site.btaLora Gene of London Who Wants to Revive the Bulgarian Silk Road
Entrepreneur Lora Nikolaeva (also known as Lora Gene) of London wants to revive Bulgaria’s old glory as a silk producer, an ambition she has turned into a cause, writes BG Voice.
Bulgaria had traditions in silkworm farming, it was a leader in Europe and the world in raw silk production and export. Then why shouldn’t the Silk Road pass through Bulgaria again, she asked herself.
Lora Gene thinks of herself as a creative entrepreneur rather than a creative designer. She creates what she calls sustainable fashion – clothes from natural materials, for she dislikes fast and cheap fashion, clothes that quickly become heaps of irreclaimable waste polluting the environment.
The Lora Gene brand is recognized in designer circles in Britain and Lora is called The Silk Lady.
She says her grandmother worked over 30 years at the Bulgarian Silk factory in Sofia. Raw silk yarn was produced in Ruse (on the Danube) and there was also a factory in Svilengrad (South Bulgaria). The State used to buy the materials from people who farmed silkworms in the regions of Pleven and Vratsa. The cocoons were processed into raw silk thread. Then in the 1990s, all branches of the raw silk factories were sold off and demolished.
Lora does not wonder whether it was by chance that one day she decided to work mainly with silk. It came quite naturally, literally from above, she says. Nor is it by chance that her grandmother worked with silk all her life and now Lora exports silk clothes to the biggest cities in the world, Lora comments, adding that this is “some inner feeling for the material, the way in which one works”.
Ever since she became involved in this cause, she has buried herself in publications, reading everything she can about the history of Bulgarian silk production. "I already have funding options and continue to seek support. Yes, there will be difficulties at every level, but it's worth putting money into this patriotic cause," she told BG Voice.
Laura learnt that Bulgaria was the largest producer of raw silk in Europe and the eighth in the world. There are currently over a million mulberry trees still alive in Bulgaria, as well as a gene pool of silkworms. There is a station in Vratsa, one of the few centres in the world where these gene pools are maintained. The country also have one of the most favourable climates in Europe for growing mulberries and silkworms.
Unlike almost any other thread, silk does not have negative carbon waste and planting new mulberry forests is positive for nature, Laura recalls. It can also be a very good livelihood for people in the poorest areas of the country.