Zsófia and Levente Szőcs
We would like to introduce one or two successful entrepreneurs in every Homecoming Harghita’s youth magazine. Our goal is to make them known and to present role models that can be followed by young people.
Below we will present Zsófia Szőcs and the company launched by her family through his own writing:
Two years ago we moved home to our current apartment, in Csíkvacsárcsi — Zsófia Szőcs begins his introduction. My husband, Levente and I worked seven seasons in Switzerland in organic vegetable cultivation. When we got there, we didn’t have much idea about cultivating vegetables, but as the years passed, we gained experience and slowly matured in us that we should try to create a gardening at home. So, we bought used foil houses in Switzerland and sent them home. We also tried to buy farmland at home. Although we always knew that we were in Switzerland on a temporary basis, we wanted to build a stable life at home, but the date of moving home was not stated. We built the four foil houses from our own resources, which includes an area of approximately 15 acres. We are currently building a 9×16 meter greenhouse, which we would like to use for seedlings. In the field of horticulture, in addition to growing crops in foil houses and in the greenhouse, there is also open-field cultivation of crops. In the foil houses, radish, lettuce, spinach, then tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers are grown in the spring. We planted carrots, zucchini, raisins, pumpkin, onion, beetroot, parsley and salad into the open field culture. We’re planning to plant potatoes this year. The cultivation process is mostly carried out manually and is also chemical-free! If there’s any weeds left, we not bother ourselves. The plants are irrigated with a drip system, from their own reservoir basin. It would be too early to say whether it is possible to make a living from horticulture, as it only started last year, but according to my calculations, promising results are expected. For us it is important not only to be profitable, but also to eat quality food, and this is best achieved only by producing ourselves. Even abroad, you have to save and work a lot if you want to show something. If we work so hard at home, with God’s help, there must be a blessing on our work. My husband was better off from home, but I was very homesick and I couldn’t wait to come home. It is a very difficult decision to give up a secure livelihood against an imaginary life, a dream. What made us stay home was the birth of our daughter, Elizabeth. We knew our place was at home, in family environment. We have a lot of plans for the future, only the money is running out. We would like to expand the range of vegetables. The idea of a vegetable processor is not far from us, we would like to realise this with non-refundable tender support.
Together with Lehel Ruzsa, his wife, Kinga, he created and runs Ruzsa Shoes in Miercurea Ciuc. Here, men’s and women’s leather shoes are made after size.
About the path to creating a business, Lehel Ruzsa says: “I worked as an orthopaedic technician for a local entrepreneur, where I met with ready-made orthopedic shoes. Later I made orthopaedic shoes at another contractor, and I was an assistant manager. Over the years, my interest in shoemaking has increased: I wanted more than serial production. I traveled to Hungary to get the raw materials necessary for making shoes from there. Every time I waited for the merchandise, I asked questions at a local shoe factory. I met Uncle Jozsi, who slowly introduced me to the world of handmade shoes. Later, even another master gave advice. The two of them are still helping me on my way. This is how three years have passed: on holidays, I went to them and studied. In the afternoon I did homework from them. When it came to me that I would regret not trying to start the business, there was no way back from there! In addition to the decision, a series of work and years of investment preceded the start of the business.
For Ruzsa Shoes products, the right to use the trademark Product/Produs Secuiesc/Sekler PRODUKT was granted in February 2020. Most of the sales take place online, as well as at exhibitions organised by the Harghita County Development Agency, which is the sub-institution of the Council of Harghita County, in Miercurea Ciuc. The shoes are individualised, so they do not have finished products. Considering that each foot is different, it is possible to order custom shoes according to the needed material.
According to them, the couple likes to plan ahead. They strongly believe that without development it is impossible to remain on the market. To this end, Lehel Ruzsa plans to master small, subtle techniques.
The Ruzsa couple want to promote their products in several counties: Maros, Cluj, Sibiu, Bihar and Brasov. They are working to offer customers the most colourful range of their products.
Although the company started from its own resources a year ago, they would like to apply for expansion in the near future.
I opened the confectionery workshop in Csíkszentsimon in 2018. I started my business with the aim of serving the area with really special, unique and quality cakes, scones and gluten, sugar, lactose free and vegan products. Our main guidelines are the use of quality, local and natural ingredients, continuous renewal and individuality.
I sell the products mainly at weddings, events and fairs. We only work for orders.
I think it is important to take part in the fairs to get us know better, but at the same time I discovered a lot of new products to replace the raw materials used in the large industry with local raw materials. I use a lot of local products. It hurts when I see how many high-quality products are made in the area (milk products, pasta, fruits, etc.) and the supermarkets use poor quality products abroad.
After eight years of living abroad, I felt that it was enough and my place was at home. I couldn’t imagine my life anywhere else. I have worked in many places in Germany and Hungary, and I have also studied there. It’s not easy, but I think that anyone who wants to work, puts their heart and energy into it, can live well at home. That’s why I started the workshop. I wanted to be my own boss, but in fact, everyone became my boss.
As a matter of fact, I have realised my dream and will continue to work because I still have a lot of plans. It is never the goal of enrichment, but of peaceful living and joy. It’s a wonderful feeling when I see kids or newlyweds at their wedding that they’re happy about cakes and cookies. That motivates me.
I love what I do.
Professionally, I am constantly developing myself and I try to teach my colleagues everything. I go to classes, and the more work we have the more we learn, we don’t leave the level any more. We always make novelties, test the needs, push the boundaries, how much extra flavours our guests like or dare to accept. We’re testing next year’s flavors. There will be surprises. People are still a little closed about gastronomy, we need to approach very carefully. There are so many ideas in me. Year after year, we touch the flavors more boldly. I have received and received so much from our guests, so much support, love, and positive feedback that I would like to give them something special that they don’t get anywhere else, which includes our soul and love.
Of course, I have a five-year plan and a larger, not just a five-year plan. I know what I want to achieve, and I see how much I have to work for it. At the beginning of each year, I set a goal to achieve by the end of the year. I almost got it this year. I didn’t even dare to dream about the Szekler product trademark, and I have it. Thank you very much for that, too. It’s very nice to know that our work is recognised. I encourage everyone to buy such products because this is the only way we can support each other.
Through a tender I managed to equip my company with new machines. I’m thinking about further projects, but it’s not yet the time. There’s a lot of bureaucracy, you have to put yourself there, and now I think it’s more important to stabilise the business financially as well as the team. Because I can only work effectively and deal with other things if I have a good team behind me. It’s going very well, but I still need good confectioners.
Of course, I will expand to a certain level, but there will never be a factory from the workshop. I don’t want to go to mass production, I think that’s where the real value is lost.
I encourage all the young people, my friends, to come home. This is our homeland! It is our duty to take care of it, to preserve it and to keep it alive. Life is good at home. We need to find the values because there are a lot of them here.
I do not consider myself a role model, but nothing is impossible, and if you want something very much and work with love to achieve it. The more we support each other equally, the economy and then the standard of living will be better.