Yana Smaglo previously had a successful fashion and beauty business in Ukraine, but upon waking to explosions in February this year, fled the country. With only 15 minutes to pack a few things, friends drove her to Lviv, where along with thousands of people and families she was able to make it across the border to Poland, and subsequently to the UK.
She is currently residing with a family in Huddersfield, but is about to re-launch her business in the UK, with the support of many Yorkshire business people behind her.
Following an article about Yana’s ambitions in the Yorkshire Post, many local business people have offered their help and support to get her back on her feet.
As Yana advises, “I had literally the bag I brought with me and my laptop and phone. It was terrifying fleeing my home, but we were so scared and had no choice but to leave. I don’t want to be a burden on the UK, I have always worked for a living, and I wanted to start a new business as soon as I could. Not just for myself, but to support the economy back in Ukraine and friends who are still living there. I also want to provide opportunities for other refugees here in the UK, and to start paying taxes and creating a new life here. The response from the local community has been overwhelming, and my new brand Nenya launches this month.”
Initial support for Yana came from a local businesswoman called Antonia Kinlan, “I saw the article about Yana on LinkedIn and just knew I had to do something. I have a huge network of contacts, and I basically reached out to people with Yana’s story, and the reaction speaks for itself. We have had support for social media, PR, brand and design, videography and even crowdfunding, with more offers of support coming in. It has been overwhelming to see the reaction and heart-warming that so many people have offered help in-kind. We all just want to see her succeed and thrive and make a home here in the UK.”
Yana’s brand ‘Nenya’ was devised by graphic designer Rupert Cooke, and will enable Yana to sell online through shopify, and her website: www.nenya.online
Jag Panesar from Expand Marketing has provided full social media support, “When Ukraine was invaded by Russia, as with many people in the UK, I wanted to do something to help against the injustice of the situation. Donating money and supplies was something that everyone was doing, which was the most urgent requirement at that time. I said to my team that I really wanted to help in a way that utilises our expertise so when I was introduced to Yana, it was a perfect match. I barely even had to think about it.”
She will also be running pop-up shops starting with one opening on Victoria Gate in Leeds on Monday 3 October until Sunday 9 October, and one soon to be announced in the Trinity Shopping Centre. Yana adds “I am genuinely overwhelmed by the reaction and support I have received. People have been so kind and generous with their knowledge, skills and time. I still need financial backing, but we are already making great progress, and I am so excited to launch the pop-up shops early next month.”