On 10 February 2018, Zhytomyr became the second city in Ukraine to host the craft fair, Dobroyarmarok, organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – the UN Migration Agency, with funding from the British Embassy in Ukraine. The aim of the fair was to provide participants of IOM’s economic empowerment programme – who are internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable host community members – with opportunities to exhibit their businesses and products, while also connecting with a diverse range of potential customers and partners.
The fair was opened by the Mayor of Zhytomyr, Mr. Serhii Sukhomlyn, who thanked IOM and Great Britain for their support of IDP integration and local business development.
The Zhytomyr Dobroyarmarok welcomed over 40 different businesses from seven regions of Ukraine. Products ranged from gingerbread cookies and Crimean Tatar pastries, to educational toys and unique reusable eco-bags. The guests could enjoy delicious treats, buy handmade presents for Valentine’s Day, and were also invited to participate in different master classes. The local community initiative group participating in IOM’s social cohesion project taught adults and children how to decorate cookies and create handmade postcards and toys.
The event, organized in close cooperation with IOM’s local partner NGO, Zhytomyr Community Fund, promoted networking and collaboration among IOM-supported entrepreneurs by encouraging partnership and communication. The stories of four fair participants – Olena, Tetiana, Oksana, and Yulia – prove that IOM grantees, who come from all over Ukraine, have many things in common. These women are working hard to provide quality textile products for their clients.
Olena is a professional tailor from Horlivka, Donetsk Region, and since 2014, she has been living in the town of Koziatyn, Vinnytsia Region. Olena left all her equipment behind in Horlivka, as the family thought they were going to be in Koziatyn for only a couple of weeks, till the situation in the East calmed down. Eventually, Olena managed to save some money and bought a sewing machine to re-start her business in her new home. She took part in IOM’s economic empowerment programme, and after successfully defending her business plan received a professional-grade sewing machine and a steamer. Now she sews uniforms for a number of restaurants in Kyiv, cooperates with some well-known ateliers, and is in the process of registering her own trade mark, Leneli. Olena also takes custom orders. Some of her clients are foreigners who are in Ukraine for work and take the opportunity to have custom-made clothes sewn for them. At the Zhytomyr fair, Olena was selling her home décor textile products and eco-bags. “I like patchwork,” she says. “It is good for sales and allows me to be creative. And, of course, it is a great solution for all these scraps that every tailor has.”
Tetiana, a retired piano teacher, and Oksana, a former veterinarian clinic employee, moved from Donetsk to Kyiv almost four years ago. Embroidery has been Tetiana’s hobby for many years. After her relocation, she decided to turn her hobby into a business. She found a local business partner, as well as some new friends and supporters, at a thematic internet forum. Now they have a registered trade mark, ZETA Atelier, and an exciting professional life.
“We make everything, but our favourite type of work is modern clothing with traditional Ukrainian embroidery. We aim to preserve this rich folk craft,” says Tetiana. She and her colleagues conduct master classes on hand embroidery at different museums in Kyiv and they have also written books on traditional embroidery. Impressively, the royalties from one of their publications allowed them to buy the first sewing machine for their atelier. With an IOM grant, they received another machine, and a tablet which allows them to demonstrate their collections to potential customers and anyone interested in traditional embroidery and tailoring at fairs and similar events.
In addition to ready-to-wear clothing collections, the atelier also produces high-end replicas of folk costumes for individual clients and musical ensembles.
Oksana studies embroidery and sewing from Tetiana, and is in charge of the promotion and marketing of the business. The team would like to grow, but for now they are limited due to budget constraints that prevent them from renting larger premises and hiring more staff.
IOM grantee, Yulia, is also looking for funding to expand her family business. She is originally from Poltava, and her husband is from Donetsk Region, but now they live in Kharkiv, where their family business, Slingobaby, was supported by IOM. At the Zhytomyr fair, Yulia was demonstrating their backpacks and ergonomic baby carriers. The latter are a product they would like to focus on, but need funding in order to produce them in bigger quantities. “Producing ergonomic baby carriers in a limited quantity makes no sense financially, as the materials are quite expensive,” says Yulia. The micro-enterprise is looking for an investor who would help them establish large-scale production of ergonomic baby carriers and potentially export them to the European Union.
The first Dobroyarmarok took place in the city of Ternopil on 16 December 2017. The third one will be held in Sievierodonetsk on 3 March 2018, and the fourth will take place in Kherson on 24 March. Please follow @IOMUkraine on Facebook and/or Instagram for updates and details.