A new arts and crafts studio, 1st House, recently welcomed its first customers in the former AIB Bank on Main Street, Milford.  

1st House has been opened by Alla Hres and Yuliia Ovchar, who have been living in Milford since they fled the war in Ukraine last Easter. The studio will be open every Friday initially, hoping to expand the opening hours as the business grows.  

Alla Hres and Yuliia Ovchar.

The main focus of the craft shop and studio is supplying embroidery and cross stitch supplies and offering workshops and lessons to crafters of all ages and abilities. Alla and Yuliia hope to increase their offering to crocheting and knitting in due course. 

Alla and Yuliia are both certified master cross-stitchers. The walls of the craft shop are adorned with Yuliia’s handiwork to showcase the artistic creations that can be achieved through the craft. Some of Yuliia’s designs took over a year to create. The artworks are on permanent display in the studio gallery; everyone is welcome to pop in and see them. 

Speaking at the opening, Alla Hres said: “The Ukrainian people have had a long, proud tradition of embroidery and cross-stitch. We found out that the Irish people shared that tradition when we came here and saw the embroidered Celtic crosses and the decorative cross stitch on Irish dancing costumes, for example. We hope our business can provide a place for our cultures to come together, enjoy our shared ancient craft traditions, learn new skills, and have fun.” 

Speaking at the opening, Yuliia Ovchar said: “The people of Milford have been so welcoming to us since we arrived here. We have made so many good friends here. We hope the 1st House craft shop and studio will be a positive addition to Milford. Many local people called in to the studio on the opening day to show their support; we are so grateful. We are looking forward to using our skills and offering fun training to the local people, both adults and children.” 

“We would also like to thank DLDC for their help, we did not know to set up a business when we got here, or know Irish laws and tax but they helped us with that. It was a great support.” Yuliia added.  

Yuliia Ovchar, Declan Meehan, from Milford & District Resource Centre & DLDC board member, and Alla Hres

1st House Art Craft Studio was established with support from Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC) Start Your Own Business Programme. For information on enterprise supports, please contact  info@dldc.org or call 074 91 27056.