Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Poland's brain gain: Country's brightest return home to seek fortune

By Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
Polish twins Jan and Pawel Modrzejewski in front of their organic baby clothes stall.
Polish twins Jan and Pawel Modrzejewski in front of their organic baby clothes stall.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • More and more Poles are returning from abroad to find greater work opportunties at home
  • Polish twins ­Jan and Pawel left the London banking industry to set up business in Poland
  • Today the pair have a successful organic baby clothes business, with excellent forecasts for growith

Warsaw, Poland (CNN) -- With their fine shirts, ­their initials embroidered on them,­ their cufflinks and custom made jackets, the Modrzejewski twins ­Jan and Pawel ­seem the prototype of the London banker. Their hairstyle, their clothes, their gestures, everything is almost identical.

Both were indeed bankers in Londonıs financial district, but nowadays you are likely to find them at baby fairs in Poland, Germany, and other European countries promoting their new line of baby wear called "Mon Petit Bebe." "We always wanted to start our own business," Jan says.

"The work is very different from what we used to do, but at least you [are] building something that is your own," Pawel completes the sentence as seamlessly as only identical twins can.

The work certainly looks very different from banking. The twins patiently explain their new products to inquisitive mothers as babies hover around the stand at the baby fair -- sometimes falling over, sometimes crying after falling to the floor. It is loud, hectic and very hot, but Jan and Pawel know this is the best way to reach their potential customers.

Their company offers something they say is new on the Polish market: Fully organic baby clothes, made from 100 per cent organic cotton and sewed by hand in small factories in Poland.

"Basically, we saw that the trend towards eco-friendly garments was slowly coming to Poland," Jan says.

"The market here is not as big as in the UK, but we believe it will certainly pick up," Pawel again chimes in and completes the thought.

Jan and Pawel Modrzejewski's move back to Poland is more than a homecoming -- it is also a vote of confidence in the Polish economy. After years that saw the country's best and brightest leave Poland to get an education and work experience elsewhere, more and more Poles are returning as their economy has shown itself robust during the international crisis while countries like the UK have faced a much deeper recession.

"We see the potential in Poland," Pawel says as he folds some baby shirts from the new collection.

Experts have yet to put numbers on the new trend of returning to Poland, ­a process labeled "brain gain" by some, ­but former expats say they know of many people who are coming back to try their luck in their home country.

Still, employment agencies warn that a lack of skilled labor could hamper Polandıs further economic development.

"We see a lack -- especially of project managers on construction sites," says the Manpower agency, one of the biggest in the world, "but there is also big demand for plumbers, carpenters and of course in the service sector."

Poles who are returning know they are heading into an adventure. Claudia Loretti used to work in marketing in London but recently returned to Warsaw to help her parents run three clothing stores. She says in the beginning the times were hard, but now things are getting better.

"The skills I learned abroad are certainly helping me here," she says as she folds some designer shorts. "Having operated in London it is possible to succeed almost everywhere in the world and I want to put the skills I have acquired to good use in my country." The sooner the better for Claudia, she says she would like to start a business of her own. With the headquarters in Poland.