I tame clay. By increasing the beauty of the world, I give it to people. I stylize the surrounding reality and bring my personal meanings and feelings of individual nuances into it.
Julia, what exactly led you to a creative career? Have you had a passion for something creative since childhood?
I am still determining where it came from, but I always knew I would do something creative, come up with something, and create something. This is probably the only thing I have never had a doubt about in my life).
My first interaction with clay was when I studied at the university, in the faculty of environmental design. We had a subject called “plastic anatomy” – this is a science about the forms and structure of the human body, the sculpture of its plasticity. I remember doing very well and regretted that we only had this discipline for a year. But I never even thought about pottery/sculpture/ceramics.
When did ceramics appear in your life and did you realize it was Destiny?
In 2010 I visited the museum of Trypil culture in the Kyiv region. When I went to the 3rd hall… something clicked in me. That was the first time I saw the ancient ceramics of the Tryplian culture from the excavations… The thought crossed my mind that all these dates back more than 5 thousand years ago – someone created this giant jug from clay and painted it with sacred signs. Someone invested energy and symbolism to these, and after so many thousands of years, I stand and look at it already in the 21st century, feeling the same energy, and despite the fragility of the clay jar – it continues its life here and now. It’s incredible. All this impressed me so much!
Then there was something magical, it was a private museum, and the man who gave us a tour took out from under the glass with whole jars 3 pieces-fragments of the same jars, on which even the drawing was visible. I don’t remember what he said, but it was like a prophecy or a sign, something like “take it for inspiration.”
When I remember this story, I feel ants and something so warm inside. I keep those pieces in the workshop. They are there as amulets of ancestors.
How long did you “sculpt on the table” and give your work to friends before you started doing business and opening your own store? At first, were there local sales or did you immediately decide to go international and open a store on Etsy?
In 2013, the understanding came to try to sculpt something from clay myself. But it was difficult because my daughter was only one year old, and there was zero information about the creation of ceramics on the Internet then. There was no understanding at all of where to get that clay and the oven? How everything should be and where to start.
My acquaintance suggested a small workshop and got mastering basic skills. In the first year, all skills were developed through personal experience and mostly because of hard work – most of what I created ended up in the trash.
I started posting my first successful works on the social network (then it was vk). People then caught on very quickly and constantly asked if I could repeat or create something for them as well? I was embarrassed, and for a long time, I did not understand how to correctly estimate the value of products, so it was easier and more pleasant for me to give gifts. I still do it all the time)) although the question of the cost of the product, of course, no longer exists.
In 2014 the brand’s name “came” to me. I opened an Instagram page and got the first large order for a private clinic. Then there were local sales without any ads, “word of mouth” worked best. Etsy appeared in 2015 but start selling something only a year ago and orders began to be sent further than to countries near the borders.
You are a very bright, pleasant person with incredible energy! What was the way to accept yourself and confidently follow your own course?
Thank you very much! It was different, especially in adolescence – comparing oneself with others, and dissatisfaction and, on the contrary, a feeling of superpower in oneself and some peculiarity. Around 20, I started reading Castaneda, Osho, and Zelanda. In particular, Osho’s philosophy and teachings changed me from the inside, and my attitude toward myself, my body, and life changed. Suddenly everything became easier than it seemed to me before.
A few years later, I got into a motorcycle accident. It was my personal war, the struggle for life, the loss of a dear person, the loss of that life, and all the skills, habits, actions, and interests I used to have in my life before that. Losing a large part of my body and many physical injuries that I will live with for the rest of my life… Then, at 23, my life was divided into Before and After. Everything has changed; My body, environment, preferences, interests, and life have become more conscious. It was easy to go cuckoo and fall into depression, apathy, and destructive states.
But I had the opposite – a great renewal, as if I had just been born, filled with energy, strength, unshakable faith, and positive thinking. It was as if I discovered an inner source of support in myself and simply rejoiced in life NOW without looking back. But most importantly, I experienced many emotional and spiritual changes then. It was a personal quantum leap of my soul. The invaluable experience of transformation. I am infinitely grateful for it!
This experience brought me to where I am now, to the perception of myself and my unique experience, exclusively with a feeling of gratitude in my heart, as a part of life in this incarnation.
As a mother I am very inspired by women who pursue creative careers and do not look for reasons why it does not work out. How do you manage to maintain a balance between motherhood and work? Did raising your daughter somehow affect your creativity?
I didn’t find the same balance between motherhood and work. Because when I’m in my workshop, it’s as if time doesn’t exist, I can forget everything in the world. But I remember waiting 2.5 years for my daughter to go to kindergarten to start working full-time. So the kindergarten + my husband’s support and help in raising our child allowed me to start the business that inspires me the most. When parents are always freelance, like us, for example, working at home, the child grows up happier because he is with his parents 24/7 with sufficient attention and without total control.
I feel joy and happiness when I think about how good it is that my daughter has a happy childhood. When your parents are always close, you are free to express yourself, when you often travel together, when you live in nature in a big house full of animals and get the most positive emotions from childhood. By the way, I had a completely different childhood experience.
