Andra Ojog plants eco-friendly thoughts in Romania, too
We continue the series of portraits and interviews with a young woman from Botosani who succeeded in arousing the admiration of many people in the past years all over the country, both because of her physical appearance, but also because of her initiatives, her personality and her great ideas which she is going to talk about in details today…
First, I’ll let you discover some essential aspects about this woman with such an ambitious and optimistic character.
Andra Ojog… Who is the person hiding behind this name? A short biography?
“In general, I don’t really like to talk about me. Instead, I prefer to let the others know more about me through my accomplishments…
In broad lines, I graduated from the ‘A. T. Laurian’ High School in Botosani, Mathematics-Informatics profile, then I gave up the pragmatism imposed by the exact sciences and I studied Communication and Public Relations at the ‘Al. I. Cuza’ University in Iasi, continuing with a Master’s degree at SNSPA on Communication Management and Human Resources in Bucharest.
I started working in my first year of university as a model, then I became a booker and scout at the Avant-Garde Models in Iasi, discovering young talents. Once I moved to Bucharest, I worked at first for Superlit (a top company that produces GRP pipes). After that, I came back to my area of expertise and worked as a scout and booker for almost three years at MRA Models, the first and biggest model agency in Romania. Here I learned a lot of business techniques from Liviu Ionescu, an outstanding businessman, to whon I owe him a great part of what I have become now”.
Your latest project is Marvelous Store. What has motivated you to take this initiative?
“The Marvelous Store idea lingered in my mind for a pretty long time but really took off the moment in which the majority of my friends started getting married and having babies. It was then that I realised the products my father had been producing in Botosani for years could be as useful on the Romanian market as they were on the markets from Western Europe, USA, Japan etc. So, encouraged by my friends, with my boyfriend, we funded together the online shop the Marvelous Store. We mainly sell products made in Romania, but we will expand and we will bring on the market other toys and children furniture meeting the following conditions: they will be innovative, qualitative and eco-friendly”.
On the website, you say that your father has been producing for ages toys and children furniture for export… Why didn’t you launch the business earlier?
“Marvelous Store is a return to an older project, improved now. In my third year at the university I started this company, but the main focus was on children’s wood furniture, and my target was the kindergartens. So, legal entities mostly. Now anyone can buy products from our online shop.”
The entrepreneurship spirit is something that you are born with or you have learned it along the way?
“I think it is a little bit of both. I have people around me who have this spirit from birth and surely, with the right studies, you could become pretty successful. Also, I saw people who learned how to be an entrepreneur, with a lot of ambition and motivation… In my opinion, if you really want to become an entrepreneur, you can be one. You just need to be open to opportunities and give yourself a chance.”
What professional skills acquired by you in the past are useful in the new activity?
“Firstly, I learned to be patient and I believe that this proves to be of great help now. I worked a long time with people of all ages and from different social categories, so I can communicate in a direct and efficient way with anyone. And, last but not least, I learned to use persuasion and negotiation techniques.”
What character features are required for such an activity?
“Many. But I would say that the most important ones are to be proactive, always positive, to have interpersonal skills, to always find solutions and to be analytical. And I truly believe that anyone can educate themselves to be like this.”
An important moment in your life?
“When I decided to move to Bucharest. It was a major step for me and I’m glad now that I did it. Bucharest has helped me to grow a lot.”
An unforgettable memory?
“My first job in Bucharest and the immediate trust that the CEO, Bogdan Nitu, gave to me then. I learned a lot from this man and I’m very grateful to him.”
A wish for the future?
“To put my projects into practice and to help. That’s my goal!”
Andra Ojog in 3-5 years? New projects or total investment in Marvelous Store?
“The main preoccupation will be Marvelous Store, naturally. I have a lot of development ideas for this project and I can’t wait to put them into practice. I also have a lot of ideas for new projects and in 5 years’ time I will surely have materialized them.”
Now that you’ve met Andra, I invite you to find out more about her brave and admirable project consisting in selling on the Romanian market exceptional products for children: toys and multifunctional eco-friendly furniture items at accessible prices.
What is Marvelous Store? The story behind the name ?
