During the most trying of times, we turn to the creative community to shed light, new perspective and hope. This was clear at the onset of the pandemic when singers, visual, and dancers took to the digital space to remind the world that “you are not alone.” When war broke in Ukraine last February 2022, the country’s creative community–along with the rest of the world–sought out ways to inspire, empower, and support those bravely standing at the frontlines.
It’s at times like these that the creative spirit shines the brightest. Following the Russian invasion, reports about war-stricken Ukraine were equal parts devastating and disheartening. Despite the full support of the international community, the cost of war saw a once rising economy plunging by 45%. There have been talks of donation or compassion fatigue, especially after marking 100 days at war.
But this has not dampened the Ukrainian spirit of bravery. Neither has it kept the country’s creative force from producing works that uplift. This remarkable heritage brand from does more than just inspire compassion, generosity, and bravery. Its collections are living, moving, and ever changing affirmations for humanity–that at our very core is a heart for healing and rebuilding.
GUNIA PROJECT is a dedicated to celebrating “exceptional things inspired by Ukrainian heritage.” It is a retail portal that opens doors to the discovery of the country’ unique crafts and artistry. Apart from fashion, fine jewelry, and accessories the brand carries a unique collection of ceramics, glass and hand poured candles.
Brand founders, Natasha Kamenska and Maria Gavryliuk recall: “The war took us by surprise. Rumors of a Russian attack on Ukraine have been circulating for a long time, but we did not believe that it could happen in Central Europe in the 21st Century.” And yet, war became their reality. At the onset of conflict production and sales were temporarily put on a halt. “We move products to the West of Ukraine. We were on the verge of launching a new collection, but we had to stop and move everything.”
Early in March 2022, GUNIA began producing scented candles contained in handmade avian ceramics. All the proceeds from sales of these precious decor were dedicated to the Come Back Alive Foundation, the biggest organization in the conflict stricken country supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine. GUNIA has also announced that it will devote profits from sales to helping animals either abandoned or hurt from the war.
It’s business as usual at the Gunia Project, supply chain and logistics challenges notwithstanding. The company has had to find alternative producers and find safer offices. The founders share, “We are pleased with the growing interest of European and American markets in Ukrainian products and we are confident that we will cope… We have resumed work on almost all product categories. More craftsmen are working again.”
Admittedly, the dark clouds of war had them thirsty for inspiration and motivation. It was after the initial shock that the Gunia Project team realized: “This is our greatest opportunity–to communicate with the world through our products and continue telling stories about Ukrainian culture and current events. Build and create rather than seek to destroy as our enemy does.”
As a response to the violent destruction of Kyiv architectural landmarks, the Atlantis collection was launched. The team writes: “The new collection is a reflection on the existence of Ukrainian culture during the war, the importance of its protection, as well as finding and preserving the connection between cultural symbols and the national idea.” Natasha and Maria say that 10% of sales proceeds will also be dedicated to supporting Ukraine.