Getting to know Albanian Businesses through Transcreation

Translation has many facets and I’ve tried to explore them all during the years, but I’ve always been inclined toward the more creative expressions of language (movies and books ranking highest). In the last 10 years or so, I’ve found that the marketing language can be interesting and creative as well, and considering the rapid growth of this sector, TRANSCREATION seemed like a natural transition.

Product labels were never a creative work though, or so I thought. But this story is about labels, and as strange as it may seem, this job was the most revealing and satisfying adventure of the year. That’s why I wanted to share it with my fellow freelance translators, and anybody who’d be interested in knowing about it.

One day, I got a phone call from a business owner who asked me if I could translate the product labels of the new cosmetic brand they were about to introduce to the Albanian market. Needless to say I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. Translating labels is all about ingredients and standard instructions – nothing creative there. And I don’t have a particular interest for cosmetic products, so I was about to say no, but then he said they were actually looking for a transcreator for the labels. A TRANSCREATOR for product labels?? I was intrigued so I set up a meeting, but still, I was skeptical about it.

The first minutes I met with Flori and Françeska I felt the need to tell them that I wasn’t familiar with cosmetic products and their ingredients, so I wasn’t sure how I could provide what they were looking for. They said these products were made from essential oils, plant based butters and fruits and other natural ingredients, so the Albanian names would be easy to find.  But even after having eliminated the chemical terminology I still wasn’t sure why TRANSCREATION was needed. It turned out those labels had more than a list of ingredients on them.

Flori and Françeska started telling me all about this company called LUSH, and how their cosmetic products were made of natural ingredients with the minimum of synthetic preservatives which they were trying to eliminate completely; how they were all certified as vegetarian or vegan, and were as fresh and as healthy as if they were organic food! They were so enthusiastic about it all, that for a moment I thought they were trying to convert me to some kind of religion. (I’m kidding, but that’s how much they believed in these products.)

It was a wish come true for them, considering that they had been trying to bring this brand to Albania for a long time. I felt kind of embarrassed by all this excitement. I had to admit to them that I wasn’t familiar with LUSH. I wasn’t even a good consumer! I only use the bare minimum of cosmetic products, although I’ve always tried to choose the healthiest ones. What they told me in response surprised me. One of the main LUSH principles was Ethical Buying. It means that they don’t make you buy a ton of products that you may never use. You only buy what you need.

I started getting more interested in the company values, and I found out they were all about protecting human rights, animal rights, and the planet’s right to be as lush as it can possibly be (lusher even!).

I learned that if you’re a LUSH customer, you’re not just buying cool fresh products (that smell sooo good by the way), but you’re also being responsible for the environment, and you’re contributing to the fair trade and development of so many small communities around the world that cultivate and produce these amazing ingredients that I was about to translate.

Flori and Francceska’s passion for introducing such an eco-friendly brand to the Albanian consumer earned my respect and admiration. Now I became more interested in getting to know them and their retail business practices.  After hearing about LUSH,it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me to learn that they were already selling two other eco-friendly brands before LUSH came into the picture. But it did! It surprised me that they had found success in selling relatively unknown brands and materials in this market, and those brands had some cool philosophies and practices too!

The first one – O bag, the Italian leading brand for customization which makes these modular accessories (All accessories have interchangeable parts. Like, you can make your own watch!), with innovative recycled materials with a product range that extends from bags to watches, sunglasses to footwear and even the Home line, which includes lamps and food storage containers. All this is being made in collaboration with the biggest names in the fashion industry, which makes O bag accessories one of the coolest eco-friendly trends in the market.

The other brand is ACBC and you can tell by their moto (ACBC is set to become for the fashion world what Tesla is for the automotive world), that this brand is determined to be the planet’s best friend!

Their footwear collections combine the coolest urban styles and sustainability with certified bio-based and recycled materials, and like O bag, they too offer the modularity feature (you can make your own shoes too!)

By this time I was ready to put my hands up in the air and say “I BELIEVE!”. It was such a beautiful feeling knowing that your money would go toward helping the planet and the people who live in it, and not just add to big companies’ bottom line. But I still wasn’t clear on what role TRANSCREATION played in all of this. Then they showed me some of the LUSH labels and I understood. Each of them had a story to tell. A story about the product; a story about the ingredients, and a story about the people who worked to make them the best they could possibly be. And they all had this cool little taglines that made each product have its own personality. I absolutely loved it.

Now I know we’re a tough crowd to convince in giving up our old consumer habits, ’cause we’re still learning how to be responsible buyers, and I don’t know if we’re ready to give up our “original leather” ideas, and our fondness for traditional big names, but we should be, because protecting the planet has never been cooler than this. And in case you want to start now, I’ll provide the links below so you can check these companies out for yourselves, and maybe you too can “convert” like I did.