Francisca Bogdan is the founder and owner of Creative Video Corporation which specializes in production, postproduction and digital marketing. Based in Wilton, Francisca has been operating her business for 22 years, with First County Bank by her side. As a veteran business owner, Francisca offers great advice to those interested in starting their own business, including why she considers First County Bank a partner and an extension of her corporation.
FCB: What is your business specialty/focus?
FB: At Creative Video Corporation we help businesses promote their value proposition.
FCB: Why do you trust your business to First County Bank?
FB: 1997 no bank took me seriously. I was discouraged and upset, because I realized that banks and investment money was only provided to people that were already established, and with means. I was young and thought the system catered to just one type of person. Then I walked into First County Bank. I still remember how I felt. I felt welcomed, they took the time to listen, they cared, I didn’t hear a no, and received no judging faces. At First County Bank I only saw smiles, and received consistent recommendations on how to proceed. I presented my business plan, and the rest is history. For 22 years First County Bank has been right there helping me grow my business.
First County Bank has been there for us, through my accident, and today with COVID-19. First County Bank is more than a bank, they invest in the wellbeing of every responsible business and they see their long-term potential. Their relationship keeps you energized because you do not feel alone. When I call or visit a branch, I feel like I am going to see my friends, I have never seen a face without a smile, and with COVID-19 I missed them all tremendously! I know the small businesses in my area, and customers of First County Bank feel the same.
FCB: Who is your go to Banker on our Business Banking team?
FB: Patricia Sweeney and her team are second to none. They are in a class of their own. They will move mountains to make sure you succeed. Sometimes, I feel embarrassed when I go off with my personal issues, and Patty patiently listens, and then one word of her response keeps me on track. They want you to succeed and they are generous with their time, especially Patricia. My other amazing First County Bank team is the staff at the branch next to my home. Sheila Content and the staff at the Main Avenue – Norwalk branch, are truly unique individuals, happy, informed, and ready to help – love them all!
FCB: What were/are some of the hurdles your business experienced due to the pandemic?
FB: Where to start? Not just the pandemic but SANDO another one of my businesses (a Chilean Sandwich shop in Bethel) experienced total destruction from the big storm we had on August 4th. Business completed stopped for both my video company and sandwich shop. People are scared, they are careful with their expenses, and they are not spending money in this environment. It will be a slow recovery. We must be nimble at this time, work on reinventing our business while being creative in our approach.
FCB: What is your Covid Comeback story or how did your business model adapt as a result of the pandemic?
FB: Before the storm Isaiah destroyed my Chilean Sandwich Shop SANDO, we were gearing up for its grand opening on August 7th. We invested in new equipment, and we created an online ordering system using TRAY – a self-service kiosk and point of sale. The storm that hit on August 4th destroyed everything inside when a wall behind the restaurant fell into our kitchen. It was a wakeup call on how a dream can disappear in seconds, but our will to succeed will not, and we are back to the drawing table. We are going to come back with a vengeance! You must keep positive in this environment.
At Creative Video Corp, we are taking this time to reorganized ourselves and coming up with fun and profitable ideas. We are working on a concept for an online educational show for Kid’s about nature. Our host will be a creative and talented kid, who is eager to show other kids how to learn in this fun new way. We are creating content and are excited with this new approach. Our clients are slowly coming back from hiding and we are ready to impress them.
FCB: Tell us about a situation where First County Bank was able to help/assist the needs of your business?
FB: First County Bank is always there, Patricia is always keeping me informed. Before I even reached out, Patricia told me right away about the PPP Loan program from the SBA. The business team at First County Bank also helped me apply twice for an SBA 504 Loan – the first time with Creative Video 22 years ago, and again more recently for my catering company Loree’s Kitchen and Catering ( which later became SANDO). Sheila Content follows up with me constantly, with new offers and new information. It’s a partnership. I feel like First County Bank is an extension of my business, a strong pillar of healthy information and support.
FCB: What advice if any, you would offer up to women who are interested in starting their own business?
FB: Believe in yourself, if you have done your homework, if you have written a business plan, a plan of execution, if you know in your heart that you can succeed in your endeavors, never quit, and work intelligently by welcoming others input and expertise. You are not alone, there are so many advisors and mentors around that want to help. Network, join groups, inform others about your business. Welcome struggles, mistakes, and fall outs, but never feel that you have failed. Sometimes, the direction of your business will differ because technology has changed. Sometimes a virus and storm will paralyze you, but it does not mean that your mind stops working in your unwavering goals to make your dream a reality. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. Your mind has more than 600 billion neurons, the power is in you. You must believe in you, and have faith that you have informed yourself to the best of your ability. I always tell my young interns, join the human race; everyone has doubts, insecurities, even the richest of people. Never be intellectually lazy. Be curious, information is power, good communication can be learned. I came to the U.S. alone from Chile, when I was 19 years old. I didn’t speak any English, but I decided to assimilate to the America spirit. Here you can really pursue your dreams, and with hard work you can make them a reality. There are millions of successful stories, and in those stories, are millions of mistakes made. Success to me is when you follow your dream believing in you, live life with all it has to offer, and overcome obstacles with tremendous character – knowing that it’s only a momentary hurdle in life that will make you stronger, better and dialectically wiser.
FCB: Any hurdles that you had to overcome as a female business owner?
FB: In the early years, production and postproduction companies were almost exclusively run by men. I had to work harder, not only because I was a woman, but also because I had a strong accent. My English was not fluent; I had to persuade them that I had the expertise, that I was creative, that my mind was always working on how to resolve their problems and how to serve them to the best of my ability. I am a solution oriented and practical individual, and I am very free in my approach. I’m genuine. So I had to adapt, I had to be aware of those little nuances that are important in business, I had to learn how to listen, be flexible and move on when I encountered myself in a situation that I knew was not fair because I was a woman. I re-framed myself by saying, c’est la vie, and “it’s not about me”. The world is not a fair place, it’s up to me to realize what it’s important, and sometimes you must disregard your impatience, not be myopic and be open to seeing other perspectives. It’s a balancing game. So be aware, be open and move on with the right spirit of happiness and equanimity, do not sweat the little things. You as a woman are already successful, you don’t need to prove it, you are already giving to the community by following your dreams, we all do, so be proud, be confident and be loving. I do not see hurdles I can’t cross, I see challenges, and each challenge makes me a better human being.