‘At the start of February there was a real threat of invasion. We did discuss moving the weaving atelier but our Ukrainian partner, Larissa, was initially convinced that Kakhovka—where our atelier is, in the south—would be OK. When Russia invaded on 24 February, Kakhovka was occupied by the Russians after only a couple of days. So our atelier with the weavers, looms, stock, and truck loads of ready-made rugs were all caught. All roads out of Kakhovka were blocked by Russian tanks. It was quite terrifying.
Since we had a full order book we had a lot of material as we had wanted to keep a good amount of stock due to the rising tension. We discussed with our weavers if they felt safe, if they wanted to continue weaving. Most wanted to as they felt safer at work, plus they wanted an income and wanted something to do.
Larissa found a new space in Kosiv, which is close to the border with Romania. It’s a small village which has an art school with a weaving department, which we had been cooperating with previously. Kosiv is in the Carpathian mountains, out of the way, so she started to rent it. Then Sasha—the man who has been in charge of maintaining and building our looms—organised a van through a local farmer, and with the help of ten extra men he demounted our looms and drove them on his own out from occupied territory. It was a long process.
The new atelier is very nice. The looms are up and running and we hope to be at full capacity by the end of August.’