In recent years, many women in Kremenchuk have put forward ideas to start a business of their own in the creative industries. However, few of the women had the professional knowledge and skills essential to bringing such ideas to life. No organization in the city offered a viable employment opportunity for these enterprising women to work in the arts field. 2020 brought new opportunities for gifted natives of Kremenchuk when the ArtElf Creative Arts Studio opened in May. It was launched thanks to the efforts of the Centre for Innovation and Social and Business Initiatives, with the support of Kremenchuk City Hall and the “Partnership for Local Economic Development and Democratic Governance” (PLEDDG), an international technical assistance project largely funded by Global Affairs Canada.
With the backing of PLEDDG, studio premises were rented and renovated, furniture and essential equipment were bought. In the summer, ArtElf successfully delivered the first 4 training courses focusing on floral art and decor, dry and wet felting, painting, and creating handmade dolls. The trainings were attended by 30 women. Mothers on maternity leave, mothers with three or more children, retired women, and women living with disabilities were among the trainees. Apart from creative classes, the women attended workshops on starting and managing a business. The training sessions were designed to help the women acquire a new occupation and monetize it successfully.
Studio trainees are already gradually trying on the role of business owners. This year two of them submitted their business ideas to a startup competition taking place in Kremenchuk as part of ‘Urban Business Fest’. The festival is sponsored by City Hall, the Kremenchuk Development Institute, and the PLEDDG Project, with the objective of supporting young entrepreneurs. Although the projects of the two ArtElf graduates did not end up winning, the women acquired invaluable experience and got a boost of motivation for the future development of their dream business.
On the eve of the ‘Urban Business Fest’, a two-day private enterprise training was conducted for women in Kremenchuk under the auspices of PLEDDG. ArtElf studio trainees also attended the event to learn about ideas and tools for starting a business of their own, learned to make a business plan, and to design a unique brand
“The most relevant aspect of the training for me was information about the algorithm for opening a store with Etsy. Overall, it was very enlightening, and I gained many insights into the marketing industry. I have been making custom bead artwork for about 5 years now. In the spring I learned about the training courses at the ArtElf studio and decided to learn something new: the wet felting technique and the process of making textile dolls. Training at the studio is properly organized. The coaches worked with us at an advanced level, explaining everything clearly. Every trainee received high-quality materials. I was also pleasantly surprised by the modern equipment and the nice workshop interior.
I also submitted a business project of my own for the startup competition. My idea involves opening a beading workshop. My vision would be to create a meeting place for women, where they could spend a few hours of their leisure time productively, learn something new, and create a unique product with their own hands; such as a shirt decorated with beads. Even though I did not end up winning the competition, I have not abandoned the ambition to bring my project to life. Right now, I am being held back by the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 quarantine. Eventually, I want to develop the initiatives based on meetings in person and not online classes,” says Viktoria Herasymchuk, another ArtElf trainee.
In September, the ArtElf Studio conducted an exam of sorts for the participants of its training courses: each trainee presented her creation at the decor and handmade goods fair and delivered a master class for city residents on how to make the item. And, in October, the Studio staged an exhibition of watercolour paintings at the local art gallery. This was a joint project by two of the Studio’s instructors; one of which produces souvenir toys (the owner), and another who paints them. As such, the studio does not only teach creativity and help wannabe entrepreneurs start their own business, but also brings together local artists, hosts workshops, exhibitions, and fairs, and markets creative goods and services. The PLEDDG Project is therefore supporting an integrated set of systemic efforts aimed at promoting the ongoing development of creative industries and micro businesses in Kremenchuk.
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