Olga Loghinovici’s sense of style and design has been inspired by living in Moldova, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany over her 28 years.
Yet these days, she takes her inspiration from her view of downtown Bettendorf and what lies outside the large windows of the Alter Building, where she just completed 18 months as an international business apprentice at Conceptual Designs Inc. and Interiors by the Sewing Room. A third company that has had a strong influence on her experiences is State Street Interiors.
Since moving to the Quad-Cities in 2017, Loghinovici and her husband, Jeff Welsh, a native of Chicago, have fallen in love with the area.
“I agree very much that there is a huge hospitality in the Midwest,” she said. “I was not used to that in Germany. Here, everyone asks questions like how you are, or even what did you have last night for dinner?
“First it was intrusive because I was not used to it,” she said. “But I learned to be more open. If you have an interest in a person and the industry where they work, just ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and show your interest.”
Michelle Blunk, owner of the three Bettendorf businesses, praised Loghinovici’s unique style and positive outlook.
She brought a fresh perspective on the inner workings of the three companies, streamlining processes and making suggestions on what they could do to have more customers seek out their services, Blunk said.
“She’s very valuable; she knows so much about the vision of the companies,” Blunk said. “I feel like she’s an explorer, a seeker of knowledge.”
The explorer in her may be what led Loghinovici to seek opportunities in the United States, after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and business studies from the Technical University of Dresden in Germany and a master’s degree in international relations from KU Leuven in Brussels, Belgium.
She had done an internship in interior planting in the Netherlands and said she “always wanted to learn more about interior design aspects.”
The couple settled on Iowa after Welsh got a job here with Henry Schein Dental.
A Google search led Loghinovici to State Street Interiors, which Blunk did not yet own. A staffer there referred her to Conceptual Designs, which led to an interview over coffee at the Coffee Hound on Devils Glen Road, where Blunk’s firm recently completed an interior design project.
They discussed Blunk’s companies taking the young woman on as an international business apprentice for 18 months. Detailed plans for Loghinovici, describing her responsibilities, had to be drawn up and submitted to U.S. authorities. With that successfully completed, she is looking to stay in the United States to continue her work with the Bettendorf businesses.
She is in a holding pattern now as she awaits approval of a work permit.
Loghinovici sees a lot to like in the American culture.
“I took in a lot and learned a lot and mixed it with all the experience I learned before,” she said.
She is impressed by a business culture of teamwork that gives each person the opportunity to express an opinion.
“Everyone has the same level or the right to say what they are thinking. Everyone is open,” she said. “In Germany, it’s a little more difficult. Some people are afraid to tell the boss what is right or wrong or what should be changed.”
Loghinovici typically worked with all three businesses. Among her duties were promoting the companies’ values, services and products while using different marketing channels such as websites, social media and networking events.
She has a particular interest in interior landscaping, using plants to complement design. She laughs as she talks about having over 22 plants in her home.
“My husband calls me a plant fanatic,” she said.
She is proud of her creation of “moss boxes,” wooden boxes filled with rows of small preserved balls of moss, sometimes of differing hues, which are used as a design element. They are sold exclusively at State Street Interiors.
Blunk said Loghinovici sees things from a wider vista, putting a fresh set of eyes on the people and places of the Quad-Cities. She will often speak with excitement about a play or musical performance she has seen or a festival that local residents might take for granted.
Loghinovici has been regularly attending meetings of the Women’s Downtown Bettendorf Task Force and is excited about the progress downtown.
Of the female business owners she has met, she said, “They have passion about their companies. They have hope, they try to stay optimistic and come up with something to show everyone what their companies are about.”
Her mission in life, she says, “is to stay positive always.”
“I learned in my life to appreciate what I have and what’s around me.”