Not sure how to make a surprise for your significant other? Want to make a romantic and memorable present? Are you searching for an unusual gift for your business partner or colleague?
How about a skewered meat bouquet? Wrapped in a flatbread, with salad leaves and fresh tomatoes? Or maybe a bouquet of fragrant roses and strawberries, or one with dried fish, smoked squid, braided cheese and hunter’s sausages?
Do not be afraid, Anna Movchan can make a beautiful bouquet from anything! Today she runs an edible bouquet workshop, has hundreds of satisfied clients and big plans. But this has not always been the case. Anna grew up in a village, brought up by her grandmother without parents. Having graduated from high school, she went to Mariupol to apply to university to become a social worker.
While still a student, Anna started to work part-time – she needed money, but her grandmother didn’t have the means to help. She almost immediately came up with the idea of edible bouquets. “I have always liked flowers and tasty food. And I have found an opportunity to combine both!” said the young entrepreneur. “The first order was a fruit bouquet. I was nervous and worried, whether I would be able to do everything as it was supposed to be done. Today, I would have done in in a different way, but my client was satisfied, and I understood that this was my thing!”
At the beginning, her clients were acquaintances and friends, but Anna almost immediately started to develop her pages in social networks and then the word of mouth began to do its job and she started to receive more orders. Anna rented an office, and she had to seriously consider renting equipment. “I was receiving one to five orders per day, and had to store finished bouquets and products somewhere...” she recalls.
However, the young entrepreneur could hardly afford the purchase of a display fridge, as high-quality equipment costs a lot of money. This is why the information about a grant contest in the framework of the ‘EU4Youth - Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict-affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine’ project was of particular interest to Anna. Her application was approved, and she was able to purchase everything she needed – a fridge, a soft box and a lamp to be able to photograph the bouquets. Social networks have remained the main source of clients, which means that high-quality, beautiful photos were essential for her business development.
Anna says: “The fridge was especially useful during the traditionally busy days – 14 February and 8 March. And generally, now I can make bouquets in advance and store them in the fridge before they are collected by clients.” She adds: “Thanks to the European Union grant, my revenue rose by at least 30 %!”
The lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic was an unpleasant moment… However, Anna was saved thanks to her well-developed social network profiles and delivery service – even during those hard times people still wanted to please their loved ones. Nowadays, the quantity of orders has almost come back to normal, and Anna plans to hire an assistant, because she can no longer cope alone with the amount of work.
“We have a lot of plans! Currently, we are creating a website and a brand book and are planning to organise a series of offline and online edible bouquet workshops.”
The coordinator of the EU4Youth project in Ukraine, Oleg Vishnevsky from the Danish Refugee Council, adds: “Anna’s story is a good example of how a relatively small financial aid, that amounts to 500 euros, can help significantly raise the revenue of a young entrepreneur. And there are more and more such young people who would like to start their own business in our region. This means that grant programmes like this are not becoming less important, but just the contrary.”
Author: Anastasiia Kozyreva (Livelihoods Officer at Danish Refugee Council, Ukraine)
Anna Movchan received support under the ‘EU4Youth – Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict- affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine’, which aims to enhance the livelihoods of internally displaced and conflict-affected youth, by increasing their educational, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. It provides vocational training, internships, business mentoring and start-up grants, and supports government institutions on youth employment policies. The project is funded by the European Union under its EU4Youth Programme and implemented by Danish Refugee Council in partnership with Education Development and Employment Centre (GE) and the Mariupol Youth Union (UA).