Artsakh youth opening new horizons: Part 2

Earlier this year, I introduced you to five young and bright people from Artsakh. The positive feedback motivated me to continue highlighting the youth and share the stories of more inspiring young people from Artsakh. They are smart. They know what they want. They are hard workers, and they are making Artsakh better and brighter today. 

Here they are: Narek, a young photographer who knows how to make you smile and capture the best photos; Anush, a young lady planting microgreens and encouraging the people of Artsakh to eat healthy to feel better; Angelina, the sweetest student who has her own brand despite her young age; Christina, an optimistic and energetic young woman who will make your event unforgettable with her amazing balloons and party decorations; Diana, a talented dancer and owner of ‘’Nakshun’’ handmade bracelets; Grigori, a young and experienced hairstylist; Lusine, a certificated international etiquette consultant who will teach you how to eat and drink properly; and Inna and Narine, the young women who help Artsakh small businesses export their goods around the world. 

Narek Sargsyan – 22 years old, photographer and public relations manager from Stepanakert

Narek Sargsyan

“After the 2020 Artsakh War, I realized that there is nothing impossible in this life. You just need to work hard and achieve all your goals. If you have peace and your people around, everything is possible.

I started my career as a photographer three years ago. Ten months ago, I launched ‘Artsakh Promotion,’ which aims to document the people of Artsakh and promote their businesses. The name says it all. We do photo shoots, video and drone videography. We also create cartoons, animations, web pages, graphic designs and take on PR and marketing. 

The people I work with are the main motivation and inspiration of my job. I’m fortunate that I am able to stay in touch with clients even after the work is done. We are trying to support each other whenever it’s needed. This is so important and precious to me. 

I like catching the happiest moments on photoshoots. I like to follow people’s facial expressions and see what makes them happy. I think this helps me to know them well and widen my horizons. I also like working with bright and bold people. When my subjects can pose and do everything to get good photos, when they have no complex, I really enjoy working with them, as well as couples. I don’t look at the time, and I don’t count minutes. I truly enjoy the whole process and the love in the air. 

I don’t know whether I will do this for the rest of my life. Several years ago, if you told me that I would become a photographer, I would laugh at you. Everything changes too fast, and I should just live in the moment. 

This job has one more perk. I started discovering Artsakh and its hidden gems. There is never enough time. Twenty-four hours isn’t enough for me. 

I want to remember the funniest moments from my photo shoots and realize that they are plenty. I work with different people, and something awkward happens often. I was once taking photos of a couple at the Stepanakert cathedral, and there was a child praying and asking God for high grades on his exams.

One of the difficulties in my job is that most Artsakh people/couples are not used to showing their emotions, especially next to other people. When you ask them to show some emotions, they say that they never do that. The younger generation is more open-minded, and I never have such problems with them. I can say that there is a hope for a more open and more free society in the future. 

It may sound paradoxical, but there is no difficult job if you do it with love. At the same time, all jobs are difficult if you want to do them perfectly and always seek perfection in every detail. I do my job with love. I’m thankful to my team: Diana, our photographer; Karen, our IT specialist and director; Mark, our computer animation specialist; and Erna who is helping us create logos.     

I would suggest that young people not waste the time given to them today and use it with maximum profit to themselves and their homeland.”

Anush Yesayan – 24 years old, Greench Microgreens co-founder from Stepanakert

Anush Yesayan

“After the war…I realized that there is no time to wait, and you just need to live right here, right now.

It’s been about five months since I started my small business Greench Microgreens in Artsakh. My friend Tigran Andryan and I came up with the idea together. The main goal was to be useful in everyday life. I like planting greens. Initial feedback from our customers was positive. Then, we started getting more and more orders which meant we were starting to get popular and that people liked our greens. I was inspired by the idea of having my own business and bringing something new to Artsakh life. While thinking of the name, we wanted to make it simple and memorable. That’s how we came up with Greench Microgreens. 

Our microgreens are healthy. Our customers say they saw improvements in their digestion, sleep and mood. They have so many vitamins that can compete with medicines. Moreover they are aesthetic and look great while decorating dishes. At this moment there are several restaurants who are taking orders from us, people who want to eat healthy and stay fit, also those who appreciate aesthetics even in food. 

We have many followers from Armenia as well who are waiting for us. Unfortunately, there are no delivery options at the moment from Artsakh to Armenia, and we can’t make it. But hopefully in the near future, we will solve this problem and will appear in the Armenian market as well. 

It’s interesting how the older generation views this. As you know Artsakh is the motherland of greens and seeing this ‘fancy’ green in their kitchen seems to be unacceptable, but no. There are those who understand the importance and use of our product, and they also started ordering it. 

I would say that it’s easy to start a new business in Artsakh. There are many fields which should be filled. The internet is full of new amazing ideas, and when you have funds to start the business, it will take just your time and efforts to succeed. 

