From Lawyer to Designer: Displaced, and Thriving, in Ukraine

Kateryna Kyselyova, an internally displaced person from Horlivka, Donetsk Oblast, designs a dress at the design company she owns.
Kateryna Kyselyova, an internally displaced person from Horlivka, Donetsk oblast, designs a dress at the company she owns.
Mykola Yabchenko
Tailor shop expands operations to meet demand
“Since the circumstances forced me to reboot my entire life, I decided to change my profession as well!”

August 2018 — A positive attitude and a strong belief that looking back is less useful than looking forward helped Kateryna Kyselyova, a young internally displaced person in Ukraine, not only to move on but changed her life completely.

Before her displacement, she worked as a lawyer in Horlivka, Donetsk oblast, and sewing was merely a hobby. “Since the circumstances forced me to reboot my entire life, I decided to change my profession as well!” says Kyselyova.

She moved to Dnipro in June 2014 and took the daring step of going into business and opening a tailor shop. At first, Kyselyova and a co-worker were the only employees, but soon the shop became known in the neighborhood for its quality services and affordable prices. Business was booming, but Kyselyova had to turn away clients because of limited capacity.

“We received more orders than we were able to deliver. To increase our production, we needed additional equipment and more staff,” she said.

In January 2017, Kyselyova applied for a grant from USAID’s Economic Opportunities for People Affected by Conflict activity. Implemented in eight oblasts, including Dnipro, the activity helps people affected by conflict start new businesses or expand established ones.

Thanks to the grant, Kyselyova was able to buy professional sewing machines and hire four new employees, all internally displaced persons. The increased capacity brought more clients, and leading Ukrainian fashion designers became interested in her talents, including Andre Tan, who is quickly developing a global reputation.

In just a few years, Kyselyova’s tailor shop has grown into a middle-sized design company with a new location, more employees, new clients, and increased profits. Her recipe for success is very simple: “Never be afraid to start something new and implement what you have conceived. Dream, set a goal, and work to achieve it,” she explains.

Since August 2016, USAID’s Economic Opportunities for People Affected by Conflict program has provided 120 grants to entrepreneurs who have created 154 new jobs. In addition, 500 internally displaced persons and 300 people with disabilities have attended trainings to develop their business skills. The project has also provided legal consultations to nearly 3,200 people.

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Last updated: August 31, 2018

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