ENTREPRENEUR IN THE FIELD OF HORECA, DEVELOPMENT AND ADVERTISING FOUNDER OF THE SADHA BRAND, A CHILDREN’S CLOTHING BRAND THAT DEVELOPS A CHILD’S WILL AND SELF-CONFIDENCE. CURRENT MEMBER OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION AMI MONTESSORI PROFESSIONAL MOM FOR HER UNIQUE CHILDREN: SON RICHARD 4,8 YEARS OLD AND DAUGHTER CHARLOTTE 2 YEARS OLD, BELOVED AND STROPPY WIFE FOR HER HUSBAND
Dedicated to my father Lushnikov Vladimir Valentinovich, who taught me everything and nurtured in me the strength and core of character.
You were born in the small town of Nakhodka, Primorsky Krai. A common problem in such towns is the lack of visible prospects. What did you want to be when you were a child? What opportunities did you see in your town?
From childhood I dreamed of becoming a businessman. All the children played «mother-daughter» and I played «work». I was the director, and my younger sister Anneta was the secretary. She used to bring me pieces of paper, and I used to put a signature and a stamp in the form of a teddy bear on them. When I was 10 years old, I asked my dad, a businessman, what networking and scaling a business were. He wondered how I knew such words, but you have to give him credit, he spent hours telling me the basics of business while we drank tea. I absolutely loved these sit-downs with him and adult conversations. Thanks to this «tea party» my dad laid in me the mindset of a businessman, and then I was often surprised at conferences and business forums that people are willing to pay millions to coaches to develop a business mindset. I was very lucky that my dad did not dismiss me, but told me everything in detail.
You have been interested in the business field since childhood thanks to your family. What advice or knowledge you received from your dad do you consider the most important in the process of your formation?
I started working early. When I joined my dad’s company, I was 17 years old. I remember telling him, «I’m not leaving until you give me a job!». He sighed heavily and took me to the accounting department. He sat me next to the head accountant and told her to teach me everything she knew herself. After three months, he moved me to the advertising department and assigned me a salary. As I remember, it was 30,000 rubles, and I lived on that money, paying for my studies. I didn’t get a penny on top, my father didn’t spoil me. And then, finally, the real thing came. Unexpectedly for me, an opportunity appeared at a new facility of 1,600 square meters, just built. The property manager let me down, I don’t know exactly what happened, but the fact remained that there were no people to put in a management position. The deadline for the opening was burning. My dad suggested to me, not believing his own words: «Daughter, why don’t you give it a try?».
He had no idea that I would be able to grow the place so fast that all the surrounding towns would come to the parties and concerts. It was fun. It was my first company in my 20s. I remember writing my diploma while at work in the gym for an after party at 5:00 in the morning. I never left my team and always helped them, literally. If they weren’t doing well, I would take a tray and work as a waitress. If there were problems on the bars, I would stand on the cash register and help punch out orders. We worked well together. After two years, I took over the management of a 6,000-square-meter concert hall. We held concerts, inviting all our pop stars. We organized banquets for 1,500 people with full table service. Those who work in HORECA will understand me. I slept four hours a night. I managed 150 people. I had 5 of my own HORECA related companies and a full-service advertising company, from media to production to printing. I also helped my dad manage real estate, worked with federal companies in Retail and filled a 150,000 sq ft shopping center. With my dad, we worked on an equal footing. I paid market rent for the properties I opened in and gave him 50% of the profits as he invested in renovations and I managed. We had a very good alliance, and we developed quickly.
It is not uncommon for children growing up in well-to-do families to be reluctant to develop themselves later in life. Did your parents teach you financial literacy and the right attitude towards earning money?
It’s true. People often ask me why I didn’t go to London or Australia to study. The opportunity was there, my brothers and sister went there. But my goal has always been to get live practice from a successful businessman who has built everything from scratch. Theory, even in the most advanced university, would not give me that. And I was not mistaken.
You have gone through a good «school of life» thanks to your work in management positions. Don’t you regret those times when your peers were on vacation and you were already actively building your future?
No, I have a great experience from a time in my life when all my peers were vacationing in clubs and my team and I were managing those clubs. We organized a Sensation White Party when there were 1,000 people in the club and another 120 people waiting outside to get in. There was an amazing atmosphere and energy there.