Where did you meet at the beginning of the war? And at what point did you decide to settle abroad?
We were at home, in our house in the forest near Kyiv.
I had no idea at all what politicians and American intelligence were saying. What is the real threat? I hardly ever read the news.
Then in February, I was waiting for spring. For me, it is always a symbol of the new. I started a big, exciting cooperation project with a well-known Ukrainian brand. I bought 120 kg of clay (probably a treasure now), new glazes, and other materials just for this project. I remember thinking that I would finish the project as soon as it was mid-spring, and we would go on vacation to Italy because I really wanted to travel again, change the “picture” and breathe out after years of covid and a complicated personal period in my life from the middle of 2021.
Spoiler – we ended up in Italy already in a month and lived there for a month, but not under the circumstances I had planned.
But looking around, I remember many signs and hints from space, as if it was preparing me. Back in the summer of 2021, I had a lot of dreams from which I woke up in the middle of the night. All of them are about the war. Moreover, there was a dream where tanks were driving toward the forest under our fence, and I seemed to be watching them from the kitchen window. But then, I didn’t pay enough attention to all the hints and my intuition. In March 2022, there were enemy tanks in our forest, there were fierce battles, some neighbors had a hospital for the wounded at home, others had a temporary base of the armed forces at home through the fence. ..
The question is still how could it happen? Many people died around us, including families, many destroyed houses, and wholly destroyed infrastructure that we use daily in our peaceful lives. Our home is located 10 km from Irpen, a town near the same bridge that was blown up to prevent the Rashists from entering Kyiv. We left the house with all the things after 4 days when the windows were already shaking from the explosions, and you didn’t understand what was happening and what to expect.
For me, it was the most significant stress in my life. I really didn’t want to die a second time. And I felt like space was pushing me out of the house. Although until recently, the home/workshop and the forest were my “place of power”. Between the explosions, we left for western Ukraine with our parents, 2 cats, and a dog. How we got there is a separate story altogether.
They spent about 2 weeks there, but I did not feel calm and did not sleep all this time, I am sure that such a state was familiar to many. Reflecting and looking at the situation and circumstances in which they were, knowing what was happening in our village and neighboring villages, they decided to go further, but without having any plans and expectations.
Britain became the 10th country on our not-easy, but at the same time, as if perfectly prepared space path.
You are in the UK now. Was it difficult to get together and start building a business from “scratch”? It’s not just carrying paints in a bag like artists do… You had to find materials, equip a workplace, and find an oven. How did you cope with it?
When I realized we would leave, I went into the workshop and began to tape the large glass windows, then put the finished products from the shelves into boxes.
I looked around and did not understand what to take? Likewise, at home – there was only one question in my head – is there anything more important than life itself in this world? Are there any items I can’t buy elsewhere? They all seemed unimportant… That’s why I took almost nothing with me. In the workshop, she took her logo and several favorite Indian wooden stamps, several notebooks, and headphones.
When we ended up in the UK as the final destination, after a few weeks, I started to get interested in local shops with materials for ceramicists.
My new friend Alice helped me then. They gave me links to various sites, and I was looking for local potters. But in the small town where we lived for the first 3 months, there were very few ceramists, I got to know three of them personally. These are elderly people for whom doing ceramics is not the main thing, not a job, but rather a hobby.
Sometimes I heard the question, is it possible to earn enough with this?)
There was an exciting story: Alice came across a site while looking for shops for ceramicists, it turned out that they also have a physical store with a vast selection of everything, and it is the closest to us – about 50 km away. She opened the site and on the main page, the first thing she saw …my photo at work! Imagine her surprise, but I was even more surprised.
Then I guessed this photo is from the sewers for which there were locks in Kyiv several years ago. But what is the probability of choosing exactly that stock and exactly my photo for your site, even though there are hundreds of thousands of photos on every topic + coming to live in the UK, in the county where they are located, and visiting them to buy basic equipment and clay))) This coincidence still seems incredible, although I do not believe in simple coincidences.
Then the cashier manager recognized me and said, “you must be here”, she meant in a broad sense I must be here.
So how can you not believe in fate and that everything around you turns out exactly as it will be best for you?!
So going back to the local potters, after I bought all the basic materials, I returned to my work for the first time. And agreed on several firings with two craftsmen. This is how the first products made in the UK appeared, which I sold through Etsy and several markets. But here, it is not acceptable to share one’s working space. No one rents it out. So it’s hard with that.
To sum it all up, to continue making ceramics, we moved to another region. There we met a girl we knew, a ceramicist from Ukraine, and one family shared their hangar space with a stove with us. So it made it possible to become a “star seller” on Etsy again and not stop doing what you love)
What advice would you give to young artists?
Believe in yourself and your natural creativity, and trust the space. The most effective support is always within you, so don’t give up when it’s hard. And if comparisons arise in your head, compare yourself only with yourself yesterday. No matter how unusual the path you choose – the main thing is that it is sewn from the heart, then space will help you on this path.