For many decades, women have defended their right to work wherever they want. Today, the fair sex can be found in leading positions. And the business acumen of many of them is in no way inferior to the man's. Lena Lezhneva, the founder of the Lelu Kids brand of elegant children's dresses, tells how to become successful in your business.
Lena, for many you are a role model and business inspirer. Tell us, is it difficult to be a successful business woman in Russia?
I will say this: all the difficulties are in the head. If a girl is confident in herself and her strengths, no stereotypes will become a hindrance. And there are plenty of them in our country. For example, many men still believe that a woman's place is at the stove. First, life, taking care of her husband and children, then - the rest. If you come across such a leader or partner, you will have to jump over your head, proving your competence. This is very exhausting and distracting from the goal. Fortunately, there were no such people in my circle. Only once did I come across open discrimination when I was looking for a contractor for production. The head of the sewing workshop, where only girls worked, was a man of very chauvinistic views. And he did not hesitate to express them: “Where are you going? What business? Go cook borscht! " We didn't work with him.
Many women are hesitant to pursue a career, as this means giving up marriage and family …
It is believed that the best employee is a woman with two children, a mortgage, without a husband and, preferably, in a rented apartment. This does not need to be motivated, she is already motivated to the maximum. Does this mean that she will get to the top rung of the career ladder? It does not depend on social status and the presence or absence of a family, but only on the woman herself. It is a pity that not all employers understand this. And it's even sadder if a girl who wants to take place in a relationship sacrifices them for the sake of work. As a rule, such sacrifices do not lead to anything good. The moment will surely come when the workaholic girl will become bored with life, and the failed keeper of the hearth will begin to burden her with work. Everything should be in balance and for love: both what you do and what you feel.
And how do you come to that balance?
I cannot say that I have achieved a balance between work and family. Of course, I worry that I don’t devote enough time to my husband. And especially the child. Now my son is 6, 5 years old, and I am afraid that he is forming a wrong perception of his mother. He has no association that mom is about comfort. I'm constantly on the run. To compensate for this, I came up with a small tradition: every weekend I cook something myself - pancakes or cheese cakes. This is my conscious anchor to the child: in the subconscious, this smell of spending time together is sure to be deposited.
Since you have a son, who inspired you to create fancy dresses for girls?
I have always done what I like: first there was a tanning studio, then I got carried away with photography, worked as an art teacher … On maternity leave I was hooked on the children's theme. And since I loved sewing since childhood, my passion for fabrics and ruffles flared up with renewed vigor. My husband gave me a sewing machine. I sewed the first dresses as a present for the daughters of my friends. Then I decided to sew for sale. This is how it all started … But it turned into big business only when I learned to delegate. Most of the success is the team. I cannot be a professional in all areas at once. For example, I do not understand all the intricacies of sewing - technological issues. If I hadn't delegated, I would have been a very good specialist, not an entrepreneur.If I don't understand something, I find a person who understands this better than me, I put him in this position.
How to gather the right people and not make mistakes?
Try - there is no universal remedy. When interviewing, I very often rely on personal feelings. It is important for me to be comfortable with a person. I often guess, and good and necessary people come to my team. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the employee loves his job. This is key. Money shouldn't be the main motivation. And by the way, if an entrepreneur builds a business just for the sake of money, this is a failure story. Because with any complexity and difficulty, strength will run out if motivation is only money. But if you just like what you are doing, then you can build any company.
We are now seeing a cult of mentoring and rapid learning. Have you thought about transferring your experience to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I have had many requests for personal mentoring. I decided to give it a try and took a few people. But I soon realized that it’s not mine: I don’t want to do something bad, but good - it takes a lot of energy and effort. So far, I have given up on the idea of personal mentoring. But I recommend everyone to have a mentor on various issues. At all stages of my business, I had people who helped me. One of them is Ayaz Shabutdinov, the founder of the Like business club, in which I have been a member for 5 years. For a long time I tried to run my business the way I could, but it didn't go very well. And all because business also needs to learn. I don’t understand why we still don’t have such a link. If you are going to start driving, you go to an instructor, you learn English at a language school, and business - how will it go on your own? It will not work - I was convinced of this from personal experience. So now I am fanatically learning new things. Well, the environment influences greatly. When there are successful people around you, it is difficult to be different. And in this sense, a very inspiring company has gathered at Like.
With such active employment, do you have time for yourself? How do you spend your leisure time, how do you relax?
I like traveling very much. Our business community has a tradition of going abroad every two months. Usually we take a mentor with us and combine business with pleasure - we rest and study. On the weekend I have a family day. No calls, no negotiations, just me, my husband and son - this brings me very close. I also like to read. True, recently in my library there are books exclusively on business topics. I really liked the book by Eliyahu M. Goldratt "Purpose" - such an exciting novel about business. And in the car I always listen to books about success stories - they inspire me.