Thoughts and reflections on the WISE by Danish participants

Enriched with numerous coaching techniques as well as practical tasks based on site visits that took place during the project piloting phase, A Practical Training Course in modern entrepreneurship, creative technologies & innovations also focused on adult female learners’ ability to explore their internal needs and desires that may be translated into viable artistic innovations later on. Find some thoughts and reflections on the WISE by Danish participants.

© We Are Entrepreneurs, Denmark

Rasa and Ramune’s slow fashion business promotes comfort and sustainability

‚For a long time, I wanted to do something similar to what we are doing now. However, I clearly realized that it requires someone with whom our views coincide’, says entrepreneurial mom Ramunė Vileniškienė, who lives in Anyksciai, Lithuania. Together with Rasa Strumilienė, who is based in the same city, they started a handmade linen business.

A business born out of necessity

Although Ramunė and Rasa have only been in business for six months, they can see that the interest in linen production is growing. So, they have numerous plans for the future.

The idea to sew hand-embroidered linen clothes, accessories, and home textiles came to Rasa during the quarantine. Especially when the restrictions of the pandemic have changed the activities of many companies and people. Until then, Rasa, who has been making albums, boxes, and other small holiday paraphernalia, felt that when the holidays decreased in numbers, her orders also stopped.

‘I have been doing handicrafts for about 14 years since I went on maternity leave. Therefore, of course, the idea arose to learn some new craft. Although you can count on your fingers how many times I have held a needle in my hands, I decided to learn to embroider so that I could apply these skills to the postcards, albums, and other products I make,’ says the interviewer.

Since the quarantine lasted for a long time, Rasa accumulated a lot of embroidered rags. Looking at them, the woman got the idea to start making aprons and towels, which, like her other products, could become a great gift.

It was a coincidence

Rasa hired a seamstress to implement her ideas. After working for a while, the seamstress changed her plans, so the creators had to look for a new person. That’s how she met Ramune.

Having graduated in business management, Ramune works as an administrator at Anyksciai company, but in her spare time, she sculpts from clay, knits, sews, and also does various other crafts. A mutual acquaintance recommended her as a good seamstress to Rasa.

‘From the first time we spoke on the phone, it appeared that we would get along. And while working, it turned out that we both have similar tastes, and business vision, and in general our opinions coincide on a number of issues. That’s how we started thinking that we would like to develop the ‘Metro de lino’ brand together’, – recalls Rasa.

Dreams about expanding the assortment

So far, the ‘Metro de lino’ range includes clothes and accessories for women and girls. These are mostly dresses, but also matching ensembles of blouses, shirts, pants, skirts, and scarves. Especially for girls, the duo created handbags and crowns.

However, entrepreneurial moms from Anyksciai have already received requests to decorate men as well.

We have numerous plans. Unfortunately, we lack the time to implement them. The nearest plans are to sew not only this and that for men, but also more dresses with long sleeves and to convince our customers that linen is not only a summer fabric.
Ramunė Vilėniškienė and Rasa Strumilienė

Encouraging slow fashion

Entrepreneurial moms think it is important to develop a responsible business. They often remind their clients who are looking for sustainability what great material linen is.

‘Sometimes people are surprised by the price of linen clothes, but everything has an explanation. First of all, linen is a strong material, so the clothes made from it will last a long time, at least three seasons’, the advocates of slow fashion point out.

Sometimes, someone complains that linen products have faded, and lost their shape. However, when asked who made these clothes, it turns out that they came from China or from Turkey. We sew from high-quality, Lithuanian linen, which we purchase at the factory in Panevezys.

Those interested in Metro de lino products should also keep in mind that they are sewn and embroidered by hand, which takes much longer than mass production.

‘We try to do the seams responsibly, so that nothing annoys the buyer, and do everything as if we were sewing for ourselves. We are both fans of natural fabrics, having personal experience with how synthetic materials are not suitable for our skin. We are happy that our buyers understand that quality material and handwork cost more than synthetic products’, the slow fashion designers add.

In order to work more ecologically and leave as little garbage as possible, entrepreneur moms also want to enrich the Metro de lino collection with hair accessories and home decorations from linen scraps.

Distance is not an obstacle

Artisans get creative ideas not only by communicating with their customers during fairs but also by participating in #WISE, an adult education project organized by the NGO Versli mama and funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ program. Its target group was creative and artistic women who see their creative activity as a source of financial independence.

