We have already written and spoken about the damage sustained by our company during the invasion of Ukraine by the "Russian world". 95% of the production in Borodyanka and 92% of the company headquarters in Irpin were destroyed by the occupiers. However, we are yet to disclose another side of this story - the emotional pain and despair in the hearts of Igor and Maryna Fostenko, the owners of Enjoy The Wood, when they received the tragic news.
We interviewed Igor to learn more about his journey and the process of revival of Enjoy The Wood.
What motivated you to continue your work and rebuild the company during the war?
- We honestly thought it was the end. 300 workers lost their jobs and homes. The team got scattered not only within Ukraine but around the world. We lost more than $2 million… However, no matter how painful and hard it was, we had no right to give up and just sit back. This is not in the blood of Ukrainians. In addition, a lot of people looked up to us, believed in us, and took inspiration from our story. We could not fail all these people. Just like we could not allow Russia to defeat us in any way. Amidst everything that is happening, we are a drop in an ocean, but those drops make up the oceans.
Why did you decide to move production to the outskirts of Uzhgorod? What are some of the challenges that you are facing?
We have never planned to leave Ukraine. This is our homeland, and we want to spend the rest of our lives here. We are very proud of having our own production in Ukraine, and consider it a great accomplishment.
This is why Maryna and I decided to revive production near Uzhgorod. The majority of our team members have already moved there, and they were looking forward to resuming work.
After barely a month has passed since the destruction of production in Borodyanka, we have already opened a new one. It was not easy, we worked day and night, but we persevered and brought back more than 100 jobs. Upon launching the process of rebuilding, we started facing a number of challenges.
We have set up modular houses on the territory of the new factory which is also equipped with all the modern conveniences.
Moreover, we hired two chefs who prepare delicious lunches during the working day. We are doing our best.
The second issue is related to logistics, suppliers of equipment, and raw materials. Long delivery times and the uncertainty surrounding our lives at the time of war do not afford us a 100% guarantee that everything will arrive on time. Despite this, we continue to hold the country's economic front and create more jobs.
Are you also seeing new opportunities?
Yes, we are. There’s a saying: “When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom, There’s Nowhere To Go But Up.’‘ That’s also true about our current situation.
We focused on our priorities and decided not to waste energy on too many projects at once. We reduced costs and redistributed the company's financial resources. There is a renewed interest in Ukrainian culture in the world these days which also opens doors and opportunities for us. We find ways to be more visible and recognizable as a brand, continue to inspire people with our values and, of course, keep working hard on bringing joy and comfort to people’s homes through our signature wooden maps. As a result, we made new agreements with wholesale buyers to produce a large number of maps for sale, which in turn opened up even more growth and development opportunities. Stay tuned for a story of our bulk orders. You have to hear it.
As you know, a lot of businesses are in a difficult situation now. Could you share a few tips for company owners to inspire them not to give up?
- If you want your business to prosper, it does not have to be local, otherwise it is fraught with certain risks. You should consider the location of your target markets in the early stages of planning and developing your business idea.
- You have to constantly improve your sales skills and communication skills.
- The business owner is responsible for his employees. Therefore, you must always have a clear goal and unite people around it. You have to have a strong foundation, so you do not fall down. It is important to believe that everything will work out and it will work out!
- Never give up, trust in God, and move forward!