Since the early days of her childhood Lithuanian Viktorija Ceplike recall herself being involved in her family business. Back then, when Lithuania was still a part of the Soviet Union, her mother was leading a successful womenswear production company with an in house fashion brand and several retail points. Viktorija was always surrounded by finest fabrics and sewing machines. Gradually, Viktorija became a part of the family business, and after the financial crisis hit, she stood up and took over reshaping it to become an international apparel production company VIKE. Today we talk to the young, smart and beautiful mother of twin girls to find out more about the fashion production industry in the Baltics as well as to find out about her – the woman who steers the wheel.
Fashion Bloc: What is VIKE and what is your role in the company?
Viktorija Ceplike: VIKE is a sewing and apparel production company. I am a co-founder responsible for business development, international sales and marketing, curating designer projects, establishing company’s profile, leading the board, hiring and much more.
FB: Who are your clients?
VC: Our priority is to work with the designers and fashion brands directly but we also work with agencies.
FB: What are the challenges that you face in this business?
VC: Today we struggle to recruit enough qualified seamstress and tailors – the supply is much lower than the demand. We try to solve this problem by training our staff, cooperating with EU projects for training and professional development. This is our biggest challenge – we do receive more orders than we can cope with. However, we are growing our professional team.
FB: What feedback do you receive from international clients about a Lithuanian production company?
VC: The feedback is very positive. Made in Lithuania stands for high quality, high percentage of hand-sewn products. I haven’t met anyone who wasn’t satisfied by our products. In addition, logistically Lithuania is also very convenient. The price and quality ratio is very reasonable. People, employees speak good English, the time zone is convenient. I can only see the good points!
FB: What is an advantage for a potential client to produce in Europe vs Asia?
VC: All our clients who decided to return their production to Europe have the same complaints about Asian manufacturers: lack of quality control, very long production time, increased rates, inaccurate deadlines, etc.
FB: What aims do you have as a business?
VC: We do care a lot about the atmosphere and working conditions at VIKE. We try to build a smooth communication in the team amongst all employees. We invest in training and motivation of our employees. Of course, we have very high production quality standards. We also try to update our facilities and machines regularly.
FB: Do you work with local designers from the Baltics and Eastern Europe?
VC: There is a saying in Lithuania: “You can’t become a prophet in your own village”. Saying that, we still work with Lithuanian designers; sometimes we work more for the love of it than for profit. We are very flexible, open-minded and creative company that is proud to support and spread the word about Lithuanian fashion.
FB: You are a young, beautiful, emancipated businesswoman who runs a successful company – does it open the doors or does it actually close some of them?
VC: Being a woman and being, as you said, an attractive woman, is a positive thing. I admit it – the doors are more often opened than closed, especially dealing with international businesses. On the other hand, it sometimes is a problem of a prejudice in Lithuania, where unfortunately you can still experience the residues of the Soviet times. I personally embrace my youth and demonstrate my knowledge and expertise, thus the initial arrogance towards me fades very soon. I have a positive and humble personality, I’m sophisticated and I am constantly learning new skills, and trying to broaden my knowledge; that helps to build a diverse network of friends and colleagues from different backgrounds, nationalities, and age groups.
FB: Besides running a business you also raise twin girls – how is that going?
VC: Depends. My girls don’t know me other than I am – working a lot, traveling, with a mobile phone at hand. My daughters – Patricija and Amelija – are growing in my work environment. They are my little stylists. From very early days they already know the difference between varieties of materials, fabrics. They are constantly surrounded by different people, having developed great communication skills. Same as me, they are growing up to become open-minded individuals. I’m most sure they are happy to see their mother happy. I always try to educate them telling all about the countries I get to visit while traveling for work. I encourage them to learn languages including English, Russian and French. I want them to become cosmopolitan, emancipated women one day.