Happily married to Derek Ostensen (co-founder of the amazing Artcast.tv) with two children, she runs a successful real estate and restaurant group, grows her brother’s foundation, and, among her multiple passions, there is Art.
As a tribute to her brother, Natalia first opened Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails in Los Angeles, where locals and international “habitués” enjoy many happy hours. 100% of the proceeds of the restaurant go to the Andrei Foundation.
What are the mission and the vision of the Andrei Foundation?
The basic mission is to support people and organizations that are changing the world for the better. These are organizations that help people’s quality of life, whether it be curing disease, providing education and support, or saving land and habitat so they can be preserved and enjoyed.
What are the inner values?
The inner values are those of Andrei’s… a drive to move science and medical technology forward, to create joy in people. This is what mattered to him and we want to keep that going.
How does the foundation make sure that the donation and funding go to helping those in real need?
I research the organizations we support and almost always require that we see “our dollars in action”, meaning that there is some specific project that we are funding and can view the results of. These projects have been everything from purchasing two canoes for a visually-impaired paddling team to delivering boxes of food and toys for critically ill children and their families, a community garden, maternal mental health initiatives at our local hospital, and many more. I like to see where the money is going specifically, as it helps me to connect with the work and to witness the joy that we can create. At the end of the day, that is what it’s all about: fostering joy.
I heard “rumors” you are currently working on a 3rd restaurant concept…
The rumors are true! This third restaurant will be a combination of the first two – a casual concept like the Dandelion Cafe, but open in the evenings and serving beer and wine like Andrei’s. The location very much dictates the concept and this new location in Newport Beach, California, is calling for this blend of casual and fun. I love the excitement and intense creative work that goes into a new project like this, so I can’t wait for construction to start (hopefully in the next two months).
Please complete the sentence, “Food is…”
…one of the most palpable and available joys in life – for better or worse (ha!).
How did you start your career and what is your drive to get up early in the morning to continue your legacy?
This question made me laugh, since I am writing these answers very early in the morning, and it’s more a product of trying to get some quiet work done before my children wake up than from any personal drive!
In all seriousness, my career path has been unexpected to me, as career paths (and life) often are. Many unforeseen events and conversations guided me down this road, but I am grateful for that. I love what I am working on and what drives me to spend most of my waking hours on it is the constant challenge of trying to maintain and constantly improve a growing company with a fifty-year history. It can be overwhelming at times, but I’m learning to not let it overwhelm me. I only allow it to invigorate me.
My father used to say to me that the most important thing is to try our best and to learn from our mistakes.
Your father was a very wise man and I believe he is correct in that advice. No one can “get it right” 100% of the time and we all make mistakes, or have regrets. That is a fact of every person’s life, so there is no reason to dwell on those perceived missteps, but only to learn from them. I have often found (sometimes years later) that they were not missteps at all.
Do you agree with Warren Buffet who says that we should treat the financial market like a casino to get similar results to going to a casino?
I have been thinking about this quote very often lately, as many people have, and I believe we have to look beyond the quote to how Warren Buffet actually succeeded in the financial markets. He invested in top-quality companies and then he waited many years. If history carries on as it has, “keeping your chips on the table” is the most lucrative gamble.
What is the best advice your father gave you?
This is somewhat of an impossible question to answer since his good advice is never-ending and is shared daily. If I had to condense it all into one statement, however, it would be this: love those around you with all of your heart. He is known for his incredible business savvy, but his real achievement in life is the impact he has had on his friends and family through his giving heart, inquisitive mind, sense of humor, and general love of life. Even animals come out of the trees to say hello to him – it’s incredible! These are the moments that have made the biggest impression on me.
Last but not least Natalia, tell me… where is your heart when you make a business decision?
I try to make sure that my heart is fair and truthful above all else. Business decisions can be difficult and fraught with a moral dilemma. I always ask myself “what is the right/ethical thing to do in this situation?” I can’t sleep at night if I don’t feel my decisions have been fair, fact-based, and delivered thoughtfully. The old saying that “it’s just business” doesn’t work anymore. Our business is who we are as people and that can’t be separated, so I try to make sure that my business decisions are a reflection of my mind and heart.
Distance means so
little, when someone
means so much.