• Tetiana Astakhova | Communications Specialist

“I chose Ukraine consciously. If I can be here and help at least someone by relaunching my enterprise, then it is worth it,” says Anastasiia, the founder of the Ukrainian linen goods brand GNIZDO (“nest” in Ukrainian). She has been displaced twice — fleeing her hometown Luhansk in 2014, because of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, and Kharkiv — in 2022. 

It took her two weeks searching for safety abroad to realize that she was missing Ukraine so much that she would return. Lviv has become a safe haven for her in the homeland. 

Co-owner of the GNIZDO brand Anastasiia is certain that her business can support economic recovery of Ukraine. Photo: IOM/Tetiana Astakhova

Anastasiia’s motivation to stay in Ukraine and support her people became decisive for her business that has got its second wind. 

Last June, GNIZDO successfully applied for a grant from IOM intended to support the relocated business. The assistance of 20,000 euro was used to buy sewing equipment and fabrics. This allowed tailors to work more independently at home or at the workshop and produce items not only for regular customers but also for exhibitions, festivals, and fairs. As Ukrainian culture has been gaining momentum in every corner of the world, the brand found its loyal customers abroad and received invitations to participate in the world-level events in Berlin, London, Antwerpen, and Paris.  On the wave of revival, GNIZDO team in cooperation with a designer Anastasiia Biletska created a special collection named "The Ears of Wheat". It reminds of the Holodomor (Great Famine) in the 1930s and symbolizes Ukraine as the breadbasket of the world bringing into focus challenges caused by the blockade of Ukrainian seaports and grain export due to the current war. 

"The Ears of Wheat" collection created in collaboration with a designer Anastasiia Biletska. Photo: GNIZDO

But back in 2017, Anastasia was only following her heart while setting up her brand from scratch, as the demand for Ukraine fashion did not cross the borders of the country. 

Together with her sister, she created a small manufacture that soon turned into a niche brand. When business came to a halt due to the war in March 2022, its customers have proven their loyalty.  To have any income GNIZDO suggested their social media followers to support the brand and buy goods either with 20 per cent discount or paying full price, with the same share donated to charitable initiatives in Kharkiv. The response was positive, and the brand was able to renew its operations. 
Now, the company employs 12 people. They are displaced all over the country and abroad, but manage to deliver results developing a unique model of work.  If there is no electricity in a rented workshop in Odesa, the work is reassigned to a tailor in another location. 

Ukrainian ethnics motifs are conquering international markets and customers. Photo: GNIZDO

Resilient, adaptive and stronger than ever, Anastasia is looking for a new spring for her country. 

“Today, every Ukrainian woman abroad reminds a bird that left her homeland and protects her nestlings. We hope that spring will come soon, enabling them to return home, so that every of them will have their own GNIZDO”, Anastasiia explains a symbolic meaning making a reference to the brand’s name in Ukrainian.

Brand's new collection "The birds of Ukraine" is full of symbolic meaning. Photo:GNIZDO

Within the project "SME Boost: Economic Integration of Internally Displaced Persons and Business Recovery" (December 2021-May 2024), funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Development Bank (KfW), more than 700 enterprises will receive grants between EUR 4,500 to 20,000. Additionally, the project engages the diaspora to support the recovery of the country and of enterprises through skills development, business support, and access to finance, networks and markets. The selected 300 micro, small and medium enterprises will also benefit from consulting services thanks to IOM’s partnership with the Kyiv School of Economics and the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  

SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production