. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

From Parrots to Pop Stars

Courtesy of Yana Rudkovskaya
If you happen upon Yana Rudkovskaya (and you won't -- she's way too busy), don't be deceived by her petite stature or her girlish black dress. Rudkovskaya may be warm and unassuming, but she is also one of the most commanding women in Russian show business. Oh, and that little black dress? It's Chanel.

Rudkovskaya is the producer of Russian pop idol Dima Bilan as well as president of the Grand La Scala Fashion Group and CEO of Provost Salons in Russia. She has recently launched her own show on MTV called "Naked Show Business."

Before our interview could begin, Rudkovskaya had to make a few calls. She juggled three cell phones, coordinating the taping of her show; meanwhile, a line of assistants and PR people gathered outside her office door. Rudkovskaya is charming and personable, but when a producer suggested that a portion of the show be taped without her, she became enraged and displayed the decisive character that has made her a success both in fashion and in show business.

"No! I don't want it to happen without me. My name is on the line. I am going to make sure everything is just how I want it," Rudkovskaya said. "Last time they taped without me I had to go back and fix everything!"

She is unabashed about her desire to oversee all the minute details of her projects, seeing this quality as a key component of her success.

"I am an absolute fanatic when it comes to my job and I demand that everyone on my team is just as fanatical as I am," Rudkovskaya said.

Rudkovskaya grew up in the town of Barnaul, in the Altai region, where her father worked as the director of Barnaul Flight School.

Her official curriculum vitae begins in 1998, when she graduated from Altai State Medical University with a specialization in urology and dermatology. She then moved to Sochi, where Rudkovskaya, with the help of her parents, acquired a chain of beauty salons called French Beauty Studio. Unofficially, however, her first entrepreneurial venture happened much earlier.

"I first began making money by breeding parakeets and selling them to a local pet shop every three months," Rudkovskaya said. She laughed as she spoke about her first experience selling exclusive products. "I made a good bit of money because I had some rare parakeets, albino and yellow, so they were worth more."

In 2001, Rudkovskaya married businessman Viktor Baturin, brother of Yelena Baturina, Mayor Yury Luzhkov's wife; they have two children. At the suggestion of her husband, Rudkovskaya got involved in the fashion industry. She established the Grand La Scala Fashion Group and formed a close friendship with designer Roberto Cavalli. She became the producer of pop star Dima Bilan after his original producer, Yury Aizenshpis, died in 2005.

Rudkovskaya said that until recently she oversaw every aspect of Bilan's career.

"Up until about seven months ago, I did absolutely everything, including sound producing," she said. "But now I'm happy to say that Mr. Timbaland has taken over that role."

Rudkovskaya beams with pride when speaking of her contribution to Bilan's success, including his second place finish in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest.

Courtesy of Yana Rudkovskaya
Yana Rudkovskaya runs her own fashion and beauty salon businesses in addition to being pop star Dima Bilan's producer.
"Moscow is a unique place to work because show business is just being born, and if you're talented you can become very popular very quickly," Rudkovskaya said. "The other side of it, however, is that Moscow is not Russia. It sometimes feels like a different country."

Russian rapper Timati, a friend of Rudkovskaya, said her success was rooted in her ceaseless activity: "She has this unstoppable need to be doing something, to be moving and working. And, in addition, she is great with people. She can find common ground with everyone. She keeps the people who matter to her close and treats them with great respect."

Success, however, invariably brings scandal.

"Personally, I think you know you've made it when people start writing about you, regardless of whether they say positive or negative things," Rudkovskaya said. "I love it when reporters call people in Barnaul, my hometown, to dig up dirt on me or to find out if I'm older than I say I am, and then realize the things I say about myself are true. I am actually 32!"

In giving advice on how to succeed, she used a fashion metaphor: "If you start wearing designer clothes, you can't just go straight for the top luxury brands like Chanel or Cavalli. You have to start with lesser bands and work your way up, step by step. It's the same with building a successful career."