How Kyiv pottery master went on business exchange to Slovenia

Yulia Makliuk, the founder of Here and Now ceramics studio, tells in her interview to about how Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, an international program of business exchange, helped her business.

How did you learn about this program?

In 2018, I saw an announcement of this program on Facebook. There, I found out about the business exchange program called Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. I took interest in it, because it offered an opportunity to live in another country for 2 to 6 months and borrow from experience of entrepreneurs running a similar business.


What was the application procedure?

Registration for young entrepreneurs consisted of several steps: entrepreneur’s information, business plan and a letter of motivation. I received a response from the project’s coordinators within a month. For the receiving party, registration was simplified: they had to submit information about the company, areas of activity and business experience.


How you were looking for a mentor for yourself?

The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs system has a list of registered entrepreneurs. Potters were hard to come by, so I had to look for them outside the database. I found and chose a pottery enterprise in the United Kingdom via Instagram, but could not go there for training because of the exit of that country from the European Union.

Photo: Yulia Makliuk’s personal archive

So, I began looking for an alternative, again on my own, sending letters to entrepreneurs from various countries with the proposal to become my mentor. The response came from Anja Slapničar, an entrepreneur from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. She is also a potter, studying deposits of clay and working with local materials. I asked her to get registered in the system, tell about her business and become my mentor.


How did your training go?

The entrepreneur and I agreed that I will stay in her country for 2.5 months. During all this time, I spent every day with my mentor at the quarries or in her studio, extracting clay and learning to purify and work with local materials.


How much money did you need to stay in that country?

My monthly outlays amounted to approximately €1000, including €500 in room rent and €500 for meals, traveling and other expenses. The program covered €500 – that’s the amount they give to an entrepreneur per month to pay the costs of staying in Slovenia, before taxes. For other countries, this amount is different.


What did you gain in the end?

I gained a lot of experience and borrowed the style and method of working with wild clays. In my opinion, it’s a complex path, because you can’t buy a pigment – you make it with your own hands. So now, I use wild clays much more often than before, experimenting with shapes and technologies.



Here and Now is a studio of environmentally stable ceramics using local and eco-friendly materials and methods to produce pottery. This approach helps reduce both financial costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is an international business exchange program for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs with business experience of over 3 years and business novices who are at the business planning stage or running an existing business under 3 years of age are eligible for this program. The program is based on the mentorship principle: experienced entrepreneurs teach their skills to novices during 2-6 months, and the novices gain the knowledge and apply it in their business. It helps them gain applied skills in business.

By Kateryna Sporysh