The couple that replaced music and motorbikes with epoxy resin creations
Entrepreneurs who can turn their hobby into a business are among the happiest people.
This is the case of the Gaipelis from Tighina (Bender) city. And when a dream is enabled by available funds, things go smoothly.
Elena Gaipeli is a former music teacher and Veaceslav, her husband, is a former motorcyclist. In time, they started to share a hobby.
In a small, improvised workshop in their country house in the suburb of Tighina (Bender), Elena and Veaceslav craft a variety of wooden items: from chopping boards and compartment platters to small decorative items. They were able to acquire the necessary tools thanks to a grant provided in the framework of the EU Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP.
The passion for woodworking didn't just grow overnight – it came after exploring other occupations. While on childcare leave, Elena was looking for ways to “escape” her routine. Initially the idea of a florist's workshop came up, then one day her husband showed her some items made of epoxy resin. Her first reaction was a decisive no, but then she decided to give it a try. And so, she started making from epoxy resin various jewellery and decorative items.
“Initially, I thought it wasn't for me, but producing something unique – because that's what people want, to have something no one else has – turned out to be the most exciting and creative period of my life, which lasts for five years,” says Elena.
Things took a different turn when the war in Ukraine started, because it became difficult to import raw material.
“That's when we realized we had to rethink our business and use materials we could find locally,” says Elena. That's how they ended up combining Veaceslav's skills in handling technical equipment with Elena's design skills, who is good at moulding epoxy resin. “That's how our family business was reborn,” notes the entrepreneur.
Veaceslav executes even the most unusual ideas Elena has.
“It's not hard for us to work together, it's really interesting. We respect and support each other's ideas,” says Elena.
“With each additional upgrade, it gets easier, as if we had a new colleague in our team”
Thanks to a €12,000 grant from the EU's Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP, the couple has now high-performance tools in their workshop: robots, lathes, milling machines.
“The equipment saves us time. Now we can craft four compartment platters in one day, and with each additional upgrade to the wood cutting machine, it gets easier, as if we had a new colleague in our team. Productivity increases and we save time, which is very important in a business like this,” explains Veaceslav.
With the EU grant, the Gaipelis will set up a sterile, well-heated room in the workshop where they can decorate wooden items with epoxy resin.
This is what they wanted from the start – to decorate wooden items with epoxy resin. “What I've noticed is that people are tired of having things that others can also have. Big companies don't offer diversity, because they work with certain models. That is why workshops that take customized orders have a great advantage: to offer something unique the customer,” says Elena.
Customized design involves, in addition to creativity and originality, certain expenses that must be borne initially by the manufacturer and then by the customer.
“If for jewellery I need five millilitres of epoxy resin, then for a decorative wooden item I would need more than a litre of resin and the cost would be about MDL400, on the top of cost of the wood,” explains Veaceslav.
Only environmentally friendly raw materials are used in the Gaipeli family workshop, so that any of their products can be used with confidence in the kitchen.
“We only use certified eco-friendly materials, including the glue used to join some parts, even the pre-made parts, because most of the items we produce are for gourmets and cooking enthusiasts, so they belong in the kitchen. Our platters can hold various types of food, including hot food or baby/toddler food,” says Elena.
“Follow your passion and financial reward will come later”
In addition to spending a lot of time in the workshop producing various wooden items, Elena and Veaceslav are looking for new opportunities to promote their products not only in Tighina (Bender) or Tiraspol, but also in Chișinău.
They showcase some of their products on social media as well as on platforms dedicated to creative entrepreneurs. Now they want to increase the stock and sales, so that at some point to be able to export.
“I realized that you need to follow your passion and financial reward will come later,” concludes Elena.
Elena Gaipeli is one of the 13 entrepreneurs who obtained funding through the European Union's Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP, to launch or develop a business. In addition to the financial assistance that can be used to purchase equipment, entrepreneurs receive business advice.