We are continuously searching for role models and success stories. With today’s interview, we reach a new milestone and discover an ideal vision transformed into reality. Her name is Ioanna Olarescu, with two N’s, a wife, mother, and career manager. She enjoys discovering new things, loves music and travel, enjoys what she does, and does everything with passion and dedication. We thank her for kindly answering a few questions.
C&B: Provide a description or define your activity!
Ioanna Olarescu: We are the ones who bring useful and beautiful accessories into your life – at home or in the office. Essentially, we are distributors of articles and accessories, especially for our customers, whom we could group into three main categories: Key Accounts (buyers for major retail chains such as Carrefour, Auchan, Cora, Real, Leroy Merlin, etc.), HoReCa (buyers for restaurants, hotels, canteens, and offices), and our online store partners: diqis.ro and brabantia.com.ro.
C&B: How does the story of your career or business sound?
Ioanna Olarescu: The story of my career and the Frarom International Est company begins during my university years. I chose the evening study option, as it allowed me to work throughout all six years of university. I benefited from a TEMPUS scholarship (equivalent to today’s Erasmus) – a partnership between the University of Economic Sciences Iași and Lille, a combined program of courses and practice. For six months, I had classes in Iași, six months in Lille, and then six months of practice in Paris (at the Frarom company). At the end of the program, on February 17, 1994, Frarom International Est was registered with the Trade Registry, headquartered in Iași.
C&B: By the way, how would you present yourself based strictly on numbers?
Ioanna Olarescu: An interesting challenge. In numbers, it looks something like this: 28 years of Frarom, 34 years of a happy marriage, 2 wonderful children (Adara and Dorian), a team of about 10 extraordinary, involved, and efficient people, external and internal partners (out of respect, I don’t use numbers for them) with whom we’ve collaborated for over 10 years, deliveries to over 300 stores, 2 websites (online stores: diqis.ro and brabantia.com.ro) with fast delivery nationwide.
C&B: Between answers, you mentioned family. Is it a family business?
Ioanna Olarescu: Yes, Frarom International Est is a family business. My life partner, Gheorghe Olărescu, is also my partner in the company. Additionally, I am pleased that my sister, Cristina Soficu, is with me as the financial director, from the very beginning. We are already at the second generation involved in the company, through our daughter, Adara Olărescu, a jurist. There is also the team, an important part of the Frarom family.
C&B: What were your career, family, and business objectives when you chose to open Frarom International Est?
Ioanna Olarescu: As a woman, business objectives must merge with those related to family and passion. I’ll start with passion because we need to desire and even develop/implement activities and businesses based on our passions; otherwise, we become sad even if we succeed in business. My great passion, my greatest passion, is related to the Home Deco area. I am delighted with any discovery in this field. When time and circumstances allow, I travel and aim to discover more and more solutions. This field is extremely rewarding because it is based on skill, creativity, and passion.
Then, about family, I don’t need to say how essential women are and how important it is not to deviate from the ideal projection. I was fortunate to be understood and supported by my family. Honestly, the fact that I work closely with loved ones makes me happy and gives me the energy we all need.
Regarding the business, we are where we wanted to be and we grow as needed. The most important thing is that we enjoy the trust and support of customers and partners – we are certainly on the right path.
In conclusion, I wanted a business born out of passion, a beautiful family, and a business in which the family is involved, so that everything unfolds in a healthy environment and is accepted by everyone. I am grateful every day for all of this.
C&B: What were your visions in childhood/adolescence, and what are they now?
Ioanna Olarescu: I have always liked working. I saw myself as an active person, surrounded and appreciated by good and dear people. I couldn’t precisely identify the field that would bring me fulfillment, between us, no one could separate and define the field in which I operate. However, I clearly saw the way of working and the actions. My greatest wish was to do something that would make my soul happy, and that’s exactly what I do – I add a lot of patience, passion, and flexibility every day to resist and continue what we have created together with the family and Frarom team in 28 years.
C&B: How did/does the Pandemic Crisis influence your activity, and what conclusions have resulted?
Ioanna Olarescu: The pandemic has affected our partners a lot and, consequently, us, so we had to reinvent ourselves, find solutions, and remain present in the retail market.
Online presence, both through our stores and partners, helped us deliver when everything was closed. The fact that we strategize thinking about tomorrow allows us to be one step ahead of the times and continue our business. We never stop; even now, we are looking for partners in the retail sector, businesses with stores in the accessories and Home Deco area, partners we could help in our capacity as wholesalers, offering a wide variety of products and fast delivery.
Certainly, we have also had losses – we lost colleagues who feared the future in a small company, we lost turnover, we lost profit, but these losses have welded us together, motivated us, and the team that remained is extraordinary, and I cannot find enough words to thank them.
If I were to draw a conclusion here, after these difficult years, the message would be: be flexible, be ready when an opportunity arises, be prudent and consistent, be fair, and, above all, be HUMAN!
C&B: What advice/tips do you have for those at the beginning or indecisive?
Ioanna Olarescu: Start from an idea, a verbalized and assumed goal, not from the desire to make money. Material fulfillment naturally follows if the goal is achieved with passion and a lot of involvement.
Start the new business with courage, be patient with yourself and those around you, always stay informed about novelties, and surround yourself with quality people.
C&B: Please provide your own definition for society, businesses, and careers in Romania!
Ioanna Olarescu: Without accusing anyone, I would say that society is divided, legislation is unstable and insecure, which, however, allows businesses to be creative, but with an enormous consumption of energy, time, and money, especially since education and career are achieved at the workplace and not at school, as it should be!