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Success story. The boomerang of good - Inna and Oleh Yarovyi

Success story. The boomerang of good - Inna and Oleh Yarovyi

Two smiles, four cheerful eyes – and six square meters of a café space. These were the resources that Inna and Oleh Yarovyi had three months after their arrival in Poland from Ukraine in the autumn of 2015. Today, they own a chain of cafés that is growing rapidly through franchising.

They came to Warsaw from Kiev, where they both worked for a large international advertising agencies. She was a director ofdevelopment, he was a lawyer and an accountant. Both had university degrees and experience gained at an international company, so they didn’t have a problem with finding work. "We had a good life”, they say. 

Then Inna got an offer to work in another agency, based in Warsaw. She had Polish roots and could take up employment in Poland without having to apply for a work permit. So the change was relatively simple. That is when they decided to do something new with their life.

So Inna went to Warsaw to work. Oleh entered into a new reality, where one had to create opportunities for oneself.

- I didn't have a job, I didn't know the language. I didn't have a chance to find a good job without knowing the language- says Oleh. - So we decided to start something completely new and build our own business.

While still in Kiev, they started their preparations: they used their last month there to do an intensive Polish language course, they did market research, developed an idea for a café, logo and advertising materials, started to look for a property.

- It was a bit difficult at the start - says Inna. - We didn't know anyone, just my sister, my husband's schoolmate were here, that's all. On the one hand, it's a good thing we weren't all alone. On the other hand, we missed our friends.

The language barrier was difficult for the Yarovyis.

- Polish seems similar to Ukrainian, you seem to understand people, but you can't say anything yourself - recalls Oleh, who today, just like Inna, speaks fluent Polish, although with a soft eastern accent. - Even when we opened the café, it was difficult at first. 

They both made lists of words and phrases that might be useful for conversation.

- We used to make such lists for the bank, the café, for different authorities, in order to be prepared for what we wanted to say and what others could say to us - says Inna. 

They don’t complain about the formalities and claim that setting up a business turned out to be easy (3 days - say the owners). It was harder to find a property, but it was a success: the first café, in Warsaw, was only 6 square meters.

It’s the smallest café in Poland. The owners have a certificate to confirm that issued by the Society for Unusual Records. That small place quickly became a big success.

- We wanted the name of our café to match our philosophy of life. There are two of us, that's why it's “Dobro&Dobro” (“Good & Good”) - they explain.

Because the Yarovyis aren't just about coffee.

- We want the atmosphere to be good. People come here for coffee, but also for a smile, a good word - says Inna. - We believe that good returns to you, if you do something good, you experience good from others. It's working for us.

The owners of “Dobro&Dobro” also invite guests to do something good for others.

- There is an option at our café: you can buy coffee for yourself and for someone else - they say. 

Guests leave a cup with a nice note for a friend or a stranger. Sometimes they sign it, sometimes the message is anonymous. There are cups with good thoughts and good wishes hanging on a string.

- There were times when we had to advertise this free coffee separately, because there were so many people willing to give it - laughs Inna. 

The place quickly gained regular customers. Inna and Oleh soon opened their second café, then the third... Today they have a chain of 7 properties in three large Polish cities, two more are to be opened this year on a franchise basis. 

- The first year we worked alone at the café. We wanted to gain experience - says Oleh. - In the second year, we created procedures and work standards needed to run a franchise. The third year was the time for the company's development.

- It's not like success comes, knocks on your door and says: hey, we're going to live together now - laughs Inna. - It's just a lot of work. 

The secret to the couple’s success is their focus on people.

- When we hire someone, I don't check whether they have experience in brewing coffee - says Oleh. - It's something you can learn. We look for people who have positive energy, are cheerful, to whom it comes naturally to smile at customers. It's not about the barista smiling because they are told to smile. We look for genuine people who think like us. We also take care of them, give them opportunities for development, some of our baristas set up their own cafés in the franchise chain over time.

Ninety percent of the café’s customers are Polish. The owners, however, make sure that the place is open to everyone, especially the Ukrainians. At the café you can hear Ukrainian radio stations, the staff are from Ukraine, you can buy Ukrainian delicacies. 

- We want to hire Ukrainians. We want to give them work opportunities. We also want everyone to be able to come here and get what they have at home: a nice conversation, a good atmosphere - says Oleh.

- What is important to us is to give “a bit more”, this is the motto of our business - adds Inna.

There are also bitter moments in the Yarovyis’ cheerful everyday life.

- Sometimes we don't understand how someone can work until 3:00 PM and close shop when the customer needs ten more minutes - they describe their experience. - The style of work in Poland surprises us. In Ukraine everyone tries to keep their customers, they are happy to work overtime, even at night, but here - they’re not. This may have its advantages, but to us it is a novelty, sometimes difficult to accept.

- When we look for employees online, some people comment “I’m not gonna work for Ukrainians” or they write “work for yourself” - says Oleh. - I do not understand why Poles prefer to go to Ireland to clean rather than work for someone here.

- There are different people in every country - says Inna. - We came here to make money, pay taxes and give jobs. And generally, we are doing well running our business in Poland. We're pleased. And that's the most important thing: to be satisfied with what you're doing.

- Of course, it's not easy. You don't know what's going to happen the next day here. The customers won't come, you won't have any money - says Oleh. 

But so far, business is booming. In total, approximately 30 people work for the “Dobro&Dobro” chain. The owners develop new ideas, they’ve created a “Coffee Emergency Service”, catering services, they also support immigrants who set up businesses in Poland. 

They both believe that when a person does something good, they share good - and it returns to them like a boomerang. 

- And that's what we're sticking to - they say.


Author: Agnieszka Kosowicz

An article has been written in the frames of "MAX: maximising Migrants' Contribution in Society", co-financed by Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

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