When everything came together...
Do energetic and positive people have more luck in their lives? We think we are lucky that everything has happened this way: time, circumstances, people! The result is a successful company and a harmonious atmosphere. Yes, many stories are true, but it is like the tip of an iceberg – it is the only thing that is visible. I am pleased to be able to tell the story of Nina Mironova, the owner of two cake shops in Kaliningrad, and her path to success.
The story begins in 1999, when Nina Miranova had completed her degree at a technical university in her home town of Vladikavkaz and decided to go to Kaliningrad. She did not want to work as a programmer and remembered the great passion of her childhood – cake! When she was young, Nina watched her Aunt Ethel create her culinary masterpieces – cakes. Everything was breathtaking to her: the magic of the right mixture of ingredients, the baking, the smell and the decorations! Nina wanted to turn her hobby into a job, but her parents insisted that she had to get a "normal" education. When she arrived in Kaliningrad, she replied to a job advertisement for a pastry chef. The employer was looking for someone with experience and specialist training. Nina proved herself and was hired for the production team.
Circumstances required that she had to work twice as hard, virtually without days off or rest days. But she was hard-working and diligent and gradually gained professional experience. After a while, a master baker came to the production team to teach baking techniques and baking standards. Nina was eager to learn and listened carefully. She absorbed the new knowledge like a sponge and tried to directly put it into practice. She was not afraid to experiment and create new products. Thanks to good cooperation with suppliers from the confectionery industry, the product range was continuously updated and the company became a trendsetter for innovations. One of the ingredients suppliers offered Nina a job as a process engineer, which opened up great perspectives for training, travelling and development. A few years later, Nina became the general manager for raw materials.
Nina agreed to move to a new location for this. There were training courses for the new president programme, international exhibitions, the latest innovations and trends in the industry. This experience helped Nina with structuring and planning her work and that of her employees and with preparing and checking contracts with partners. In 2009, she was promoted to deputy director. In the same year, Nina became the head of patisserie at Factory Kitchen.
After three years, she was once again working with the supplier for restaurant raw materials and equipment in sales. This continued until 2014. Everything was smooth and stable. One day, a customer called and requested a personal meeting. Nina had handled a not quite successful project at two cafés. Customers stayed away from the café, although it was a very good establishment. The owner was tired of fighting for customers and decided to close the café. She remembered Nina's enthusiasm and business acumen and offered her the lease for the space. Nina had not been expecting such an offer and was generally not ready for it. The customer, however, ensured her that there was no risk, sent contracts for review and invited Nina again. All the knowledge she had gained from her various fields of work proved useful: She used her technical knowledge to evaluate production and in particular the reason for the unsuccessful product range and the management's failure to correctly calculate costs, and to check the contracts with suppliers. Nina was still not completely sure whether to accept the offer. She then visited the cake shops and saw the great equipment with WIESHEU ovens, and decided to go for it. In the first years, she added to the equipment. Five years after the takeover by Nina, it has become a very successful business. And we decided to ask how exactly she managed to virtually revive the café.
PARTNER: Nina, how do you assess the situation in 2014? Why was business not going well for the customer?
Nina Mironova: I think the main mistake was that there was no in-house production. They were only selling imported frozen products from Europe. At the time, that was accordingly very expensive for guests at the café.
P.: What were your first steps? And what convinced you to take on a struggling business?
N.M.: When I saw the great ovens, proofers and freezers, I realised that this could be used for a successful business. Otherwise I would not have agreed to it.
When I saw the freezer section, I immediately knew which products I wanted to sell.
P.: How did your experience and knowledge of technology and management help you?
N.M.: The work would have been impossible without this knowledge. I baked the first cakes myself, looked after the pricing and found raw material suppliers. I like natural products, without chemicals or preservatives – and with a great taste! There should be many different toppings and fillings, and the products should always be freshly baked.
P.: Is everything produced in one place? Which area do you look after?
N.M.: Yes, our production is at the central café. They focus on making cakes and dough – exactly what I have been learning about all my life. We make some frozen products and then bake them at the shop.
P.: Do you bake in WIESHEU ovens?
N.M.: Yes, that is my great treasure. Honestly! I am not saying this to please the manufacturer – it is a recognition, because they have never let me down in my work. These ovens are multifunctional. We can easily bake many different products and that is quite rare.
P.: How does the service work for these ovens?
N.M.: I am content to say that we do not need service very often, although I am always in contact with the Russian representatives who are available with help and advice. I like working with them and that is important, too!
P.: Nina, what are your plans for the future?
N.M.: I have great plans! There will be a pizzeria in mid-April! That had been my childhood dream from the start! I am very proud of the project, it is almost a part of my soul. The room is adjacent to the cake shop, which is convenient for production. We will offer traditional Italian pizza. And of course we will also bake them in a WIESHEU oven!
P.: Very interesting pizza concept. I was not expecting that!
N.M.: I studied different pizza-making techniques for a long time. I travelled through Italy, watched, tasted, compared. I came to the conclusion that the best and tastiest pizza corresponds exactly to our technology. I am sure that our guests will enjoy the unique taste of the pizza and the cosy Italian design of the new building.
P.: I wish you great success, prosperity and new ideas!
Interview with Catherine Starkova (translated from Russian into German and English)