Made in Armenia, sold in Europe: New fashion brand by Ani

05.07.2019 | 12:30 Home / News / Articles /
#Ani Bagdasaryan #AYANI
In 2017, Ani Bagdasaryan started AYANI clothing company to create jobs, overcome obstacles and make an impact in her homeland.

The "5 minute office wear fix" clothes are made in a small family-owned factory in Armenia, while shipping and returns are done in Germany. Ani regularly travels to Armenia to oversee the factory work and take the clothes to Germany. has met with Ani on her last visit and talked about the challenges of Armenian-German business, the idea of establishing the company and the comfort of the dresses.

Choosing is a way of voting

I was born in Moscow, studied in the UK and then moved to Germany. I obtained a degree in Social Psychology with a strong focus on Marketing and Business Administration. Afterwards, I got a job offer and moved to Berlin, and since then I have lived there for 7 years.

Ani Bagdasaryan

I was working in the e-commerce, doing advertising campaigns for large companies like Ebay, Zalando, Amazon on international markets. I realized what I was doing was meaningless: I was just making people buy more from companies that already had so much money.

Back in 2016, I started reading a lot of books and learning about what is actually going on in the world at the moment. So, I became more conscious about consumption, the impact of my money: where I eat, where I buy from, what companies do with the money that I give them, how they treat their employees. I realized that every time we buy a product, we give our money and support the organization behind it. And that is important to remember. Everyone of us has this power.

This idea made me aware that I spent over 50 hours a week in the office just making people buy more products from companies, whose way of treating employees I don’t support. Eventually, I quit it to work full-time on my new idea, which was to create a “5-minute office wear fix”, dresses that you can quickly take off the hanger, put on and you are ready for the day. They are comfortable, elegant and they give you the professional look, yet at the same time they are affordable for the younger generation.

Where am I going to do the production?

My first thought was Armenia. Honestly, everyone was saying, “Don’t do that in Armenia, it will be overly complicated, do it in Russia or Turkey". Actually, there are many reasons, including the fact that Armenia does not produce the materials, all accessories, zippers, fabric, elastic... I import these products from Europe and Turkey.

I wanted to produce in Armenia because I know there are many difficulties and one of the ways to improve is to become a part of it and part of the movement to move it forward. I was offered to do it in Germany as well. Of course, it would be easier for me: I would not have to travel, all the changes could be done in front of me, etc. But my goal was to make an impact in Armenia, to provide jobs and hopefully to create a sustainable working business here.

Step by step

I saved money (I am not a big spender), around EUR 16,000-18,000, I also asked for a loan from my family to establish the business.

First, I did focus groups to check what the target needs. Second, I put together a financial plan, which was the longest, the hardest part. Once I saw that the numbers could work, I came to Armenia and started looking for factories. I traveled a lot, I talked to different factories.

Armenian problems

The thing is I didn’t know where to start. As somebody who lives abroad, the first way for me is to Google something, so I did it and there was almost nothing. I had to talk with so many people to get connected and find the right contacts. Somebody who doesn’t speak Armenian could never find this kind of information. It took at least one month of onground work. What also helped is getting in touch with DFA. One of the many people I spoke to eventually mentioned the organization. So got in touch with them to learn more about the sewing facilities in Armenia.

The number one thing that needs to be done is to make things available on the Internet, particularly in English for foreigners who want to set up a business in Armenia but do not know the language. Although I have seen some improvements on this side in the last months, I would love all laws in Armenia to be online: it makes the process easy for everyone, transparent and fast. I am ready to do even a crowdfunding campaign for it: 3-4 people, a 2-month project, translation into English, with an easy interface. Done.

Currently, I am cooperating with a small factory based in Yeghvard, which employs 6-8 people. The factory has its own brand Ustian, an own label. I am placing my orders there, I only do dresses.

Looking for a designer was easy. I am working together with local designer Nelly Serobyan on our latest collections. I love her designs, her sense for the brand and a professional working style which together is not easy to find.

I am basically everything

Marketing, sales, production, collaboration with the designer: I do everything except for sewing. At the beginning and the end of the production, I come and personally make sure that we deliver high quality garments.

I come from marketing background. I am not that aware of how the fashion industry exactly works, but I actually like it more because I came from a business project management approach, so in everything I do, I try to simplify things, find the most effective way. As I don’t know the rules, I create my own ones and I improve them, rather than take it as a standard.

In the fashion industry, sizing does exactly the standard, but we know that sizing does not always work because “M” is not the same for all women, what I am doing is changing standards a little bit to give the comfort, what the person who has been working at the fashion industry wouldn’t do.

Dresses for any occasion

The goal is to design clothes that you can wear at the office and for after work events. Basically the one dress you can wear at every occasion making you feel confident and beautiful. Comfort is our priority and I pay the closest attention to it. That is why we add large pockets for the smartphone on all of our dresses (the way that trousers have pockets, dresses don’t).

Work dresses are all super tight and uncomfortable for cycling, while many women in Europe bike to work. AYANI dresses are perfect for cycling to work or even attending weddings (as some of our customers already did).

Ani Bagdasaryan

AYANI’s flattering fits were tested on over 100 women with different sizes and body shapes. We select high quality fabrics which are made to last.

People can order AYANI dresses online and get them right away, because we have our models in all sizes stored.

As for the name, I wanted to put something Armenian in it. The most typical thing in Armenian is the ending -yan, I was playing around and at the end AYANI came out. It is feminine, short and has something Armenian.

Made in Armenia

Only 10-20 % of the work is done in Armenia, the biggest part of the business is in Germany: all the sales, the customer service. AYANI also offers a private fitting at our showroom in Berlin. A private fitting can be scheduled if the client contacts us and names the preferred date and time.I also organize pop-up stores in different locations around the city, with one happening next week in Berlin Mitte.

I would love to do it here in Armenia, but shipping will be impossible to the customers, it will take weeks for them to arrive. I sell Europe-wide through my online store and it only takes 2-5 days maximum around Europe. We also delivery to the US and Canada.

We are thinking of having a small office-showroom in Yerevan in the future, but at the moment my goal is to promote Armenia and present Armenian product to the world.

Amalie Khachatryan
Photos: Emin Aristakesyan and AYANI
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