Maria Karlina, like many girls from Yelets, got acquainted with the character of Yelets lace at school – such were the times. Under the sonorous and gentle commands of bobbins, snow-white threads were woven, curled into patterns – flowers, leaves, elegant lattices and rosettes … Maria always dreamed of being a fashion designer. She invented this beautiful dream pattern since childhood, dressing dolls in clothes of her own production, watching her grandmother – a great craftswoman in knitting, sewing, cooking and home improvement. But the touching world of children, ephemeral and vulnerable, moved under the onslaught of new desires and the strength of youth itself.
Lace of love
Threads of a different color are often interwoven into the snow-white Yelets patterns, they do not spoil the picture, they just make it different. Maria chose jurisprudence and entered the Yelets State University named after Ivan Alekseevich Bunin.
“I studied in Yelets for four years, and then left for Moscow and finished my education in Baumanka,” says Maria Vladimirovna.
Such a pattern of fate cannot be seen at first glance, it seems like someone else’s. But it absolutely fits into the overall picture of her life, because it is about love, big and strong. There is a saying: the test of time is the best preparation for marriage. She was 16 when they met. Yure – 34. A successful capital businessman with Yelets roots. A kind, generous and decent person. For a long time they met as friends. Love doesn’t ask unnecessary questions, unlike parents. When it was time to get married, my mother focused on the age difference and warned. But the daughter’s character is such that she will not give up hers. He was her person. A man whom she considered a standard, an ideal. Until now, nothing has changed. They have been together for 21 years, including years of friendship.
After the wedding, they lived in the capital for some time, but when they talked about the child, Yuri Nikolaevich himself drew a drawing for the family pattern – life away from the hustle and bustle, in the fresh air, in peace and quiet. Nothing better than Yelets met these requirements. There was already a home, friends, relatives. Their first daughter Victoria was born here, and then Nastenka and Christina.
Going into business
– After sitting at home for a year, I started talking to the dog. I had nowhere to put my energy. I had time to study the child, decorate the house, read books, and improve the garden. And when I changed everything: hello, my beloved Alabai!
She began to fiddle with her husband: “Yura, you have so many things to do, there is a mess in your documents, can I help you.” At first he disagreed, but we found a compromise. I was given one organization, I quickly got into the business, put them in complete order. On difficult issues I consulted with my spouse, what I could decide for myself – I decided. He appreciated my delicacy and my zeal: the horse is rushing and it is good at it. Soon a second company appeared in my area of responsibility – a complex one, connected with agriculture, with land. So our business turned into a family business. I was Yuri’s lifesaver, I helped him everywhere and in everything.
The husband took up the farm: he raised fat-tailed rams, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, cows, brazier pigs. Of course, assistants help Popov manage such a large courtyard – this is understandable. But Yuri Nikolaevich himself is not a miss – a hunter, fisherman, mushroom picker, breadwinner. A man who knows how to live correctly on earth, so that she does not throw you off. Maria appreciates this solidity, strength in him and feels like a stone wall behind her husband. But at the same time, she does not hide behind her – such a turn.
– In the family of my grandfather Nikolai on my father’s side, the main thing in the house was a man. My grandmother, she is Latvian by nationality, knew how to equip life beautifully and with taste. Perfectly cooked, knitted, sewed. My Yura is also the center of the family, and I am the hostess. I design, decorate the house, cook, bake, separate, close cans for the winter.
In the lace pattern of her life, this filigree – a thicker thread, labor – makes the pattern of fate convex and characteristic. A successful business woman, in 2017 she is the queen of small and medium-sized businesses in the Lipetsk region, a beauty, a clever woman, a mother of three charming girls, not a poor man, and suddenly … twists for the winter. And not just ten cans, but 500.
– I like! I love to cook. We do not buy anything in the store except butter and flour. We have everything our own: sausages, sausages, cheeses, stewed meat, condensed milk. This is, if you will, a philosophy of life, components of physical health, on which a healthy mind is based. Although I will admit, sometimes I break the rules and buy myself a sandwich at a gas station. My husband sometimes even scolds me for being too hardworking, but I do everything so easily for the family, I am happy about household chores. And there are enough assistants. Our girls are brought up in respect for work, for parents, for home, for neighbors.
Director’s first steps
In 2007, Yuri Nikolaevich Popov became one of the co-founders of the Eletsky Lace Company. He, like his other companions, did not get into production until the factory gave an SOS signal. In 2012, one of the workers turned to Vladimir Putin with a request to save the fishery. By that time, only 10 million rubles had been owed to the budgetary funds of the Yeletsk Lace. Staff salaries were not paid for six months. The founders began to be dragged to the authorities.
– At that moment I decided on the directorship. She offered her husband her candidacy, secretly hoping that the young woman would be forgiven for what they would not forgive a businessman with experience. We received an audit report on the state of the factory: deliberately bringing the enterprise to bankruptcy, took out a loan and paid debts.
Everyone knows: the quality of lace depends on the quality of the raw materials. If we translate this tracing paper into life and production, then Maria Karlina got “complicated threads”, in places frayed, in places torn – “Yelets lace” stopped a step from its fall into the abyss.
The director began to look for ways to reduce costs. The first thing she did was to combine two industries into one: stitching and lace, placing them in a historic factory building, which, by the way, is a monument of federal significance.
