The story of Ukrainian knitwear trademark Jenadin began in 2012 and became a continuation of the family’s love to knitting, as the mother of the company’s founder, Nadia Kozyarivska, worked at the knitwear factory in Kyiv for more than 20 years.
Jenadin was one of the first companies in Ukraine to establish the production of high-quality seamless merino wool knitwear. Nadia gained experience abroad. “I went to Latvia for three weeks to practice at a modern knitting company. Upon return to Ukraine, I already had a much better understanding of the details of the future production process, so I began to negotiate with yarn and equipment suppliers. At the same time, we were renovating the premises. In August 2013, we started the machines and made the first product,” she remembers.
Product launch to market was fraught with obstacles because it was unfamiliar to consumers. Also, quality clothes made of 100% Italian merino yarn could not be cheap.
The first sold batches were small – only 5-10 units. Jenadin also began cooperating with designers – based on their requests, complex seamless models were developed. This was a kind of a “know-how” for the Ukrainian fashion industry.
“You can knit almost everything on our equipment: from tracksuits to stylish evening dresses, from children’s clothes to sofa covers. It all depends on the creativity of the customer”, – Nadia says.
Currently, the company employs 21 people and is able to knit about 2 thousand units per month. More than half of products (50-60% of orders) are sold through designers, while the other products – under the Jenadin brand (women’s and men’s clothing, home textiles). The company sold own trademark through clothing stores, multi-brand boutiques and e-commerce platforms.
Since the establishment of the business, Nadia wanted to try her hand at foreign markets, as she understood that her products were not a mass segment and focusing on the Ukrainian market only would be narrow-minded.
“The first foreign clients were ethnic Ukrainians who got acquainted with our products in Ukraine and wanted to sell them abroad. Thanks to this model, our clothes are sold in Lithuania, Denmark and Canada”, – says the founder of the Jenadin brand.
The company began to take systematic steps toward export development in 2018. “We made an analysis and realized that we were not ready for full-fledged export – we had no English-language website, no English product description, and no understanding of how and where to find partners. We began to look for additional opportunities to enter new markets and applied for various programs. It was at this time that we learned about the support program for small businesses offered by the CUTIS project”, – Nadia remembers.
The company applied for inclusion in the U CAN Export program reserve and was selected by project experts as a possible participant in the buyer mission to Canada. To join the pool of potential exporters, Jenadin had to do some homework and Nadia’s team completed it perfectly.
According to Olha Shtepa, CUTIS project coordinator, the company managed to prepare all the necessary information materials in English, calculate export prices, and adapt the website in a relatively short time.
With the help of Canadian expert Maria Guzman, the optimal range of products was selected for a demonstration to Canadian distributors and retailers. “There was no time to create something completely new. So, we selected models that best fit the requirements of the Canadian market. We also took samples demonstrating the technical capabilities of our production,” – Ms. Kozyarivska says.
Meeting with Canadian buyers in the summer of 2019 helped the company to identify “bottlenecks” in its business model, which made it difficult to develop exports.
“It seemed to me that trading with Canada would be easy because we already had sent some small supplies to this market. People liked our products. But I hadn’t considered a few things, first of all, our price and limited production”, – Nadia says.
According to her, the trip to Canada showed that there was a potential for Jenadin products in this market, but it was necessary to focus on small boutiques, whose customers were willing to pay for quality and unique design rather than large chains, for which the price was too high.
“We also felt the regional differences among Canadian consumers. Our products will be more interesting to the French-speaking part of Canada, Montreal in particular, where fashion trends are similar to ones of continental Europe.” – Nadia continues.
Ms. Nadia notes that thanks to the CUTIS mission to Canada she gained a unique experience in negotiating with big buyers face to face and learned important skills.
“It turned out that I was simply not ready to immediately answer questions about the price of delivery, search for alternative raw materials and the minimum number of units in the production batch in case of selling under a private label”, – Ms. Kozyarivska shares.
After returning to Ukraine, the necessary calculations were made. “Now I know that to reach the “acceptable” price of delivery to Canada, we need to form a batch of at least 300 units. You should also look for options to combine orders from multiple boutiques”, – she notes.
In December 2019, with CUTIS assistance, the President of the Canadian company called Fashion Priests visited Jenadin. The visit of the Canadian buyer became a catalyst for the creation of a separate enterprise-based showroom for large customers. “We had many interesting products for retail buyers in our showroom, but a wholesale required a different approach. For each exhibited unit, the price for different formats of cooperation should be calculated. A quick response to a wholesale customer’s request is required”, – Nadia tells.
The next step was the creation of a separate catalog for wholesale customers. “The catalog has more than a thousand models that the company can knit under a customer’s trademark. I used to be against such cooperation, but later I realized that the company had developed a huge number of models, so we could share our design ideas without compromising the Jenadin brand. Customers like this approach”, – says Ms. Kozyarivska.
The Jenadin team plans to create an online catalog for wholesale customers. This will significantly simplify the negotiation process with foreign partners and demonstrate the company’s production capabilities more clearly.
Paris fashion show
With the support of the CUTIS project in February 2020, the company took part in a fashion show in Paris, which took place as part of the leading exhibition Apparel Textile Sourcing.
“It was an incredible experience, thanks to CUTIS. We represented not only Jenadin, we represented Ukraine. We have many great manufacturers, but not all of them have a chance to establish themselves internationally”, – Nadia says.
According to Olha Shtepa, visitors of the show and participants of the exhibition were very positive about the Jenadin collection. “At the end of the show, the audience rose in applause. It was so nice”, – mentions the CUTIS project coordinator.
“I am sure that participation in the Paris exhibition will promote our exports because a show of such a high level is a sign of quality”, – Nadia Kozyarivska says.
According to her, thanks to the cooperation with the CUTIS project she gained a systematic view of business development in general and exports in particular, and her misconceptions have disappeared.
“It became clear what to do and where to go. Who our customers are and how we can meet their needs in the best possible way. Before working with the project experts, everything was somehow blurred, we wanted to work with everyone, and that was not the best strategy”, – she emphasizes.
“Currently, the share of exports in the company is 15%. I am sure that we will be able to increase this share to 50%. Including due to new knowledge gained from the CUTIS experts. The goal is ambitious, but those who don’t set ambitious goals, do not achieve ambitious results”, – the entrepreneur Nadia Kozyarivska says with a smile on her face.
Author – Tetiana Riasna