Rasa and Ramune, who participated remotely in the creative women’s entrepreneurship training, are happy to have found more sustainability-like-minded people, for instance, getting to know the backpack brand Džy Šmutkės. They got the confirmation that their business goes the right direction.

Because of the extensive workload and the considerable distance to the Lithuanian capital where the training took place, designers were able to participate in the lectures only remotely or by viewing video footage posted on the YouTube platform. On the other hand, they admit, it is very convenient for project participants from remote areas.

‘It’s nice that such training is taking place and that we can participate in it. This is a really cool and useful project for those who want to turn their favorite activity into a source of financial stability. Thanks to the training, we received a lot of useful information about the ETSY platform, where we are starting our activities little by little. We also learned relevant and necessary information about introducing ourselves as creators. In order to become a well-known brand, it is really important to represent yourself correctly’, – the creators of slow fashion share their impressions of participating in the project.

Studio Metro de lino is located in the Art Studio of the Anyksciai Arts Incubator, Biliūno str. 53, Anyksciai. 

For more Metro de lino products:

Illustrations from the personal archives of the interviewees and the Metro de lino studio

Text by Karina Vladičkė

Lithuanian painting teacher Egle got her creative business idea after immersing herself in the flow

Egle Stripeikiene, a graduate of the Vilnius Academy of Arts, had no limitations in becoming a painting teacher. However, it took her almost half her age to make this decision. Finally, it changed her life for the better. Now Egle gives individual painting lessons for adults in Vilnius and feels no more like a round peg in a square hole, encouraging readers to follow their hearts more often.

The artist from Panevėžys, a city in Northern Lithuania, worked as a graphic designer for more than 20 years, but she had too little creative freedom in this job. After endless and unsuccessful creative attempts to change her professional path, Egle surrendered herself to the flow for several summer months. Only one week’s gap brought her the business idea and the first customers.

Always felt an attraction to art

Egle says that she has loved to draw since childhood. She attended an art school in her hometown for several years, so her decision to study visual communication at the Vilnius Academy of Arts was a predictable one. Later she decided to specialize in graphic design.

After completing her studies, Egle worked for four years as a graphic designer at an advertising agency. Magazine designing took another four years. Finally, she devoted herself to freelancing. Nevertheless, long hours of work at the computer seemed more and more pointless. Egle felt she wants to dip her hands in paint and draw.

“I embarked on the path of spiritual quest and self-knowledge at the age of about seventeen. I have tried countless traditional and non-traditional practices of self-knowledge in addition to my studies and work, and have immersed myself in the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism,” Egle recalls.

I want to encourage people to overcome their inner fears, to share my knowledge, and to inspire. I see that art is also a great tool for self-knowledge.

Due to her tireless interest in learning, the woman has completed training in psychotherapy and counseling fundamentals, art therapy, psychological astrology, and coaching. Egle was one of the first in Lithuania to start a mandala-making workshop she has been running for ten years, drawing and painting mandalas herself. Later, she tested herself in spontaneous painting, body map drawing, and other artistic self-expression classes.

“I appreciate a human desire to create. I understand it very well because I dreamed of it timidly myself. Now I want to encourage people to overcome their inner fears, give them knowledge, to inspire them. I see that art is also a great tool for self-knowledge,” the artist says.

Without searches, there would be no discoveries

Egle admits her long-time self-searching attempts may look like a small distraction, but she assures the time puts everything in its place. Without the search, her vocation in encouraging and inspiring people to create would not have been discovered. Egle is convinced she found her heart in teaching the basics of painting and helping people in expressing their feelings and ideas on canvas.

“Everything happened very unexpectedly when I had almost given up. At the time, I was fascinated by metaphor card counseling and had prepared a training course on it, but failed to get participants. I decided to put aside all activities and do nothing at all. It was the very beginning of summer. There was some cereal in the cupboard, and I decided I would survive,” – the artist recalls.

A couple of days later, after asking herself what she would like to do just for fun, she answered herself: of course–painting!

“I remember it was a sunny day. I took paints and canvases to the garden under the apple trees, painted several works, and shared the photos on the social network. Participants in earlier training sessions were quite quick to respond that they would also like to paint. I had my own studio, so I invited the participants, and it was the start of my private painting lessons from then on”, Egle says about her path of creative entrepreneurship.

