How Ukrainian Clothing Company Katimo Reopened During The War
Katimo is an entirely Ukrainian clothing business centered in Kyiv, with facilities operating in the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Poltava and Zhytomyr. After the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, the production facilities in the occupied territories had to shut down temporarily. However, once the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions were liberated and certain operations relocated to safer areas in the west of Ukraine, Katimo reopened. Production of the brand’s new, pro-Ukrainian line began on March 1st.
“Fashion is the voice of time. This collection is my way of telling the world about Ukraine, and showing how strong and free our country is,” says cofounder Katya Tymoshenko. “Trouble knocked at our door, but we found strength in weakness, our fear became courage, and our despair became unity. Our mission is both important and life-affirming. We want women who wear Katimo to keep love and hope alive in their hearts. We want to give them a sense of faith in a bright future. That’s why today at Katimo, no matter what, we continue to do what we do best – create beautiful clothes.”
Once the mostly female team of seamstresses, designers, showroom managers, and operations staff were safe, Katimo cofounders and husband-wife team Katya Timoshenko and Vitaliy Panov made the decision to restart operations. Their main priority has been to sustain the business in order to pay the staff salaries and support the Ukrainian economy. Since March 1, 2022, Katimo has donated 100% of website sales of past collections and 20 percent of all its income to charity funds that support the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other local causes.
After founding Katimo with her husband in 2015, Timoshenko managed to build the brand into one beloved by many women in Ukraine. All collections are carefully produced in the heart of Kyiv by a mostly female team.
“With the beginning of the war, life suddenly came to a halt,” says Timoshenko. “Still, the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people gave the employees of Katimo the strength to resume operations and continue to work for a happy future for our country. Created during wartime conditions — to the sounds of sirens and under the threat of missile attacks – the new spring/summer collection has become a symbol of our nation’s purity, inviolability of spirit, and future victory.”
An important part of this collection is the symbolism. Some accessories are made in the form of snowdrop flowers, representing the victory of good over evil. Some products are decorated with pins embellished with natural stones, because Ukrainians traditionally believe that they provide luck and protection against evil spirits.
“The most important aspect of our work is the categorical rejection of even the thought of a possible collapse of the independent statehood of Ukraine,” Timoshenko explains. “Russia’s attack on our country is stimulus to take action. We should not break in the face of evil. War has no right to take away a person’s life, family, home, and the opportunity to be happy. We must continue to live our best lives.”
To other entrepreneurs facing war or an environmental disaster in their homeland, Timoshenko offers this advice. “We become stronger only by overcoming difficulties and fear. Any crisis should be regarded as a springboard to reach even greater heights. From the very first day of Katimo, we have encountered various obstacles along the way. We bypassed some of them, and some we faced heads on. Don’t be afraid to fall.”
As far as how Americans best can support Ukrainians right now, Timoshenko says, “We want the whole world to realize that this war is not only ours – it is a war of the whole world. Right now, a new history is being written, values are being transformed, and a new approach to the world order is being formed. Ukraine is staying at the forefront of the battle for a better life for many countries. Therefore, we call on everyone to help Ukraine to complete this mission. Talk about it on your social media pages. Organize and participate in rallies in support of Ukraine. Donate money to Ukrainian charity funds. We all should join our efforts to win this war and have a better future. Not only for Ukraine, but for the world.”