Russian international Hallam University graduate launches unique ethnic greeting card range

A Sheffield Hallam animation and special effects graduate has just launched a range of ethnically diverse greetings cards with the help of the Hallam Enterprise Team.

Elena Kostyukhina, 25, graduated last November and ever since has been working on creating the range, choosing top quality paper, designing all the images, greetings and printing up the first card samples.

She said: “After extensive market research among international students and friends, my range has just launched on the online handmade product website, Etsy.

“I will be selling the cards at the Hallam Christmas market on 2 & 3 December and am currently looking for retail outlets for the cards, phone cases and cotton shoppers, all of which celebrate ethnic diversity.

Elena grew up in Kazan, Russia, between Moscow and the Ural mountains. Her father is Russian Christian and her mother a Tartar Moslem. Those faiths have lived peacefully together since 1500, so Elena grew up with tolerance and churches and mosques side by side on her town’s main street.

“I didn’t want to choose between my parents’ faiths, so I say I believe in God, respecting everyone who wants to live peacefully together, and loving and helping everyone,” said Elena.

It was when she and her friend were looking for a card which they could identify with which celebrated Tartar culture, that they realized there was a business opportunity as there was nothing currently on the market to celebrate everyone’s different lifestyles and ethnicity. But then her friend’s sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer and a degree in animation and special effects brought Elena to Sheffield, where she now has a one year Tier 1 Visa to give her time to start her business successfully.

“I have 15 designs so far and as well as Etsy, I have set up my own Facebook page called Safaidcards, I am selling them on a Russian social network called VK too. I am hopeful the Christmas range will also go well at the forthcoming Hallam Christmas fair which is in the atrium of the main Owen building free entry to the general public, and am currently approaching independent retailers with my lines,” she added.

“We are delighted to be supporting Elena in her business endeavors. She was successful in being awarded a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa which allows our international students to stay in the Uk for 1-2 years in order to develop their business ideas,” said Enterprise team spokesperson Andrew Finney.

When Elena returns to Russia in the summer, she will be continuing to spread her values of tolerance and understanding by using her skills gained here in Sheffield to create educational short animations, promoting minority cultures within Russia.

Meantime, Elena is looking for couples of different ethnicities to model for her next range of Colourblind Love cards!

Elena Kostyukhina


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