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La vie en rose – a story of a French businesswoman in Russia

Published time: March 08, 2011 18:07
Edited time: March 08, 2011 23:15

Foreigners who try to make a living in Russia have long realized that, for all its ups and downs, doing business here can prove very profitable.

Florance – a French entrepreneur -whose life has turned out distinctly rosy. Florance grows roses with an unusual twist- intriguing smells with intriguing prices.

This French businesswoman built her business literally in the middle of nowhere in a small village 200 kilometers away from Moscow. No electricity, no internet, no phone.

“Russia is very big, [but] I know the laws of this country – you don’t go just where you want, you go where you know people, then it’s like a very small country – smaller than France!” she says.

Her remote location caused all sorts of problems, such as the lack of utilities and construction delays.

Florance bought land and built a one hectare greenhouse and, much to her surprise, her investments doubled to 6 million Euros.

“In Russia you have to go through special entities that have licenses, and it can double your costs” she says.

When she finally sold her first roses two years ago, her main problem became the people, who were unwilling to work.

“It is not only my problem. What can be the motivation for people? Definitely it is not the money. It doesn’t work,” she says. “We have higher than average salaries here and it is not enough.”

Mikhail Glazkov, an art-director of a wine and flower salon, believes that even though it might sound pompous – there are heroes in ordinary life.

“A foreigner comes to Russia and tries to produce something interesting here while fighting heavy competition, mass production and still, her roses find their customer,” he said.

Florance says her project should start paying back in about 5 years. She plans to expand her business with a dream of offering a tailored service – for exclusive clients.

Florance has been in Russia since the 90s and says she's now learned how to do businesses here.