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Interview with Maria Cherkashina

Questions Maria Cherkashina

CEO Flower Decor

Barcelona, Spain

Having a flower shop to be every girl's dream. We have interviewed Maria Cherkashina, owner of Flor Decor flower studio in Barcelona to find out more about her business.

Maria, please tell us the story of your business. How has it all started? Why flowers?

I grew up in Russia, a country where flowers have a very special meaning for people, since they are the most valued demonstration of feelings.

Upon my arrival in Barcelona, I discovered that this custom did not exist with the same force as in my country, and therefore it was difficult to make a gift with the delicacy to which I was accustomed. It was then that I decided to create my own company.

A company that offers the opportunity to think of a loved one and offer them a gift that, in a very special way, will convey the best wishes for that person. My idea was to offer London and New York style flower arrangements, with sophisticated packaging and deliveries at the time and place you decide.

What are the differences in the business world in Spain and in Russia.

In Russia, the costs of renting premises, electricity and water, autonomous payments, staff salaries and taxes are lower than here. Also all shops and services are open on Sundays and holidays, and not in Spain. And also in Russia there are customs of giving flowers, without it having to be a special occasion, since they make your life happy.

So my first year I was very surprised when I wanted to go buy flowers on Monday and the flower market was closed for a holiday (and there are many holidays!).

You have this business for 5 years. How has the sector changed during this time?

When I started in 2015 with my idea to open an online luxury flower shop with a very different style, there were no nice online shops. And now the market has grown, large companies have arrived that offer nationwide deliveries.

What is more difficult in your sector?

For me, in my sector, the most difficult thing at the beginning was the organization of deliveries. The flowers had to be delivered personally. But with the advent of companies like Stuart (immediate messaging company) this problem does not exist as before. Also flowers- they are a very delicate and perishable product. It is important to have reliable suppliers.

What is your opinion about the era of digitization where we live? How does it affect your business? 

Digitization Age now makes everything easier. Sell on Instagram. You can buy flowers online without having to leave home, make deliveries through an application where you enter all the delivery data. And since we are now in lockdown for two months due to Covid-19, people cannot go to physical stores or go to their loved ones' houses, so they buy flowers online to send them to them. And the same happens with people who live in other countries.

In your opinion, what are the common problems in companies in Spain?

From my experience, the main problems I have to deal with are the lack of customer service and attention, the lack of qualified personnel in specific jobs, the high taxes and the little government aid to entrepreneurs, to name a few…

We talk about you =) How do you prefer to rest? Which is your favorite sport?

 I love being at the sea in summer and in the mountains in winter. Spain for me is a perfect country. 3 years ago I learned to play padel. It's my favorite sport - you have a lot of fun, you play sports and you meet new people every time.

Maria, you are a Russian living in Barcelona. What could you advise to people who want to change their country or their city? How has the move changed you personally?

In my case, my move was like in the phrase “He went out to buy bread and didn't come home”. My advice- don't think too much :-). And history repeats itself with almost all the moves to Barcelona that I heard about. You fall in love with the city or someone from the city.

However, I suffered the first few years because I didn't have friends, I didn't know the language and I still didn't know the customs. Now with social networks there are groups that help you and give advice about the city or the country. They hold meetings and share ideas. That helps a lot.

I have come to Barcelona with Russian customs. With habits of eating dinner very early, wearing high heels on Sunday morning or whenever I feel like it. The fact of living in Spain has changed me a lot. I think that the Russians who live in Spain are more open thanks to the Spanish culture.

What advice can you give to teenagers, people who are looking for their passion?

That's right, find something you like and are passionate about. And also when you're a teenager sometimes you don't know what you want to do in the future. My advice is not to be afraid that later you can always change your path and do what you like the most. We have the reins of our lives.

When I was 20 years old I studied because I wanted to work in human resources and be an HR manager, however, when I was little my passion was to create something with my hands, with paper and ribbon and to wrap gifts. Now 30 years old every time when I cut the ribbon with scissors to wrap the bouquet of flowers I remember my childhood and it makes me smile.

The best lesson that life has given you.

Recognize my mistakes and take responsibility for them in order to improve as a person and as a professional.

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