Liudmyla and Ilona have embarked on a thrilling adventure together. They are refugees from Ukraine, forced to leave their homeland due to the turmoil of war, and presently residing in the Asylum Center in Vranje, with their children and aged parents. Having left their homeland behind to find safety in Vranje, little did they know that this journey would lead to a fabulous dress shop which they named “Be Shine”.
From the moment they arrived, Liudmyla and Ilona felt accepted, and the people of Vranje welcomed them with warm smiles and open hearts. Inspired by this newfound sense of belonging, they decided to pursue their shared passion for fashion and design, and so, “Be Shine” was born. Although setting up the shop was not easy, “Be Shine” opened right at the prom season, when Vranje was buzzing with excitement, And it was as if the stars had aligned to make it a success. The shop quickly became the talk of the town, as Vranje girls were in search of their dream prom dresses.
– It was like witnessing a fairy tale unfold as Vranje girls shone like princesses – said Liudmyla and Ilona.
Ilona is a Fashion Designer, educated at the Kyiv National University of Technologies and Design, and Liudmyla is a Marketing Manager. They make a great match, and they love working together. They say they communicate telepathically, akin to magic, where one look is enough to know exactly what the other is thinking.
Their message to other refugee women is simple but powerful: “If you are good with your hands, start a business, and believe in yourself! No matter what life throws at you, always look fabulous!
While they are still a small business in need of support to grow, they dream of becoming the number-one dress shop in Vranje and beyond. They plan to expand their business to sell dresses online and employ other talented women to sew and transform their designs into beautiful garments.
Notwithstanding their relative success and the glamour surrounding it, Liudmyla and Ilona never forget their roots and the journey that brought them to Vranje. They have made a vow to donate 10% of their earnings in support of fellow refugees once “Be Shine” becomes as successful as they would like it to be.
Ilona’s father always said: “Reach for the stars, but don’t forget to lay the foundation”, a valuable piece of advice that they have been following since they started their business.
They also remember to mention those who supported them in transforming their dreams into a reality and wholeheartedly thank Golub Miru, Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia and UNHCR partners Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and INDIGO for their support.