Besides the fact that you were working hard and studying, you were also moving between two cities and by the age of 20 you had started your own company! What was your motivation at that time? Did you already realize at that time what you were going for?
Yes, I had clearly defined 10 years of development for myself. My goal was full self-realization and achieving a certain status in society, first of all for myself. I realized that in the next 10 years I wanted to devote myself fully to my family and to realize myself in motherhood.
Do you consider your meeting with your husband to be fateful? If so, why?
To be frank, yes. At that moment, it was difficult for me to find the very person with whom I could link my fate, and I had already peacefully reconciled myself to the idea that perhaps my share would be career growth and development in business. But at that moment a call from my good friend from Italy changed my life completely. She invited me to join a retreat in Sicily organized by her team. As a person seeking spiritual development and new horizons, I immediately agreed – rethinking and life change is always important to me. I trusted her completely, knowing that she is a wonderful person. And so it happened. At Greta Garbo’s estate in Sicily, I met my future husband. It was an incredible meeting. Not knowing him personally at the time, I felt that with him I will have children, as soon as I got into his company. It is difficult to describe it in words, it was at the level of feelings and intuition. I was calm and cozy around him. This moment amazed me. My future husband is an outstanding specialist in the field of osteopathy, he helps children with musculoskeletal problems, corrects scoliosis, bringing kindness and care to children and adults. This won me over. I had not previously believed in the concept of «love at first sight», but that is exactly what happened with my husband.
You went from being a successful businesswoman to a soft, loving mother and wife. What changes in yourself and your character did you notice at that moment? Have your views on your own future changed?
My husband and family had a dramatic impact on me. While working, I noticed that three things can completely change a person: alcohol, money and love. With the birth of children, the whole world underwent a 180-degree turn. When a woman fulfills her unique role in life – the role of a mother, through her a new life, a new universe is born – the cycle is complete, and in my case it led to a rethink. We had a partner birth and my husband always supports me unconditionally. He is a great father, a second adult, very important to our children. We are raising our babies without the help of nannies and grandmothers, and that is often a real challenge. But we are strong individuals, developed spiritually. We let a lot of things pass through us, we learn from our mistakes. Our family’s desire is to create a school for conscious parenting and preparation for family life. We want to take off the rose-colored glasses and give young couples a real picture of relationships and family life. We want to help them understand what they need to be ready for. When a person is ready, it is easier to cope with difficulties.
What are the main challenges you have faced in your role as a mom? Does it have anything to do with the fact that you are now launching your own brand of children’s goods?
There have been many challenges, but they are all solvable. The most important thing I realized was that breastfeeding helped me to change from business activity to the role of a mother. It is the magic of the ingenious structure of the human body. The formation of the psychological bond between mother and baby during this period determines how easy it is for the child to overcome all the crisis stages in its future development. With the birth of my children, I became deeply immersed in research. I scoured the internet, read tons of books, took various training courses, attended schools for moms, and even pumped my skills as a neuropsychologist. Now I am also studying for my diploma international Montessori AMI standard. Of all the methods, the closest to me was the Montessori method, created over 100 years ago by Italian Maria Montessori. It is based on scientific psycho-pedagogy and anthropological study of little people. In my home, I have created a space so that my children can serve themselves independently. However, we still have some difficulties. Children dressing on their own sometimes find that their legs get stuck and their arms get pinched. We had to choose clothes a size larger to guarantee success. Shoes for children are another area of difficulty. I have yet to find a shoe that does not deform a child’s foot, as their feet are much wider near the toes than standard children’s shoes from brands. After researching the market, I realized that no baby brand views babies as independent dressers. Babies want to dress themselves, they have a physical and psychological need to do so. This is how I came to the decision to create my own clothing brand that addresses this need. I realized that I had to give all children this opportunity – self-development. Having trained as a neuropsychologist, I have a better understanding of how the brain develops. And now I create children’s clothing where the design of the model allows the child to start dressing themselves from the age of two. My daughter is now two years old, and this is living proof. My children are the first to check out the patterns. Clothing with flat seams because children are sensitive to labels and seams. Underwear is seamless to avoid irritation. Materials are natural, such as cotton, linen, silk, bamboo, and natural materials such as pineapple skins and leaves, with no recycled plastic. The design is such that if a child mixes up the front and back, it won’t be noticeable and no one points out the mistake, as is often the case with children. When a child puts on the pants, t-shirt, and jacket by himself, he develops motor coordination, concentration, willpower, and cognitive skills. He experiences a sense of success and self-confidence, which contributes to his future confident and successful adult self.
