“I was born in Kyiv, in Zhovtnevyi district of Vidradnyi neighborhood. My mother moved here to study in the Khmelnytskyi region. Kyiv from my childhood has been a green city with fresh air, numerous fountains, and daily football plays outdoors. When I was little, my whole life consisted of affairs in my district. I’ve spent my school years going out on Khreshchatyk, and I threw myself into work during my university years, as I wanted to finally leave my parents’ house and rent my apartment.
Kyiv of my childhood was absolutely a Soviet city.
You couldn’t be different here. It was a community with a mindset full of obsolete categories and taboos. Every summer, I went to visit my grandmother in the Khmelnytskyi region. There were huge apple gardens there, so other guys and I gathered together to pick those apples and sell them later – this was my first serious and deliberate income.
I graduated from university in 2006, two years after the Orange Revolution took place. That was the time of movement and changes. Many pubs have opened up – halls full of cigarette smoke, first undergraduate’s earnings. When you’re 20, the last thing you think about is your future plans, as you want to go out with friends and spontaneously take a trip. We used to go to Crimea and attend the Kazantyp music festival. Since my university years, I would have always taken up 2-3 jobs simultaneously. I worked in HoReCa for a long time. Later I worked for an audit firm and was also a hostess on the sale of cigarettes.
That was the time of legendary and everybody’s favorite pubs Bierstube and Viola’s.
As time went by, I felt grown up and ready to push my projects. I thought that I should move on. I was enrolled in Upgrade Yourself Scholarship, where we were divided into big teams to start business and social projects. Our team came up with a business plan for a healthy food festival Best Food Fest held in 2012 at M17 and was highly successful. We even got to make money from it. The next one was at NSC Olympiyskiy. We held seven festivals in 2-3 years.
At the same time, I’ve got into the movie business, and it was a great time to realize any idea and have it shown on the big screen of Kinopanorama cinema! At first, I helped Kyrylo Marikutsa, with whom we used to study in Upgrade, to set up KISFF – Kyiv International Festival of Short Film and “100 films in 100 minutes” later on.
Simultaneously I have been developing my projects – Travel Days (short film about round the world travels) and a couple of advertising projects on the big screen: for Kyiv International Social Advertising Festival, Super Bowl – the most expensive advertising in the world, and bought trademarks to show the Cannes Festival award winners.
They say there’s no middle class in Ukraine and that we’ve developed something else instead – a revolutionary class, the people who have to build everything from scratch after the Maidan and were ready to take action for the sake of our ethos.
The same goes with the renovation of facilities’ format: there was a micro-explosion inside the industry, we finally had money, and digitalization grew in the world. We watched others online and then started visiting places, getting inspiration from their experience. More and more people began going freelance, so it was easier for them to go out to the coffee house, order a drink and get to work. This example also speaks about the freedom of choice.
I’ve been to many places abroad and concluded that we lack wine bars. I guess it was 2014 when a bottle of Ukrainian wine got into my hands, which has never happened to me before. And so I’ve got an idea: what if I found this wine and it is good, and then maybe I can discover some other good Ukrainian wineries, which could be shown to the market. That’s how Kyiv Food and Wine Festival was born. After some time, I went further. If I managed to gather a couple of thousands of people at one place, then I could get them to visit the same bar.
I wanted to accustom Ukrainians to the wine culture, to popularize our wine from small wineries. Keeping this idea in mind, we founded our wine bar Like a local’s.
I’m the project’s ideologist, and I’ve got two other partners, Roma and Jenya, who helped me to bring this idea to life.
Our Ukrainian wine resembles an adolescent who still makes mistakes and desperately tries to get everyone to like it, even though he has many flaws and doesn’t have hard soil under his feet. Sometimes it causes problems, as there’s no use for rush in some cases. However, like all adolescents, our wine is willful, selfish, and restless.
If I were to describe Kyiv as a kind of wine, I’d classify it as an Amber one. It’s brutal, innovative, and one of a kind. It doesn’t come right up everyone’s alley, but those who enjoy it constantly discover some new dimensions. You either like the city, or you don’t. You may love Kyiv because of its freedom and the opportunities it gives. And I, being a little boy from Vidradnyi, got myself reassured of that. People who surrounded me in my childhood were either imprisoned or addicted to substances. That path wasn’t for me.
My favorite season to spend in the city is a summer night, when our terrace’s lights are glowing on Khoryva Street, our visitors enjoy wine while chatting, and pedestrians pass by. In these moments, you can fathom the buzz of the street and become part of the city, almost interlacing with it. The city’s heartbeat becomes your own.
I like to spend my days off at the parks. I used to live near the Klovskiy Descent, and the apartment I’ve rented there has to be my favorite at that time. I would go to Park Slavy and then walk towards People’s Friendship Arch, Volodymyrska Hill, and Andriivskiy Descent. Andriivskiy Descent has its unique energy, which leaves you with a feeling of diving into previous historical periods. I’m fond of Kyiv River Port as a place to sit by Dnipro and head towards Trukhaniv Island. It is, to say at least, a three hours long route.
Kyiv’s locals, as I view them and the way they are represented in my surrounding – are the people who are fully ready to make changes in the city itself and the country by their example. They do whatever they like. They know how to take a break properly. They not only speak English fluently, but also take up Spanish or German and travel to see the world. Here, you search for opportunities and stop pitying yourself during hard times. You can move here from any city or town, and Kyiv will provide you opportunities to obtain new purposes and internal changes”.
Sergiy Klymov, co-founder of Like a local's wine bar