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Community Highlights: Meet Yuliya Gorenko of Scents of Ukraine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yuliya Gorenko.

Yuliya, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am a Ukrainian refugee in California, I hand-make scented candles to help my country.

I came to the US on February 15, a bit more than a week before Russia started the full-scale invasion of my country. When heading to the States, I was aware of the forecasts and threats of military aggression publicized in the media. However, I could not imagine the scale of the upcoming catastrophe.

I came to the US because I’ve been in a long-distance relationship with an American for a few years. I’ve traveled to California to see him and he visited Ukraine a few times. He now loves Ukraine as much as I do and we were planning to have a home in Kyiv.

My partner is the reason I am safe today. Due to his support, I was able to start my candle-making project.

When the war began I found myself shocked and paralyzed with fear and despair. It took me some time to put myself back together. I learned how to live with this pain. Most importantly, I realized that giving up is not an option. I escaped the dangers of the war so now I have to keep fighting and helping those in need.

I am blessed to survive and I learned to appreciate being alive. The war impacted the way I think about life and my role in this world. Despite the emotional struggle I am living in, I directed my pain, anger, and fear into positive action.

I started Scents of Ukraine to support my country. With 10 years of experience in PR and marketing in my pre-war life, I am now using my skills to spread the word about Ukraine. Even though I am far from home, I am trying to make a difference.

By selling candles, I am able to raise money for humanitarian projects in Ukraine.

Helping others gives me the strength to carry on.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I started Scents of Ukraine to share the beauty of Ukraine with the world and to raise money for Ukrainians in need. The idea was simple and I had a clear vision of how I see my brand. However, the execution of any idea takes determination and effort.

I had a very specific goal to offer fragrances associated with Ukraine. It took me a while to find the right scents here in the States. I also wanted to make sure that my candles are on par with the best products on the market. I was going for a high fragrance intensity without a cheap “soapy” smell.

I’ve been testing multiple formula variations for several months before I came up with the product I love. All this while helplessly watching the terrifying news from Ukraine and seeing unimaginable human suffering.

While working in emotionally pressing circumstances, I did not want to compromise on the quality of my products. I carefully selected the ingredients–I am working with sustainable soy and coconut waxes. Many manufactured candles contain paraffin (an ingredient obtained from petroleum) to lower the production cost. I was determined to create a truly special product with a “do-good” attitude in every aspect of my brand. I think conscious manufacturing is as important as conscious consumption.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Scents of Ukraine?
Scents of Ukraine was created by Yuliya Gorenko, a Ukrainian who had to leave her country in February 2022. To support her country she started to hand-make scented candles inspired by her memories of Ukraine.

There are two elements of the brand’s mission: to show the unique identity of Ukraine and to financially support Ukrainians affected by the war.

The images of the devastated Ukrainian cities are all over the media. These photos show ruined civilian objects, wounded people, and other terrifying scenery of the war. I don’t want the world to only associate my home country with the war. As much as I work to educate people about the struggles Ukraine is going through, it is equally important to promote our national culture, creativity, talent, and beauty. And I am doing it through fragrance.

By purchasing a Scents of Ukraine product, you support humanitarian aid in Ukraine. You can learn about the projects we support on our website. Here’s a recent example of our action:

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
We are open to working with businesses that are interested in carrying our products–cafes, salons, galleries, boutiques. We are also open to collaboration with non-profit organizations that support Ukraine. We are interested in partnering with those who share our love for Ukraine.


  • $35 for a 7 oz candle

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Image Credits
Photo courtesy: Scents of Ukraine

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