Why Karpaty? Inspiration behind Karpaty Collection

Karpaty, in Western Ukraine, also known as the Carpathian Mountains, is a very special place to me. In a very real sense, the Karpaty inspired the creation of Saint Javelin.

For most people though, the Karpaty are a home away from home. It’s a place to escape into the mountains and relax, explore the mountains, hike, pick mushrooms, to swim in pristine rivers.

Anyone who visits the Karpaty also inevitably falls in love with the Hutsul people of these mountains and their culture. That is why we wanted to bring you this “BaZara Home” Karpaty collection.

This whole thing started with a simple idea to create a mountain cabin sweater and snowballed into an entire Karpaty collection, which we’re super proud to bring to you this spring.

To make this a reality, one of our team members ventured into the small villages of the Karpaty this past winter to find unique local artisans that we could partner with. From that trip, we’re now able to bring you a range of traditional lizhnyks (Hutsul blankets) and rugs directly from these Hutsul artisans.

To put our own Saint Javelin spin on it, and maybe slightly inspired by IKEA, we decided to name each one, and we think you’ll really enjoy the names we chose. Also, each lizhnyk comes with a very special gift for its new home.

Furthermore, we will be auctioning three extremely unique “Keptars” which are traditional Hutsul vests. One has been appraised to be nearly 200 years old. The funds from these auctioned items will go directly to our partner organization, Ukrainian World Congress for the Unite with Ukraine campaign to provide desperately needed military equipment to Ukrainian soldiers.

We hope you like what we’ve done here because we think it’s part of a much larger evolution for Saint Javelin, and with that, I know I mentioned earlier that these mountains inspired the creation of Saint Javelin, so I wanted to share that story.

Over the past decade, I was fortunate to visit the Karpaty many times, and each one has made a significant impact on my life, leaving me with profound memories.

One of my most memorable trips happened while I was working as a journalist in Ukraine in 2016. During that time, I climbed Ukraine’s tallest mountain Hoverla, with a group of Ukrainian soldiers and their families as part of a PTSD rehabilitation program.

Their stories, and their struggle to return “back to normal” after what they had experienced taught me an important lesson about the men and women who go through war. Even if they survive, some part of them is gone and they are forever changed.

However, it was an earlier experience in 2015 that would eventually motivate me to create Saint Javelin years later.

In November 2015, I was invited to a mountain retreat for the widows of Ukrainian soldiers killed in action since 2014. The women were brought to the village of Vorokhta in Karpaty by the Help Us Help charity organization. The goal was to help these women, and their families, escape their new reality for just a few days.

As part of my reporting, I interviewed each individually, and listened to them tell their stories. Although each was unique, they were all very much the same. War had taken their most important person away from them, and they were left to pick up the pieces of their lives.

All of them were struggling, some more than others, and the ones with children felt utterly lost.

There was one mother in particular who had come to the retreat with her twin daughters, and while she was present physically, I felt that her mind was entirely somewhere else. Although she had never seen the violence of war, she knew its effects better than almost anyone.

Meeting her was the first time I clearly remember thinking about the long-term effects of this war. The effects that permeate for decades afterwards but we forget about once CNN moves onto the next story.

One effect is more obvious than others, and that is that for all the soldiers killed in action, many more are wounded, both physically and mentally. A lot of those soldiers will live the rest of their lives enduring some form of debilitating pain. Whether it’s a lost limb, a traumatic brain injury, or the depression caused by the sheer horror of war, those young men and women are changed for the rest of their lives. They will require decades of additional support from both family and the state just to live through that pain.

For me, this woman’s experience really struck a chord though.

She was not a soldier. She was a regular civilian. She had never even imagined war, and yet here she was now, all alone, with her husband suddenly gone. The pain she felt was incomprehensible. Everyday was a struggle to find a reason to get out of bed, but she had no option because she had to find a way to provide for her two young children who were going through their own trauma.

There were so many unanswered questions with decades long repercussions. What would she do? Who would help her? Where would they live? How would the kids grow up with the weight of that experience?

I took a picture of this woman, with her twins by her side, while we attended mass at this tiny church in Vorokhta.

And it’s this picture that kept running through my mind in February 2022 when I realized that the russians would invade full scale.

This picture from Karpaty was the inspiration for Saint Javelin.

I wanted to be able to do something for people like her because I understood that if the russians launched a full-scale invasion, there would be many more to help.

Unfortunately, I was right.


  • Cheryl Honeycotte

    My family ancestry hails from the Ukraine when both sets of grandparents emigrated to Canada(father’s family in the 1920’s and my mother’s family earlier). I cherish this ancestry (as does my adult daughter) and we both purchase items from Saint Javelin. We are looking forward to this new and exciting collection. Will there be sweaters for sale as well?

  • Alex

    in June last year I visited the Karpaty, wounderful place to enjoy nature and meet people!
    even during the war it is possible to travel – only long waiting hours at the border have to be tolerated ;-)
    Greetings from Berlin & good luck with your important work!!

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