A modern Swedish community lives in Zmiyivka, a village in Tavria not far from the city Khahovka. Zmiyivka has a population of 100 and appears on the spot where the old village Staroshvedske used to exist. The Scandinavian descendants preserved old religious rites of their ancestors. Some people still use the Swedish dialect that was spoken in Sweden during the 18th century. Zmiyivka is near the village Liubymivka, where Larysa Boden and her husband, who is from Sweden, started the carpet factory.This story began twelve years ago:
Larysa says that she met her future business partners at a party in Sweden. They told her about an astonishing idea to produce carpets by reviving old weaving traditions of Scandinavia, but to do it in Ukraine.
Larysa and her husband went to get acquainted with experienced Swedish weavers. When they saw the process, the couple persuaded the weavers to sell three looms and to come to Ukraine for a couple of months. Life in the Ukrainian village in the Khersonshchyna region was a culture shock for the seventy-year-old Swedish women, but it was the beginning of a long-lasting intercultural cooperation: The women started teaching the Ukrainians their craft. And so, the history of the factory began. Today forty people work there and take orders from all over the world.
However, over the last five years the factory owners have experimented with the materials. That’s why they purchased three looms from Finland to weave items from 100% wool, though half the carpets are still produced from cotton.
Larysa usually purchases natural cotton, and the workers dye it according to each client’s design. For instance, the design and interior company Svenskt Tenn, which offers fabric and textiles with designs by Austrian-Swedish architect Josef Frank, regularly orders carpets from Liubymivka for their interiors:
It was Josef Frank who started using old technologies and leftovers of fabrics to create modern designs in the 20th century. In the 1930s he created his unique style, but in the 50s and 60s the Scandinavian textile industry faced downsizing since using materials and the labor force of other countries was way cheaper. Larysa Boden shares with the real reasons for economic cooperation between wealthier countries and Ukraine:
Nowadays, even Turkish production has moved to Kakhovka because an average salary of a garment worker in Turkey is 700 euro. Ukraine still has a big potential for growth. All labor-intensive processes are located in places of a cheap labor force, unfortunately. Another thing is that workers are quite enduring, and they will work day and night to finish the order that is due on Monday morning, unlike a production somewhere else like Belgium where it will be hard to get in touch with anyone the Friday before.
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