The Word Monument comes from the Latin “monumentum” which means, “To remember”. This is an action that Princess Sophia Wolkonsky invites us all to do with Castillia; a company born to preserve, restore and celebrate architectural monuments so they may be enjoyed by future generations.
There is an estimate of over 380,000 historical monuments across Europe. In Romania alone, there are approximately 6,800 buildings, archaeological and historical sites of national and universal value (A grade), of which, according to the Council of Europe, over 60% are evaluated to be in bad condition.
Main reasons are the lack of funds for maintenance/restoration, lack of awareness, and the lack of integration of those historical treasures of which many are becoming as obscure as the fairytales they once inspired.
It is Princess Sophia’s mission to change this. Castillia wants to breathe new life into valuable relics of the past and allow them to continue being a part of history, present and future. Whether it being a wedding, or a group of children learning with awe about ancient battles, all of these create more memories, and help us all remember that castles, fortresses, even ruins, are not outside of our lives, they are part of our own legacies. A cultural identity we are privileged to experience and share.
Princess Sophia has always been grateful for knowing and learning about her heritage and believes having a strong connection to your roots is crucial to knowing oneself. Having received this gift from a young age, she wishes to share it through her company.
This journey began when she studied Art History, to later support the art “Galerie Wolkonsky” in Munich.
“I realized that art, and the history of art, is a form of studying the history of humankind, only in pictures. I began to see that art reflects the contemporary moment in which it is created.” The princess shared.
Working in the multi-faceted art business gave Princess Sophia experience in exhibiting art and connecting artists with buyers and collectors. All around her she kept seeing business opportunities and as her curiosity grew so did her desire to study a Bachelor of Science in international business.
It was during the sale of an acquainted privately owned castle, while working at Sotheby’s international Realty in the south of France, that she had another epiphany. She saw firsthand the relationship between a hidden historical property and a crumbling cultural identity among her generation and wondered if something might be done.
Involved in the organization of numerous events and galas, scouting for just the right places, she realized the supply was not meeting the demand. It was in that moment that all her previous experiences collided and gave her the idea for the business Castillia, one that would help solve the challenges associated with deteriorating historical buildings by increasing access to usage and generating increased income to ensure their future.
Armed with fresh enthusiasm, she went to Romania in 2018 to work with the team that built up Techcelerator.ro, a business accelerator helping Romanian early-stage startups go to market. As Head of Networks, she co-developed the acceleration curriculum, community building and partnership strategies as well as the event and training workshops. She gained new experience in coordinating and managing the growth of entrepreneurial community networks.
Her foray into entrepreneurship opened new doors for her to learn about the dynamic world of technology. She decided it was time to specialize, and she made an important decision to earn a dual master’s in International Marketing and Disruptive Innovation from Hult International Business School studying in London, Dubai and San Francisco. Her timing couldn’t have been better. While the world found itself amidst a global shutdown, studying proved to be an excellent use of the Princess’s time.
When I ask her to explain more about the meaning of disruptive innovation, a brilliant smile lights up her face. She clearly loves this part. “It is the study of business, future forecasting, and the processes behind it all, it is a for of asking what technology can do to disrupt the thinking or processing of a product, service, or experience to optimize it through innovation… The more meaning and understanding you extract from data analysis, the better your contribution to the product or industry.”
Princess Sophia is handling the ups and downs that come with building and owning a business with grace. Currently she has so many requests that she has yet to launch Castillia’s formal website, although the technology is up and running. She is focused on her clients and will continue to build the business flow until the front-end is ready for users to interact with efficiently. The database stretches out primarily in Europe and eventually on a global scale, targeting the event, fashion, film, and corporate industries looking for authentic and unique environments to create an experience for any occasion—be it for product launches, charity galas, weddings, or movie sets.
More than a business, her company represents her calling, and her motivations are deeply personal.
Fundamental to the company she’s building it is changing the way history is taught. By travelling the world and stepping into an old castle, for example, a person can literally step into history and emotionally engage in the effect that place might have had on any one person’s life, at a specific point in time.
If history is taught in what she calls a “museum type of way in which you visit but you are not allowed to experience,” she firmly believes it impedes a person’s ability to discover and understand the story’s roots. Every family tradition, every cultural ritual, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat to the values you hold dear, all come from somewhere. It’s the reason to study history in the first place.
She humbly confesses, “I feel very privileged that I received such an idea.”
Perhaps the idea came to Princess Sophia Wolkonsky, because, to use a line from Rumi, what she was seeking all along, was actually seeking her.
How can people find you?