When the pandemic hit the global aviation industry, Emirates flight attendant Violeta Baidi both with her husband Tarik lost their jobs. After 8 years spent onboard aircraft, Violeta became an entrepreneur and now runs her own honey brand Princess Bee.
“The pandemic pushed me to start doing my own business, which I was thinking of starting for a while. [Now] I’m an investor and woman – entrepreneur,” Violeta starts her story.
Violeta made her first steps into aviation 8 years ago while studying at the university. Encouraged by a colleague who was working for a charter airline, Violeta decided to give herself a try and applied for a flight attendant position at various air carriers.
“A colleague of mine was always sharing the amazing stories of her layovers in exotic places while working as a cabin crew member. She had been showing me pictures of beaches, different places. I was inspired to try that job by myself because I always loved to travel,” Violeta says. After sending out her CVs, Violeta was selected by two Middle East air carriers ‒ Qatar Airways and Emirates. Without long considerations, she chose to join Emirates.
Finding love in Dubai
Originally from Bulgaria, the flight attendant moved to Dubai, the UAE, having no clue what life had in store for her.
Working for Emirates, Violeta soon met her future husband. He was also a newcomer, who joined the same airline just 20 days apart. Having common interests and being both passionate about traveling, Violeta and her husband got married in Dubai and kept working at the same air carrier.
An unpleasant surprise
“The upcoming September would have been my ninth year working as a flight attendant”, she smiles.
“I loved being able to take advantage of all these travel benefits as a cabin crew member because my dream was to visit new places. Another thing that I enjoyed was meeting different crew members every single flight. I might see them going to or coming back from a flight but I didn’t fly with them ever again. That felt a bit crazy because there were so many cabin crew working at the time. I guess there were more than 20,000 of us. But now, during the pandemic, the airline reduced these numbers. And that’s how I lost my job.”
The cabin crew couple lost their jobs in spring 2020, when the air carrier decided to reduce its costs by cutting the number of employees. “It was my husband, who lost the job first. He called me and told me that he had bad news for me. I thought he was joking because he used to have a very clean profile,” Violeta remembers being unpleasantly surprised and says that after a couple of weeks she lost her job as well.
“I received my email and, actually, I took the news harder than him. I was expecting this to happen as we were not flying already for a month. But we were just hoping it’s not going to be us. I actually was driving somewhere at that moment when I received my email. I stopped at a parking lot and cried. I thought at least one of us should stay as a cabin crew… But I have to say, my husband supported me a lot.”
From flight attendant to honey sales
Violeta’s parents are beekeepers, so after losing a job in the airline, Violeta realized that she could try to start her own company of honey production and sell it while still living under lockdown conditions in Dubai.
“My parents are keeping bees in a farm. And it’s a natural product and I did not need to pay for it or for manufacturing. I had already been bringing honey for my colleagues for some time not for commercial purposes and I saw that they liked it. People kept telling me that I need to sell it. So, I started reading about marketing, learning how to create a website, a marketplace, etc.”
The flight attendant created a small company called Princess Bee, where she initially offered her customers only two flavors of honey – lavender and lime blossom – but soon diversified the assortment by adding three more flavors. However, Violeta needed to put a lot of effort to make the business run.
“It was a struggle to be honest because I’ve started during the lockdown, when absolutely everyone was working from home. It was very hard to reach people and it took me quite a while to gain knowledge about starting a business in Dubai. I had to figure out everything by myself.”
Now the experienced flight attendant sells honey in a farmers market, runs a website, and offers customers a home delivery option. She is also considering opportunities to start honey sales in shop retail.
“For now, I and my husband are focusing on the upcoming Ramadan and preparing Ramadan gift boxes with honey and dates inside. At the moment, we also are selling our product in a farmers market. But later on, I will need to focus on finding retail shops to which we can supply our honey for sale,” Violeta shares joyfully.