Svetlana Heino, who has been awarded the White Star by the Republic of Estonia, will leave the post as the director of the Kiviõli firm Svarmil in the spring and begin to fight for women’s rights.
Svarmil is one of the few textile firms in Estonia that managed to do business in an industry dominated by cheap labour in Asia, and even to expand its business. Around the beginning of the new century, Heino sold her firm to Berendsen company in the United Kingdom.
“We sold the business, because we lacked the money for development”, said Heino. She has the new owner’s trust, for she continued to direct the company.
“We have grown from a seven employee company to one with 270 employees. We sub-contract to companies abroad,” says Heino. “In addition to handling difficult sewing orders, we have become important product developers, because I like smart people among firm directors and employees as well.”
While wages at sewing factories in Asia are low, Heino mentions that wages at her firm are respectable. She would not mention any amounts, however.
Heino will retire at Easter this year, but she does not plan to be inactive. Together with similar thinkers, she plans to establish in Narva a Sonta Club that will improve the lives of her fellow women in East Viru County. “Two-hundred forty women work at my firm and I know their problems well,” states Heino.