KILLTODAY: The Leather I Live In. Interview with the founder of the successful Belarusian brand of accessories

KILLTODAY it’s a notable brand from Belarus: it was first to start producing sword belts (too brave for our society), it also arranged the first in Belarus photosession with plus-size models. And the history of the brand began with the fact that its creator Milana Khasinevich could not find and buy clothes that she liked. She began to sew everything herself: from pants to bags. The girl graduated from art school, then the university (specializing in "teacher of fine arts and drawing"), managed to work in the museum of local history. She wanted to become an artist as a child, it seems, the dream came true. Her brand of leather accessories appeared in 2009: the name KILLTODAY Milana borrowed in the Pink Floyd song "Time" (more precisely, she just put two words together and came up with a new meaning), and the symbol - a pin - accompanied her from childhood as a guard against the evil eye. Milana Hasinevich told us about the success of the brand, criticism and Belarusian nature.

- What was necessary to start your business, how did you come to this decision?

- Before you start doing something yourself, be a boss, you must discipline yourself. It is clear that you need to find a business that will appeal, but it's worth starting with discipline. Before the brand, I spent a year at home, I did not do anything, worked for other people - it relaxed  me, but I wanted to systematize my life. I can say for sure that I have not met a person who would be determined with what he needs in life, up to 25 years. I gave all my strength to build my business - I do not know if I did the right thing, but I feel quite happy. My thesis was dedicated to the neo-Gothic in Belarus. I photographed the churches, and for me this opening of new places, even within a small country of Belarus, was inspiring. But I realized that this is not necessary for anyone. But even this was fruitful for me, brought satisfaction. I think in any of your interests you need to invest some forces, and it will certainly rise into something more if it you’ll do it systematically and constantly

- What difficulties did you encounter while working on a brand. Can you give an advice for a beginner?

- At first it was difficult - I did not have money to start, some financial support. But in general, there were no difficulties. I always say that you need to begin. If you do not start, you'll regret it. Perhaps your activity will be of use. I would advise courage and deep immersion in the world of what already exists in Belarus. And then young designer needs to do something radically different.

- How to create a successful brand in Belarus?

- It's hard for me to talk about success, because everything I did was a set of accidents. I hate marketing, did not study advertising, I do everything intuitively. Maybe I just got lucky: I do it, and it catches people. So I can not give any prescription. Recently, I realized that I follow some trends: girls like flowers, cats. If I take a picture of a bag with flowers or kittens - girls will like my photo. But at the moment I'm just doing what I want to: for example, I take pictures of my bags on a swamp. From the point of view of marketing, I make a lot of mistakes, but my competitors from copy some of my thoughts. In general, I have no strategy, so the secret of success is sincerity. But the secret of a commercially successful brand it’s a complicated question. I would not venture to start anything now, we have a very saturated market.

- In your interviews you say that you like criticism…

- In general, there are a few people, criticism of which I would take painfully. There is a circle of people who are authoritative for me, whose opinion would force me to reconsider something. I can not imagine a situation that there’re no criticism. But, to be honest, I do not see any criticism in my address for a long time, but I want to see it! I am normal to criticism, and objective opinions are the engine of my progress. I do not take criticism of the level of "this is a nightmare", meaningful judgments only.


- You’ve already talked about designers you like. Has your opinion changed?

- I still like the Belgian designers Haider Ackermann, A.F. Vandervorst, Ann Demelmeyster, since 2008. And I like some Belarusian designers - Ksenia Romanova, Olga Kardash, LimitedMinsk, I wear the clothes they create.

- What do you experience when you see your accessories on the podium or see the people wearing your bags?

- Fashion shows are very fast, and I do not have time to take backstage photos, but it's always nice to be at such public presentations where there are a lot of people who can see my accessoires live. And when I meet people with my bags on the street, I get an electric shock! Especially nice when I meet girls with bags from the first collection, sewn from old jackets, - it's amazing that they wear them up to now!


- You sew things not only for Belarusians, but also for foreign customers. Did you think about moving to another country?

- Of course, I thought, but there are things that stop me. I feel organically in this environment, even despite many limitations. Language, people - it's always difficult to go somewhere you will be alone. 

- You often say that Belarusian nature inspires you. What do you like about it?

- There are a number of places where I like to return, for example, Braslav. In general, I really like Western Belarus, the architecture of our country. In Belarus, there is such a feature that in the little villages, there are churches of an incredible beauty: Hervaty is a perfect example. Recently, I thought about the fact that I have the same temperament with Belarusian nature. I used to prefer southern nature, but now the colors of Belarus are much closer to me.


Archive photos of Milana HASINEVICH

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