Gabrielė Knyzelytė and Justina Knyzelytė, class of 2014, found out about LCC International University from a friend. When the sisters visited Open Door Day at LCC they recognized it as a place with a multitude of possibilities to broaden their horizons, grow as individuals, and be an active part of the forward-thinking community. For their brother, Milvydas Knyzelis, class of 2019, choosing LCC was also easy; in his search for high-quality institutions and programs, he eventually arrived at the Contemporary Communication program at LCC. The Knyzelis siblings are now involved with the family business Užvenčio Dvaro Malūnas, and their own business House of Sorelle, a contemporary stationery design brand.
All three of you are back to your home town Užventis. Could you please tell us more about it, and what took you back to your roots?
Milvydas: Being from the region where people have such stubborn, resolute character – trust me, it is not in my plans to leave Lithuania anytime soon. Surely, as a graduate of an international university, I could choose a global career, but I believe it is important to stay and contribute to my home country. Since remote work is becoming more popular, I see this as a balance between living in Lithuania and having a global career.
Justina: Right after I graduated from LCC I spent some time in France and later in Malta. I met wonderful people, got to know different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles. All of these experiences have shaped me into who I am now and helped me grow. Home is where the heart is and my heart is in Užventis, at least for now. It is a place where I and my family together can create and make new ideas a reality – from event coordination to town image creation, artists’ community building and many others - at the same time hopefully adding to the prosperity of the community.
Gabrielė: We are looking for inspiration and partners for our own business as well as for our family business. We do move between Klaipėda for the colder season and Užventis for the summer. Our hometown is the place where the magic happens, where our family is and where self-expression in different forms happens. We are willingly participating in Užventis's life with different initiatives. Together with the family, we organize annual artists’ symposium UžventisART where famous Lithuanians blacksmiths and water-colorists gather to create exceptional artworks. These events make Užventis an even more attractive and special place to live and to visit. I believe that not only locals but the whole country of Lithuania becomes richer by events like this. The main aim is to cherish the Lithuanian cultural heritage with a bright emphasis on the Cross-crafting – the UNESCO Intangible Heritage.
Užventis is famous for its Užvenčio Dvaro Malūnas, a millhouse that is owned by your family. What is the story behind it?
Gabrielė: We have been involved with the family business since the very beginning. This is the place where the famous Lithuanian writer, Šatrijos Ragana was raised. All the bridges, alleys and shores still bring to mind this special woman. We take special care to save the special energy and mood in this place so that our guests experience that same feeling and moment of quietness. Užvenčio Dvaro Malūnas is open for tourists and weddings, but also open for the artists. Our small watermill-guesthouse with its romantic features reminds guests of the villas of Italy. Its rich history is an inspiration to us, but we hope also for all the visitors. Užvenčio Dvaro Malūnas is our family business and it is one of the two projects we are passionately involved in. Another business we started nearly two years ago is the House of Sorelle, a contemporary stationery design brand.
How did you come up with the idea for House of Sorelle?
Justina: Like others, we are constantly looking for the beauty in life. We recognized the need for quality product design in Lithuania. So we decided to step in as pioneers in Lithuania’s stationery market, specifically by introducing foreign design studios and their exceptional products. Even though the House of Sorelle has evolved into a contemporary stationery brand and e-shop, we are trying not to limit ourselves. We tend to think that our brand is not only about stationery, but it is also about creativity and inspiration for everyday life--be that in stationery, art or fashion.
Gabrielė: Working with the House of Sorelle opened the doors to fashion, design and the art world. After graduation and some work experience, we chose to do remote work, which seems a good fit for us. Of course, working remotely requires good time management and organizational skills on our part.
What is your opinion on liberal arts education that LCC offers?
Milvydas: From my experience when looking for a job after graduation, I can say that having a liberal arts education opens doors to unlimited opportunities. As a recent Contemporary Communication graduate, I can work in many different fields, like public relations, marketing, journalism or web design.
Justina: For me, liberal arts education helped me to see myself as being a part of a community, not just as an individual. I learned not to be afraid of stretching my limits, accepting diversity, and seeking a different point of view. I believe that the broader the scope of the knowledge and experiences we have, the clearer perspective and understanding we can form. I am proud that I have acquired such a strong base for life at LCC. The key principles expressed within this liberal arts education are basic life principles such as respect, Christian character, and community. These basics have gained meaning for me. Being part of the LCC community I was led by the example of diverse, genuine and faithful people. Many students, leaders, and professors had a meaningful impact not only in my professional life but in life principles in general. These core values of LCC expressed through its liberal arts education are what I am proudly now building my life on.