” ‘Marvelous’ is a personal obsession. It’s a word that I always liked: it’s melodious and beautiful, it’s perfect. When I was thinking about the name, I had more options, much more ‘SEO-friendly’ and easier to remember, but I felt that this is the word that matches perfectly with what we want to sell: extraordinary, great, fantastic products from all points of view – in terms of design, quality, adapted to children and eco-friendly.”
In what way are your products different ?
“Marvelous Store sells toys and wood furniture for children, the majority of them produced in Romania, sustainable, safe and qualitative. Not many people can take pride in these features. On the Romanian market, the majority of the products for children are made of plastic, produced in China and many of them don’t have any certificate for children safety.
Also, the products that we make, especially the furniture, have a special feature: they are multifunctional and can be used for many years! If, as far as toys are concerned, parents consider that it is not worth investing too much because ‘the child will get bored quickly anyway, what’s the point in buying a resistant toy?’, for the furniture, the situation is exactly the opposite. Thus, we thought it would be good to offer parents products that could be used for a long period of time, without worrying that their kid grows or that they need to regularly buy new products. For now, the multifunctional products that we are selling are: cribs, changing tables, highchairs.
Babybay, for example, is first a crib, attachable to the parents’ bed and then it can be extended when the child grows, so that it can be transformed into a bench, a table or a highchair. So, a simple crib can be used in different forms until the child turns 11 or 12.
Last but not least, our main goal is to sell products that are innovative and have a top design. Therefore, we are looking for manufacturers of innovative products and select the ones who meet the conditions for quality and sustainability.”
What feedback have you had so far? How have the Romanians met the online store?
“The received feedback is extremely encouraging. The Romanians are more and more aware that wood products or other sustainable materials represent the future. Of course, we still have to work on the mentality until we become a country like Germany, for example, where our products have been on top for years. But the market exists and the parents are careful, eager to offer their children safe and non-toxic products.”
What does Marvelous Store do really well and in which areas could it be improved?
“Marvelous Store is doing very well in terms of quality and durability of the products.
At this very moment, the most important aspect that we are looking forward to making better is the improvement of the clients’ awareness and the portfolio expansion.”
How important is the sustainable character of the products? Is it a constant requirement from the Romanian clients, a standard criterion or a trendy commercial argument?
“For us, the sustainable character is very important, it is the first criterion for each chosen product. Sadly, it is not the main requirement from the Romanian clients and this is because the education for sustainability started in our country just a few years ago. There are many factors that prevented Romania from achieving that maturity and I think that the main one is the financial one. Moreover, there is the idea that ‘sustainable’ means ‘more expensive’, which is not always true. But we sustain our positioning and we will continue to promote this kind of products, hoping to educate the Romanian client. And I also believe that the soil is fertile and the new generation of parents start to be more open to the change.”
Is online shopping current in Romania? Does it happen frequently that clients ask you to see the products before buying them?
“Online shopping has been used for a long time in our country. But, indeed, there are categories of products that Romanian clients want to see before purchasing. Most of the time, people decide buying a specific product, they visit physical stores to discover the offer and have a clear idea of what they want and then go online to find the best price.
In our case, for example, the clients buy the toys directly on the website, without seeing them before. But when it comes to furniture, for example cribs, it happens that parents want to actually see the product before purchasing. But we try to present the products online as well as possible in order to simplify the buying process.”
Is there a store/showroom with the exhibited products?
“We will soon open a store in Bucharest with the main products that we are selling, so that the people who are interested could come and see them live before purchasing.
Currently, some of the products are ordered in advance (in general the ones which we import), but as for the ones made in Romania, we are doing our best to have them in stock all the time. Also, we have started collaborating with stores in other cities (for example Cluj, Iasi or Craiova) and our products will be available this year there, too.
On our Facebook page we will make all the announcements, so that the world will know where they can see and buy our products.”
Where do you deliver and how much time does it take?
“We deliver anywhere in Romania.
If they are in stock, the products will be delivered to the client in maximum two working days. If they are ordered in advance, the products will be delivered in maximum three weeks.”
Marvelous Store in 3 years’ time?
“A showroom with many beautiful products, a store in Bucharest and many happy parents and children!”
In case you need information and advice about different stages of your children’s growth, don’t hesitate to consult the articles of the blog updated constantly by the Marvelous Store team.
Have a ‘marvelous’ day/week/year/life!