“We love it here!” Ukrainian friends set up business after finding new home in West Didsbury

Two Ukrainians who fled after the invasion are settling into life in West Didsbury and have just set up a new business

Anna Shturmak and Anastasiia Berest are from Dnipro, but moved to Kiyv before Russia invaded Ukraine In February last year.

They had been planning to open their unique and beautiful candle shop in Ukraine, before they were forced to leave.

Fate bought them to England, and Manchester in May earlier this year.

They have taken up residence with the Neidhardt family in West Didsbury.

After finding their feet in England, they have set up a new business venture called Vira.

Vira sell a range a of candles, which you can check out here.

Speaking to I Love MCR, Anna said: “We always wanted to open a small business, and have been working on the concept for a long time.

“At first we weren’t sure whether to open a business here or not because there are many nuances to English life.

“English is not our first language, we weren’t sure how everything works.

“Fortunately we’ve met some very nice people, especially the family who we were staying with.”

The candles beauty speaks for itself, elegantly designed with all natural ingredients and all packaging made from recycled materials.

Each candle is handmade using soy wax and a wooden or cotton wick.

The pair add fragrance oil without parabens or other harmful substances to make your evening bright and safe

Anastasiia said: “We decided to take a risk and it was the right decision. We wanted to make a quality product that will bring beauty and comfort to people’s homes.”

We asked the pair about how they were finding life in England.

Anna said: “It’s been really nice so far.

“We live with a great big family, Liz, Matt and three kids: Grace, Joseph and Patrick – and of course the incredible dog Lemmy.


The family together for Thanksgiving

“We spend a lot of time together, watching TV and hanging out – and celebrate all holidays together.

“Most importantly, we all have the the same Type of humour! The British type of humour is definitely the same as ours, we love it.

“Everyones been really friendly so far and we’ve made a lot of friends.”

She added there were a lot of similarities with people from Manchester and their home town of Dnipro.

“It’s very similar to home, the people are great and funny. We love it here.

“The food, well we both absolutely love sticky toffee pudding and now – Anastasiia drinks tea only with milk!

“In general everything’s been great.”

Looking to the future, the pair are looking to branch out from selling candles, with ‘several ideas to expand the business’.

Anastasiia said: “We are in the process of implementing two collections, one is scented candles in jars and another is shaped concrete candles.

“We are currently working on the design, this is our plan for the near future.

“We want to focus on household goods, small things that would add nice atmosphere and comfort to every house.

“There are thoughts to expand the production, it will also be handmade. for the foreseeable future we want to sell our product in a store, so people can see and touch before they buy.

“We already had a little experience selling candles in a store here, we think it’s a good idea!”


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