Marie Claire: How did the idea for such an unusual business come about?
Zilya Mardeeva: My husband and I travel a lot, and I was always worried about the problem of packing a suitcase. Underwear, perfume, chargers, headphones - everything had to be laid out in ordinary plastic bags. The idea was born a little over a year ago: I bought fabric paints, came up with the first prints, sewed several bags - and posted them on Instagram. Just a couple of weeks later, a boutique hotel ordered a batch of hairdryer bags from me. They loved the idea with the designer prints. I think another reason why they chose me - I do different, even small batches (and work with individual orders), while most manufacturers only take large batches, 50-100 copies. Flexibility is one of the competitive advantages of small businesses, while you have more room to be creative.
What is the guarantor of a successful startup on the Internet, in your opinion?
The guarantor is a cool product and a competent promotion strategy. And of course, when you work for yourself, it is important to organize yourself competently. Pick up the pace, and don't slow down. Keep the bar. For some, this can be difficult, because there is no boss who will force you to redo the task or make it faster. I have become proudly more demanding of myself, as well as of the partners and contractors with whom I work. The quality of workmanship at all levels must be perfect.
Before you left for "free floating", you held the position of brand manager of the Gillette brand in Russia, the second brand in terms of sales in the Procter & Gamble portfolio. And before that, they worked in the Swiss office of P&G. How does corporate experience help you now in developing your own business?
P&G is the best marketing school in the world, where all work with a brand, target audience and its motivations is laid out on the shelves. They teach you how to correctly create advertising campaigns and track results. Also, every marketer at P&G has tremendous experience in working with creative agencies, the ability to clearly define goals, communicate with agencies - all these competencies, of course, help me in communication with my current advertising partners.
“Success is achieved only through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success is only 1% of your work, and the remaining 99% is failure."
And what was the main overcoming at the first stage?
I chose the business investment model as I make money, and this is always a longer process in terms of getting the system to work. There may be no results for a month, half a year, but if the strategy is correct, then gradually everything will be "on track". The difficulty, perhaps, is to patiently follow the set course. Throwing "out of the fire and into the fire" - this is definitely not going to bring any result, except for shattered nerves. Soichiro Honda, founder of the HondMotor Company, once said, “Success is achieved only through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success is only 1% of your work, and the remaining 99% is failure. " This thought taught me to look differently at difficult times. The most important thing is not to give up and keep working.
How do you manage to do everything at once - come up with designs, advertising strategy, content for social networks?
When you start a project from scratch, you have to delve into all the processes. But as the business develops, you need to learn how to delegate - at least some of the tasks. Social media for The Meshok, for example, is now handled by the content agency team. All products are outsourced. Now I'm more focused on creating designs, structuring and expanding the lineup and marketing strategy. There is a lot of work. I hope that in 8-10 years the business will become completely independent and start generating substantial income. And then it will be possible to concentrate on raising children.
How do you come up with designs for bags? Where do you look for inspiration?
For example, we recently launched a new product - bags for mothers. I ask friends, acquaintances who have small children - what might they be interested in? I collect as much information as possible and then form a ruler. For me, an inexhaustible source of ideas is Pinterest. I make a million "bookmarks" - pictures, inscriptions, palettes … And then I work with a graphic designer who embodies my ideas in the layout.
As far as I know, in the near future - the creation of collections of shopper bags and beach bags?
That's right, and more - I'm thinking about expanding the range of backpacks. This will help pave the way for online sites that specialize in apparel and accessories. The Meshok is already on Wildberries and It's your shop. The next step, I hope, will be access to other large online platforms in Russia, as well as to the American and European markets. Bestsellers are, of course, lingerie bags, they are really irreplaceable when packing a suitcase. I prefer to work with natural cotton, and the drawings are applied using the silk screen technique. I was lucky to find a wonderful partner, a company that has been printing on fabric for over 15 years. Thanks to this, the prints on our bags can withstand up to 30 washes without losing their brightness.
How does having a family affect work? What helps you maintain your work-life balance?
My husband is as much a workaholic as I am. But the weekend for us is sacred. We are together for 48 hours, while everyone can do their own thing. The main thing is to be in the same space. In general, for me now there is no concept of work-life balance, The Meshok is my life, not work.
It's all about her:
Zilya Mardeeva, founder and CEO at The Meshok
Education: Moscow State Linguistic University. Maurice Teresa, specialty “Public relations specialist with knowledge of two foreign languages”. Institute of Business and Design, specialty "Fashion Designer"
Career: 2006-2008 Associate Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble, Moscow; 2008-2011 Associate Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble, Geneva, Switzerland; 2011-2012 Brand Manager Gillette at Procter & Gamble, Moscow
Sports: yoga, fitness
Cosmetics: Givenchy, L'oreal, Dior
Favorite cities: St. Petersburg, Madrid, Istanbul.
Photo: archives of press services
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