SAMARA: Alexander, an Austrian, has been working in Russia for a large German retail outlet for the past seven years with stints in Moscow, Rostov and now Samara. At the suggestion of a Russian friend, he co-opened men’s barbershop franchise Chop-Chop in Samara in 2013.
After six months of observing business at Chop-Chop, Alexander decided to create Chica, a woman’s version of the high-end barber shop. His logic was straight forward.
”I realized, if men can pay 1,500 rubles for a haircut (~$50 in 2013), they probably have wives or girlfriends that could afford a similar women’s salon. Samara may not look very good right now, but people here have money.”
Calling Chica ‘a beauty club’ where women can hang out and have coffee or Prosecco, Alexander hopes to turn it eventually into a Russian chain. He is planning to open a second store planned for end of 2015.
He is not letting Russia’s reputation as a difficult place to do business stop him. He says the perception is worse than the reality.
”People talk a lot about problems with the bureaucracy, but I don’t see it,” said Alexander, adding the only challenge was getting chairs through customs, something that took a week. ”I thought it would be harder.”