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European Russia stretches from the borders of Belarus and Ukraine to the Ural mountains which are over 1000km east of Moscow. Even without the rest of the Russian Federation it is by far the largest country in Europe so the sales opportunity for JoJo Maman Bébé is huge.
It’s all glittery with neon lit plazas, malls and stylish restaurants. The well known and laughable Lada has been replaced with the sleek Mercedes and the deafening silence of a nation under watch has given way to a buzz of exciteable conversation – especially this weekend where everywhere I looked, someone was campaigning for Putin to become President again.
4 days since arriving and I have successfully managed to stay sober in spite of the obligatory vodkas. And yes, they really do have to be gulped – no sipping allowed.
I can’t say I’ve done very well on the ‘not smiling’ front; in fact I’ve been positively beaming thanks to the hospitality and enthusiasm shown by all Muscovites I’ve encountered.
Our potential partners here did a sterling (or should that be rouble) job and the buzz surrounding JoJo was astonishing.
With the help of my interpreter, I was on hand to offer advice on our products to customers and also did several interviews about JoJo which I suspect (thankfully) I will never hear or see.
It’s clear the Russians find the story of JoJo and Laura’s entrepeneurial spirit positively enchanting – hopefully that will translate to orders!
Amongst the long list of potential customers, there has been interest from several owners with large chain stores, one large high-end boutique who wants to carry the whole range and gasps of delight (really!) from the owner of the most prestigious department store in Russia. Of course, it may take time to convert these to confirmed customers but such is the format of Trade Shows.
Moscow is a juxtaposition of contrasts
A mixture of its classical past vs its commercial present, order vs chaos, high cost of living vs low pay packages, hardcore communist vs successful capitalist. That’s Moscow – metropolis and village, brilliant and a little bit dull, beautiful and glitzy mixed in with a VERY testing metro map!
I’m no longer seen as a suspect and it seems the spies have moved in from the cold and there is an aura of change and excitement everywhere. They must have heard about JoJo Maman Bébé coming to a shop nearby…