Tsitsi Shengelia – a young entrepreneur breaking stereotypes

21-10-2020

Tsitsi Shengelia decided to turn her hobby into a business in 2017. That’s how a creative studio, ‘By Tsitsi’, was created. It can be found in Zugdidi, where a woman carpenter transfers her own emotions and mood into wooden handiworks; here she feels freedom and happiness born in the process of work on each and every detail.

There are many interesting things to discover in Tsitsi’s “domain”, and it is already possible to see and buy them on Tsitsi’s own website: www.tsitsi.ge

Now, her business has two directions: accessories and a kitchen line. The young carpenter does everything by herself – from wood processing to communication with clients.

“I process the wood by myself. I like this process. Likewise, I create almost all the details by hand, working into each item emotions and positive energy that are transferred to a specific person. Work on wood is a mutual energy exchange when your body physically feels the warmth and scent emitted by the wood.  For example, needle-leaved trees have a totally different scent and texture, while hardwoods are different. A client always feels the energy put in a specific item, and shares it as a feedback. I believe that the clients love my handmade items for this reason – these items unite us.”  

Tsitsi Shengelia creates her items mainly for women, and the message is clear – to persuade all women that it is time to break gender stereotypes, to express your opinion and find your place. Apart from active work, Tsitsi tries to build a permanent communication with the user, and thus to study better the target audience, to understand market requirements and to develop properly.

A journey from hobby to entrepreneurship

Tsitsi wanted to participate in a project that would give her the necessary business management knowledge and skills. She found the answer in the project ‘EU4Youth - Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict-affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine’. The goal of the project is to increase access to participation in educational, employment and entrepreneurial activities for displaced or conflict-affected youth, and to strengthen cooperation between the state and civil sector on youth education, employment and entrepreneurship, by improving advocacy. 

“Prior to my involvement in the project, I had been making accessories: wooden and felt bags, hand-painted wooden brooches, and other items; but I faced lots of challenges and needed certain skills to overcome them. Exactly for this reason, I filled in the application, and, luckily, found people who did not spare their energy to transform me into an entrepreneur equipped with the necessary knowledge.”

Tsitsi says the project helped her to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge to manage her business. In the process of cooperation, they discovered the problems her business faced – the set-up of the production line was the most immediate challenge, which has now been overcome. And despite the completion of her training, the team still supports, cares for and encourages her today: “They experience and share success together with me. This enhances my motivation to set more serious goals and move to greater victories.”

The young entrepreneur finds it difficult to highlight any one moment of the project, though she does point to the mentorship, when she received guidance from a mentor particularly attuned to her specific interests, who did everything to help her use available resources: “When I received financing, I had the idea and the project, but I lacked entrepreneurial experience and skills. I did not know which machine-tools to use, what I needed to set up my business, what was my niche and my place on the market. That’s where the entrepreneurial school helped me. Today, I have a specific direction, goal and environment to develop my own business even further. In general, I would like to advise everybody not to abstain from activities fostering development. Learning is the best investment a person can undertake. Take this step boldly, learn a lot, never stop, be active and you will achieve the goal that you have set.”

Tsitsi says she would never sacrifice the quality of her work: she believes that clean work, and items that are durable and practical, show respect for her client: “I love the magic environment of the studio when you think individually about each item. There is a waiting period from accepting an order to the completion – this is creative time. I never forget the client’s response and attitude, as people who buy my objects fill me with energy and new ideas, help me to refine and perfect my products, whereas I try to offer them innovations all the time.”

This article was written under the project ‘EU4Youth – Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict-affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine’.

The aim of the project is to enhance the means of subsistence of displaced and conflict-affected youth, to support their active participation in public life, and to enhance their access to education, employment, and participation in entrepreneurial activities.

‘EU4Youth – Enhancing Youth Education, Employment and Participation in Conflict-affected Areas in Georgia and Ukraine’ is implemented by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the Education Development and Employment Centre (EDEC), with the financial support of the EU.