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Rusanda Cojocaru

Rusanda is 29 years old, living in Bucharest. I met her in 2015 at Hubcelerator, a programme for entrepreneurs. She had participated with Bookletta. She is simply one of those people who makes everything fun and easy and you feel comfortable around with. We quickly became friends. I feel the need to hear her from time to time, because I think my universe is a little better when I know she is in it. Rusanda’s life is a journey and I am lucky to be a stop in that journey.

 

Rusanda, who are you? Describe yourself in 3 words.
I’m colourful, courageous and stubborn. And modest, of course.

Where did you grow up, gone to school? Who were your role models?
I grew up in Chișinău (Moldova), and I went to the experimental Lyceum of Creativity and Inventiveness “Prometeu”. Its director was full of new innovative ideas and created an educational system with teachers and manuals from Romania. He never let us forget that we are Romanian people, speaking Romanian and sharing our history with the greater nation. I am to thank the director, mister Aurelian Silvestru, for who I am today. He was one of my role models. Another one is Iurie Bojonca, my teacher, who was also a poet. He saw something in me and encouraged me to write. So, at 18 I won a manuscript contest and published a poem book. That year the book was awarded for Debut of the Year.

How did you land up in Romania?
When I was 19 I applied for a scholarship at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Journalism and Sciences of Communication. I was interested in PR and advertising. I started working in PR from my first year as a student, and continued for almost 6 years. I went from internship to communication assistant and so on, till I was a communication coordinator for a project funded by the Government of Romania.

Why did you stay in Romania?
After 10 years of living and working here, Romania is home now. I cannot explain exactly why, it’s just something that I feel, it’s not about rational arguments.

 

After 10 years of living and working here, Romania is home now. I cannot exactly explain why, it’s just something that I feel, it’s not about rational arguments.

 

Probably many can relate to studying in another city or a foreign country, but Romania is not really all that foreign to Moldova. How was it in the beginning in Bucharest? I am talking about school, as well as social life.
People from Moldova are also Romanian people, we speak the same language and share the same history as a nation. Of course there are some differences, but they are more like regional differences (I believe it’s the same if you come from Maramureș for example), I cannot call them “national differences”. We have a different accent, we use some regional words and expressions, we also have a lot of diminutives. I used to talk like that, but now I find that quite funny. Moldavians say “little table”,  “little fork”, “little chair”, “little hand”, “little door”, sometimes that makes you feel like Alice in Wonderland. The beginning of my living in Bucharest was funny, because I still had an accent and used all kinds of regional words nobody understood around here. I always got lost, didn’t like the food, so I learnt how to cook. But my story has a happy ending, I was never treated badly for being from Moldova, au contraire, people always had an interested in where I came from and how is life in Chișinău. I merged quite nicely with my new friends, my new lifestyle. One thing I love about Bucharest is its cultural life and that I never got bored here, not even after 10 years.

How and when did you start Bookletta?
Bookletta started in 2012, as a materialisation of the idea of my previous project: “I read, therefore I am sexy” (“Citesc, deci sunt sexy”). It all started with fighting the stereotype of bookaholic = nerd and the promoting concept that people who read are active, attractive and successful. The social-cultural campaign was a success, so I thought of a product that would bring together all this. This is how Bookletta was born.

 

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What is Bookletta and why do you think it matters?
Bookletta is the bag for women who read, and your book’s best friend. It is a unique copyrighted invention, a bag that has a special transparent pocket – it both protects your book and shows it off. This way, you choose to be represented in society by the title of your book, more than any brand. We are what we read!

In all the years Bookletta existed, can you name some key moments in its and your existence when you felt you were at a crossroad? How did you take one decision or another?
Bookletta is more than 4 years old, it’s not a baby anymore. It’s growing up! I have to admit the production was very difficult in the beginning, especially from someone who doesn’t have studies in bag/leather design. I learned step by step everything about leather and production technology and now I design all the Booklettas myself. Crossroads? Every other day, but none worth mentioning. I am prepared to talk about the beautiful things.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am inspired by innovators and innovation. I love reading Steven Johnson’s innovation stories, everything by Malcolm Gladwell, Elon Musk’s ideas about the future, famous TEDx speeches, books about leaders, history and marketing. I believe that for preserving our real values, we should find attractive new ways of “wrapping” them and offering them like gifts for this new world we live in.

 

I believe that for preserving our real values, we should find attractive new ways of “wrapping” them and offering them like gifts for this new world we live in.

 

So bags and books, huh? What else? Tell me other things that represent you. Beside good cider and laughter. 🙂
I love sports, tried lots of things, did football, tennis and martial arts. Now I am in love with surf. One thing that defines me is my passion for travelling and discovering new places, languages and cultures.

Tell me about your traveller life: When did you start travelling, what were the circumstances, why do you do it?
Being born in Moldova meant we needed visa for almost every country in the world, and it was hard to obtain one in those difficult years. With 18 I had only seen Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Germany and Turkey. After I moved to Romania, at 19, and got my Romanian citizenship at 21, I visited 22 more countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. There are some places that I keep going back to, like Florence, London or Paris, but my favourite part is visiting Africa – I’ve been to 8 African countries, reached the most western, eastern and southern points of the continent. Usually I go to 5-6 trips every year. Some for work, others because I want to learn as much as I can about different civilisations, religions, traditions, etc. I don’t know yet what I am looking for, underneath this thirst for knowledge … maybe I’m still trying to find myself.

For some time I was also living by the saying “Home is where my toothbrush is”.  Where is your home?
Home is where my baobab is, the Little Prince.

 

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Isn’t it a bid odd to talk about home in a globalised society? How have you perceived the effects of globalisation in your life, in your travels?
Maybe it’s the archaic Basarabian nature inside me speaking, but for me home is important. It’s the place where I find silence and peace. I can go visit the most crowded cities, the poorest countries, the best party spots, difficult climates, and I will never complain because I love adventure, but  I like to know there is always my home to come back to. My family is dissolved all around the globe, but if I had a choice, I would have them all around a big dining table, with me cooking something for them.

How has your perception of the world changed through travelling?
Everything changes through travelling, because looking outside with wonder means you are also looking inside yourself and finding out new things about you. I have conquered many of my fears, limits, and I think I’ve changed, in a good way, if I dare say so. I brought an African drum with me from Niger and learnt how to play it, I did Tai Chi in Sri Lanka, I know Swahili phrases from Tanzania, saw all kinds of animals and insects, danced and ate with the locals. There was a quote I read, when I was in Cape Town, on the Table Mountain, staring towards “the end of the world”: “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” (Radmacher)

If you were to have one superpower, what would that be?
Waking up early without being grumpy.

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