Мarie Сlaire: You graduated from the Faculty of Psychology at Moscow State University, made a successful corporate career in HR, but then suddenly decided to move in a completely different direction - to start your own business. How did the interest in food emerge?
Alisa Shabanova: After graduation, having received a degree in psychophysiology, I worked at the State Scientific Research Institute of the SSP them. Serbsky, then a consultant in the field of personnel assessment, after a while - HR director. However, I have always had an interest in food. Since childhood, I liked to cook: I experimented, created new dishes. My first recipes were sketched as pictures. At a more conscious age, she began to focus on healthy food, realizing that it should not only be tasty, but also properly prepared, from high-quality and fresh products. In Moscow, due to the constant lack of time, most people do not have the opportunity to eat normally. My husband and I were in exactly the same position when we disappeared in the office almost 24/7, snacking on everything that came to hand. We had a normal full lunch no more than once a week,- hence the idea to launch a healthy food delivery service.
To what extent do you think the success of your project is due to the fact that you started together with your husband? How important is male support for a woman in business?
Of course, male support is important. Starting from interaction with unfriendly authorities: tax authorities, firefighters, ending with the fact that it is physically banal for a woman to do some things very difficult. Another important factor is mutual understanding. If a woman develops a business, and her spouse has a fixed work schedule, then problems begin - she sits at night, leaves for production on weekends, and the family begins to burst at the seams. But when a husband and wife are engaged in the same business, such difficulties do not arise.
Overall, how long did it take to get the idea to implementation?
The idea of my own cafe came to me a long time ago. Back in 2007, I was eager to open a healthy food restaurant. Then, during a trip to England, my attention was attracted by the Pret-a-Manger chain - this is such a healthy fast food, the analogue of which we now have is "Prime". In those years, this segment in the Russian market was not occupied by anyone. I did a lot of preparatory work, I even developed a menu, but I never came to implementation. In our country, it is difficult for a woman to do business alone, especially in the real sector. This is my opinion. My husband was not ready to leave IT and help me, so the desire to open a restaurant had to be postponed until better times. But four years later, both Vlad and I realized that they were ripe for a new stage. The stars came together - and in 2011 we started our joint project.
However, other companies have already successfully worked in this segment. Was it difficult to enter the market?
At the time of GrinDin's opening, the main market players were already present: Just For You had been working for five years, Elite Nutrition and JET SET DIET were also about four to five years old, Royal Diet opened six months earlier than us, Easy Meal was with us. Therefore, of course, there was competition. I believe that reasonable competition is good and correct. It encourages us to keep prices down, to seek internal resources for improvement. Unfortunately, there are many annoying cases on the market now. A new company appears in our segment every month. Most of them start with dumping: they drop prices, then they cannot enter a normal economy and die. I can list dozens of such companies. The question is - why? And they themselves did not work, and the market was dropped.
What personal qualities did the startup require from you to mobilize?
I did not expect such stress resistance from myself. Thought I'd give up. It was very difficult at first. Work filled 110% of life. And also - when you live and work with one person, then there is no division into "home" and "office", everything mixes up, there are no evenings or weekends. For example, we can start discussing business both at night and on vacation. Nothing can be done about it. If we have a difficult situation at work, no matter how much we agree “not a word about work at the weekend,” we will still start discussing matters. Because it worries my husband, me, and we just can't talk about anything else. Of course, there are far more advantages to working together than disadvantages. But, perhaps, the main disadvantage is that we are always in the same phase. If a husband and wife work in different places, it is unlikely that their "black bars" or tense moments will coincide. It means,that one can support the other in a difficult situation. In general business, any problem affects both. As a result, we potentiate each other, sometimes forcing rather than defusing the situation.
How much does specialized education help you in business?
I believe that psychological education helps absolutely everyone who has received it. People do business, so understanding their psychology and characteristics undoubtedly gives certain preferences. But, of course, psychology alone is not enough for the gastronomic business. Therefore, I continued to study in order to "get" certain knowledge that I was missing: I completed the Weight Counceling course at the Open University of Australia, then the Science of Cooking course at Harvard University, this year I went to the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London, where completed the Gastronomy and Nutrition module.
What are the recommendations you give your clients regarding proper balanced nutrition, what are they based on in the first place - on theory or more on personal experience?
