Savina Nikolova


- Introduce yourself..
My name is Savina, 25 years old, soon-to-be-a-mother. I have spent the last six years of my life in Milan, where I studied and worked in an advertising agency. Today, I run my own start-up for organic gelato, my role being a full-time gelatiere.

- What did you study? What are you doing now?
I did my Bachelor’s in media Languages and Master’s in digital marketing.
I am expecting a baby and at the same time I am working all day-preparing different gelato flavours, creating innovative recipes with less fats and sugar, adding more nutritional value, using organic products, plant-based alternatives, super foods and soluble fibres.

- How does that relate to who you are? Why exactly gelato? Why in Bulgaria?
Working in one of the most notorious advertising agency in Milan, together with my studies, helped me understand that I am good at communications, and I really enjoy this world, but at the same time I was seeing things that did not coincide with my idea of making business. Nowadays everything is concentrated in “responsible” profit. When it comes down to food though, the picture is not as romantic as we see it on TV programs or Facebook. Big affluent businesses, like Ferrero, owe their fortune to the sales of products packed with sugar and palm oil to children. Barilla is reinventing the reputation of their brand by removing palm oil from all its products after years of continuous use.  Coca Cola is following lead with boasts like ‘Coca Cola is life’ and adding stevia instead of aspartame. Mac Donald's is greener than ever, as well- making gourmet burgers with Italian beef.
One day I released that I cannot be part of this industry. I don't believe in it. And how can you be successful as a person, if you do not believe in what you do? So, I have decided to start my own food project with gelato. Why gelato, you will ask. Because it makes children happy, because it generates positive emotions and because in my home country, there wasn't natural gelato yet.  Unfortunately, a lot of gelaterie claim to be artisanal, while still using prepared bases. There is a huge problem in this business, with 90% of the market in the EU working with “semilavorati”.  I wanted to change that, so I started to educate Bulgarians about the food industry and the gelato business by using social media channels and even participating in MasterChef.

- What made you go back?
I wanted to be near my family which I have missed so much, and, of course, I wanted to change the local mentality and understanding of food. As a future mother, I believe that we need to be more responsible towards the next generations, consuming less animal products and living in minimalism. For example, my gelato shop is completely plastic free. We use only glass and biodegradable packaging, which is something innovative for my country. There are some people who don't buy water because they want it in a plastic bottle, moreover they prefer it. But I want to change this mindset by explaining them what the idea is and the benefits that follow, and fortunately, they start converting. 

- What role does gelato have in Italy and what in Bulgaria, according to you?
Gelato in Italy is a way of living. I am not aware of an Italian who doesn't like gelato. In Bulgaria there are a lot of myths surrounding it. People still believe that it is only a summer business. Most of them, especially the old generation, are very conservative as consumers, because of the Communist regime. For them the gelato has two flavours- “white” which is “fior di latte” and chocolate… The millennials are different, they are ready to push further their food experience with tastes like “Bulgarian yogurt with fennel”, or sorbet from Bulgarian tomatoes with sheep cheese. My idea is to transfer the Italian gelato culture in Bulgaria, using local ingredients and flavours. Of course, I cannot omit big classics like Tiramisù, Cassata Siciliana and Straciatella. 

- Have things changed and do you see an emergence of a new Bulgarian gelato culture?
I see the Bulgarian market is changing a lot, people are starting to search for more natural products. The ‘organic culture’ has been expanding a lot in the past few years. Young people prefer local products instead of imported one. I believe that this tendency will grow, and I hope to be part of it. 

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