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Interview with Liubov Kemenova - the founder of @ostpost

· cafe,event management,culture

Dear Ladies,

today we are especially happy to present our #heroine_of_the_week - Luba Kemenova - the founder of our favorite Café in Berlin, which is also a regular space for our monthly Female Entrepreneur Breakfasts - @ostpost.

Luba has taken on a challenging mission - running a physical space in the very competitive region of Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg is tough and demanding by itself. Moreover, ostPost is not only a Café, it is a club for Eastern European culture, a book shop, an event venue and many more.

Plus Luba is combining running her business with being a mother of a toddler - she is always on the run! Organizing events 3-4 timeas a week, serving the customers, training employees, teaching freelance seminars, translating, managing social media, coming up with new concepts - we are always amazed how many things she can juggle simultaneously and always stay a welcoming and smiling hostess!

Luba's story is a clear proof that nothing is impossible for a strong, passionate and determined woman! Read her inspiring interview below.

Dear Luba, so many @ichselbstaendig community members know your cozy and friendly cafe ostPost, where we very often host our monthly breakfasts, but some of them never met you. Could you please introduce yourself to our wonderful ladies?

In a nutshell, I come from Vladivostok, the Far East of Russia, and live in Germany for 14 years with several interruptions here and there. Originally earned a degree in teaching and translations, studied here a course similar to cultural management, worked in all sorts of areas before starting my own business.

How was the concept for ostPost born?

It all began with my freelancing as a project assistant and a translator for all things Russian. I received various enquiries also for teaching, which I always had to host somewhere in a café. Thus came an idea of an actual physical space. But it was clear to me that, it has to be something with a catch, something more than just a café, more than a place to teach… so, why not unite several elements that would attract all those interested in Eastern Europe? And ostPost was born – a café, a book store and an event space for happenings with Eastern European focus.

In July 2017 ostPost moved to a new location in Chorinerstr. 84 - a tough spot to be for a cafe: competition is big, amount of tourists and office workers around is little, yet OstPost always seems to have customers inside → What is your secret?

Well, “always” is definitely a part of my wishful thinking :) But yes, I would say we are doing well for this location. I think it is exactly the interesting concept that draws people in.

Luba, as an owner of a modern cafe one needs to be involved into multiple activities connected with social media: FB, Blog, Forums and even Instagram. How do you manage to keep an eye on all the channels, post exciting news and is it really worth your time?

It is not easy for sure! I think it is worth the hassle, but one has to see what is manageable and maybe make choices. I have clearly made FB my main target, some go for Instagram, some for some other channels. As they say here, you cannot “dance on all the weddings” ;)

As a mom of a toddler and a business owner you have a lot on your plate right now. How do you manage to juggle so many roles at the same time? Have you found a work-life balance?

I am always trying to strike the balance between doing the necessary and allowing some luxury. I believe that finding a work-life balance is always a goal, never an achievement. At least otherwise it would be too boring!

Luba, we love that you share your knowledge around setting up a business as a freelancer. You have created a workshop for anyone making their first steps towards their own venture. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

At the moment this workshop is running every couple of months in Russian. But I am thinking about starting it also for an English-speaking audience… Quite a few people I knew asked various questions about setting up a business, becoming a freelancer here in Germany. On the other hand I saw how much misinformation is out there in the Russian-speaking circles about this issue. It is really one of the cases where the word of mouth is not necessarily a good thing. That is how I decided to start conducting this kind of workshops. To clear out myths around it.

What is your current biggest challenge in business? And what is the one thing of past 6 months you are especially proud of?

The biggest challenge is to establish the new location so that I am happy about it – it is still work in progress. Or at least happy to 75%.
One thing I am happy about? I guess that I survived having a little girl in my baby-carrier and a coffee cup in my hand, haha

Every now and then all of us get doubts if we are on the right track. How do you deal with your feelings in such moments and what is your advice to our fellow entrepreneurs?

When in doubt, just try it and get the empirical data you can use and decide next. If you are still unsure, then there are hundreds of methods one can use. From meditation to I Ching. All of them work to a certain extent. And life will decide for you at a certain point of life, which is also a way of sorting out non-functional business ideas.
So, I guess I do not have one advice for all. But, try it if you can!

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