Mashka Davlianidze, 51, Tbilisi

„I am an arts expert. When I came back to Georgia after studying in Germany, I realized that my knowledge and skills were not needed here (at that time). In the 90s, my husband and I opened “Cin-cin”, a pizza delivery service. We were sitting at home with just 100 euros when this idea occurred to me. My husband caught my enthusiasm and we started it together. The next day, we bought ingredients together, took them home and started cooking. By 7 p.m., there was nothing left. The following day, the whole neighborhood was working with us to be in time for orders. There were 20 of us working in a 3-bedroom apartment. Whatever remained we either ate together, or gave away to those in need. What helped us a lot was that we had connections in TV, radio and printed media and they did ads for us for free. We closed the business in a year when the people started to have less income and the number of orders significantly reduced.

After that we started a small, cozy restaurant as there were no places like this at the time. Later, I started giving lessons in German (as I speak German better than Georgian). Currently, I have 25 students in German. In 2011, my friends opened a bar where I had my tongue pierced. Since then, I’ve been interested in piercing and I realized that I liked this job very much.

One night, when my friend, Nino Kartvelishvili, and I were sitting in the kitchen, I was struck with an idea to make small wooden items and age them (make them look old and weathered). I used to make woodcraft anyway and I always liked the vintage, retro look. Initially, we sold various crafts at the Flea Market, and later we started making small jewel boxes. When our designer friend asked for our help in choosing the design for rooms in an apartment, we did the whole bedroom and also, in one of the rooms, we made wooden upholstery for a three meters high and four meters long wall. We painted, polished it and even added a drawing. It was our first official order. At the same time, we worked at home to make smaller items. Later, we started working with iron too. Our main activity is designing and making furniture. It all started spontaneously – something we’d started for fun turned into a business.

We had our first exhibition at Expo Georgia in October. We put up our stand which looked like a home interior and won the first place. After starting this business, I realized that there is nothing impossible, if you are driven and have enthusiasm. I have worked hard all my life, but the challenges that used to terrify me, are now gone. For example, when we ran a restaurant, there was a problem of bringing in food. I was worried all the time that someone might break in and rob us. I did not feel safe. But today, doing this business, I don’t have such problems and I’m enjoying a friendly environment, customers and people around me. We have grand plans for the future. I want to make a personal exhibition. This is why I love Tbilisi – I have all the convenience here despite many challenges around.”