YKRA FACES: ESZTER LEBÓ & KATI KIRÁLY
To celebrate our 10th birthday and 10 years of adventures, we’re bringing in the whole team. In the 2nd round of our YKRA FACES special birthday edition, we’re talking to Eszter, our CEO, and Kati, our production manager. Find out how they spend their time at YKRA and check out what goes on behind the scenes!
What’s your role at YKRA?
My official “job title” at YKRA is CEO, but besides traditional executive tasks (e.g. financial monitoring, internal communications, strategy and planning, recruitment, and project management) I’m lucky enough to be involved in the brand’s creative tasks as well. I coordinate our photo shoots - where I also do my share of art direction -, keep our website up to date, and organize our events. I get to plan my own schedule and allocate my time as I wish, and I’m super grateful that Juci and Balázs give me so much freedom, as it lets me strike my own balance between different types of tasks.
When and how did you start working at YKRA?
My career at YKRA started back in 2014, when I interned at the brand as a communications trainee. I was studying Liberal Arts at ELTE (Eötvös Loránd University) and we had to complete a mandatory internship, so I got in touch with YKRA, which at the time still had it’s base at Telep. I ran the social media accounts of the YKRA STORE, organized photo shoots (and it’s been my task ever since :D), and after one semester I was already working in sales.
After being accepted to MOME (Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design) for an MA in Art and Design Management, I didn’t have the capacity to carry on working for YKRA next to my studies, so there was a small interlude. It was in the winter of 2017, just after I had quit my previous job when I met Balázs at a Christmas fair, and he offered me the opportunity of coming back to the brand as the CEO. I had different plans at the time, but this was an opportunity I couldn't turn down!
I had always seen such potential in YKRA and this opportunity was a huge challenge for me (but hey, I love challenges!). I took over the task of running the company from Juci, and in January their son Áron was born, so I was pretty much left to my own devices in my new role as CEO. At the time, the company was in a tough spot financially, but with a new strategy and the perseverance of the whole team we managed to pull through. After a year we reached financial stability and in the past two years we’ve been on a path of growth.
What does a typical day of yours look like?
Whenever I can, I like to start my day with a run. My favorite spots are on the pedestrian stretch along the Danube embankment, or on Margaret Island. Afterwards, I have a full breakfast and then I hop on to my bike and cycle to work! My route to the office is pretty scenic, filled with great views, and I cycle past Liberty Bridge daily.
I like it when our team is working all together, gathered around our big table in the office, as this takes place in a fun, easy-going atmosphere. I usually leave the office at around 4pm, do my grocery shopping on the way home, and meet up with friends for coffee, and then in the afternoon I also work for a few hours from home.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
For me, doing sports is essential - it’s when I wind down after a long day, and I’m able to empty my mind or just the opposite - something new springs to mind. It’s why I go running and do yoga regularly.
Besides YKRA, I also have my own small side project. We founded BOO Studio together with Ildikó Kele last year, a brand for children's and adult merino wool accessories. It's an absolute love project for us, and something we’re dedicated to building. I spend my afternoons either working on BOO or supporting the communications of the footwear brand DYAN. On weekends, we head out hiking or spend time with family.
What’s in your bag?
Backpack - I got this as a gift back in my intern days at YKRA, specifically at my first photo shoot. It's my oldest YKRA piece, and I've taken great care of it, it’s also special, because we don't make this white leather version or logo anymore.
Biscuits - I love to cook and when it comes to baking I like to experiment. I often bring home-made cookies to the office too. Afterall, coffee and cakes are the most important part of meetings!
Scarf - This scarf is my favourite from BOO Studio's latest collection. I get a lot of wind blowing at me while I’m cycling, but thanks to the scarf’s pull-through solution, it’s no longer a problem.
Water Bottle - I always have a bottle on me as I cycle a lot and get thirsty often. This one’s from HAY, one of my favourite Danish brands.
Fountain Pen - I jot down my notes by hand most of the time, and I got this fountain pen as a present from Juci and Balázs for my birthday.
