Embroidered Masks – A COVID-19 Success Story
Hoyra Studio, based in Lviv, has been more successful than most at adapting to challenging new realities: when quarantine gives you lemons, embroider those lemons onto a mask!
We’ve all heard of the economic impact that COVID-19 is wreaking on societies across the world. In Ukraine, millions of people have been forced to take unpaid leave with no guarantee that their jobs will be waiting for them when they return. But one Lviv company has figured out a way to keep all its staff – by switching over its operations to make beautiful, ethno-chic embroidered masks.
“Embroidery is a Symbol of our National Identity”
Founded in 2008 by Leopolitan designer Iryna Khrystynych, Hoyra Studio sits in a quaint location just outside the city centre. The studio is renowned for its elegant ethno-wear, including beautiful vyshyvankas for both men and women and an array of embroidered products, including belts, wallets, shoes, purses, and yes – even masks.
Even before the quarantine, the studio was embroidering stylish masks for customers with the sniffles, so they were well-placed to make the switch.
“People need these masks!”, Khrystynych explains. “Embroidery is a symbol of our national identity and spirit; it’s what I do best.”
Like many Ukrainian companies, Hoyra was hit hard by the quarantine. The company was forced to close its doors and find creative ways to keep its 12 members of staff on the payroll. That’s how they got the idea of moving to full-time mask production.
“My job now is to provide the financial resources that will make it easier [for my team] to deal with this situation,” says Khrystynych.
A Made-in-Quarantined-Ukraine Economic Model
Khrystynych emphasises that this isn’t a mass-market operation: “Our masks are handmade [to order] and are rarely repeated.”
This makes for an interesting business model. Khrystynych has decided that during the quarantine, it will be up to the customer to decide what each mask is worth.
“Look at our skills, at the value you receive, and consider our hard work and effort. You will receive a unique mask and we ask you to ‘pay as you see fit’, as I’m convinced that their value is not measured by money, but by human happiness, smiles, beauty, and life!”
And if their order list is anything to go by, then quarantined Ukrainians must be full of happiness, smiles, beauty, and life. Hoyra has sent orders out to nearly every region of the country: Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Kyiv, Lviv, Lutsk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Ternopil, Truskavets, Zaporizhia, Zhytomyr, and many places in between.
Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Stylish.
Khrystynych makes it very clear that her masks are more about style than health: “Even before the quarantine, we emphasised that the masks were not for medical protection, but for reasons of hygiene (so as not to touch your face with your hands), psychology (to look good in difficult circumstances), and to support national pride.” She stresses that social distancing, regular handwashing, and staying at home are the best ways to protect against COVID-19.
Still, the company does what it can to support Ukraine’s frontline health workers. “In the first week, there was an order for 50 masks from one of the Lviv hospitals,” she says. “We didn’t have that many, but we gave everything we had – and continue to do so.”
But for Khrystynych, it’s about the pride of pulling through a difficult situation, providing for her staff, and giving her customers a reason to smile while in quarantine.
“We have become an example of how to generate ideas in a crisis,” she says. “We have set a good example and, I hope, inspired others to do the same.”
To browse Hoyra Studio’s collections of vyshyvankas and accessories, visit https://hoyra.com.ua/en/about-us/
To enquire about purchasing your own embroidered mask, get in touch via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hoyrastudio/