Even amid the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukrainian entrepreneurs remain resilient. October set a new record for the number of new small and medium-sized businesses being registered, while hundreds of enterprises have relocated away from front-line regions so that they can continue their operations.
Buying a gift this Christmas from a Ukrainian company can help both these businesses and Ukraine’s economy. It also provides an opportunity to get to know Ukraine better through its artisans and creative brands.
While Ukrainians are also focusing on helping their own economy by buying locally, Ukrainian companies can benefit from all the support they can get from abroad.
The Kyiv Independent has picked out platforms and websites that can help you choose a gift that is not only unique, but also supports Ukraine.
‘i am u are'
Described as a “platform for empowering the creative industry of Ukraine,” “i am u are” is an initiative based in the U.S. that aims to bring Ukrainian art and design to the U.S. market.
Both a website and a physical pop-up fair, “i am u are” carries a selection of some of Ukraine’s most innovative and exciting brands.
One of these is Nadiia, a homeware brand that sells decorations and accessories inspired by Ukraine’s rich cultural heritage. Items include a set of postcards depicting Hutsul life in the 19th century, created in collaboration with the archival project Carpatiancult, and traditional handmade beeswax candles.
Others look to modern life, such as Transistor Resistor, which repurposes radio components into jewelry. The shop features items from 120 creators, with an estimated delivery time in the U.S. of just three working days.
“i am u are” aims not just to sell Ukrainian products, but also to popularize Ukrainian culture, by hosting film screenings, music events, and art exhibitions in the U.S. showcasing the best of Ukrainian creativity.
Spend with Ukraine
Entrepreneurs Yaroslav Azhnyuk and Andrey Klen developed the website Spend with Ukraine with a simple idea – that foreigners could support Ukraine not only by donating but also by spending on Ukrainian companies that ship or provide services worldwide.
Since it went live in April 2022, just a month after the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Spend with Ukraine has won a Webby Award, featured over 200 companies, and gained over 10,000 followers on Instagram, which regularly highlights celebrities wearing Ukrainian designers.
One of these is Ruslan Baginskiy, who has designed hats for Beyonce, Madonna, and Korean popstar Jisoo. Other celebrity favorites include couture designs by fashion brand Frolov, statement pieces by Gasanova, and minimalist red-carpet looks by Bevza.
Decoration is another focus of Spend with Ukraine, with the website featuring 30 different homeware brands.
Many of the brands feature strong inspiration from Ukraine, such as Rekava candles with scents inspired by different Ukrainian cities, and Woolkrafts blankets and sweaters, featuring motifs from various regions of Ukraine.
As well as featuring Ukrainian producers, the website spotlights other Ukrainian businesses, such as design agencies, app developers, and startups, ranging from architecture studio Balbek Bureau to learning program Headway.
Saint Javelin emerged just before the beginning of the full-scale invasion as an internet meme – a depiction of a female Orthodox saint carrying an anti-tank weapon.
Christian Borys, a Canadian journalist who worked and lived in Ukraine, printed the meme on stickers and T-shirts to raise money for Ukraine, but the demand quickly grew for other merchandise.
The charity project now sells a range of clothing and accessories with worldwide delivery that has so far raised over $2 million for a range of Ukrainian charities.
The Soup-Centric collection, for example, donates $1 from each item to volunteers who supply meals to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Their new Holiday Collection features products such as a Christmas light in the shape of a Tryzub, Ukraine’s national symbol, and limited-edition sweaters.
Saint Javelin regularly collaborates on its merchandise with other Ukrainian organizations, including the Kyiv Independent. Together, they raised $22,000 for volunteer paramedic unit Hospitallers by selling a design inspired by the patron saint of Kyiv, Archangel Michael.
Angel for Fashion
Angel for Fashion is a website and showroom for Ukrainian designers, specializing in high-fashion brands for international buyers.
Many of the celebrity-loved brands featured by Spend with Ukraine are available to buy on this website, and international shipping from Angel for Fashion is currently free.
The platform also features items that help Ukraine, such as men’s boots from Kyiv-based footwear brand Marsala, which donates one pair to the Ukrainian Armed Forces for each pair sold.
Another charity project is from Ukrainian scarf company Oliz, which joined forces with fundraising platform United24 to draw attention to Russia’s damage to Ukrainian cultural artifacts.
The “Stolen Art” charity collection features silk shawls printed with Ukrainian artworks that have been stolen or damaged by Russia, such as the traditional wall painting by Polina Raiko.
Following the launch of the Etsy payment system in Ukraine in October, Ukrainians were able to open official stores on the Etsy online marketplace, a platform that has over 90 million active buyers around the world.
While artists and crafters in Ukraine have been selling on Etsy for years, they had no access to the official purchase protection system that guarantees customers will receive refunds if products are faulty, damaged, or fail to arrive.
Ukrainian sellers can now receive support from Etsy in case of issues, while buyers are able to access different payment options and pay in their local currency.
Note from the author:
Hi, this is Elsa Court, the author of this article.
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