After having children, you trained as a neuropsychologist. How do you plan to integrate your knowledge into your brand? What challenges do you see for existing brands in the industry?
My brand is based on an anthropological study of a child’s psychological, physiological and emotional needs. I take into account human tendencies and sensory developmental periods of babies. In our company, there is a huge focus on materials and fittings. For example, jackets and bombers have high-quality zippers, which a child of 2 years old can easily unbutton and fasten independently, and sweaters have large buttons. This also applies to shoes: they are light and flexible, promoting the development of the foot, not its deformation, and the child can put them on independently. Our brand includes not only clothes for independent dressing, but also developmental materials based on the Montessori method. Each material is aimed at the development of specific skills. For example, an infant develops the optic nerve and muscles when moving the eyes behind a natural mobile, which moves from the wind, not mechanically. A 1.5 year old child develops finger pincer grasp, motor skills and coordination when changing clothes. For children over 4 years old, there is learning letter writing symbols, sound games and even reading words. Our brand material is aesthetically pleasing and fragile, it is made of natural materials such as wood, crystal and porcelain, and does not contain plastic. Each material has a logical sequence – beginning, middle and end of lessons, as well as a clear algorithm. We take into account the transition from simple to complex, from concrete to abstract, from general to particular. We also have the importance of cleaning up after ourselves, which is part of learning. We teach the children that every object has its place and we create order both in the nursery and within each child. An important part of our approach is that each box of learning material should be accessible for the child to open without adult assistance. A significant adult presents the presentation just once, explaining how to use the material, naming the items, and developing rich language. He or she then places the items on an open shelf from where the toddler can pick them up at any convenient time. We are preparing video tips for parents on how to use our learning materials. Our team strives to spread a wider message through the use of the club and instructional videos. We respect and honor the traditions of different nations and revitalize crafts by passing on their knowledge to children. Our club provides support and we are always open to answer any questions. Our goal is to help parents create a learning environment at home where the child can become independent. We promote children’s interest in drawing, sewing, learning the alphabet and tactile grasp of objects by playing lively games instead of just spending time on smartphones or cartoons. We also encourage cooperative cooking and attention to the aesthetics of eating. So we are developing materials to allow children to make their own snack and older ones to bake ginger cookies with their mom for New Year’s Eve, as well as introducing the tradition of weekend cooking classes for the whole family. Children set the table themselves and consume food from ceramic and porcelain dishes, demonstrating the joy of trusting and caring for beautiful objects. Shaping the aesthetics of experiencing the world and eating begins in childhood, and we believe this is an important part of our approach. In addition, the SADHA brand offers kitchen sets for the home where children live to support this approach.
Apart from your own brand in the Russian and UAE markets, you have another global goal! Tell us a little about it.
My mission is very important and valuable to me! I aspire to create cozy baby homes united with nursing homes, where each elderly person will be assigned a small child in need of care. Both generations need the love that makes us happier and stronger. It is my wish that these homes will be filled with love, harmony and well-being, and that the proceeds from my brand will allow this dream to be realized. These places will apply Montessori principles that promote free will and personal development –strong, successful individuals who shape the future of our world. My goal also includes supporting and creating jobs for children with disabilities, including cerebral palsy. I aim to unite young communities around the world. We will learn geography through real traveling, sharing experiences and cultural traditions of nations. I intend to create a school of life in which young people learn the truth about family relationships and an understanding of what they should be prepared for when having children. We will try to remove the «rose-colored glasses» that are often shaped by the media and convey information in a more realistic way. My mission includes passing on traditions of different peoples that have been lost in our culture. We will encourage respect for the family and the creation of strong family unions. Also, I strive to reduce divorce and the number of children left neglected after divorces. My goal is to help young families by providing jobs, housing, and support. That is what my mission is all about! And that is also the mission and value of the SADHA brand.
What is your main support and motivation right now? Can you think of a quote that perfectly describes your current period of life?
My support is my family! My motivation is my children. My kids are my teachers. They show me what they need. By watching them and having knowledge, I realize where I should go. I want to share this with other children, as many as possible. My mission drives me to get up every morning and take action. A big thank you to my husband who always supports and understands me!