Wind of change in the locker room: it’s all about the heart


What do an entrepreneurial business and such an emotionally-connected person have in common? Nothing, really!

Can the core of a professional enterprise be made of affections? Yes, indeed!

Alina Duna does not consider her project is a business, but a vocation, a privilege and commitment to help those who want to embark on a journey to find their true selves. She had the courage to dream and the strength to make her dream happen.

When attempting to describe Alina, lots of words and phrases come to mind – and most of them contain the word “heart” or close synonyms: warm-hearted, wholeheartedly, heartfelt, heart-some… This is certainly no coincidence, as she has constantly demonstrated the audacity to follow her heart’s desire and she puts her heart out in all her endeavors.

“Genuine” and “non-conformist”I think also describes her best. She is – and writes in an enchantingly ludic manner and well… seems to enjoy every moment in every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Alina Duna!

When and why did you decide to start your own business? Why this particular field?

“In Vestiar” (“In Vestiar Avem Schimbare” is a pun in Romanian, literally translated as “We Change in the Locker Room”) was a spontaneous decision and at the same time it wasn’t entirely unprompted. It started from multiple directions. Firstly, I attended many courses and workshops, many of which quite un-useful. I thought that if I ever organized a workshop it will certainly be set up in an honest manner, so that it will be a proper return of investment and the participants will receive what was promised in the first place. Secondly, one too many people have gone through their personal apocalypse only because they have left an important corporate job for one reason or another, as if a job was all there is. That shouldn’t happen. Thirdly, there are many interesting and wise people around us, valuable people who have something to say. People one rarely finds or sees. The trigger itself was, indeed, a situation: I was on the phone with a client of mine (I also run a retail communication company, Pick me! up), who was just blocked in a ramble of „I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know …” Well, she was lost! She just didn’t know anything anymore. At that moment I really wished that there existed a place to help people know, to help them discover and find themselves. And I made that wish come true the very next day.

Have you taken part in similar workshops before opening your own business? What was the one that impacted you the most?

I have participated in many learning activities all around the world, from Romania to America. The most useful were the activities during which I discovered things I somehow knew but lost sight of. I learned breakthrough lessons from all sorts of people, but the ones that came from the people I admired got to me easier.

That is why at „In Vestiar” I only bring forward special people with many things to offer: the speakers’ qualities and competences are undeniably remarkable – Oana Pellea, Dan Puric, Marius Manole,  Adriana Saftoiu (Romanian journalist and communication specialist), Chris Simion (Romanian poet, novelist and director) are just a few of them. They are truly rich people whose fortune lies in their souls; they have and give a lot to their audience.

How did the project start? What were the reactions of those closest to you?  How did you choose this particular name?

In Vestiar started suddenly, the very next day after I got the idea that I could actually do such a thing. I started by searching the people who could help me bring my ideas to life. They are the ones I mentioned before: Adriana Saftoiu, Oana Pellea, Dan Puric, Marius Manole, Chris Simion. I am honored to be close to them. I constantly learn from them, during each of our meetings.

You asked me about the reactions of those around me – there was nothing negative, except the occasional surprise and puzzlement – and rightly so, what in the world did I know about and what did I have in common with the project I was rushing into? Nothing, really! But I have always been encouraged and supported by those around me, in all my decisions. Or maybe I only heard the encouragements…. Somebody asked me if I went through a market research process previously to launching the project, if I tested the “business” offer, the business communication plan, name and so on. It almost seemed funny to me. I just believed and acted on my beliefs.

As for the name, I don’t even think I made a choice. It wasn’t a process “by the book”, as I usually do in my professional projects. I was just searching for it and it somehow came to me. I was at a swimming pool.  The wind was blowing. The door of a bathing hut (some sort of a locker room) was screaking its guts out. Well, you enter a changing room in order to change, to leave some things behind, to put on other things, you prepare for an upcoming activity: “In Vestiar Avem Schimbare” (literally translated as We Change in the Locker Room) –  I just knew it was a perfect match. And that was it!

Every Great Dream

What were your objectives when opening this business? Have you reached them? Were there any roadblocks – how did you surpass them and how did you keep your motivation alive?

I neither perceived nor treated “In Vestiar” as a business, but rather as an act of creation. Which I like – and furthermore, which is useful. Sometimes one can actually learn a living on such of activity, sometimes one rather cannot. I wanted “In Vestiar” to be a tranquil personal and professional development solution. My purpose was to provide experimental workshops, each of them intersecting several fields of activity: Psychology, Acting, Oratory, Philosophy, Coaching, Branding and so on. And I believe that I succeed on a daily basis. Everything I do “In Vestiar” happens because I feel it, because this is how I would like the workshops and courses I attend to be. There is nothing standard-made “In Vestiar”. Things just happen each and every time.

