10 Questions to Natasja Mironova, the owner of Sobolj and Flower Experience

Building and maintaining a solid network and bridging to other sectors will take you further in this industry.

By: THURSD. | 08-05-2024 | 8 min read
Natasja Mironova in tulip field

This week, Natasja Mironova, owner of Sobolj and Flower Experience — two companies that help floral businesses further with their marketing and presentation — takes the stage for her 10 questions. If you should learn one thing about Natasja, it is this: she loves flowers equally as she loves people. And she understands that building and maintaining a solid network and bridging to other sectors will take you further in this industry.

Question 1

For those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?

"My name is Natasja Mironova. I have lived in the Netherlands since 1990 and in 1994 I started my first company: Bajkal International. My second company Sobolj was founded in 2007. Under the banner of Sobolj, communication platform Flower Experience was developed. This platform has matured into a very well-known and appreciated Russian-language platform for the floricultural sector, the cultural world (museums, exhibitions, fashion) and the travel industry. Through that channel, I publish about the many interesting projects I have carried out, and continue to carry out, with and for clients and partners. In this way, I relate flowers to the other products and sectors mentioned.

Bajkal International provides interpreting and translation services, and also operates in the travel industry. I accompany guests (individually or in small private groups, tourist or business) and organise cultural day trips or longer trips. In doing so, I connect the various cultural elements I already mentioned for my guests. I also organize seminars and other events.

Sobolj is the company whose features are consultancy, market communication, experience marketing and PR. Therefore, platform Flower Experience, a website linked to the most relevant social media (NL and RU) also falls under the umbrella of Sobolj.

My latest product is the Event Multiplier. With this instrument, I use digital communication, experience marketing and creative PR to get a large (virtual) reach for my clients from their events, such as open days, flower shows, product presentations and trade fair participation. Via a trade fair in South America or Kazakhstan, one can reach people all over the world."


Natasja Mironova in a glass house
Natasja Mironova


Question 2

What is so special about your job?

"Flowers have always interested me. A beautiful product that I can enjoy immensely. Now that I have been able to make it part of my work in the Netherlands, I am very happy about that. I learn a lot about flowers: from breeding to growing and from trading to floristry.

Creativity is an important factor in my work, not only with regard to flowers but also, for example, with regard to communication. It is a nice challenge to come up with something surprising every time to convey my customers' message to their target groups.

Good interaction between people is very important to me. Privately and certainly also in my work.

What is special in my work, or in other words, what makes me special in my work: I am not Dutch! That means that with my different cultural and linguistic background, I see things differently and approach them differently from the Dutch, and also from other Europeans.

And that in turn makes the work special for me!"


Phalaenopsis at a floral event on Thursd
Combining fashion and flowers at Keukenhof


Question 3

Are there any specific challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your job, and how did you overcome them?

"It may be a cliché, but I find problems mostly challenges. I don't see them as obstacles, but as opportunities. It is sometimes an adventure to deal with them, but it makes the work interesting. I am always looking for opportunities to move forward. Often I don't succeed alone, and then I know how to find and motivate people to work with me. You have to be a warrior!

Some of the projects of recent years that I am proud of I would like to mention here.

In the Netherlands, I have realised some fantastic projects combining fashion and flowers. I would like to mention Ronald Kolk, Monique Collignon, Ansu, Decorum and Keukenhof. I would also like to mention bringing together a large plant breeder and a florist to create beautiful flower arrangements for the Van Gogh Museum.

A recent example abroad is the realisation of projects at and around the Flora Expo Astana fair in Kazakhstan. In 2023 and 2024, as a pioneer, I was able to introduce new developments.


Purple Vandas at a fashion catwalk
Flower Fashion MC Show Rayzor Sharp


Question 4

What are the threats in the industry, and if so, do you have any solutions for them?

"It strikes me that in the floricultural sector, innovation often lags behind compared to other sectors, as far as I can judge. Innovation in breeding, technology and so on is definitely there. But when it comes to how the market works and how marketing and communication are carried out, there could be a bit more innovation.

Digital communication. Experience marketing. Creative PR. In those and other areas, there is still much to be gained.

I would like to contribute to that. How? That's a question I get asked a lot. But I really deliver tailor-made work in each individual project. In fact, I find it difficult to give a general description of what I would like to change for my clients, for the market and for my own companies.

I do appeal to everyone to seek more cooperation, to listen better to each other and to want to act together. That brings us all forward. That stimulates creativity. Together we achieve more!"


Purple Vandas at a floral event


Question 5

How has technology like e-commerce platforms or digital marketing affected your industry, which strategies have you employed to stay competitive?

"Technology is on the rise everywhere. But it is mainly about tools, which you can use to achieve your own goals. That also applies to the flower sector.

Creative ideas come from people. That creativity determines a lot and technology is used to realise those ideas. Of course, the internet has brought a lot of change in this, but humans still play the main role for me. How AI will develop and prove itself in this, I don't know. Time will tell.

Human emotion such as empathy still remains an important driver for me, with which I devise and implement my projects.

But I would also like to say that technology also takes me further. Further in the literal sense. With my platform Flower Experience, I reach people in eighty different countries. Many of those people are Russian-speaking, but the technology of machine translation increases my reach enormously, even though nuance, emotion and empathy are lost with that machine translation.

For instance, I received a request from America to advise in a project, after the client had seen a project of mine from years ago via Flower Experience: in words and images."


Natasja Mironova with Regine Motmans
Natasja Mironova with Regine Motmans from Thursd


Question 6

Who (in or outside the floral industry) is an inspiring example to you? And Why?

"In answer to the question of who inspires me, I would not primarily mention individuals, but two examples of people who work together in teams and achieve very beautiful, professional results. These are the teams at Keukenhof and at the Van Gogh Museum. For thirty years they have surprised and inspired me. Every time again."

Question 7

How do you handle stress or difficult moments in your life?

"Dealing with stress is quite difficult. I seek distraction in my circle of friends, which I am quite proud of. Reading and watching good series and films also help me find distraction."

Question 8

What has been the best (floral or non-floral) news for you lately, or of the last year?

"For me, the best news of the past year has many sides. One of the new and good developments is that my Russian-language platform Flower Experience is being read by more and more people in more and more different countries. And this is not a one-way street. I also get responses to my work from many people from many different countries. I learn from that, which in turn inspires me to develop new projects. And it is also a lot of fun, of course!"


Purple Vandas at a fashion event


Question 9

Which is your favorite flower/plant and why is it good for you?

"For every season, I have a favourite flower. And my choice als depends on what application it is for. Is it for a wedding? Is it for decorating a huge event? Is the flower being used in a fashion project? Is it for decoration inside or in the garden?

At the beginning of the year, I can enjoy tulips. There are also quite a few tulip fields to admire near where I live. I love that. But chrysanthemums, roses and orchids can also be my favourites. It's like with the seasons: spring is beautiful, but so is a winter with snow. The best thing about the seasons is that they alternate. And the same goes for flowers."

Question 10

What are you doing this weekend?

"This weekend, I will be cooking. I will prepare several Siberian dishes. I can enjoy them in advance"


Natasja Mironova



All photos courtesy of Natasja Mironova.



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