"And when someone tells me: well, these threads do not suit here at all, I say that war does not suit anyone" – says the founder of the Kramatorsk social enterprise "Art-coworking", which relocated to the city of Dnipro and today produces not only clothes with author's prints , but also military clothing.
Art-coworking is a social enterprise from Donetsk region that moved to the city of Dnipro after the start of a full-scale invasion. Art-coworking is a space where people can implement their creative ideas and learn how to earn money from it. The enterprise combines two directions: sewing and typographic. Each of the visitors can learn to create their own textile products and apply original prints on them. The social mission of the company is to support entrepreneurial initiatives of young people, help in self-determination and self-realization.
After the start of a full-scale war, the enterprise started to create products to meet the needs of internally displaced persons, and later the military. In the spring, the company became one of the grantees of the Ukrainian Social Venture Fund.
Financial support from the USVF was directed to the purchase of additional equipment and raw materials for the manufacture of products to meet the needs of IDPs, for consulting services on the development of new product samples, and for the payment of company’s employees.
We spoke with Olena Kucheruk, the founder of the social enterprise "Art-coworking", about relocation and employment of IDPs.
About the transformations that took place after February 24
"We managed to save 50 percent of the team. In Kramatorsk, we had the subsidized premises and our own housing, each of us had also our own family and additional work. Therefore, we did not worry if for some reason the workshop did not bring profit. We were happy with projects and creating interesting things.
When we moved to Dnipro, everyone needed to rent housing, and it is not cheap nowadays. Besides, someone in our families lost their job, and we had to support not only ourselves, but also our family. So, we can't afford to just sew for fun."
Today, all employees of the enterprise are internally displaced persons. This situation creates additional challenges for the team. However, they chose a solution for themselves and are successfully implementing their activities: "I know that seamstresses are paid very little in Dnipro, but I cannot afford that. Because if they do not have the opportunity to rent housing, they will simply leave the city. Therefore, we are constantly looking for an opportunity to increase the margin of our product.
So, for example, direct sales allow us to save money on reseller fees. But we also sell in small batches to stores. Everything we sew up, we sell right away."
About the difficulties and challenges of organizing work in a new place with new needs
"Now, we have a separate workshop and Art-coworking. They are located on different premises, and there is not always time in the workshop to embroider original items, as it was before.
But still, we have a small drop: a collection of t-shirts with prints by Kramatorsk, Dnipro and Bakhmut artists. These are not just t-shirts. We sew them with the same threads as military clothes. At first, we did this because it was impossible to produce ordinary white T-shirts. Because in order to reconfigure production, it is necessary to change 10 spools of threads on different sewing and overlock machines. Then when I brought the first t-shirt to the co-working space, we decided that this was our thing now!)
The t-shirts also have a pixel insert element to remind people of the times. And when someone tells me: well, these threads do not suit here at all, I say that war does not suit anyone"
We are grateful to the Art-coworking team for continuing their activities, creating new jobs and providing for those who are in dire need of help now. In the following publications, we will talk about the plans of the enterprise’s team and the common motivation of all team members to keep working.
The support provided within the framework of the Grant Program the Social Enterprises for Emergency, implemented by the Ukrainian Social Venture Fund and SILab Ukraine, was aimed only at the purchase of additional equipment, which accelerated the manufacture of products exclusively to meet the needs of IDPs and youth.
The program was made possible thanks to the financial support of the European Union and the “Collaborate for Impact” project, which is implemented in partnership with EVPA.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the European Union.