Young entrepreneurs find fashionable niches in products made in Ukraine.
A few years ago, Yuliya Savostina, a business journalist in kyiv, decided to try an experiment: spend a year living in Ukraine’s exclusive production of food and other goods.
Inspired by the local food movement in the United States, Savostina opened a blog to record her experiences. She didn’t think it would last long.
“I’m sure there aren’t any makeup, toothpaste or plain shoes to wear,” Savostina says. “But, literally, by the end of the first month, I realized that Ukraine could do almost anything – you just had to look for it.”
To her great surprise, savostina discovered that her country had been the breadbasket of the Soviet union, producing luxury foods such as caviar, snails and Spanish cheese. When she thought that scurvy might be entering after a long winter, Savostina even discovered kiwi fruit and oranges grown in the country.
Savostina’s experiment ended in early 2014, as Ukraine was rocked by violent anti-government protests and Russian military intervention. Many of her readers turned to her to ask where they could buy domestic substitutes for Russian goods. That summer, Savostina helped organize one of the first pop-up markets for Ukrainian producers.
A surge in patriotic sentiment and the collapse of the Ukrainian currency, the hryvna, have pushed up demand for locally made goods.
At about that time, Anastasiya Rudnik opened a basement of a Ukrainian street dress in central Kiev, including her clothes.
Three basements lined with hoodies, sweatshirts and camouflage, black and grey jackets. They are the kind of clothes that any self-respecting skateboarder wears in Los Angeles or Portland – only they are all made in Ukraine.
“We are trying to buy as much Ukrainian fabric as possible,” said Rudnik, 24. “We do everything with love, and we make each piece individually, not mass production.”
Developing their businesses is one of the main challenges for Ukrainian entrepreneurs, says journalist Savostina. Other barriers include the country’s notorious bureaucracy, heavy tax burdens and high borrowing costs.
For small and medium-sized Ukrainian companies, improving quality is not as important as quality issues, says Veronika Movchan, economist at the kyiv institute for economic research and policy research.
“What Ukrainian may should learn from americans how to sell their products, how to pack them, and how to label them, how to advertise, and how to promote their domestic and foreign markets,” said Movchan.
While start-ups and boutique designers still make up a small part of the overall economy, Movchan says the entrepreneurial skills that young ukrainians are learning are crucial to the country’s future development.
This new entrepreneurial spirit is one of the best symbol of Vsi. Svoi, or All. Ours, this is one of the main shopping street is located in Kiev multilayer stores, has dozens of Ukraine manufacture clothing, shoes and accessories brand.
The store opened in September with prices ranging from $90 to $250, ranging from $20 to $150.
Many Ukrainian brands have common English names such as Truman, brooklyn or zen. But there are also clear Ukrainian labels like Zerno, Kozzyr, Etnodim, Kozzachka and Cabanchi.
Once the designers have established themselves at home, lukkkina says they will be ready to conquer the world.