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Focus is your secret to success!

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

The unique experience of Ukrainian women who open a business in emigration and develop the Ukrainian diaspora abroad.

The Women's Association in Great Britain celebrated its 75th anniversary this year and held a charity fundraiser to buy a generator for the small city of Izium. The cultural event united Ukrainians from all over London and introduced the historical ties between the two countries to the participants.

UAEP (Ukraine Eurointegration Platform), a Ukrainian organization headed by Victoria Startseva, which supports displaced Ukrainians, encouraged the development of the Ukrainian fashion project "Vyshyvanka" by joining the show of branded dresses and agreeing to further cooperate with the Ukrainian designer Natalia Horbenko.

Before the war, Natalia lived in Kyiv and worked as a business development manager at the Ukrainian transport company Hileya. Having lived the experience of forced emigration and psychological stress, Natalia quickly adapted to life in a new country and opened a representative office of the company in London. Being socially active, she invites the Ukrainian diaspora to cooperate and promotes the cultural image of Ukraine in the international and economic arenas.

"It was clear from the words of our enemy that the war would not end soon, and we have to work and cover the economic front at a time when our defenders are on the front line."

During the time spent away from home, the artist not only settled in a multicultural city, but also opened a representative office of a Ukrainian logistics company in London; she began her creative activity as a designer and started actively strengthening and developing the Ukrainian diaspora.

"To start working in a new country, I needed a plan. It was necessary to regroup and adapt to new harsh realities. Before the war, I lived and worked in Kyiv, in the Ukrainian logistics company "Hileya". We worked with well-known Ukrainian exporters, such as Chumak, Lukas, Kernel. With the beginning of the russian offensive, we did not stop logistics for a moment, international trade also did not stop. Some plants were destroyed and could not continue their work, but such producers-exporters of sunflower oil as Radema and Oliyar still continued to work."

With the move to London, the formation of Natalia’s designer personality took place.

"I was born in Poltava. Embroidery has been my hobby since childhood, my grandmother and mother were professional embroiderers, and now I am too. You have probably seen the embroidery technique “white on white" more than once. This is traditionally the technique of the Poltava region, skillful and painstaking work. The neighbor of the owner of the house where I stayed, Paul, when he learned that I was sewing, he gave me a sewing machine, and I began to draw my sketches. Unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity to sew everything here, but they work in Ukraine according to my sketches and bring products here. As a logistics specialist, I deal with customs clearance of goods."

The designer says that she takes ancient Ukrainian motifs as a basis, modernizes them in her own way, and transfers all this to the fabric.

"In my collection, there is no classic old style of embroidery. The style is modernized, but at its core, there is a long Ukrainian tradition.

Natalia Horbenko says that her goal is to develop Ukrainian exports, intensify trade, and Ukrainian embroidered clothes are only part of what she wants to present to the world. "I want to show that it is possible and necessary to work with Ukraine. We have experienced businessmen, a variety of high-quality products, and highly qualified specialists."

Natalya joined the rhythm of the city and began to actively attend events, meeting new people and involving talented specialists in cooperation.

"We do not consider ourselves competitors, but we cooperate. Our cooperation will save us. Technically, we are all rivals to each other, and everyone is fighting for their place in the sun. But the world is changing, and the topic of competitiveness takes on a different meaning. In our circle, we talk, share information, and help each other. When every specialist from his field sits down at the negotiating table, it helps to develop, create a business, spread knowledge about Ukraine and develop yourself here," Natalia shares her experience.

The lady wants to represent Ukraine and build an international image not only with the help of business, but she also plans to make documentary films.

"I have a global goal for this year: to raise funds for five documentaries."

Social ties work very well in Britain. It was at one of the events that Natalia met British producer Lucy Vinegerova and agreed to cooperate with her.

"We have to shoot trailers for these documentaries. The first plan is to shoot a film about Bucha. The whole world was horrified by what the russians had done. The trailer for this film, titled “Rebuilding Bucha”, should be released in late February. We are still raising funds for the film “Ecological consequences of War”. These films are intended to "sound" so that they are "heard" in the world. I am looking for contacts of the agents of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, we will invite them to voice our documentaries. Thanks to the world-class stars that we plan to attract to our projects, we will be able to show our work to the whole world. It is known that Benedict is a big admirer of Ukraine, and Ukrainian refugees lived in his house for some time.

Recovering morally in a foreign country and starting all over again is not an easy task.

"When in Ukraine you held a high position, and in a foreign country you are forced to start all over again, of course, it is difficult. This is a big internal conflict that you have to overcome. And platforms such as the Ukraine Eurointegration Platform are useful because they provide advisory support. First, it is necessary to find the strength to accept the new reality, and this requires effort. But the Ukrainian woman is the driving force of our nation, she is full of energy, persistent and courageous.

Thanks to these traits that are inherent in us, over time we will be able to return to lost life positions. It is absolutely normal when you need psychological support and are looking for those who could help with it. Building strong psychological relationships with yourself is the basis for a further strategic action plan, according to which you will be able to start your activities abroad. Getting to know, going to events, being active and helping each other is my credo.

Then, when you feel that the beginning has been laid, you begin to make a plan. You clearly assess your pros and cons, you understand where to make a stronger emphasis. From my own experience, I can say that this is definitely the knowledge of the language because no matter what your professional experience is, language is of key importance. And it is here that the support of Ukrainians provided by the Ukraine European Integration Platform, namely psychological support, information support for studying at universities, learning from experience in various fields of the host country, and support in mastering new professions is the leading thread that will help you get back on your feet and reach new heights.

I don't know what tomorrow has in store for us, but I appreciate the fact that now I have the opportunity to continue doing what I love, develop my talents, and collaborate with other talented Ukrainian women such as Victoria. When we met, she told me about this project, which she started working on on the second day of the war. I also wanted to join and make my contribution, because this initiative resonates very much with my values and my vision of the situation. I am sure that I can be useful with my various cultural projects in the fields of cinema and fashion. So, the first step in our cooperation and support of UAEP as a brand will be embroidered bags, the design of which I will develop myself. In a way, this is the beginning of my contribution to the cultural diplomacy of Ukraine.

Again, the secret to success is focus. When you know exactly what you want, the right people come to you.

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