You're originally from Russia, how did you end up settling in Vienna?
I moved here with my family when I was 14 and immediately fell in love with Vienna and its people. It felt like coming home – from the first moment. We used to live in a small town in Hungary, and so Vienna inspired me with its colourful social life, arts and very international atmosphere. It was just a pleasure to settle down here.
What are your favourite things about Vienna?
I think the contrasts. Its beautiful city centre which has transformed over the centuries, its cosy Heuriger and amazing parks like Volksgarten or Pötzleinsdorfer Schlosspark, the loud and entertaining Prater, and the many hidden little cafés just off the shopping streets. Whatever you feel like doing, it’s here.
You now run your own business. What were the challenges you faced when you decided to set it up?
Yes, I run the first Gymboree Play & Music Center in Vienna. Although it is a franchise business, the challenges are probably similar to that of all new start-ups. In my case, I had to find the most amazing space where children and parents could feel comfortable – and then recruit enthusiastic and friendly teachers who could help me implement the Gymboree concept. So, the most difficult thing was organizing a 24h day with hardly any spare time, and still trying to find the happy medium between work, family and a bit of time for myself!
What do you enjoy about working with children?
At Gymboree we believe that little children have unlimited potential. The most important thing is to encourage them to find their interests and talents, in their own time. We encourage development through enquiry and solution-oriented thinking in a very playful way. Each child receives individual benefits this way.
Over 35 years of international experience really proves the success of this kind of approach. By strengthening their self-confidence, we help children to discover their personality, making them happy and satisfied. I am convinced this is one of the reasons why children and parents enjoy their time at Gymboree so much.
What are your tips for enjoying Vienna in spring and summer with children?
I don’t think it’s that important where you spend time with your children, but rather how you spend time with them. I always think of the following saying: “Kids come into the world as divine creatures and we try to make people out of them”.
Children have a great talent for finding beauty in all the world has to offer and simply enjoying it. So, simply allowing yourself to be guided by your child’s eye and inclination might mean you have the most enjoyable spring and summer so far.