Previously, she owned a shop in Melitopol. The war forced the Kozachek family to move to Chortkiv in Ternopilska oblast. There, Yulia decided to start over and open a new store, this time online. Needless to say, she had many doubts and put a lot of thought into this decision. Starting an online women’s clothing store during a full-scale war seemed risky. However, Yulia was confident that women would continue to buy clothes even during the war.
“The war forced some people to buy online. But shopping as a process has not disappeared. It is relaxing for women, they come to talk, check things out, and try them on. It is a necessary thing and it will stay with us. That’s why it works, people need it,” says Yulia.
Participation in the training at the Women’s Business Support Center empowered Yulia. The lecturers explained Instagram promotion in detail and in an accessible way, convinced her that it was possible, and taught her how to do it. The accessible way of presenting information and communicating with other women in the course influenced Yulia’s perception, and she believed she was able to start an online store.
To facilitate successful sales, Yulia changed the concept and assortment to meet the current needs of Ukrainian women. “Before, we used to plan and say ‘I’ll wear this dress for that event and this one I’ll wear on another occasion, we planned a vacation and a birthday party,’ but now things have to fit so that I can quickly pack everything in my suitcase and use it later,” Yulia says about the influence of wartime. In Melitopol, she was purchasing and selling mostly dresses and related items, but after the full-scale invasion, she shifted to practical items such as jeans, suits, and shirts. Now the slogan of her Galka store is “clothes for comfort.”
To put her business plan into practice, Yulia needed storage racks and photography equipment, so she took part in a competition and won a grant under the project “Economic Opportunities for Women Affected by Conflict,” which was supported by UN Women and the UN Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.
All the knowledge and effort invested paid off, and the online store in Chortkiv became increasingly successful. In addition to shopping online, women often asked if there was a place where they could see and try the clothes on. This is how Yulia came up with the idea of a showroom, and she eventually found a space for it, although she was initially looking for a space only to take photos of the clothes. Yulia says that the showroom has become not only the offline place of her business but also a space for women to socialize, “Women who come to the showroom, both internally displaced and local, need this communication. They come and share their small joys and problems. It’s a psychological center (smiles).”
Yulia is confident that her store will continue to be successful. In addition to the steady demand for shopping, the specifics of Chortkiv also add to the success of her business. It is the second largest city in the oblast after Ternopil, and people come here from other towns and villages in the region, so there will always be customers. Currently, Yulia is working on the fall collection in collaboration with other graduates of the Women’s Business Support Center and is thinking about further development – she plans to hire an assistant and then expand and open an offline store in a better location.