Yuriy Dudarenko and the team of Russian designers at FlowerBazar operate from Moscow with their year-round operating event- and wedding business. The team encourages each other to be supportive and creative, which results in extraordinary personalized wedding concepts that most likely set the trend for post-COVID weddings. In addition, Yuriy shows us how the team set up a beautiful project in the most western region of Russia, where the decor of a wedding celebration was left to leave a mark and be of use to the local people. An inspiring read about the business mentality of Flowerbazar with insights of COVID-19 on the Russian wedding industry.
How is Yuriy Dudarenko and the Flowerbazar team coping with the current Corona outbreak?
An interview with Yuriy Dudarenko from Flowerbazar
In which country and city is your business active? Where is your office or shop located?
We operate in Moscow, Russia. We have one office, one educational studio (Moscow Flower School) and a warehouse. In the following video and photos you see the story of our Flowerbazar team in the setting of a personalized wedding.
Can you describe your business in general? Please walk us through a schedule of your 'normal' wedding season. How does it differ in 2020, compared to other years?
We are a full-year operating company so we do the decor not only for the weddings but also for private and corporate events. By March, when it all started, we had 5 weddings in progress for June and July. Few weddings were already prepaid and concept agreed, others were in the process of concept agreement. Also we worked on 3 big corporate events for May, all three were on the stage of concept agreement. The first big shock was right after the International Women's Day holidays, a holiday about which we talked on Thursd. in our article "Inner Power and Creativity". We came back to work on 10th of March and were notified that two corporate events were canceled and the third - postponed. This was of course big financial trouble. But the important thing is, that it happened long before the official quarantine measures. So in some sense it helped us to start preparing for more consequences in advance. Almost half a month before the actual quarantine. Which we actually did! Since 16th of March we switched all staff to work from home and thus we had time to adopt to the new reality. Parallel to this we reviewed our business plan and made financial estimations for several possible scenarios and sent messages to our landlords requesting discounts for March and February. So by the end of March, when strict quarantine measures were announced and implemented, we were prepared and knew what to do.
And have you been practicing your business since the (partial) lockdown in Russia?
Luckily enough our landlords confirmed discounts, and no weddings were cancelled. We even had a few new requests and agreements in April for the end of summer. It helped us to keep the staff working and created a few anti-crisis projects that we are working on now. For example we now focus on wrapping our experience into educational courses and offer decor packages for private celebrations at home.
What barriers do you face at the moment of running a successful business? How do you plan to overcome them?
Of course we faced a dramatic decrease in cash flow and also some of our staff is not willing to go out of their homes. But so far the prohibition of movements on the street is not total, so we find opportunities to move the business slowly.
Which inspiring new initiatives have you seen in your field of work or are started by you - since COVID-19?
It was a shock to all of us and that's why we saw quite a few interesting ideas. The numerous livestresams on Instagram are quickly getting boring. Our colleagues in Belarus made a real online wedding a few weeks ago. It was fun and inspiring, because you can see some hope in it! We created an offer "Home bouquet" which is a distant floristry class, where the participants are receiving sets of flowers, then we do a lesson via Zoom and then give feedback on the results via group chat. It appeared to be very inspiring, since people could try something new, also do something by hands and of course as a result decorate their room with beautiful flowers.
How important is it for you to lift each other up in these times and what does that mean for you and the bond with your colleague-professionals and business relations?
Luckily, we have been practicing zoom conversations long before the COVID outbreak. It helped us a lot in terms of support. We never held daily team meetings in our normal life but now it has become our morning ritual. Seeing colleagues in a good mood and full of ideas and activity is super inspiring!
What do you think is the biggest issue in your segment of the wedding industry at the moment, from your perspective?
Well, the way we see it, the COVID-19 outbreak won't hit our industrie that much. First of all because most of the studios (we did a questionnaire) work with no employees and without rental obligations. So when the business is you, it’s easy to be more flexible. We do expect though that new strong players will arise and most probably will move some current leaders aside. Also we expect some very strong collaborations, that were not possible before. And this also will affect the game.
Do you notice any interesting change of plans and choices of customers, with the events and weddings that are influenced by COID-19? E.g. in the type of flowers, themes, venues, group sizes.
We expect a real explosion of celebrations once life returns back to normal. People realized now how valuable live human communication is and it will surely be cherished more. But at the same time we think people will be more demanding from a technological point. And some wedding studios will have to change their common ways of work towards being more quick, more professional, more creative.
Can you describe to us your ideal wedding setting? If you and your clients would go all in, what would that be like?
We adore weddings with personalized concepts that reflect the story or the beliefs of the couple. This is definitely a growing trend and we expect it to become stronger after the quarantine period. As an example we can now show our beautiful project in Kaliningrad - the most western region of Russia. The couple wanted to create a celebration only for closest friends and relatives and wanted their wedding to leave a mark and be of use to the local people. So for that reason we found an abandoned pier with an old lighthouse and restored it to it’s natural beauty and also built a wooden pavilion. After the wedding was over we left all the beauty there for the local people to admire. The following images will share the beauty of this personalized wedding project of Flowerbazar.