MOSOCOW: Ivan, 27 and a Vladivostok native, hand makes chocolate in a former Soviet factory in Moscow with his girlfriend Dasha, who was doing the evening shift after him. Ivan, who was raised my his mom and older sister, said he moved to Moscow for a second time in 2013 to pursue music. He explained that he fell in love with rap as a teenager in Russia's Far East after having randomly bought an Eminem cassette at a kiosk some 15 years ago while bike riding. Ivan said he then met Dasha, also a Far East native, through social media in the autumn of 2013. They only met in person in 2014 as she fly through Moscow on route to India. She would later that year move across 7 time zones to be with him in Moscow. Dasha loves making pottery and found work in Moscow producing ceramic vases and dishes. Ivan said he came to visit her at the shop, enjoyed the process and gave it a shot. Dasha then found the job making chocolate at the factory and brought over Ivan. The two switch shifts, overlapping two hours during the day. Ivan still pursues music after his chocolate shift....and occasionally makes pottery with Dasha in their free time. When I asked Ivan what he will be doing when he turns 30, he said "definitely making chocolate and music."
Konstantin, 32, a high-end chocolate maker, has some pretty simply advice for people that want to start their own company. ''If you are going to open a business, make sure it is like a pastry - something that people need every day. It can't be something abstract.'' Konstantin worked for major international and Russian companies for nearly a decade before taking a risk in May 2012 to start his own company trading cacao beans called 'Bob Cacao,' the Russian word 'bob' meaning bean. ''I knew that if I didn't do it now, I will get stuck in a corporate career.'' Within weeks of quitting his job - and with a financial cushion that was equivalent to about two months salary - Konstantin found out his wife was pregnant with their first child. ''There was no turning back,'' he said. Business got off to a rough start. As trading imported chocolate beans has no 'moat,' competitors quickly appeared. ''We were struggling to survive. I had a dilemma - either close my business or produce chocolate so that I can't be copied.'' Konstantin decided the later and now produces cacao-rich chocolate bars called 'Britarev' using a 19th century process. His first chocolate was produced in his apartment. Now he has a spot near the center of the city. He sells his chocolate to speciality stores in Russia, presents it at various Moscow events and is looking to export to the west. Our earnings ''are not ideal, but we are moving forward.''