Tell me about “In Vestiar Avem Schimbare”, about your workshops and conferences, speakers and subjects.

“In Vestiar” I do everything I consider useful, from conferences to workshops. They are addressed to and open for all people or especially made for companies. It also provides learning and discovery solutions that are tailored to the needs of the companies which request our services. All the happenings “In Vestiar” are based on and built around communication: through emotion by body attitude with Oana Pellea, through leadership connection with Dan Puric, through a correct speech structure preparation with Adriana Saftoiu, through business written communication with Chris Simion, by building and consolidating a team with Marius Manole. All “In Vestiar” activities help our participants to think about themselves, to return to themselves and only then to look at the person in front of them and consider about the way to offer information, to persuade, to win over. There are actions which facilitate a face-to-face meeting with a rather over-used but genuinely complex concept, namely leadership.

The subjects of our workshops come from talking with those around us, from what they communicate nonverbally as needs, from the problems they share with us, from personal memories of my corporate past, from a book or even from my clients’ special requests. They come from everywhere.

Client feedback is the utmost motivational factor for me; it means a lot to witness them appreciating and enjoying our workshops and courses, to see them come back for more, that they recommend “In vestiar” and strive to organize our workshops in the companies they work for, that some of them stay close to me as friends. I like to know that things keep moving.

What do you like most and what fulfills you the most in what you do now?

I enjoy meeting people who search for something, their openness. The people invited “In Vestiar” are the ones who have surpassed, crossed over established formulas, steps and rules. They are the ones who don’t believe in standard training instruments any longer. The answers they are searching for are not found in the general explications they have previously received. The participants in our workshops and conferences come on their own will or because a hearty Human Resources specialist sent them to us. All of them, no matter their initial attitude, are changed at the end of the day. They leave our workshops more comfortable and habituated with themselves, as we all should be, all the time. They live their emotions, their thoughts, they live their own lives, the see themselves in a new light, they remember themselves. Which is great! I love searching for ideas and bringing them to life. But nothing compares to the look in people’s eyes, on their way out from an “In Vestiar” workshop. Most of them come back to us trustfully, for a new learning project. I have met many beautiful friends and people since creating “In Vestiar”. I am fortunate!

What are your plans for the future?

I have no plans, but I do have dreams.

How did your previous marketing experience help you?

I think it helped me unintentionally. Because many people tell me that they love the name or the presentation manner of “In Vestiar”. It may convey that message because I used to work in advertising, communication and marketing for a good while. Communication is the attitude which each and every “In Vestiar” activity is based on.  And I also think that it is easier because my addressees are those who love ideas, who know that one simple idea has the power to change a life.

Do you still see yourself as an employee in the future?

In fact I sometimes do see myself as an employee again. It is funny and simple to be hired in someone else’ s company, in a project to which one only chooses to adhere to. There are no risks whatsoever. Also, I have met many organizations that take care of their employees. Sometimes I could really take on a job in one of those companies. As an employee, one has lots of benefits which only become visible when they are gone. The problem is that sometimes one forgets who he/she is,  that one has his/her own life and that the company is something else, with a separate life, which of course one participates in. Other times I like being employed/ engaged in my own project way too much and I don’t really see myself doing something else. For now.

What do you do in your free time?

I am free to do what I want with my time. And I do what I like the most: discovering ideas, possibilities, people, lives. I think I live my life beautifully.

I’m a constant hunter of new revelations in reading materials: what is the book on your night-stand right now? What was the book that made a definitive impression on you?

There are so many …. Each book is a proposition, a universe. There are at least 10 book from all times on my nightstand. Reading is a way to get to know selectively various systems of thought, approach, values and choices. At the moment I am reading 1984. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell. That’s a terrible book. However, I like lots of books. Muriel Barbery’s “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” for its particular delicacy, Jose Saramago’s “Essay on Blindness” for the fabulous image of the human species’ elasticity and adaptability, Ryu Murakami ‘s “Coin Locker Babies” because it tangles and blocks your mind, Donald Richie’s “Japanese Portraits” because each page is a sensational fragment of life and culture. One of the books that has influenced me for many years is Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, which just hushed me.

What would the present day Alina tell her 10 years younger version of herself?

Indeed, there would be some recommendations. I could advise her to take into consideration those around her, to be tolerant and indulgent and to use more often “because” and lesser of “why?”.

I read on “In Vestiar Avem Schimbare” site that it is an open and free space in which people search the answers to life’s big questions – what answer did you find for yourself?

Somebody told me that “In Vestiar” is made by me and for me. And in a way… that person was so right. Because I find my answers “In vestiar” on a daily basis. The most essential answer might be that my life is made of my very own choices.

What’s your personal mantra?

I do have a precept that guides me through everything I do: to feel good in my life without disturbing those around me.

Thank you, Alina, for your time!

Live your dream

Image source here:  1 / 2 / 3