The idea to create Oberig (protective amulet) jewelry brand with ethnic roots and sacred meaning came to Tatiana Kondratyuk about 5 years ago at a formal reception in Canada. According to the dress code everyone had to be dressed in black as well as had to wear accessories symbolizing the national traditions of the countries represented by the guests.
That time Tatiana wore coral necklace that perfectly matched the black dress. But for Tatiana it was not enough to express the rich Ukrainian culture. It was a start of Oberig brand. Today Oberig offers jewelry that has special meaning and reflects history and cultural traditions of the Ukrainians.
Ornaments on precious metals with gems were invented long time ago by our ancestors and had certain meanings as well as protective properties. Patterns of Oberig ornaments have been selected by ethnographers based on their interpretation of the meaning of these figures. For some people Oberig is a very special brand with its philosophy but for others it is simply exquisite jewelry, unique and vibrant.
Tatyana, do you personally believe that the jewelry should serve as a talisman first of all and only then to be an accessory?
For our ancestors any accessory was the amulet to protect its owner, as well as vyshyvanka with its special ornaments. And every nation at different stages of our civilization development had such amulets. Since that people have lost these traditions. We want to revive them; it has become our mission. Oberig is jewelry with certain philosophy. Each pattern has positive meaning. We have worked for several years to select the most positive Slavic ornaments. Those ornaments formed the basis of our jewelry. If we talk about me, when the brand has been created I’ve got a feeling that this is not only my wish but also our ancestors’ will to restore the culture of protective amulets. And, of course, I do believe in their positive effect.
May a person come to you with his (her) own pattern and ask for jewelry with such an ornament? Please tell us more about production.
Yes, if a person has his own pattern we ask for ethnographer’s recommendations first and only after that we produce the accessory. We have already selected some patterns with experts and use them as the basis for our boutique collections. Production is located in Ukraine. 90% of our products are unique. There are so many different ornaments that we just never repeat them. And besides that people look for individual approach. If a person wants to order some special item I make sketches in pencil, then the painter makes computer version of the sketch with all dimensions. If the client confirms it we produce the jewelry.
How do foreigners react on Oberig jewelry?
We have already started to work in Europe and America. For non Slavic people it is simply beautiful jewelry with positive philosophy. Thanks to us these people learn more about Ukraine and go deeper into the country’s history and traditions. And finally, they can book a single version of accessory according to their needs.
Those foreigners who live here are more or less familiar with our traditions. They like them. Wives of diplomats, for example, are happy to wear our products. It is real treasure for Canadian and American expat community; it is more than just jewelry but our traditions. And for everyone else it is very unusual gem. Even on specialized exhibitions people follow us and ask a lot of questions. In the world of jewelry it is now very difficult to astonish somebody with something new but we manage to do it. We became recognizable very quickly.
What inspires you? Is it the history of our nation or people who will wear the amulets?
These are two parts of one thing, a kind of symbiosis where it is important to keep the traditions and in this case a person will find his (her) own Oberig.
You have been a successful politician, the leader of the Green Party, Deputy Minister for Family, Youth and Sports Issues; you have awards for social activities. The reforms in the system of child custody were conducted successfully under your leadership. And one day you established Oberig brand. What were the reasons for such a change in your life?
I had the Obrig idea in my mind for a very long time. I quit the state job in 2008. It was the time of economic crisis. But for some reason the circumstances were propitious and there were certain people around me who helped to bring my idea to life. When we created the first item we realized that we had to go on. UA Collection (the first collection) was created not for sale. It should have been located in some national museum. We presented that collection in Intercontinental Hotel just to show the products. But people started asking about the price and the place where our jewelry could be bought. In 1 year we opened the first boutique and got a lot of orders.
And what are Oberig future plans?
We want to be famous all over the world! We want people to wear our jewelry with pleasure since it can really make them happier and more successful in life and protect them from any evil. We intent to make Oberig ergonomically designed, comfortable. And, you know, that Oberig now is something really special that changes the lives for better. We know a lot of interesting people who are together thanks to it. This is special jewelry. And when “Oberig people” meet each other somewhere they for sure have one topic to talk about. I heard the stories about Oberig jewelry that really connected people. I'm lucky that I have tried a lot of areas where I was able to implement some projects successfully. And it is logical for me to switch to creative job now and to deal with jewelry. I am happy in my profession now.
Can you please tell us about your own Oberig ring?
This compound amulet consists of masculine and feminine patterns and it means harmony. I easily dive into my business affairs and don’t notice the world around. And this amulet is intended to bring some balance and harmony into my life. You know, sometimes it just reminds me that I have to make a pause. I touch the ring and remember that it is better to slow down now. It is important to be a real woman as well as a successful business lady.
What do you think about the meaning of the word "beauty"? Will it save the world?
Beauty is the inside and outside harmony of a person, a kind of state of mind that allows you to influence the world positively. I meet a lot of nice people who improve life around them. So in this meaning beauty can make this world better!
Oberig boutique address: 4, Hrushevs'koho Str., Kyiv, +38 (044) 278 47 22
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak