The founders of the company, Magdalena Maleeva and Lubomir Nokov, visit the only two organic cow farms in Bulgaria, inspired by a lead. Farmers are struggling and a partnership is born in order to save the farms and their unique milk yogurt.
The year of the dog according to the Chinese. On September 15th we sell our first yogurt at an organic fair in Sofia South park. A few of the cows from the farms are there as well. One of them (Svetla) wins Miss Organic Cow of the year. Well deserved. We buy a refrigerated bus and Orhan Pamuk wins the Nobel for literature.
Bulgaria joins the EU. Our yogurt makes it's way in a few shops and supermarkets in Sofia (zero organic shops at that time). In the summer, we join forces with Metodi Metodiev and start the construction of our dairy plant in Malo Buchino, right next to Sofia. We will go through a really hard time opening it and then figuring out how to cover its expenses, it will take a year and a half for the production to start, but hey, by then at least the quality is great. We hire a finance manager, we buy a milk truck with a computer on the side and Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
In the United Nation's year of the potato, the financial crisis scares the world and after a big effort we come up with a second and a third product (low fat yogurt and olive oil) and for the first time we start using the brand Harmonica. We start an amazing partnership with Austrian Sonnentor that has been a true inspiration for us ever since. In the spring we open the first Organic Only food store in Sofia: Biomag on Journalist square (still there). On the opening day the shop has 400 organic products, mostly tea. Today it has more than 4 000 (times are changing). In the fall, our dairy plant finally starts making yogurt. The best.
We start making Harmonica cheese and hire a sales rep. The award for unsuccessful product of the year will be disputed between our short try with bread and our strange experiment with salami. Both fail. We keep going and sell our first ayran (a typical dairy drink). Great success. Eddie Stevens from Moloko appears on a magazine cover with it. A total surprise.
The year of the sour cream. We start producing it and up to now we've never had enough of it to supply the growing demand. Harmonica is now sold in most supermarkets in Sofia and in the few organic shops. We start our first advertising position and then we support a semi-marathon. A few of us even finish it. We start importing Hoellinger juices and syrups.
After a long rehearsal we start making boza, a regional rye and sugar fermented drink that non-bulgarians usually find intriguing to try at the first sip and politely decline a second one. It turns out real boza is explosive. One of the big TV channels airs a prime time news story on a guy who left his Harmonica bottle of boza on the table in the afternoon sun and it... exploded, "destroying his newly refurbished apartment". We keep reminding everyone that this is called "fermentation", what happens in a world with real products, and it is not a weapon of destuction.
For the first time we take part in Biofach. We launch our new brand Koshnitza (basket) for basic foods as the London Olympics take place. We meet an inspiring French-Bulgarian couple, la famille Gaillot, and together we start producing Harmonica organic chocolate range. We also launch phyllo pastry sheets, essential for the making of our famous "banitza". Our dream of childhood revived with organic banitza and organic boza comes true. Nothing is the same anymore. We start exporting yogurt to France, under the brand "Le petit Bulgare" and we start importing the czech Zemanka's crackers and biscuits to Bulgaria. And finally an article about our work appeared in the Financial Times.
The year starts with the debut of Harmonica tahini and sunflower oil on the Bulgarian culinary scene, our second participation in Biofach and the celebration of 101st anniversary of the only Nobel nomination of a Bulgarian poet for the literature prize. Unfortunately, back then the poet died and didn't make it to the ceremony. And now more than a century later, Bulgaria is still waiting for its second Nobel talent.
We meet Patagonia's Vincent Stenley and a few days after we receive a letter and a dedicated book from Mr Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia: "Keep it organic, keep it simple and let's start the revolution!". We wlll.
Our team is 55 people in 2015. A cook, drivers, sales representatives, project managers, accountants, food technologists, shop keepers. We produce more than 60 different products, from tasty yogurt and brined cheese to fantastic syrups, chocolates and a variety of delicious jams and spreads. Fermentation seems to be our specialty.