Updated at 11:59,21-05-2018

To make a business in Baranavichy. From a bunch of dill to import of gifts from China

Veronika Statkevich,UDF.BY. Pictures made by the author

Some say that individual entrepreneurs have a mentality from the 1990s. We will tell you a story of an entrepreneur who is very up to date. In the 1990s Larisa Smirnova started from selling bundles of dill in suburban trains, and today she runs a gift shop in Baranavichy and has an established partnership with Chinese producers.

The Chinese say its bad to live at the time of changes. Alas, nothing happens anywhere without changes, - Larisa smiles sadly. The 1990s mounted challenges for many people: lines in shops, collapse of enterprises, miserable salaries But this difficult period became her starting point in business. Today Larisa Smirnova owns a flowers and gifts shop in her hometown of Baranavichy.

Decisions: good and bad

Larisa says she has always been a perfectionist: in secondary school and in the railway vocational school that she entered following her mothers advice in spite of dreams to be a lawyer.

Then you would listen to your parents, - she says with a smile, - Times were tough, we lived very modestly. And my mother said: You can enter vocational school on your own. But to become a lawyer you need contacts. We dont have them. And after the vocational school you will have a profession.

Larisa obeyed by her parents will she finished the vocational school. But soon she realized that railways is not her cup of tea and she would not succeed in it. This thought became vividly clear when she worked as a traffic controller at Baranavichy railways department.

The turning moment took place in 1993 when Larisa was on a maternity leave and the factory her husband worked for collapsed. A family of four could not survive on maternity allowance.

Thats when Larisa and her friend Svetlana (who was also on a maternity leave) realized: its time to act. Everyone was selling everything they could, and the two friends decided to try.

A bundle of dill

The first experience was selling the agricultural products. The women bought large lots of zucchini, onions and dill from individuals and sold them in Minsk. On their way to the city, the entrepreneurs divided bundles in two. Purchasing a bundle for a one rouble, they sold it for two. In the end one bundle brought 3 roubles of profit. In order to survive you had to do something, - says Larisa.

While the woman was setting up supplies of vegetable to the capital, the children were looked after by her husband. At that time her mother, then 44, died of cancer. At the age of 24 Larisa had to substitute mother for her younger brother and sister and to rely on herself only. I think Im a very strong woman, - she says. I can mobilize and find energy to attain the goal Ive set.

Flowers for interior

During a trip to Minsk, the friends noticed artificial flowers for interior. There were no such goods in Baranavichy. They decided to present its habitants a new way to decorate their apartments and houses. Thats how another business appeared.

When we started I had 40 dollars, my friend had 80.

But they had something else. Larisa was good at knitting and sewing and produced beddings, sets for kitchen and mens shirts. Once in a while she went to Poland where these products were of a big demand.

In one of such trips Larisa saw a small store that sold the similar artificial flowers for the interior. She got an idea to do procurement in Bialystok. During the next trip Larisa talked to the shop owner and shared her idea to start this business in Belarus. The Polish woman promised to help and share secrets, as well as introduced Larisa to the wholesale dealers.

Larisa and Svetlana became the first to sell interior sets of artificial flowers in Baranavichy. The business was growing.

The partners worked together for 14 years until changes of the legislation made them turn from individual entrepreneurs into private enterprises. Larisa was prepared to move on, but Svetlana wasnt. They divided the business (at that time they had 8 booths with flowers and souvenirs) and remained friends.

Gift Shop

In 2007 Larisa purchased a location for the shop, but only in 2010 she managed to equip and decorate it. She named this long-awaited business after herself Lora.

To make a business in Baranavichy. From a bunch of dill to import of gifts from China

Larisas gift shop

In 2013 the shop expanded. Today this is the only place in Baranavichy selling natural and artificial flowers, as well as various souvenirs and gifts. Larisa is planning to expand the business and sell more kinds of goods.
What is the perfect gift for the owner of a gift shop? Larisa says shes not choosy and the main thing about a gift is how it embodies a persons attitude.

Larisas relatives revealed us the secret: she adores all kinds of yellow flowers.

To make a business in Baranavichy. From a bunch of dill to import of gifts from China

To make a business in Baranavichy. From a bunch of dill to import of gifts from China

Larisa named her shop after herself Lora


Larisas family is her main source of assistance. The kids grew up and now help Larisa not only with inspirationally, but practically as well. Tatyana, the elder daughter, speaks Chinese: on the third year of university she attended a language internship in China where she discovered how to arrange supplies of souvenirs directly from producers.

Larisa has been to China too: she visited several factories that produce souvenirs. Together with daughters, they established business contacts and started direct cooperation with local businessmen. Today Larisa Smirnova is not only a retailer, but a wholesale dealer as well.

To make a business in Baranavichy. From a bunch of dill to import of gifts from China

Larisa with her daughter Tatyana

Life rules of an entrepreneur from Baranavichy

Crisis? I have two rules in life: theres no problem that cant be solved and no people that cant be replaced.

Not everyone is able to work in sales. Especially in the flowers and gifts shop, when weekends and holidays are the busiest time. You should be prepared to work even harder when everyone else is having rest.

If you want to find a way out of troubles, you can always find a way to put yourself together.

I love Belarus, I love my town and I feel good here.

You cant gain without investing. Some beginning entrepreneurs unduly believe that you can only create a business and succeed with a cheap product its not right. And having such beliefs you cant succeed.

Running a business takes much effort and energy. This is a round-the-clock job. With no weekends. If you are prepared for this then start.

You can do business in any place.