We are planning to broaden our farm and in the future have our shop and our branches not only in Artsakh, but in Armenia and abroad. With God’s help, we will have not only microgreens, but other products to keep healthy and fit.”

Angelina Grigoryan – 15 years old, founder of Morpho from Stepanakert 

Angelina Grigoryan

“After the war, I became more determined, and now I know that every day is a chance to become better and stronger. Life is a game, and the winner is the one who knows its weakness. You just need to know the rules of the game and enjoy it.

The idea of creating my own brand came during the war. I was working hard over a year to open my own brand which I named Morpho, a freedom-loving butterfly that flies on the highest peaks of the trees. Morpho produces tote bags and T-shirts mostly with Artsakh ornaments. While creating Morpho, I was inspired by the women who create their own businesses and never stop learning and being useful to the world.  

I like mixing Artsakh ornaments with modern details and getting something unique. 

In the beginning, I was getting orders mostly from Artsakh, but then when I became more experienced, I started delivering them abroad as well. Customers in Artsakh would buy Morpho and send them to their friends and relatives living abroad. 

My customers mostly order bags and tee-shirts with Artsakh themes. The most favorites are Tatik-Papik and Ghazanchechots Cathedral patterns or something written in Artsakh dialect. We also have our customized tee-shirt called ‘Hayuhi’ for our incredible and beautiful Armenian women. 

In the future, I plan to expand our geography and open a Morpho shop in Artsakh. For me, it’s easier to live and work in Artsakh as our soil gives me strength and motivation to create something beautiful

I like to use J.K. Rowling as an example, who received 14 rejections when she was trying to publish Harry Potter. I’m sure that with hard work and with the help of God everything is possible.”

Christina Verdyan – 26 years old, owner of Verdyan’s Art Shop, Stepanakert

Christina Verdyan

“After the war, I started to love Artsakh even more. I was thinking about going abroad to start a new life, but now I can’t imagine even a day without Artsakh. Even when I’m in Yerevan, I’m counting the days to come back to Stepanakert. I’m much more needed here than in other places on earth.

Verdyan’s Art Shop specializes in balloons and other decorations for birthdays, weddings and other celebrations. I’ve been doing this job for five years. I previously worked at a café where parents always asked me to help them decorate birthday parties. This is how I discovered this talent and started my small business.

I feel confident and strong here in Artsakh, and I think that we have only a lack of strong leaders to overcome this shameful situation and live our decent lives. 

In the future, I plan to open my own bridal salon because I don’t like that our brides have to travel to Yerevan to get their wedding dresses. I want to make them beautiful and shine on their special day.  

I advise everyone, especially young people living in the Diaspora, to come to Artsakh at least once to get to know us, as reading news or posts on social media is totally different from our real life here in Artsakh. We are fighting for our life. We are struggling to have things which our peers get for free in other countries where they don’t even know the price of freedom and peace. Here you will understand that and will appreciate everything you have in your life.”

Diana Hambardzumyan – 27 years old, professional dancer and founder of Nakhshun Art, Stepanakert

Diana Hambardzumyan

“After the war, I became a more easygoing person. I just want to live and enjoy my life here in Artsakh.

I’ve been dancing for six years. I’ve been working at Artsakh State Dance Ensemble for over 10 years. When I was dancing ‘Nakhshun Baji,’ my colleagues started calling me Nakhshun. This is what inspired the name of the handmade bracelet brand ‘Nakhshun’ that launched one year ago. In the beginning, it was something like art therapy for me. Afterwards, my friends convinced me to create my own brand, and it became popular. I have always liked handmade jewelry; I appreciate everything handmade. Even in my childhood, I liked making bracelets from the beads. Macramé was also interesting to me. I mostly knit with schemes, but sometimes I want to make something crazy and just improvise.  

How do I combine dancing with knitting? The answer is simple. I knit after work. It’s healing and a way to relax. 

In general, you can do anything if you have a wish. You can achieve anything by hard work.”  

Grigori Danielyan – 18 years old, hair stylist, Stepanakert 

Grigori Danielyan

“After the war, I started to appreciate life even more. I want to enjoy each second given to me and make people around me happier.

I had other plans for my future, but after the war I decided to learn a new craft, and this was the first thing that came to my mind. I took classes with a well-known hair stylist and colorist in Armenia and Russia. Then one of my coaches invited me to Yerevan to work at his beauty salon. This is how everything started.

Of course, people are surprised when they see me for the first time, but as soon as my work is finished, we become good friends and they visit me again and again. There are stereotypes among our people that if you are young and you are male, you can’t be a good specialist. But I’m doing my best to break all those stereotypes, and the range of women coming to cut or color their hair proves that I’m doing everything right. 

