Old computer pieces find a new life in Carolina Portarescu’s workshop in Orhei. This young woman manufactures earrings, bracelets and rings from computer boards and chips, and sells her products in Moldova and abroad. For her work being extremely elaborately, she makes a good use of the equipment procured from a grant offered by the European Union.
Carolina has been making bijouterie ever since she can remember, but she has never thought of it as a business. Therefore, she went to study at a philology faculty in Romania, and worked as an English translator after the graduation. But while on maternity leave with her first child, her passion for handicrafts finally dominated. “I had a big bag full of coconut shells, and thought it would be a shame to throw them, so I decided to recycle them. I took a piece and polished its surface with an instrument I found in my father’s garage, I rounded and dyed it, and there was it – a brooch,” she says.
This first success encouraged her, and Carolina went on manufacturing more and more sophisticated adornments. A few years later, she started using old computer boards and chips, while no other craftsperson in Moldova uses them for making bijou. The idea came to her mind when she found a few computer chips in her brother’s shop. “They were so beautifully coloured – green, yellow and blue – that I got instantly fascinated. They were like cities seen from the outer space to me.”
She set her mind to transform them into bijou, but she could not yet figure out how to cut the desired shapes from these pieces of metal. Her biggest issue was that she did not have the needed instruments. The solution was found again in her father’s garage: this time she experimented with two angle grinders. It took her several months to learn how to carve bits out of chips; it turned out to be quite challenging, because she was never sure whether she could get the expected result.
Later she would save enough money to buy a professional machine, yet it turned out to be forged. “Once, a part of it went off while I was working. So, I just dropped it down as it was, still plugged in,” witnesses Carolina.
Her handmade business was born together with the first child
A chance to open her own modern equipped workshop was offered by the Support to Confidence Building Measures Programme, financed by the EU and implemented by the UNDP.
While her handmade business was born together with the first child, its reorganization happened when she was on maternity leave with her second daughter. To obtain the grant, she applied at the call for proposals, along with hundreds of young people from both banks of the Nistru River. Carolina is convinced that she managed to win it because of her exceptional business and well-thought business-plan. With over 100,000 MDL of grant money, she bought 13 instruments, as well as various mounts, accessories and all sorts of cutting, polishing and drilling tips.
People from UK became passionate fans of Carolina’s creation
Equipped with new instruments and knowledge obtained through trainings organized by the project, she managed to develop her business substantially. As a result, time spent on manufacturing one item reduced, while the production steadily grows. Now the young entrepreneur sells her products domestically and abroad. Her handmade opera reached the US and Denmark. Most of her fans, however, live in the UK, where from she receives numerous orders.