When I asked Kristina, Svaja’s co-founder and Creative Director, for a quote to introduce her interview she chose this from HH Sheikh Mohamed…
“Waiting has never been our choice in the past, nor is it in the present. We are always striving, anticipating the future and preparing for it.”
Kristina is known for her passion, drive and vision and these 26 words neatly sum up her approach. Here she treats us to an intimate chat about her past, her present and her future dreams…
“I was born and raised in Lithuania until the age of 22. Then my adventurous side demanded a change of scene and I ended up in England where I followed a passion for chemistry and maths by studying for a BSc degree at university. Once I graduated, modelling was next on my agenda and, while it didn’t use my brains, it was fun, brought great monetary rewards and gave me a real insight into the consumer mindset.”
How did you then make the leap into starting a business?
“When I was modelling, it was the dawn of the great British home obsession: decluttering, streamlining, magnolia walls, wood flooring – minimal living with statement pieces – but I noticed that was very little choice in contemporary, good quality, accessible glass accessories. At the same time I was travelling home to visit my family in Lithuania, the land of traditional glassmaking, and so I decided to start producing beautiful handmade glass articles to meet this need. It was the perfect time to revive local glass skills and bring them to a wider, more style-conscious audience. I set up in a very small way, my landlord recommended an accountant and it all started from there. We started to exhibit our small collection at major UK trade shows and being a bit different, we attracted the attention of some of the country’s top retailers - the ball was rolling and it hasn’t yet stopped! I was so pleasantly surprised with all interest I had from the start.”
Where do you get your inspiration for colours and shapes?
“From just about everything I see and do: fashion, travelling, interiors, nature, food, art – it could be the angle of a heel in Vogue, or a freshly sliced papaya in a restaurant. I love modern design, art and architecture and keep discovering new forms which inspire me. Spending time with our glass artisans as they experiment with techniques, never fails to give me new ideas too.”
What do you most like about England and Lithuania?
“England is cosmopolitan and one of the most important financial, cultural, political, fashion centres in the world. I like to be where life is “boiling” and things are happening every second. Lithuania has my roots and I respect it for shaping me. Without Lithuania Svaja would not have been born.”
What’s your typical working day?
“There’s no routine but I always keep connected by email and phone. I get restless if I stay too long in the same place so I spend half my time travelling overseas for business, for inspiration and when we can squeeze it in, holidaying! I am passionate about Svaja and will often work on Saturdays liaising with our growing number of clients in the Middle East.”
What are you proudest of achieving so far?
“Aside from my family, it’s that Svaja is getting known around the world and that we have created a brand name in such competitive and niche market.”
Who inspires you?
“Anyone who is successful in their field: if they have achieved their goals it means I can too.”
If you were a colour what would you be and why?
“Rainbow, because I like different colours depends on my mood. I particularly like a combination of complimenting colours: it’s so interesting to experiment with different colours in glass, seeing how they blend. Colours like people can compliment or interfere with each other; the art is to find a right balance.”
Do you have a motto for life?
“I have a few: “Don’t take no for an answer”, “Be so focussed on your dreams that they dare not come true”, A thousand difficult steps forward is better than one step back””
What makes you happy professionally?
“Lots of things: I still get a thrill when a friend or colleague calls to say they’ve been to a dinner party where a Svaja piece was the topic of the night; or when I go somewhere new and discover a piece in residence. I also love bringing forgotten talents back to life and helping artisans show their art to the world, giving them purpose to create with me and to grow. Most of all I get a real kick out of the amazing loyalty people around the world have for Svaja, its so unexpected and so personal. It makes me smile every day.”
And do you have any goals for the future?
“Do I! I want to continue building the Svaja brand and portfolio across the globe, taking our customers on a journey of imagination and endless possibilities. I’d like to establish Svaja as the leading high-end interiors accessories specialists for private and public spaces around the world and I also want to continue growing our bespoke architectural glass service – each piece is a work of art! Most of all I want to keep celebrating what has made glass unforgettable throughout history: beauty, elegance, unique style… almost like a woman!”