The quarantine did not deter those who wanted to draw

Soon Egle’s courses attracted such great interest that the artist did not even bother with advertising for two years. Course participants came thanks to the recommendations of friends. For Egle, it was great proof that she was in her place.

The training course “Painting from the whole heart” has been held every weekday for the past 5 years and has gone very well so far. “To be honest, I don’t do a lot of advertising even now because I can get seven participants into the studio at the same time. It’s not much, but it’s enough for me because working with people requires a lot of energy,” the creator assures.

Egle survived the most difficult period of her painting activity during the quarantine. But after all the restrictions, those who wanted to draw and paint returned to the woman’s studio.

“During the first quarantine we had to stop our activities completely, and during the second we tried to adapt – whenever we had the opportunity to work with masks, we did. There were thoughts of having webinars, but those courses still felt like a kind of substitute to me. Theoretical topics can be taught virtually, but training practical skills requires constant communication,” Egle says.

Goes with the flow

In developing her individual activity, Egle adheres to the well-known English phrase Go with the flow. According to her, such an attitude allows her to achieve good results without much stress.

“At present, I have no plans to change or expand anything. I just want to leave everything as it is now. I want to devote more time to my personal creativity, refine my style, present it more solidly,” the woman confesses.

Egle tries to find time for herself and her development by participating in the adult education project # WISE run by the Lithuanian NGO VERSLI MAMA. The project is aimed at women in creative and artistic professions who see their creative work as a source of financial independence.

“I am glad that I have the opportunity to participate in this cool project, where I have already met great artists, got acquainted with the intricacies of the gallery work, learned how to create an artistic portfolio, what is NFT, about the copyrights and personal presentations. I go into every lecture with a completely open heart and try to absorb as much information as possible, even information that I seem to know already. After all, there are things that are worth repeating again and again,” the interviewee describes her impressions of participating in the project.

You can see Egle’s work:
Follow the life of the studio:

The article was written on behalf of the Erasmus+ adult education project #WISE – Women: Innovative, Successful, Empowered. The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Training the trainers in Karditsa

Eight representatives from foreign partnering organizations took part in dynamic learning, teaching, and training sessions in the city of Karditsa (Greece) under the observance of the prescribed health and safety measures, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The transnational event was organized by executives of ANKA S.A., on behalf of the #WISE – Women: Innovative, Successful, Empowered, a project under the Erasmus+ program.

The importance of metacognition in andragogy, identification of adult learners’ self-concept and need to know themselves better, the role and preparation of facilitators were among the training topics, methods of adult training, and their main aspects, including, but not limited to, setting the training goals, choosing the right training methods and stages were among the topics covered during the learning, teaching, and training seminars.

Training sessions in andragogy were accompanied by multiple visits to the Women’s Center of Karditsa, the theatrical workshop at the local theatre, the family business “Plekta Vera” and the online presentation of the guest artist Evgenia Vissariou.

The training sessions took place in the conference room of ANKA’s offices (Megalou Alexandrou 34, Karditsa), from Nov 19 to 21, 2021. Participants had the opportunity to collaborate on the implementation of innovative andragogical approaches, the exchange of good practices, as well as on practical issues of the program.

Moreover, as representative of the Greek hospitality, a guided tour of the city of Karditsa and the nearest landmarks was held. In this context, the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other better, interacted, and laid solid foundations for the continuity and successful completion of the project #WISE.

About the project

Project #WISE serves the creative and artistic women who have been thinking about their practice as a self-employment opportunity.

#WISE has two objectives. The 1st objective is to support crafts & arts women in acquiring and developing basic skills and key competencies in digital literacy, innovation, and technological manufacturing solutions for better realization of their creative ideas and products. And the 2nd objective is to extend the supply of high-quality learning and networking opportunities for women in crafts & arts and contemporary creative industries market trends.

The project focuses on female artists of different ages, living mainly in regions of all partner countries, and embraces the competencies of both age groups, inviting at least 50 women from the 5 partnering countries to take part in the practical training sessions on creative entrepreneurship, contemporary arts, and innovations.

The #WISE is being implemented by a partnership of 6 organizations from 5 EU Member States, coordinated by Lithuanian NGO Versli mama along with partners We Are Entrepreneurs (Denmark), Gallery of Lithuanian Artist’s Union, ETN School s.r.l. (Italy), Skref fyrir Skref ehf / Step by step (Iceland), and ANKA. S.A. (Greece).

Contributed by AN.KA S.A.