Fresh cut flowers - I bought these flowers from the market nearby. I have a soft spot for markets, as my childhood was filled with market memories. In the 90's, when there were no malls or online shopping, everyone in my hometown used to go to the local market. In the family, my mother, uncle and my grandparents were all in the trade business, with their own stalls in the market, so I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Lip Balm - One of my big scores from our recent trip to the US was this birthday cake flavoured lip balm. I always have it on me as an added layer of protection for my daily windy bike rides.
Books - The HBR series is really practical with great insight, I have several editions, and I think it's a must for anyone who works with people or leads a team.
My other big favorite is Lunch Lady, which is an Australian magazine full of recipes, inspiring family stories, photography, art and funny relatable opinion pieces about the ups and downs of family life, so I find it useful - especially when it comes to YKRA Kids and BOO Studio, which focuses on children.
As a Production Manager, what’s your role at YKRA?
I joined YKRA 5 years ago in 2016, when the whole team was composed of just four of us, half the size of where we’re at today. My job as Production Manager is to oversee and coordinate the production process and sourcing. When people ask me about my job, often people assume that I sew backpacks. In our early days I used to meet all of our suppliers in person to purchase materials but this has changed significantly as volumes have grown and our internal systems have evolved.
How would you describe your typical workday?
I always look forward to Mondays when we hold our team meetings in the morning. It's a good way to get the week rolling. I also really appreciate that I’m able to optimise my day to suit my own pace of life while also taking into account the interests of the brand.
At home, I like to leave time in the morning to wake up. We spend quite a lot of time in the mornings in our pyjamas with my son, Bende, who’s four years old, cuddling up or even having a tickle session. Afterwards, I take him to Kindergarten and then it’s time for work.
I like diversity and my days are varied. I usually come into the office once a week for meetings - to discuss production status checkpoints - and the rest of the time I work from home. Lately, it's been a lot of home-office, and I miss the team. As I don't work every day, I have one or two days a week which are saved for “me-time”. It’s when I exercise, do yoga, take part in self-awareness courses (which I love), or just get stuff done around the house. I like the balance of being a mother, as well as a member of the YKRA team.
In the afternoons, it’s back to being with Bende, we like spending time in nature, and luckily we’re close to the forest. There’s always something to play with outside. We enjoy going on walks with our dog, riding the bike, flying a kite, or just messing around in mud and puddles, but we also like going into the city. It’s nice to take part in activities with friends or families with children as well. It’s always good when everyone has company and someone to play with or talk to from their own age group. When we have the opportunity, we go on hiking trips too - I love nomadic experiences and festivals, so whenever we can, we set up our tents and head out into the unknown!
What’s in your bag?
Lego: The background story is that my son and I love to play with puppets, and we like taking on different roles and letting our imagination free - and this lego is an essential piece when it comes to our stories!
Scrunchie: I have a soft spot for handmade accessories. This scrunchie was given to me by a dear friend of mine who travels across India, and keeps going back. She sources the materials on her trips through the country, and uses block printing techniques for her patterns, creating and sewing her collections together with the locals.
Bracelet: A friend of mine made it. I like jewelry made with materials from nature.
Necklace: I inherited the chain from my mom, and the dorje pendant reminds me of the existence of a transcendent world. I picked it up on a visit to a Buddhist stupa and it symbolizes the wisdom found in Buddhist teachings.
Ring: It was a gift - I think - for my 30th birthday (birthdays can be hard to keep track of...) with a super nice touch - it’s personalized with my monogram.
Fanny Pack: It’s ideal to use while taking our dog out for walks and holds everything I need, my phone, purse, tissues, and keys.
Book: Along my journey of motherhood, I’ve really embraced learning about how children function, and how we can cooperate so much better if we pay attention to their needs and step outside the box. There are a lot of good books out there on the topic that I find super interesting (and useful) – I'm really proud of our mother-son relationship.
Photos by Botond Wertán