'Every time you surpass your former self, you become better'

Iordan Konstantinidi on the relaunch of his brand RBTNK, the challenges brought by the war, and the new drop 'Defender of the Year'.


Three years ago, in December 2020, we introduced the Ogonek x KSENIASCHNAIDER 'Worker of the Year' drop. It emerged from the desire to congratulate and support all those who did not give up during the COVID-19 pandemic year and continued to pursue their work despite all difficulties.


'Работник года' collection (2020)

From this collaboration, the brand Rabotnik was born — encompassing clothing, stationery, events, and a community, with the aim of bringing together all those who love to work and take pride in what they do. It was created by the creative director of Ogonek, Iordan Konstantinidi..

'Rabotnik of the year' collection (2021)

With the onset of a full-scale war, Iordan joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine and put the brand on hold. Over the past year, he went from being a medic to a combat medic and, later, the chief of the battalion's medical unit. This year, Iordan decided to relaunch the brand — now named RBTNK.

The new drop is also dedicated to those who continue to work despite challenges and take pride in what they do — but now, it's for the purpose of overcoming a common enemy.

My brand project was ready a month before the start of the full-scale war. Our entire team gathered for the first time in February 2022, and four days later, everything began. I joined the military, and, of course, at that time, I had to put the brand on hold because there were other priorities. I had no ideas then, no strength at all, but there was a certain pressure inside me — I was upset that I could lose my dream along the way. So, I didn't lose hope.

Rabotnik of the year in action, 2022. Personal archive.

In the spring of this year, I transferred to the airborne troops and changed my position to an administrative one. I started working on digitizing medical services, spent more time with my laptop — and gradually, it became easier. Memories of the past faded away, and I started looking forward to the future. I also started talking about the brand with others and finally came up with it the way it should be this year. The cornerstone was the name. Before the full-scale war, the brand was called Rabotnik — in Latin, because we wanted to create a neologism in English, a word that would mean 'a person who works.' I wanted to keep the essence but get rid of the Russian word. My closed Telegram channel came to the rescue, where I asked for advice from my subscribers. That's how Rabotnik became the abbreviation RBTNK.


Private Telegram-channel screenshot and sketches. Personal archive.

I deciphered the name as 'really busy, talented 'n kind' — and everything fell into place. These words describe those for whom I created the brand, and the idea of neologism remained. After that, I began to develop a release plan for the new drop.

'Defender of the year' T-shirt

This year's RBTNK drop is created for all those who, over the past nearly two years, have become new individuals, mastering new professions related to the war. Now, they can exchange their Rabotnik of the Year shirts for Defender of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, etc. We once introduced the brand's main slogan: 'Your work is your superpower'. So, all these people are my superheroes, not because they wear uniforms, but because they make a difference in these uniforms—thanks to their work. And for these superheroes, I wanted to preserve memories of the present in the form of tangible items.

It's important to add that I'm not trying to prove to people that they are better than others. I want to prove that considering yourself better is okay.

Every time you surpass your former self, you become better. Material things help capture these moments. When someone close gives you such a shirt as a gift, they express that they share this opinion with you. The end of the year is the best time to pause, look back, and finally acknowledge your achievements. And this drop will help with that.

RBTNK website main page

This year, RBTNK not only introduced a new name but also a new communication approach with gamification elements. On the brand's website, you can choose a character with a specific set of skills and a unique patch. The brand deliberately avoided traditional photoshoots, emphasizing that anyone can become a hero in this 'game'.

'Each of us in the military has at least once perceived the execution of certain tasks as a computer game. Because often it's impossible to fully grasp the reality of what's happening to us,' the brand states.

"When you imagine yourself as someone else, for example, a character in a game completing a level, everything becomes much easier. I'm confident that I'm not alone in this — and it applies not only to the military but also to volunteers, medics, journalists, and rescuers, on whom our future victory depends. In this drop, there are no faces, so the campaign is designed accordingly: dark and smoky, hot from the smoke. There's only an understanding that it's a person with certain character traits with whom you can associate yourself or someone for whom the shirt would be a gift. The patch is a mandatory attribute of the game costume: when it's on you, you're 'in the game.' But you can also take it off and walk around in a regular black shirt, ready to put it back on at any moment. People to whom I dedicated this will understand because during the war, no matter what you do or where you are, in a second, you can start facing the next level. Always be ready".


Regarding how the brand will further develop, Iordan confidently responds that in 2024, we can expect the first full-fledged RBTNK clothing collection.

“I think we'll never stop with drops because it's a matter of occasions — and I love responding to the challenges of the world. Every year, we will set new tasks, new goals for ourselves — and celebrate new 'best of the year'. But, of course, RBTNK needs to become a full-fledged brand — it needs to become an additional support for me because that's important to me. While I'm in service, I'll work simultaneously, and what happens next — time will tell.

Certainly, it will be clothing — as it is in clothing that we meet and part ways. And the RBTNK style is around the clock. A style in which you can go to work in the morning and go dancing in the evening. In 2021, we came up with a slogan that is still relevant: 'Who works well, dances well".

Rabotnik of the year party. tcp bar, 09.12.2021

For me, nothing has really changed since then. Yes, I am a military man now, but I can let myself dance, listen to music, sing with my comrades, and relax after a challenging workday — because otherwise, it's impossible to bear with reality. We are the same people. We are the same workers who want corporate events, team-buildings, and it's essential. Without it, building a team is impossible. If you want to accomplish tasks with your team, you have to spend time with them in a non-combat setting outside of work — otherwise, trust and mutual understanding cannot be built.

Iordan with his team, 2022.

And finally, about disappointments at work (which occasionally happen to all of us).

“During the war, I understood the reason for disappointments in general. If you do your job conscientiously and put effort into it, you will never be disappointed in yourself. Most likely, what disappoints you is how your work is evaluated, as you always want recognition for doing a great job. That's why I created RBTNK — it's about support and self-confidence, which are always necessary for those who want to do their job well."

New RBTNK drop is available for pre-order now.

Visuals: Arteem Andreev, Oleksandr Tarasov