The old mansion suits lace, for them it is like an elegant frame for a delicate pattern, but the merchant’s vein has brought incredible tension to the development of modern business. When Maria Karlina decided to supply gas to a factory heated by stoves, she was flatly refused: no “air” – this is a monument! On communications – also a refusal: we will not give!
– I still managed to carry out the gas, – Maria Vladimirovna rejoices that victory to this day. – For two years I have been collecting documentation, expertise, environmental reports. The projects cost more than gasification itself. But I did it. Big savings on heating came out. The first serious result.
The second most important business after gasification is the Yelets lace museum. You cannot count the economic effect here. This is work to preserve the cultural heritage of Yelets and its entire area. Unique lace exhibits were kept in boxes without proper care and attention. At the request of the director, the values were restored, restored, put in order and combined in one unique exhibition.
Dive according to plan
One of the divers’ rules is to plan your dive carefully. Maria Karlina calculated every inch of her immersion in a new business. At night, she sat with documents, prepared for planning meetings with specialists, formulated tasks and analyzed possible ways to solve them. It was not easy for her to unite the team under a new banner, the old-timers got used to working the old-fashioned way – to drive quantity. She was only satisfied with the quality.
Maria Vladimirovna is a persistent, strong, delicate and attentive person, which was soon appreciated by all subordinates.
– I fell into my element. Childhood dreams have returned to my real adult life. Lace production is more than modeling, it is the basis on which wonderful modern ideas will be born, – says the director. – We have opened an experimental workshop for sewing a clothing group. Famous fashion designers began to pay attention to us. At the Slava Zaitsev festival “Plyos on the Volga. Linen Palette ”we took the main prize,“ Silver Phoenix ”, as a sign of rebirth from the ashes.
Fashion designer Ulyana Sergeenko, consistently positioning Russian fashion and original Russian traditions abroad, made dresses from Yelets lace for Natalia Vodianova, Kate Hudson, Kerry Washington and Emily Clarke. Together with Ulyana, Maria Karlina was at the Paris Fashion Week. Twenty Yelets lace-makers worked on one of the dresses for the collection for three months.
Fashion historian Alexander Vasiliev showed a great interest in Yelets lace. He presented exclusive linen tablecloths and napkins decorated with hand-made lace and delicate embroidery at the presentation of his project “Heirlooms” in two collections: “Thaw” and “Imperial”.
– I am not sitting still. I go to Moscow, meet people, make my way, communicate, – Maria Vladimirovna willingly reveals the secrets of promoting the company. – Instagram works well for us, a site where all lace products are presented. Now we are working with a young fashion designer, author of the Loom by Rodina brand, Svetlana Rodina. For her new collection, our lace makers prepared collars and scarves. By the way, the shooting of the lookbook took place in Yelets, which is symbolic – fashionable life is returning to us. We are trying.
“Eletskiye Kruzhev” has a very powerful assortment – more than five thousand items. The Yeletsky brand is presented in Moscow in the brand stores of the Imperial Porcelain Factory and Gus-Khrustalny. Porcelain and crystal played in a special way with Yelets lace. Now Maria Karlina is breaking through the “window” to Petersburg. Which is quite reasonable. At one time, Yelets lace was supplied to the imperial court. And the lacemaker Domna Serafimovna Lotkina, a former nun of the Znamensky Monastery on the Black Sloboda, made two pieces for the dresses of the Grand Duchesses Olga Alexandrovna and Ksenia Alexandrovna. They say that Domna received a ring with a blue pebble as a reward and money that she gave to the monastery. A branded lace shop was opened in Voronezh. Today, more than 90 percent of Yelets products have been approved as examples of high artistic merit.
Maria Karlina treats her business a little more than just business. She has a mission – to protect and develop the art of lace making, rare in beauty.
– Now the lace craft is experiencing a severe shortage of personnel. If you don’t teach the girls, there will be no one to transfer this art to, – this is how sad notes appeared in our conversation.
But Maria Vladimirovna is full of strength to change the situation, or at least to influence it. Therefore, she stubbornly, at all levels, positions the idea of creating circles in the field of additional education. Her perseverance is yielding results – the Yeletsky district is connected to the process of teaching lace-making. The enterprise must provide the circles with threads, pillows, bobbins.
– I’m sick with lace. For me, this beauty has no analogues. And the fashion for them will never pass. Therefore, I really want my daughters to become the continuation of the craft and family business. Veronica knows how to weave lace. Nastya sews. It’s too early to talk about Christina, but what grains you sow, such a crop will grow.
The most important pattern in the life of Maria Karlina is being born under her hands now. And she really wants him to be unique, beautiful, delicate, known to the whole world.
– From our lace, in which authorship prevails, you can make everything – for example, a portrait of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. By the way, when he came to the Lipetsk region, he was presented with a panel of George the Victorious by our craftswomen.
Yelets patterns are an absolute canon. And also the mood, the weather outside the window, berries on the bushes, birds on the branches and light snowflakes fluttering in the sky – an amazing romantic fairy tale, pure, transparent, unusually poetic and touching. Some people manage to make a fairy tale come true and lovingly weave the lace of life without blots, alternating a variety of details, patterns and threads.
– I am a very happy person because I have a beloved family and a favorite business. And Love itself, which makes us all kinder and cleaner.
Text: Irina Kobzeva
Photo: Sergey Avilov