There are a lot of personal things in my business. Since childhood, I have a predisposition to be overweight - a term that is now finally legalized, primarily due to research in the field of DNA. Previously, all nutritionists unanimously insisted that an overweight person is to blame for his obesity, and there is no predisposition to it. But today geneticists are finding more and more refutation of this fact. So soon (I hope) a full person will stop feeling a priori guilty.
Together with our nutritionist Tatyana Zaletova, we have developed several balanced nutrition programs, there are also systems for weight loss, including "Detox" and the Dukan diet. I tried many options for fasting days, and this was reflected in our lineup: we have “Unloading for smoothies” on the menu, as well as a fish-vegetable and cheese-fruit fasting day - whoever likes what. Of course, we are developing not only weight loss programs. One of my top priorities today is to diversify our diets so that there are fewer restrictions, more freedom and more pleasure. We recently purchased a smokehouse to include smoked fish and poultry on the menu. We are gradually developing a line of low-calorie desserts so that lovers of sweets can delight themselves.
Is it possible for a business woman to reinforce proper nutrition with a healthy lifestyle in the rhythm of modern life?
I do fitness. I love to ride a bike, in the summer I ride almost every day. In winter, I go to the club or exercise on the treadmill at home. I like to be on the move. I love to travel. In the summer we are planning to go to Iceland, - they say, a country of fabulous beauty. We also try to get out not only on vacation for two weeks in the summer, but also just somewhere for a few days - in autumn, winter, spring. We can rush to Paris, Germany, Italy to get to the concerts of our favorite performers who do not reach Russia. I love classical music and opera. In the fall in London we listened to Martha Argerich, and in April we are going to Berlin for Wagner's Parsifal.
Usually, it is not easy for a woman to combine work and family, even if she is an employee. How do you manage to do everything?
The only working way is to prioritize correctly. To understand what needs to be done well, what can be done on a leftover principle or not done at all. At one time, my dear friend and PR-manager Nastya Kaslina uttered a wonderful phrase: "If three is a passing score, then five is not needed." At that time I was extremely negatively disposed to such an approach. I am a perfectionist by nature, and I wanted to do everything perfectly. Over time, I changed my vision of the situation. Important things need to be done at five. No options. Unimportant - for a passing grade. Because otherwise you will be torn to pieces. Something you won't do at all, and the rest you will still do badly from fatigue.
What are you dreaming about? What would you like to achieve in, say, five years?
I am not a dreamer, but rather an implementer. In general, important things and dreams differ from each other by the presence of actions aimed at fulfilling the desire. If your dream is really important to you, you start working on its realization, and it stops being a dream. And if it doesn't matter, then it remains a dream, an unfulfilled desire.
If I want something, I immediately start doing it. That's my problem. Sometimes I do not give time for my desire to "lie down", sometimes I take on too many things, but at the level of a dream I leave desires very rarely.
I really want to find a nutritional program that people can adhere to throughout their lives. It's no secret that 99% of people who have lost weight gain it back within three years. It is harmful to health and psyche. I am constantly trying something new, researching, reading articles, trying to find a life hack that will help people, including me, forget about constant restrictions and live for their own pleasure. Let not in model weight, but healthy. And I believe that I will find such a system.
The main advice that you will definitely give to someone to whom you will be proud to hand over the management of your business once, after many years?
"Do well - it will be good." Only five important things, no compromises. It is important to have a personal attitude to business, so that a person who does his job loves his business and invests in it in full.
1. How much time a day do you spend in the kitchen?
Three times a week I go to production. I spend at least 8-10 hours in the kitchen. At home - only on weekends and on vacation, usually I spend 2-3 hours.
2. What is your best dish?
I think a lot is good, that's my job.
3. What are your top five favorite foods?
Avocado, salmon, tomatoes, eggplant, cheese. When there is no food at home, I whip up Parmigiano eggplants. I can absorb them in any quantity.
4. Three beauty products that are always in a cosmetic bag?
Valmont Moisturizer - I have very dry skin. AnastasiBeverly Hills Eyebrow Brush and Lipstick.
5. Favorite “here and now” scent?
Attimo Salvatore Ferragamo.
6. Favorite item in your wardrobe?
I like dresses. Loose, flowing, made from natural materials, ideally knitted.
7. What was the last book you read with interest?
Intuitive Nutrition (Second Edition) by Evelina Tribol and Eliza Resch. I recommend it to anyone who is into dieting.
8. What kind of music do you listen to in the car?
I can listen to Ludovico Einaudi without interruption. Also Bach, Beethoven, Brahms. I love classics and really appreciate good performance.
Photo: archives of press services
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