Handcrafts are at the heart of the idea of tradition. There are hardly ten examples of families in Russia where business started by great grandfathers more than hundreds of years ago was kept by their descen-dants. About keeping up the Melekhov family's traditions, about their life and life structuring functions in all spheres — our columnist, co-owner of the Finex Company Group Marina Melekhova tells.

Our ancestors from my father's side are all from Arkhangelsk. My grandmother was always baking Arkhangelsk pies: famous shangas, kulebyakas, rybniks, berry pies — cowberries, blueberries. The spread at family gatherings were full of traditional Northern viands. My father had two brothers, the family was big, there was a lot of tasty food. The smell of real Arkhangelsk shangas, feeling of traditions, relativeness and warmth, forever remains with me.
I grew up in a full family and acquired traditional attitude towards marriage. Grandmothers and grand-fathers from both sides of the family, great-grandfather, my father and mother lived together through all of their lives. At the same time, I am independent minded but the family is not a cage or handcuffs: you can grow and develop supporting each other and finding yourself, exploring the big world. Home and family don't prevent development. The only tradition I am going to break is gender inequality. Business is a field available for women just as for men. Women place importance on multitasking and don't turn from raising children at the same time. Partnership is the only way of co-existing in family ranks for me. To be equal and to choose same partner again and again is the ideal family life I prefer.

My great-grandfather was logging and grandfather continued his business in the scientific field. He has raised the studying of wood to the academic science level, organized and headed the Institute of Forest and Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Being close to him I always felt his self-sureness and serenity — as if the nature itself he was exploring with such a big love gave him those qualities. Grand-father prepared the scientific base of the highest level and father chose the great-grandfather's craft for business. We combined these two in our manufacturing. To make once and the best way is a slogan of our family from the beginning of times. We produce a unique ecological product for people who loved nature from their childhood and transferred this love to attitude towards natural materials.
It is very important for me to keep, continue and develop business taking care of family tradition my father created. It is a worthy beginning which costed him a big effort. He dedicated his life to it and managed to pass us tradition, love to the business, his experience. He taught me to work and like working and I would like to pass this on to those that follow me.
Any craft is being transferred to the automatic process now but there are fields where man is irreplaceable. There are handmade floors and only a craftsman with jointer in his hands can make it. And not a single machine can repeat the result of a handmade craft. Craft is being kept and its technology is upgrading. This way the traditions of processing and creating the right and high-quality materials are kept.
Keeping traditions is a stability which tells much about a person. Those who choose this way are good to deal with. They are people who value given experience accumulated by previous generations. It is a pleasure to see that we are not alone in it and what we do derive respect from many others. People of this kind are the main part of our team. Our company is seventeen years old. And all of these years we spend more time at work than at home and sometimes our team becomes a real family for us. The important tradition of our business is to love our workers, to accept them, to give them an opportunity to develop and the right to make mistakes. The real leader is very attentive to every person in his co-working society. My own love to make new traditions and accumulating them is something that helps me in everything. We always congratulate each other on our birthdays and celebrate professional holidays. We make master-classes and language courses. I write the letters to my workers with the words, wishes, characteristics belonging to them personally. Except of formal communication we have a custom to communicate informally, there are days and hours when workers can ask me any questions. We celebrate every worker's anniversaries of working at our manufactory. Our co-workers make a special movie every year on the Company's Birthday. There's a piano in our office and we often play and music makes our mood of the day. We wrote our anthem and we can spontaneously gather around the piano and play it. I carry the idea of building the townhouse community for my workers so that they could rest among the like-minded persons and this will also be a branch of the many years old tree of tradition.
All in all, traditions are organizing and structuring our life.

Every person chooses which traditions to keep and which to refuse from and our life depends on our choices.