Sook Leeds helps launch new brand ‘Nenya’ for Ukrainian refugee Yana Smalgo, as she brings Ukraine fashion to the UK.
Yana previously had a successful fashion and beauty business in her native 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 others - she was able to make it across the border to Poland, through Germany and France, and subsequently to the UK.
Since arriving in the UK, Yana has been determined to create a new business for herself: “I lost literally everything, leaving behind my home, my business and my life. I wanted to do something to both support myself and friends and businesses back in Ukraine. With the support of a number of local businesses, I have been able to create a new brand, and thanks to Sook I have been able to trial Ukrainian designs and fashion in Leeds during a five-day pop-up in Leeds Victoria Gate.”
John Hoyle, CEO & founder of Sook, said: "I was delighted to welcome Yana Smalgo to Sook, and to provide her with a platform to bring her brand to life in Leeds Victoria Gate. Yana has an important story to tell, and a brilliant business to bring to a brand-new market of customers. Here at Sook, we love giving all brands the opportunity to grow their business and connect with their customers and know that nothing can beat the in-real-life experience that physical space provides."
The launch was attended by actor and TV presenter Natalie Anderson who is backing Yana and her new brand, “I am delighted to be able to support Yana, and help her launch Nenya in Yorkshire. I love the designs and think it is brilliant how so many people have supported her in launching her new brand.”
Antonia Kinlan, who has been a mentor and networker for Yana, said the launch went extremely well: “We can’t thank Sook enough for providing Yana with the space to launch her new brand, in such an exclusive and prestigious location. It gave her a first opportunity to test the water with Ukrainian fashion, and it made her day when Natalie Anderson became her first customer. All of the companies involved have contributed for free, from designing her brand to PR, videos and social media which is so inspiring”.