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“Positive Thinkers Take it All”
On June 27-28, on the Moscow River beach of the Royal Bar, the summer edition of the Millionaire Fair was presented in Moscow for the first time. Luxury brands and rich Muscovites abounded. Yves Gijrath, the fair’s founder, told Passport about his business, childhood dreams and success theory.
Text by Elena Krivovyaz
Photo by Alina Ganenko

Yves Gijrath

In one of your interviews you said that successful people dream better than others. Why?

Being successful doesn’t mean that you always win. It means that you win more often than you lose. Successful people are positive thinkers. Their imaginations have no limits. Of course, you cannot always be on the positive side. But it’s better to think more in a positive way.

Was it difficult to bring your Millionaire Fair brand to Russia? How did it all begin for you here?

We started the first Millionaire Fair in Amsterdam in 2002. Everybody asked me: why don’t I go to Russia? One of the people who encouraged me was Derk Sauer, CEO of Independent Media. I came here to see the venues, then I had meetings with the top managers of various brands. If you want to do something, the important thing is to start. We started the first fair in Moscow in 2005.

What is special about the Russian rich and Russian business people, in your opinion?

Russians are fast decision-makers. They always say “yes” or “no” immediately. The other special character about them – they don’t think too much about tomorrow and sometimes don’t think about it at all. They like extravaganza, show, glamour… They are not like most Europeans who are worried about what their neighbors are thinking.

Why is this fair called the Summer Fair? What is the difference between the Summer Fair and the Millionaires’ Fair?

The Millionaires’ Fair is 5 or 6 times bigger than this event and it is always held in late autumn, so there are winter clothes, winter accessories which are not exhibited during the Summer Fair. And there are also many more Russian brands available for the winter edition.

What are the conditions for brands to participate in the Summer Fair?

They don’t differ much from the entry conditions of the Millionaire Fair. Participants have to pay the rent for a minimum of four square meters, and prove that they really are a quality brand which meets standards at the top end of the market.

Was it more difficult to organize the fair this year, in the context of the crisis?

I can’t say it was more difficult – it was different. Of course, some brands are experiencing serious problems with their revenues, but… the market is still very big and there are still opportunities out there. Most businesspeople are open-minded. They perceive this crisis as a source of new opportunities.

Are you going to expand around the world?

We’re opening soon in India, Spain and some other countries. I hope Millionaire Fair will be held in one other Russian city within two years. What city? I can’t say yet.

Have you ever dreamt of becoming rich?

No. In my childhood I dreamed of becoming a football player. I don’t believe in people who want to become rich. You should never see money as your mission. You should think about becoming a designer, an actor, or whatever you want to be. I’m a creative entrepreneur and I like to work with young people – that’s what my passion is.

What do you find so special about Russia and what venues do you like to visit here?

I’m fascinated by the way people dress here in Moscow, especially women. Five years ago when we started, there were a couple of good restaurants, but now there are hundreds of excellent eateries! There are also many clubs. The hotel business is developing fast. I always stay at the Hyatt when I come here and I like it – it’s elegant and nice. As for other places, I like Soho Rooms, The Most, GQ Bar, Galereya, Pushkin, Antinori and Turandot.

Are there things in Russia that prevent running a business?

It would be much better if there were less documents for everything. But people are very active in Russia and they have somehow got used to this problem. Five years ago it was really difficult to begin, but now we can somehow make it work.

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