Marina Valmy, all the roads lead her back to Romania

Born in Romania, in the troubled times after the Communist regime took power, Marina Valmy, daughter of the famous esthetician Christine Valmy, shared her mother’s passion for beauty. She helped her mother prepare the products for the facial skin care creams since she was five. Maybe it was then when she started loving this way of mixing natural ingredients. She said she loved from that period „the carefree sensation”. This ended in the late 50s when she and her mother fled the country. They first went to Greece, and after a while, to the US. This is the place where the myth of Christine Valmy was born. In Romania, they returned after the fall of communism, to set the Christine Valmy beauty school here. Since then, Marina Valmy made many trips back, and this is because she runs the company her mother founded, alongside with her husband Peter de Haydu. For the moment she does not think she will move back to Romania for a longer period of time. She has not forgotten the Romanian language, and she confesses that she celebrates Orthodox Easter, although her husband is Catholic. She cooks Romanian and when they come to Bucharest, the first place where she and her husband stop on their way from the airport is a very popular one: Cocoșatu.

Marina Valmy at her mother's house in Bucharest. Ph. credit: personal archive

Cristina Dobreanu: What do you remember from your childhood in Romania?

Marina Valmy: My memories are of a very happy childhood and running around and playing with other children in the neighborhood.

What was your happiest memory from that period?

Memories of being carefree and being with my family and of eating the most delicious corn grilled on the fire, „găluști cu prune” made by my grandmother and vanilla ice cream.

Did your mother often talk about the country you were both born in?

Although we did not talk much about Romania, my mother was fiercely Romanian, and that is the reason that she forced me to speak the language.

Have you ever missed something or somebody from Romania?

What I have missed the most is the carefree sensation of being a child and having my grandparents  around.

After decades of living abroad, do you still consider yourself Romanian?

Yes and No. I think I am Romanian but sometimes when I am in Romania things are done so differently I feel like a foreigner. The things I am speaking about are bureaucratic.

When was the first encounter with Romania after you fled the country together with your mother?

I went for the first time after the Revolution when my mother opened the school to train the teachers.

Besides the language, that you speak perfectly, what is your Romanian heritage?

I cook Romanian, and although my husband is Catholic we celebrate the Orthodox Easter.

Does Romania still have a special place in your business?

The Romanian business was my mother’s passion and because of that it has become mine also. I am looking to expand it and make Romania a base of operations for Europe and the Middle East.

Do you believe the roads will bring you back to Romania, for a longer stay I mean?

At the moment I don’t think so, but as they say „never say never”. Who knows what the future will bring?

You inherited from your mother not only the company, that you and your husband already run for more than 25 years, but also the passion for cosmetics. How would you define success?

Success is  the result of hard work, dedication and above all appreciating those who work alongside with us to make the company successful. A company with mediocre people achieves mediocre results, a company with great people achieves great results. We are very fortunate to have great people that help make the company successful.

But life is not always a road paved with success, how do you handle failure and what have you learned from these experiences?

The road to success as you very wisely point out is paved with many disappointments and failures. How one handles those is the key to the eventual success. I learned how to handle those difficult times from my mother. When faced with difficulties: first of all never give up, continue trying until either you succeed or you find that there is no point in continuing, then learn and grow from the experience. Secondly, if  we come up against a brick wall and we have a failure then learn and grow from the experience, pick yourself up and go on. Thirdly, always look at the positive side and find the positive in even the negative. Lastly and perhaps the most important always do the right thing, never try to take advantage of others and remember and be grateful to those that have helped you along the way.

How do you keep your optimism high?

My mother believed that there is always a silver lining to every cloud and I have learned from her to always look for the silver lining. Tomorrow is another day. Things never stay as bad as they seem and unfortunately sometimes they are never so good as they seem. We have to take every day as a special day as if it was our last day on earth and  live without having regrets.

What is the first thing you usually do when you are in Bucharest?

We always stop on our way from the airport and buy Mititei from Cocoșatu. That is our dinner with a salad. They are wonderful and we have to have them.

What do you like about Romanians?

They are incredibly smart, and have a quick mind that see connections.

What would you change about the Romanians?

I would change the horrible bureaucracy that holds the country and people down. That is the only thing that stands in the way from Romania becoming an incredibly successful and wealthy country. The more bureaucracy the more corruption. This stifles regular people with a million and one stupid regulations but allows those in power to do as they please and take anything they want.

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