Tatevik Sargsyan, a 30-year old mother of three children, a linguist / translator, started her own business as an entrepreneur. Her story is motivational and deserves to be shared with wider public. It is a success story of a strong woman who mobilized all her skills for a better life.
Tatevik was an ordinary freelance translator for many years when she came across an announcement of “Innovation Challenge Call” in the framework of the UNDP ‘’Integrated Rural Tourism Development’’ (IRTD) project, funded by the Russian Federation. The Innovation Challenge Call is a public-private partnership initiative to involve private sector expertise into the development of innovative, commercially feasible and publicly beneficial products and services for the tourism industry.
One of the applicants was Tatevik. She is from the family of an honoured painter of the Republic of Armenia Ararat Sarkissian and he played a key role in Tatevik’s success story. ‘‘I discussed the announcement with my father, who at that time was planning to organize his own exhibition. The concept of the exhibition was to not only showcase his art works but also the technology he uses for his art. In the concept discussion process, we came up with an idea to share with public the process of reusing recycled paper in arts: the tourists themselves can be part of paper production process. After a year, the ‘Byurakan Studio’ in the heart of Byurakan village is ready to receive the first tourists.”
The Byurakan Studio is an exhibition hall that offers to its guests two programs - ‘From Paper Making to a Relief Image’ and ‘Plein-air painting in Byurakan.” The studio has developed its own handmade paper technology. The plein-air painting, a unique form of art, is a technique to paint objects in natural light and in natural conditions. The artist must be able to hunt a mysterious corner of nature, which must be painted at that moment. One can say that the plein-air painting is the artist’s separation in the nature and with nature.
“This is a family business, a business where each member does its favourite job and, I as a risk taker manage to organize it. My father has realised his dream as a result of many years of hard, creative and sustainable work. My sister, a talented artist, has initiated the plein-air painting sessions, my mother, as host, treats tourists to feel like at home and, I am the coordinator of the project,” says Tatevik.
The Byurakan Studio in full capacity is operating only for a month. Tourists enjoy the technique of work, as in this digital era they tend to lose the contact with the nature and culture, and this studio gives them the ability to immerse into the nature of the art. The visitors make paper with their own hands, they paint, they enjoy a cup of coffee in the green garden and leave the place with new emotions and unforgettable memories.
It is also worth mentioning that Tatevik recently participated in internationally recognized “Project Management for Sustainable Tourism” certification training and gained new skills to further develop her project. In the nearest future, Tatevik thinks to upgrade the plein-air painting technique and create art residency concept where painters can live and paint in the same place. She says, “The key of my success is love, optimism and support. Whatever I do, I think of good organizations and people with a great love and I believe that my story will empower many doubtful women that escape of taking risks.”
UNDP’s Rural Tourism Development project, in close partnership with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, not only supports developing rural tourism in Armenia, but also creates sustainable income-generating opportunities as supplemental income source to reduce the level of rural poverty, contributes to equal territorial development and shapes conducive environment for rural development.