Olena Ziniova opened her first gift shop in Kherson 20 years ago. In the early 2000s, it became the first in the city to offer Ukrainian-themed souvenirs: amulets, embroidered towels and embroidered shirts, tableware, and Petrykivka wood painting. All of the goods were so authentic that primary school teachers even started teaching ethnic studies in the shop.
When the enemy captured Kherson, Olena removed all items with Ukrainian symbols from the store’s shelves and spent more than three months under occupation. When the entrepreneur left the city, she took a small part of the goods with her, mostly embroidered shirts, which she hid in her bags under her own clothes.
“We passed through 33 Russian checkpoints, and we were miraculously lucky: no one turned our belongings inside out. I was very scared, but I couldn’t leave my embroidered shirts, which were my amulets. Perhaps it was thanks to them that we got out,” Olena recalls.
It was with these shirts that she managed to take out that the entrepreneur set up a small shop in Kryvyi Rih, where she waited for the liberation of her hometown.
Now Olena is at home. Her store in Kherson was damaged, but she does not give up and continues to work. She is convinced that Ukrainian symbols are eternal, and everything else can be restored.