The difficult year of 2020 presented exciting challenges

Updated: Apr 10

On January 8, the article "Katre Arula's work emphasizes originality" was published on the Vooremaa news portal.


Katre Arula, the hostess of the Katre Meistrikoja, operating in the courtyard of Põltsamaa Castle, is a craftsman and fashion designer who has gained wider recognition all over Estonia, whose sources of inspiration are folk costumes and folk art. As a fashion designer, she makes very personal and unique handicraft products, with an emphasis on recycling and reuse.

Katre Arula, a member of the Estonian Fashion Artists' Association and the Estonian Lapland Work Society, has been operating as a craft entrepreneur since 2004. Thinking first of all as an entrepreneur back to 2020, she finds that it has been an eventful, active and successful year.

However, for many entrepreneurs and especially small entrepreneurs all over Estonia, it has not been an easy time - the decline in the number of tourists caused by the corona crisis has not left its effect. After all, the summer passed in Tallinn without the usual crowding of tourists on the streets of the Old Town and in the passenger port.


Last year was active


"I have been active all the time and something is constantly going on around me. 2020 has been such a busy year that I even wonder about it. In the master workshop in Põltsamaa, I continue to make my handicrafts on-site, but handicraft sales also continue here. In fact, I also operate a lot outside Põltsamaa - all over Estonia. I have a good display in two stores in Tallinn - unfortunately, these stores are located in the Old Town, and since there are no tourists at the moment, there have not been many sales there lately, ”said Katre Arula.

"Nothing came out of the summer. We were visited by quite a few customers, some came here for the first time, others over a long period of time - domestic tourism gained momentum again, people started moving around. An Estonian began to buy a local product, to support a local producer. Of course, it must be taken into account that this is a seasonal business - in the middle of May the business will start and in September the more active visit will end, schools will start, etc. In the winter months, the courtyard of Põltsamaa castle is relatively quiet and there are not many visitors, " noted Katre Arula.


Developed internet marketing


He added that last year was strange in that people also came to Katre Meistrikotta in the middle of September and said that if they usually went on holiday to Cyprus at that time, this year they will travel around Estonia and so they ended up in Põltsamaa, where they also found Põltsamaa craft shop in the castle courtyard.

"I also participated in the Estonian Fashion Festival for the second time, in the spring I made a new collection" Black Stork ", which was chosen as the audience's favourite. This year, the Estonian Folk Arts and Crafts Association gave me recognition for the annual award, "Handicraft Entrepreneur 2020", "said Katre Arula.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to the further development of online marketing and e-commerce, and this has been what has helped businesses to do business.

"The traditional Mardi Gras, which takes place every year in November and which we also call the craftsmen's song festival, was unfortunately missed last year - it took place online. It was a huge tiger leap for craftsmen - the craft association created a business card where everyone could write their sales environment. It turned out that many craftsmen did not even have an e-sales environment. I had the advantage that I had built my e-shop a long time ago, I was one step ahead of the others in this respect. I had something to further develop internet marketing - on the one hand, I educated myself in the field of internet marketing, on the other hand, a completely new collection was made, which has been very well received by people throughout the summer, "said Arula.


The school does not provide everything necessary for life


Speaking about his education, he says that far more than any school or university, it is important to gather the knowledge necessary to cope in life in the course of work and life itself.

"I have still been asked if I have graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts. I have studied sewing in two schools - sewing in Tallinn light industry school and clothing technology in Jämsänjokijaakson Vocational School in Vocational School in Finland. However, the school does not provide everything necessary for life - you have to develop yourself and constantly improve yourself, "said Katre Arula.

According to the hostess of Katre Meistrikoja, it is important that schools in Estonia still teach national handicrafts and textiles - be it in Viljandi, Olustvere, Räpina, Kuressaare or Haapsalu.

"It is important that these vocational schools become not only entrepreneurs but also people who know what it means to make handicrafts and that they can appreciate the quality of handicrafts. Every year I have had interns from different schools - Viljandi Academy of Culture, Tartu Vocational Education Center, Olustvere Service and Rural Economics School, also design schools from Denmark. There is often very good cooperation with the trainees, we have developed new products - such cooperation and an established network are crucial for me. In the case of trainees, one thing is that they need to do something for the school, but at the same time there can be years of cooperation and communication between people during the internship - the emerging network is more important than a formal educational paper from somewhere in the institute, ”said Katre. and as a trainer.

In 2013, he also published the book "Ajatud Lapitööd" (Kirjastus Pegasus), which introduces the reader to the joyful and colourful world of patchwork.

She has participated in the joint exhibitions of the Estonian Fashion Artists' Association all over the world since 2010.


Your niche has developed


Katre Arula has also received various recognitions (Heritage Keeper, Jõgevamaa Kultuuripärl, etc.), but she herself says that the work done as a great recognition is rather when people come through the workshop when visiting the courtyard of Põltsamaa castle. There are those who come to Põltsamaa specifically to visit Katre Meistrikoja, to look for or buy special handicrafts, in which the emphasis is on nationality and reuse.

Speaking about her handicraft production, Katre Arula says that she has found her niche: I have also applied for the "Recognized Estonian handicraft" mark for my products.

I'm a small doer, but somehow I can still be found here, in the courtyard of Põltsamaa castle - it's a big recognition for me. It has also happened that one wonders that the workshop is located in Põltsamaa - is there really life outside Tallinn? Some customers call again and ask how to get from Tartu to Põltsamaa. An interesting phenomenon in Põltsamaa is that a lot of handicrafts are made here and therefore they are also able to appreciate it, "said Katre Arula.

Of course, in order to maintain and develop the handicraft business, it is important that tourists visit Põltsamaa and visit the courtyard of Põltsamaa Castle, which is now being reconstructed.

At the heart of Katre are a clean environment, recycling and reuse. He can tastefully combine new fabrics, recycled materials and production residues.

"I named the collection completed in the spring" Black Stork "- it is known that the Black Stork is a species that is currently in danger of extinction in Estonian nature. So I draw attention to the fact that if you look at the street scene, handicrafts and folk art are also in danger of extinction. There are many reasons why crafts die out. Fortunately, the younger generation seems to be more aware of environmental problems and already thinks greener - I believe that in the end it will be understood that handmade clothes and items are of a completely different value, ”says Katre Arula.


Author: TAAVI KELDER


Source: Vooremaa

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