There is also another problem when older generations or hair stylists with 15 to 20 years of experience look at me with doubt in their eyes; they seem like they don’t believe that someone young is capable of doing this work. But I strongly believe that it doesn’t matter how long you are occupying a particular job, if you don’t work on yourself daily you will not be able to become a good professional.

In the future, I plan to become famous not only in Artsakh and Armenia, but around the world. I’m planning to have my own studio and host masterclasses. 

One piece of advice which I will give to young people is to never give up and use every failure as a new chance for great achievements.”

Lusine Hambardzumyan – 26 years old, certificated international etiquette consultant, Stepanakert 

Lusine Hambardzumyan

“After the war, my love toward Artsakh became even bigger. I’m proud of being from Artsakh, and I feel the commitment while walking on this sacred soil.

I always dreamed of doing work outside the public and private sectors. This is how I found myself studying etiquette. I studied French, Russian and British etiquette. I realized that I want to share all the knowledge gained during these years. So I created an Instagram account and decided to host etiquette classes. I just launched my dining etiquette classes. I teach the proper etiquette of eating and behavior at the table based on British and French etiquettes. The course will be online and will last two weeks. These are my first steps in this field, so I’m starting with only one course. But I’m planning to also have an offline (tête-à-tête) course where I will also teach business etiquette. 

I like observing people at restaurants. Unfortunately, most people are guilty of making common mistakes such as putting phones or purses on the table, applying make-up or discussing unacceptable issues (politics, religion, gossip). 

In Artsakh, it’s interesting to learn more about our manners. While there is no such thing as Artsakh etiquette, we do need to take into account our culture. For instance, while eating our famous Jingalov hats you should always remember that Artsakh people don’t eat it with knife and fork, so you just take it and eat it with your hands. This is the same as Georgian khinkali, which you can’t eat with a knife and fork. You should always follow the traditions of a particular country.

Living and working in Artsakh has both its advantages and disadvantages. There are many new business opportunities. Having zero competition is good, but at the same time, it can be less motivating to become better. There are many who live in uncertainty. This is very demotivating, and it’s painful to see my people in despair. On the other hand, the youth are motivated to learn something new. They bring everything into balance, and I’m happy seeing our young people creating all the time. 

It’s difficult to have long-term plans for the future in this disadvantageous political and geopolitical situation for Artsakh, but I’m sure my life’s work will be dedicated to Artsakh.

I will suggest to young people around the world to learn and fail, to fail until they will make it. Don’t pay attention to the marks which you get at the schools or universities. What’s most important is who you are inside and what you are doing to become better every day.”

Inna Baghiryan and Narine Hovhannisyan, founders of Buy4Artsakh and Verelk entrepreneurs. Baghiryan, 22 years old, is from Stepanakert. Hovhannisyan, 22 years old, is from Kolkhozashen village in Martuni region. 

Inna Baghiryan and Narine Hovhannisyan

“After the war, we both started to appreciate Artsakh even more and put all our efforts to make Artsakh loud and visible to the world. We are here; we want to live and create on our land.

It’s been four months since we started our microbusiness in Artsakh. The 2020 Artsakh War damaged our economy, so we decided to create a platform where small businesses will be able to realize their products out of Artsakh and Armenia. To make it easier and faster, we decided to put all those products in one box. We had been working on this idea for seven months. We have created special boxes which symbolize Artsakh. Then we started to promote our business through Facebook and Instagram pages. Buy4Artsakh was welcomed warmly by our Diaspora. We sent our boxes to five different countries only in the first month. Our customers can choose what they want to see in the box, but mostly they let us decide. We work with more than 17 local businesses in Artsakh and help them export their products abroad. Diasporan Armenians are discovering Artsakh through our boxes. Many of them even decided to come visit Artsakh after receiving their boxes. Everyone is welcome to buy our boxes and experience different offerings from Artsakh. The main target is the Diaspora, and we are doing our best to make them feel closer to Artsakh.

In the last four months, we shipped over 100 Buy4Artsakh boxes abroad. We select seasonal items, and we pay attention to those products which are well-packed as people living abroad are paying attention to the branding. 

We are planning to become an internationally recognized brand, and we wish to get orders not only from Armenians, but from foreigners as well. 

We advise young people to be free in their dreams, learn more, work hard and put all the efforts toward the recognition of Artsakh. The future is in our hands.”

Irina Safaryan

Irina Safaryan

Irina Safaryan is a political scientist, translator and freelance journalist based in Stepanakert. She earned her master's degree at Yerevan State University's Department of International Relations; she's also studied at the Diplomatic School of Armenia. She was an intern at the European Parliament and is well-informed on EU-Armenia relations. Irina is the co-founder of the first Wikipedia Club in Artsakh, an author of more than 100 articles in Armenian Wikipedia. Irina is interested in politics, education, new technologies and everything connected to peace and sustainable development of Artsakh.
Irina Safaryan

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