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Founder Spotlight: Tereza Gondkova

Written by
Gabriela Dittrichova
Published on
June 24, 2021

At Femme Palette, we are supporting women to be more entrepreneurial. That’s why we’re kicking off the Founder Interview series to give you the inspiration you need to pursue your dream business! The first founder spotlight goes to Tereza Gondkova, CEO of Ollies.

What's your story? Tell us about your experience.

Well, my story begins when I was around 10 years old and I started to help my grandmother while she was baking at my mother’s business. Those were the times when the very beginning of Ollies, our pastry company, started. My mother was producing original Italian tiramisu for cafes in Ostrava. When I got older, I was doing part-time jobs until I reached 18 and I finished high school. At that time we decided with my brother that we will take care of the company instead of our parents and give it a new generation energy which was needed for the business to grow.

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Did you always know you want to be an entrepreneur? What was unexpected?

Oh no. Not at all. I wanted to be an architect. Since I joined Ollies as a part-time job during high school, I kind of forgot about my childhood dream and literally fell into the family business. The speed of entrepreneurship was definitely unexpected. It’s something that is not for everybody, especially in the retail business where you are open 7 days a week and producing practically 24/7. You meet daily issues that need to be solved and if you are lucky and growing fast, there will be plenty of those and at the same time, you need to set the vision and long term strategies. That was tough and sometimes still is and actually many times it was unfeasible and led to poor long term decisions.

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What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way you work?

That was the big issue that we had with my brother, that literally grew from the time we started working together. He is 7 years older and his name is Jakub, and we didn’t have a great relationship. Neither bad nor really good. But then, when we started to work together, it changed. When it comes to family, you don’t know each other’s work expectations, especially when you are 18. So the issues grew, and we just solved them recently, about one year ago. The point of it was that each of us sees things differently, each of us is good at different things, and sometimes it's hard to find the intersection. Long story short, that was the biggest lesson, because it is family. We own the company together, so it’s not about a choice whether to fire the person (in case of an entrepreneur having a big struggle with his/her employee) or to leave the company (in the case of an employee having a terrible boss). So we learned how to communicate together, how to respect each other’s ideas, how to explain our thoughts because each of us is a pro in different fields. For example,  my brother doesn’t know how to bake croissants, and if he wants to solve the bad quality in the shops, it has to be explained, transformed into unprofessional language and so on and so on.

So respect and listen to others’ thoughts carefully before you react to them.

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Entrepreneurship can be lonely. How do you stay motivated?

Well, it is, but the loneliness gives you even more strength and then it’s easier to get motivated by yourself. I am ok with reading books, listening to podcasts or just retrospect myself.

Are there are any routines that you execute daily?

No, except for having my black tea in the morning and my Shisha in the evening :D I am not a very organized person, I must admit.

Where do you see yourself and Ollies in the future?

I see Ollies as a developed company that proves the pastry profession that is made in the Czech Republic is high in quality, and that the Communism era has ended and in turn so has the bad quality of the food industry. I would love to see Ollies as the leader of the good pastry environment in the Czech Republic, having a great management team that is making this dream come true.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out with their business, what would it be?

I believe that for your personal attitude and satisfaction with yourself, what you do and what are your results in everyday life, you need to have good people around. So my advice would be, don’t give third chances in terms of important issues. If someone disappoints you once, you can give a second chance, but not a third one.


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