, taking my laptop, going to Bali for a month, or going off on holiday with the kids. And there's no right or wrong, but I think you do need to have a plan.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:45:32


Jen Blandos 00:45:33
I mean, the passion helps because the passion and like you when you were facing bankruptcy, if you didn't love that.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:45:41
Business, I would just turn around.


Jen Blandos 00:45:44
You would have been like, okay, I'm going to close down the business. And it's the same thing with me. Sometimes people say to me, they're like, why are you working so hard? And I look at it and go.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:45:55
Because I believe in it.


Jen Blandos 00:45:57
I believe in it and I see how many people we help. Right. And that's kind of what keeps you going. Like, I get messages from women every day. Oh, because you did this, or because Female Fusion Network did that, you know, I've won this contract or I've changed this in my business and I've made more money. And that to me, is like, it's a movement, it's changing the world and it's offering economic opportunities to women that we might not necessarily have had before.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:46:27
I agree completely.


Jen Blandos 00:46:28
Yeah. Oh, my God, we could go on for hours. And it has been such a fascinating discussion and I think there's so many things that have come out from this and I think we're probably going to have to do another episode.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:46:44
I don't mind at all. Thank you for inviting me, really.


Jen Blandos 00:46:47
You're welcome. I think when we have more global expansion, we're going to talk a lot more about the global expansion and how that's worked. But I think you've really shown the power of thinking big, the power of having that passion and that just shines through in everything you do.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:47:03
I have a feeling we're going to meet up next year in some other country doing the podcast.


Jen Blandos 00:47:08


Jelena Dancetovic 00:47:09
Well, you do, definitely.


Jen Blandos 00:47:11
In all of the locations we're going to, we're doing podcasts in different countries as well. So hopefully next podcast we'll do, we'll do in another country.


Jelena Dancetovic 00:47:19
I'm in. Thank you so much for inviting me.


Jen Blandos 00:47:21
Really excellent. Thanks so much. Eleanor, I hope you enjoyed this week's episode of the podcast. If you did, I'd be so grateful if you'd show us some love on Apple podcasts and Spotify. And don't forget to share it with your friends. Also, feel free to let me know what other topics you'd like me to cover. You can get in touch through social media or through the website. Female Fusion Network Network here's to thinking big, going big and building the business of your dreams.