Supporting the Team and the Customers: How Halyna Karunos Expanded Her Business Amidst the Full-Scale War

Halyna Karunos is the owner of the “SVARGA” garment production facility, a brand of modern embroidered shirts that was founded in 2017. Since then, the range of products has expanded significantly, and the quality of the manufactured products has remarkably increased, but Halyna does not stop there and is looking for ways to grow and expand her business.

The full-scale invasion in February 2022 brought complete uncertainty to Ukrainian entrepreneurs. Even people who lived in cities and villages farther away from active hostilities did not understand what would happen tomorrow and where Russian missiles would land when the next air alert was announced. At that time, “SVARGA” released the “Embroidered Ukraine” collection.

“The collection came out of great pain because I wanted to support all the people from the war-affected areas,” Halyna recalls.

At the same time, Halyna thought that it was not time to stand still, she needed to act to give people jobs, increase production, and not let the great war put her business on hold. Back then, she realized that the demand of her target audience was much wider than the available items. To remedy this situation, she needed to increase production capacity, which meant additional costs. Together with her daughter, who founded the brand, and her assistant, they began to look for grant competitions, and they came across an announcement from the Ukrainian Women’s Fund about grants under the “Economic Opportunities for Women Affected by Conflict” project, which was implemented with the support of UN Women and the UN Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.

At the time, the business most needed button and buttonhole sewing machines, which cost a little more than the grant amount, so Halyna applied for the grant, planning to make up the difference from her own savings. The new equipment would help optimize the packaging process, save employees’ working time, increase the speed of making the product and improve its quality.

Halyna also planned to rent additional premises to increase production capacity and ensure comfortable work for more employees. And that was what she started with: she renovated the new workshop and then purchased and installed equipment. That way, Halyna managed to create a closed automated production cycle, which led to a 15% increase in the number of clothes produced and reduced the seamstress’s work hours by up to two hours per day.

“The use of the new machines is immediately noticeable, it makes the shirts more presentable and reduces the amount of manual work. The equipment also allows us to improve our existing models,” says Halyna.

The speed of production and the number of goods were increasing, so Halyna started looking for a production director to administer the processes. An internally displaced woman with extensive experience in the garment industry was hired for this position. Halyna already concluded that hiring this specialist helped improve the internal processes. 

As the demand for embroidered shirts in Ukraine is quite high, Halyna predicts that there is plenty of room for her business to create new models to meet the needs of the most demanding customers, so scaling up production is her long-term task.

“People want to go back to their history and culture, they want to show who they are and where they come from. And embroidered shirts allow them to do this both here in Ukraine and abroad,” she concludes.