One year on from escaping the start of the war in Ukraine, Yana Smaglo is launching her second Ukrainian fashion range for the Spring, something she had only dreamed about a year ago.
Having only had 15 minutes to throw her possessions in a bag, Yana left Ukraine last year with her laptop and nothing but hope for starting a new career and life in a different country. Travelling through Poland, and then Germany, she eventually reached England, where she has made her home in Leeds.
During 2022 she received support from a number of local Yorkshire businesses, enabling her to launch a website, new brand ‘Nenya’, and start supporting herself. Antonia Kinlan who spearheaded the support group stated, “it has been an honour and privilege to work with Yana over the last year and to see the brand Nenya take shape. From the pop-up shops we did in the autumn and winter, to her push for online and wholesale contacts in 2023. Having arrived in the UK with very few contacts and friends nearby, and literally leaving her business and whole life behind, she has thrived on the support she has been given.”
Yana herself returned to Ukraine over Christmas, both to source her new stock and visit friends she had left behind, “I am determined to continue to support companies in Ukraine, to showcase Ukrainian talent to people in the UK, and keep spreading the word. We have some fantastic fashion labels and designs, and I just need help getting these established in the UK. It was an overwhelming experience going back home. One day you would be out shopping and eating in restaurants, and the next sheltering in the basement as the bomb sirens sounded.”
Yana did however manage to source a new range of fashion for the spring, which launches this month, “I am genuinely proud of the products that we are still able to create in Ukraine, whilst the war continues around the factories. For this reason I hope that people will support the spring fashion range and go to my website to order the clothes. I do still need wholesale contacts, so would welcome any boutiques or major chains to get in touch and help me support my country and its people.”