Alena Puchkova, Grishko: Sales without Borders Creates a Quest for the Company


According to data from the Mosprom Center for Export Support, Moscow’s exports excluding non-energy resources – anything other than coal, oil, gas, timber, etc. – grew 28% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2021 to $ 23.16 billion. The city government is interested in stimulating non-energy exports due to their high added value. As a local company, Grishko’s experience shows that light industry products such as clothing, footwear and accessories are a promising export niche.

Grishko has been manufacturing and selling dance shoes, clothing and accessories for over 30 years. Today, it is one of the world’s largest exporters in its segment with buyers in over 75 countries including the United States, Asia and Europe. Grishko’s Online Marketing Manager, Alena Puchkova, explains how a small, family-owned business in Moscow became a global powerhouse, and shares tips for business owners looking to sell overseas.

How do you explain Grishko’s success as a global brand? What sets the company apart from its competitors?

I think the fact that we own our manufacturing base is our main advantage. Few companies are ready to make this investment. Unlike most of our competitors, we have never outsourced any of our products. We need to invest in equipment, but the results are astounding.

When you have the whole team in one space, from planning and design to logistics and manufacturing, people can go to each other’s offices to ask questions and the products are tested more thoroughly. . Faults are detected and corrected quickly before the customer even sees them.

Our success is based on full manufacturing control and good communication.

What are your priority export markets and how did you choose them?

Our primary market is the United States, as it offers rich opportunities for both classical ballet and modern dance. Most of our production goes there.

We launched our Nikolay brand for the US market two years ago and have managed to grow it with very little advertising investment. Today, the brand is sold in more than 300 stores and has 26,000 followers on Instagram.

In addition to the United States, we sell to Asia, where our main markets are China, Japan and Korea. Europe is another important market and we have an innovative logistics center in Prague which allows us to deliver products to customers within 48 hours, sometimes even faster.

What obstacles should companies anticipate when considering exporting?

Certainly customs duties. This is an area where each market has its own rules. Study the rules of the region where you want to sell so you don’t end up with a bad surprise at customs. If the product costs the customer twice what they expect, it can dramatically affect sales.

And if you plan to sell in multiple countries, make sure you know your national price and the suggested retail price for each country so that the brand maintains a unique style globally.

The second thing to think about is the logistics, which have become more difficult during the pandemic. Freight companies struggle to manage the volume of cargo they have to move. On the positive side, it encourages the industry to upgrade the technology.

The world of retail has changed dramatically over the past five years and boundaries are starting to disappear. People can buy and buy things halfway around the world. But it creates a sort of quest for companies, as they need to know exactly what they can sell, at what price, and what difficulties they will face along the supply chain.

The Mosprom Center for Export Support makes it easy for Moscow-based companies to sell in foreign markets. The Centre’s experts tailor their assistance to the needs of each business, with services ranging from finding potential partners to organizing conferences, assisting businesses at international fairs and trade missions. The Center works with companies to tailor their presentations and offers a detailed analysis of target markets and the export potential of products for effective pre-sales activities. All of this assistance is provided free of charge.

What other hidden details should businesses know when sending products overseas?

Remember, the shipping cost isn’t just weight based – it’s volume based as well. We vacuum pack our dancewear to keep it compact, but it doesn’t work with shoes.

You might think your shipment will be relatively cheap, but then you get the invoice and it’s ten times what you expected. It happens all the time. So find out in advance about the impact of weight and volume on the price.

Senders can try to get your business by offering discounts, but you need to read the fine print and make sure you qualify. Wholesale shipping discounts will not apply to an online retail store that only ships small packages.

These are all things you need to know ahead of time so that you can compare companies and choose the right one for you.

What would you say to someone who is considering opening their own business and doesn’t know where to start?

Our founder, Nikolay Grishko, was a diplomat who had no direct connection to the dance world. But his wife was a dancer and he saw the potential to change his own life and the lives of the people who work for him, the people who buy Grishko products and the dance world in general.

So here is my advice: go for it!


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