Made in Kyiv and here to remain, an interview with Jewelry designer Sasha Zayats

vor 2 years

I don’t want to relocate my business in Europe it’s important for me to make my jewelry in my country and give jobs to Ukrainian workers. Its my way to support my country by keeping the economy going. I know its the right choice.


Ukrainian designer Alexandra Zayats founded her jewelry brand, Sasha Zayats in 2021 in Kyiv. The one who get inspired by the harshness of life alongside one’s strength and resistance and success as the crown of the struggle agreed to guide us through her creative process, aesthetic and the resilience of Ukrainian artists in this time of war. Zayats is based in Kyiv and doesn’t intend to go anywhere else.

Fräulein: With which aims did you created your brand? What was the reason behind it?
Sasha Zayats: Long story short. Before launching my jewelry, I was studying law at university, I was DJing and working as a model. All these things I was doing them to earn money to invest in a business. Last year, when I started my business, I also started to work as a project manager and head buyer assistant at a fashion retailer in Kyiv. So, to be honest, I’m really delighted I had such experience because this position gave and still gives me basic understanding and insight of the more business side of branding and brand communication.
As for my jewelry brand, I created it a little bit more than a year ago. I have quite a soft spot for broken things, as you can see on my jewelry. I often find inspiration in damaged things or damaged feelings, people. I believe its a very beautiful thing. I appreciate the world as it is, the real world, the world although sometimes it can be absolute hell. It can be violent and cruel, but the deal is that we have to be strong enough to face the reality. Strong enough to leave place for self-development. Hard times can make strong people. I’m using that moto for my life, for my jewelry, my art. I like to see my brand not just as a business but more as a self-expression activity and vector of my art. So, for me it’s not always easy to see this activity with a monetized vision because it’s my way of self-expression but of course I have to consider it too.


Fräulein: You said you created this brand to express the struggle of fighting with an inveterate rival, with the society, with your weaknesses, and the miseries that life brings. Why did you choose jewelry as you medium to express yourself?
SZ: The deal is that jewelry is not the only way I’m expressing myself. I’m making music, not in a proper commercial way, but in a way that can heal my soul sometimes. But jewelry, I found, is the strongest one in term of expression. It happened by accident. A friend asked me about what I truly want to do or want to try, and I just replied instinctually “jewelry”. I never ever thought about it before, it was a real and heartfelt answer. I then start thinkingI don’t have enough money, enough knowledges and skills. And that friend told me to just try and just go for it. That conversation motivated me to learn more about it. I made a lot of researches and (a year after) I just launched my first line. It was beautiful and such a risky adventure. It was full of fun and hard sometimes, I made everything myself from the legal paperwork as well as the creative part. It’s not always exciting, it was such a headache at time actually but it’s interesting because: it’s challenging. All the difficulties made me feel like I can really do good when I want to. So of course, it’s centered around self-expression but not only. It’s self-development. As a person and as a woman.

Fräulein: Was it important for you to have all your pieces handmade in Ukraine. Also why using only silver?
SZ: My choice was to produce everything in Kyiv because I live there and, to be honest, last year in Ukraine it was also very easy to start a business because our government make really low taxes for small business so it was a possible task. I also wanted to be a part of Ukraine, a proper citizen and live my life in Ukraine. I love travelling and visiting different countries, but I really am attached to my country. I love Ukraine and I hope that soon the war will be over, and we’ll all be back and living our best life there, in our homeland.

I use silver because its an amazing material when talking about textures. You have such a big variety of textures, finishes and colors as you can combine polished metal with a rawer looking one and I really love it. I also just prefer the look and the color of silver. Creating items is my favorite part of my work obviously because it’s always an adventure. While I’m working on a piece, other ideas come to me and I’m starting working on something different and its a really cool feeling because its something that just exist in your head but after some work you can attach it around your neck and wear it. Its just a beautiful feeling.


Fräulein: Your brand is called Sasha Zayats what does it stand for?
SZ: Sasha is the Ukrainian short form for Alexandra, so it’s actually my nickname!


Fräulein: Can you explain the story behind your bullet hole necklace which holds a very important place in your collection?
SZ: Yes, it’s actually a very personal story, for me and my family. This situation happened ten years ago. In 2012, my father was shot by accident. It was an almost fatal misunderstanding. Fortunately, he survived. This situation brought us together as a family and bound us even more than we already were. This accident showed me -my 14 year old self- that in the world there isn’t a lot of things under our control. I learned to live every day to the fullest, even if it’s a dark and bad day. At the moment my country is going through a tough time and unfortunately the emptiness I felt ten years ago is now something I share with thousands of Ukrainians. We must fight, we must be strong. Literally, but also within ourselves. We must know that everything comes to an end, the good things, but also the bad things.
It’s a high priority for me to keep working from Ukraine and maintain my activity there. During the very first days of war, the district where my production is located was bombed, and I got really afraid for my workers… Everyone was fine. I don’t want to relocate my business in Europe it’s important for me to make my jewelry in my country and give jobs to Ukrainian workers. Its my way to support my country by keeping the economy going. I know its the right choice. I’m happy that now our workers can go back to work, and I hope that they’ll have even more work in the future.

Fräulein: It’s your way to resist and support your country, I believe it’s important for you.
SZ: Yeah, because the first months of war I wasn’t thinking of my job, I was volunteering and now I started working again because I can’t do it, it was really mad. I’m now looking to stabilize the brand and adapt it to foreign markets, and I hope to start working on a new line as soon as possible. Before the war I was planning two collections and two collaborations with Ukrainian brands. One will be ready this year, I believe we want to all remain working and drive the economy.


Fräulein: What’s next for the brand and for yourself?
SZ: We’ll have a collaboration with Anoeses, it’s a really great Ukrainian brand using laser devices, the universe is very bondage and really cool. The second collaboration is still secret, but it’ll not be jewelry but clothes! I hope it will be really nice. My next personal collection with obviously have some new jewelry but also featured some new surprises. I’m really trying to let myself explore all forms of creative processes.


Fräulein: your aesthetic feature both feminine and masculine side, can you explain maybe where that mix come from?
SZ: I really like that aesthetic, very dark and sexy. I guess it’s all because of my upbringing and particularly of the movies I use to watch when I was younger such as Matrix or these Kazakhs films “night watch” and “day watch” and movies about vampires. I used to love that aesthetic when I was younger, but it remained! It’s really my style, I would wear everything. It also means my brand evolve with me as I grow and with the persons I met and who helped me grow. That’s very exciting too.

Words Marien Brandon

Picture courtesy of Sasha Zayats

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