The founder of the OST WON brand: How to create a business from scratch with a bit of experience and a huge desire.
Modern men’s suits, stylish outer clothing and accessories – all about the OST WON brand from Zhytomyr. In a few years from a small workshop, where worked only two people, has risen an independent and self-sufficient brand of men’s and women’s clothing. Since its inception, OST WON has created dozens of unique clothing patterns and even suits for the red carpet for group O.Torvald on Eurovision 2017.
How OST WON started, how it became what it is today and how to succeed the success in entrepreneurship, tells the founder of the brand Natalia Krevska.
You arrived in Zhytomyr in 2014. The brand OST WON was born here? How was it?
I already had an experience; we already created a brand of clothing. They worked quite successfully, I guess. But it so happened that all go different ways. And I came up with idea to create OST WON. This is not new to me. I’ve already worked in this sphere. I was tied up with sewing all my life, one way or another. Friends and relatives, everyone was engaged in this business.
How did it all begin? It was a workshop, or did you sit down with a sheet of paper and a pen and started writing a business plan?
When we opened the OST WON studio, there was already an experience; I understood how to do it. At first, of course, it was not easy. It is unlikely that someone will tell you that they immediately opened up, without difficulties, a bunch of people and orders at once. Of course, no. We were two at first, I finished the courses with cut and sewing and I can sew, but so that after me it is necessary to remake (laughs). I did this specially to understand the processes. I can sew something elementary and sometimes do it. But this is not mine. Still, everyone should do their own. But these courses gave me an understanding of the processes and I can speak the same language with a cutter.
The story began with two people, how did it overgrow into something more?
At first I sewed by myself, I had some ideas, but it was a long time ago. I got an experience and it gave me the opportunity to go further. First, when we were two, we began to look for our customers, some people like it and it allows us to expand. Of course, we have not yet overgrown into large production. I think, to talk about some success, it’s too early yet. In some cases, there is success, but to say straightforward that we are successful in everything – not yet. I’m lucky because I’m doing what I like. At the same time, I also give work to people who are officially employed, let me notice (smiles). If someone like his work, if my work brings a pleasure to someone, that’s fine.
In fact, I was lucky. I’m doing what I like. And I think it is a success.
What is the OST WON brand now?
Probably, due to my modesty I can not call it a success. Still, Steve Jobs is a success; there are other people who also succeeded. But we are working on it and go ahead. Of course, I want that the whole world learn about our brand. Not just because it’s some of my personal ambitions. This is really cool stuff, it’s handy. And I want that everyone know about it. Moreover, we are a Ukrainian manufacturer.
I scroll the page of OST WON in Instagram and have seen very interesting down jackets, suits, comfortable bags there. Who is the buyer of these things? Are you more focused on the domestic Zhytomyr market or do you work wider?
I like to do men’s clothing, so we are actively working in this direction, although my team often rounds on me for that (laughs). We are trying to make our clothes comfortable, high-quality, and enjoyable. We even have the motto – “Comfort in the dynamics of modern life “. Who are our customers? These are people who understand what they want; these are people for whom comfort is important. We specialize in trousers suits, but they are sewn in a non-standard way. They are made out of knitwear, or some kind of inserts. This is just that to make a person feel comfortable. In that way that the thing does not hinder movements.
In relation to geography – it is still more than 60% of Zhytomyr. We have a lot of good and classy clients in Zhytomyr. But we also have a lot of clients in Odessa, in Kiev. Already begin to learn about us all over Ukraine.
The OST WON brand was involved in creating images for the band O.Torvald at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Tell us how it was?
Zhenya Halych`s relatives live here. We are acquainted with his brother, so it was not a completely spontaneous event. We were recruited, said that urgently needed, quickly, within five days. We have worked with them before. He dialed me and asked: will you do it? Well, of course, I’ll do it. Who does not want to take part in such a story? Thanks, for trust. And then, within five or six working days, we did. We traveled with fitting to them in Kiev. In fact everything was simple and fast.
To be honest, I do not even remember the details of this story.
I am interested in your feelings, the feelings of the person who created these images and when did you see your costumes?
Directly, another designer made a suit for the performance, very cool. We made suits for the red carpet. What are the feelings? Nice, of course. It was nice that they liked it. Nothing, in fact, was overwhelming, but I felt we were probably moving in the right direction.
