Olena, who supports GRoW’s Ukrainian Women’s Project, has recently set up an online business selling beautiful handmade shoes produced in Ukraine. The new start-up business, Be Bright Be Brave Ltd, was developed following Olena’s completion of GRoW’s ‘GRoW Your Own Business Workshop with Mercedes Grant MIEP, and offers unique and colourful specialist-designed shoes that are not mass-produced and cater to niche customers who appreciate something bright, high quality and unusual.
Olena’s journey into self-employment in the UK started after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. She moved to the UK and found support from British people who were interested in Ukrainian culture and people. In August of that year, she attended a job fair in Kingston, where she met GRoW and was introduced to the programme. In September she met GRoW’s Chantelle, who had the idea of Ukrainian women joining the GRoW programme to help other Ukrainian women. Interpretation skills were needed and Olena was happy to help and became the Employability support worker for the Ukrainian project. She also improved her English and digital marketing skills and participated in a two-week business start-up course with Antonia Kyriacou at Strive Training, taking recommendations from Yvette, a Career Adviser in the Kingston Refugee Centre.
With her newfound knowledge, Olena decided to embark on a project to import handmade ladies’ shoes from Ukraine. She contacted the brand, Chameleon, and agreed that she would be their UK partner and ordered 360 boxes with 11 models of shoes, each in four colours. The shoes are distinctively colourful, made of high-quality leather, some of them are with an anatomic sole, are very soft and comfortable to wear and are available in sizes from 3 to 8.5 (adult). To promote the shoes, Olena is using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Olena also manages the content for her platforms and organised photo and video shoots in the historic centre of Kyiv. She is also running a demo showroom on 20 July in Colets Health and Fitness Club where customers can try on the shoes before buying.
Olena’s mission is not just to sell shoes but also to give back to her community. She has created a discount code for GRoW app users that offers a 10% discount on purchases, and 1% of net sales will go to the main Ukrainian hospital in Kyiv, where children from all over Ukraine come for treatment.
Olena said; “The idea for the business came to me in the Autumn of 2022 and I have learned so many things in that time to get to where the business is now. I have learned about the process of importing, setting up a website, creating content, UK logistics and accounting and how to promote my brand. The GRoW Your Own Business Workshop was a great help for me. I already had an idea of what I wanted to do but Mercedes spurred me on, helping me to believe in myself and motivating me to make it work. Working with GRoW as an employability adviser to support Ukrainian women into work in the UK has also been a great help in building my experience. I have named my business Be Bright Be Brave in recognition of the brave Ukrainian people and the skilled craftspeople at Chameleon, who are continuing to produce fantastic products despite the ongoing war, disruption and devastation going on around them – and those shoes are bought and worn by bright people in the UK”.
Olena’s journey is a testament to the power of determination and the support of a community. Her business, Be Bright Be Brave, is not just a business but also a way to help Ukrainian women and children in need and a way to support the Ukrainian economy at a time of great need.
To find out more about Be Bright Be Brave visit www.bebrightbebrave.co.uk
To take advantage of the exclusive GRoW discount use the code GRoW231 on the checkout at http://www.bebrightbebrave.co.uk
Follow on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/be_bright_be_brave and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Be-Bright-Be-Brave/100090426800091/
Link to YouTube Channel: https://m.youtube.com/@BeBrightBeBrave
If you would like to donate directly to Ohmatdyt Childrens Hospital in Kyiv please visit this page for details https://ohmatdyt.com.ua/en/silent-auction-in-london-for-the-largest-children-s-hospital-in-ukraine-ohmatdyt/