Small businesses of Kaunas citizens have a Christmas fever
Photo by A. Aleksandravičius
Active and innovative – this is how economists speak about small businesses in Lithuania. It is true: the representatives of Kaunas small businesses are full of activeness, ingeniousness and creativity. So, in this pre-holiday period we have the story of three different and at the same time similar small businesses. About uniqueness, love for Kaunas and … of course, Christmas!
“If I ever started the business again, I would still choose Kaunas“
„The Chairs“ – a business of Kaunas citizens offering a special range of chairs to the admirers of expressive interior from Kaunas and from all around Lithuania. The business selling ONLY chairs? „The Chairs“ says – yes!
“I think that specialized stores are becoming more and more popular: those that do not have a wide assortment but carefully selected, high-quality products,” says Austėja Kazlauskaitė-Daraškė, the head of “The Chairs”, and adds that she likes to buy fresh bread in the bakery, instead of buying it in a big supermarket. It turns out that the same trends appear in the furniture industry as well.
Austėja was interested in furniture and interior design for a long time and says that the business idea was developed very slowly, while traveling, watching the environment, discovering the pleasure of creating your own home.
“I wanted to offer something that would be a focus of the space that is being created” Austėja talks about the start.
Photo from “The Chairs” personal album
The company has a wide range of products from all over the world. According to Austėja, they do not produce their own chairs, since with small quantities, it is impossible to maintain the reasonable price of the furniture. That is why every year they visit 4-5 worldwide furniture exhibitions and select the most exclusive chairs which later are provided for the customers.
“We will not lie, we do not always succeed in selecting gold nuggets, some chairs find home even one year later, but we do not want to be boring, thus, we always wish to add something strange to the collection,” says the head of the company.
Austėja was born in Kaunas, grew up and started business here. She says that even though she has business partners across the whole Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Poland and Ukraine, the home of “The Chairs” remains in Kaunas.
“If I ever started a business again, I would still choose this city. I am glad that more and more new businesses appear in Kaunas. From the business side, the new business centres, bars and cafes are very pleasing. Such environment not only creates jobs, but also places where our chairs find new home.”
Are sellers of the chairs in a festive mood? Austėja says that there is no doubt: clients are rushing to renovate the dining-rooms, give rocking-chairs or cosy armchairs as gifts.
“However, we want to wish that the true values would not be forgotten during the festive rush. So, if you cannot choose comfortable chairs – do not rush. Give yourself a pleasure to choose slowly – sitting, thinking, and discussing. It is true that our company is devoted to an immediate contact and friendship with the client. We are sure that this is the key to a successful business,” says the head of “The Chairs”.
The business that warms up the clients is having a “hot time”
Jolita Čeičytė, founder of “Nešalta.lt” (meaning ‘not cold’ in English), does not hide the fact that the company that has been working for three years is her additional activity besides intensive doctoral studies. The girl and her team selling natural wool products are not only trying to warm up those who are cold but also promote high-quality woollen products.
“Nešalta” was my first attempt to create my own business, but it was a very organic experiment: I was always cold, so it was not difficult to come up with a name. The biggest challenge then was the promotion of unpopular woollen ponchos and wraps. The majority associated them only with grandmothers sitting in front of the TVs. Therefore, I realized that I have to put an effort in making the presentation of the clothes stylish during the photo sessions. And a year later, when it became fashionable to wear such coats, “Nešalta” could always offer a better price / quality (100% wool) ratio,” says Jolita.
Photo from “Nesalta.lt” personal album
The products that we offer are not only natural, responsibly produced (using the services of young and individually employed people from Lithuanian cities and towns), but also following the principles of sustainable fashion: “We favour the responsible fashion, so, for example, we began to use fabric cuttings for our own fashion line of coats, we also use leather off-cuts for the coat details.”
The team of “Nešalta” feels a special love for their city – Kaunas: “It all depends on how you identify yourself with the city and what you love about it. Because we are fans of modern architecture, for us Kaunas is high ceilings, white colour, geometric shapes, circular windows and surfaces of semi-circular lines. And that is pure magic! It is very important to get to know your city because sometimes we just find the most interesting things waiting around the corner.”
Although woollen products keep Lithuanians warm during the cold season and also during the cool summer nights, the biggest “Nešalta” work starts before Christmas.
“Our woollen products are very practical and warm, endlessly versatile, so they are really suitable for anyone. We have a wide variety of scarves, large wraps, coats, children’s coats and various blankets. The most popular thing remains large scarves with pockets. Because of their interesting design innovations, they are suitable for all seasons, for any type of person. It is true that we are trying to offer more products for men, therefore, the sales for men accessories have also risen. The blankets are also very popular, as they are an integral part of the home comfort, many want to purchase or give them as a gift during the holidays.”
Christmas elves from Kaunas are sewing handbags
Another brand “kARTu”, developed in Kaunas and created by the real citizens of Kaunas, has invaded the competitive market of exclusive leather handbags. Today, handmade handbags made in Kaunas are sold not only to customers from all over Lithuania, but also actively exported to Sweden, USA, Japan.
Why the customers fell in love with “kARTu” products so quickly? According to Ingrida Jasinskė, the creator of the handbags, success was determined not only by the impeccable quality, durability, but also by fresh ideas: “Collections come from personal inspirations, travels, impressions. Of course, world fashion trends also contribute to this as they are the engine of moving forward.”
Is the city a source of inspiration? “Indeed, Kaunas is my beloved city with a special charisma, and it is especially pleasant to watch how it develops,” says Ingrida. “I think that the majority still does not fully appreciate Kaunas city. It is truly special because of its architecture, wonderfully restored Laisvės alėja (Freedom Avenue) and romantic, small Old Town. Every time I see Kaunas with different eyes. I am delighted with the initiatives that take place in the city, and we must definitely contribute to them if we can.”
Meanwhile, December is a very “hot month” for the “kARTu” studio: the makers of handbags do not hide the fact that their products are one of the most popular Christmas gifts.
Photo from “kARTu” personal album
“Many try to secretly find out the dreams of their families, and those who are afraid to risk, choose gift cards of “kARTu”. This season, our Christmas collection FLORAL has received a lot of interest. The choice is unexpected: in the cold season, the handbags are decorated with a unique floral pattern. But it is always fun to stand out!”
Ingrida laughs that during the pre-Christmas period, the entire team is swimming in the sea of boxes, mandarins and feels as the true Christmas elves: “Of course, it is a time of responsibility and a little bit of stress – after all, it is important that all Christmas gifts would be given to the receivers with love. And after that we will be able to take a break.”