Mar 1, 2022 - News

Austin businesses respond to Russia invasion

Protesters rally to support the Ukraine in front of the Texas Capitol.

About 200 protesters gathered outside the Texas Capitol to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Sunday. Photo: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman/USA TODAY NETWORK

An area hair stylist has been sewing and giving away Ukrainian flags. An Austin businessman has tried to help the family members of local Ukrainians who fled to Hungary. And a homebuilder in the community asked for donations of body armor.

The big picture: Austinites are stepping up and actively responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, sharing messages of support, promoting Ukrainian products and sending material to a country under siege.

What they're saying: With much of her extended family in Ukraine, fabricating flags is "something I can do to show support," Iryna Lishchynska, a hairdresser and salon owner, told Axios.

  • "For our warriors we need to collect bulletproof vests and body armor of the 4th level of protection, it's okay if they are not new," Igor Stepanov, who builds custom homes in Austin, wrote on Facebook over the weekend, asking people to drop the protective equipment at his home in western Travis County.
  • István Mohos, the Austin-based head of an ozone technology company, wrote on Facebook: "Hungarians in Austin would like to offer help and assistance to families or friends of Ukrainians in Austin by connecting and assisting with logistics from the border, [accommodation], shelters, civilian and social aid organizations!"
A person sews the Ukrainian flag.
Iryna Lishchynska sews together a Ukrainian flag on Monday. Photo courtesy Iryna Lishchynska

At North Austin's Borderless European Market, which sells Russian, Ukrainian and Polish products, employees have been overwhelmed with calls and messages, according to the shop's Facebook page.

  • "In these terrible times, the entire multinational team of BEM supports the position of those who loudly declare their protest against Russia's military invasion of Ukraine," they wrote.
  • "We are an Eastern European store and we unequivocally (and definitely) agree with the policy of Europe and the whole world to stop this madness. We consider the actions Russia is taking towards Ukraine a crime," they added.

It's unclear whether the market will remove Russian products from its shelves after Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday asked retailers to voluntarily pull Russian-made products.

But some restaurants are working to take Russian vodka off their shelves.

  • Skeeter Miller, owner of barbecue restaurant The County Line, responded to Abbott's request by quickly discontinuing the sale of Russian vodkas.
  • Now, The County Line's Austin locations — and soon San Antonio — will serve drinks, including a specialty cocktail called the "Kruto Orchard," using two Ukrainian-made vodka options: Kruto and Khor.
The County Line's "Kruto Orchard" cocktail. Photo courtesy: The County Line on the Hill.

A portion of the proceeds from the Kruto Orchard cocktail sales will go toward Save the Children: Ukraine Relief Fund.

  • "We're just trying to make a stand to let the leadership in Russia know that we don't agree with what they're doing to the Ukrainian people," Miller said.

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