Our clothes may not like everyone, it is an acquired taste, but I was very pleased. Of course, I called my mom and dad, saying to them: look. I was pleased that my parents were proud at this moment. I was proud that I was not just sitting here and doing nothing, and that I’m doing something, I work. Well, I’m not dawdling (laughs).
Regarding entrepreneurship in Zhytomyr: it is often said that Zhytomyr is too close to Kyiv…
So this is the plus.
But at the same time, employers complain that personnel are moving out here. How about this?
I think that proximity to Kyiv is a plus. And it seems to me that it is even better to drive on a good road from Kiev to Zhytomyr than to get from one district of Kiev to another. By the time it takes the same, but everything is much cheaper here. Many people come here to do everything: manicure, to dye, visit a cosmetologist, buy things or sew suit, for example. We work as atelier, but our costumes buy for a wedding. It is easier and cheaper for people to come here, take off the marks, and then come for fitting rather than to find or sew it in the capital.
So I think that proximity to Kyiv is a plus. Perhaps investments from Kiev will come here to Zhytomyr.
Zhytomyr is a beautiful city. There is much greenery, lots of water, good soils, and proximity to the capital. Kyiv has never particularly attracted me, there is nothing to breathe. To be there – yes, but it is possible to build something here, in Zhytomyr.
Now let`s talk about opening a business and its support. Sometimes people say that it’s not very easy. Have you faced with obstacles during opening your business?
Faced, of course. Not particularly I want to talk about it, because not everyone, as it turns out, is like that someone in Zhytomyr starts to work.
But it’s not so easy to open a business all over Ukraine. You are forced to pay more when you just opened. You did not have time to develop, you do not have any clients yet, you still have no matter what to pay, but you are already owed to everyone. These are well-known facts. To say that is very easy, I guess, I would not say. I was helped by friends to open a business, we cooperate with Sharikava.
Now we moved to this room, before that we rented a small workshop. We have new equipment here, but it did not fall to me from heaven. I twice participated in international grant programs and won. I did not just get it, I defended my job. For the first time I got 4 or 5 industrial sewing machines. For the second time I won the same. And I got the equipment for a fairly serious amount of money. Nothing is taken from nowhere. We need to do a little effort.
We work, we try. And here is the result.
For you, as an entrepreneur, how convenient is it to conduct business in Zhytomyr? How do you rate the investment attractiveness of the city? If you were asked for advice, would you recommend Zhytomyr?
Consider what kind of business. If we talk about the sewing business, then we have a lot of sewing shops. There are a lot of sewing businesses. Just everyone has its own specifics. But there are plenty of shops. Atelier? The atelier is also quite a lot. In other businesses, I’m not quite competent.
And about whether it is convenient or not. I do not think such categories. I’m here and it’s all. I do not think: it’s convenient or not. I’m coming out of what is. I try to count; of course, we are trying to improve something, to participate in some projects.
By the way, we participated in one tender for sewing uniforms for drivers in Zhytomyr. But this project has probably not started yet. I saw the buses, but did not see the drivers (laughs).
And how often do you have to deal with such orders? For example, to sew a uniform for drivers?
We do not sew uniforms for them; we have been designing a uniform. And whoever will sew them – I do not already know. But in general there are such services; I am developing a uniform design. For the cafes of Zhytomyr, for the whole hotel there was an order. Starting from administrator, and ending with the service staff. There is an experience of such work.
Why would you like to add to Zhytomyr to make it as comfortable as possible?
Except roads? (laughs)
I think I will say the banal phrase, but let’s start by changing ourselves. Let’s start with ourselves. But when you change yourself, people around you will change. I am for new approaches, new technologies, I am for innovation. I think that we need to develop in this direction.
I am for new approaches to work, I am in favor of new technologies, I am setting a new format for a new taxation system in which any person can try to start a business.
How would you like to see the OST WON brand in the coming years?
I will not say (laughs).
I’m not proud of, I do not want to minify or exaggerate my merits. But I want to make it clear that you can and must work here. This is a beautiful city; it can and must be developed. There is a huge plus in its location, there is a huge plus in that fact that here you can freely breathe. For example, I am all for an idea to open here a store, a store of brand clothing for men and women. This requires funding. It will a little later.