Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Croatian Peruvian Returns to Homeland Starts Design Business

Dragitza is a brilliant young Croatian Peruvian who decided to seek a better life in her homeland. She started her own business, has a stand-up comedy act and is a finalist on a popular TV cooking show.

Founder of Puro Amor Design in Zagreb

You may not have heard of Dragitza Rastegorac yet, but you have probably heard of the brand Puro Amor Design, which has been selling cups with wacky and personalized labels for a while. This 29-year-old was born and raised in Peru, but her Croatian roots brought her back to the region her family came from. She recently spoke to Veronika Švob/SUPER1/Telegram about life in Zagreb, her first job, stand-up comedy and her current business over coffee at Cogito Café on Deželićeva Ulica.

Dragitza was born and spent 26 years of her life in Lima, the capital of Peru. Her father is originally from Kupres and her mother is from Bugojno, so when she turned nine, she had the opportunity to spend two years in Croatia before returning to Peru again. After graduating from high school and college in Lima, Dragitza decided that she no longer wanted to live Peru and decided to come to Croatia.


Puro Amor Design | Facebook

Left Corruption and Poverty in Peru for Better Croatian Life

"After graduation, I didn't even look for a job there, but came to Zagreb. The people of Lima most often go to Argentina to look for work or further education, but I did not want to go that route. Something drew me to Croatia.”

She claims that it was not because of the people and adds that the Peruvians are very warm and know how to socialize with others, but Lima is a very unsafe place to live.

"There is so much poverty, and corruption which does not benefit people at all, and I simply felt that I did not belong there. While I was growing up, we often spent time in Croatian emigrant social circles. Most of those Croats had arrived in Peru after the Second World War and were already third generation. I am second generation, for example.”

“I studied communication science, and the course of study is quite different than that in Croatia. I learned a lot about advertising and graphic design. After I completed my degree, I applied for a scholarship in Croatia, which was not difficult to get, because there are plenty of openings. I think the goal is to encourage Croatians to eventually return from abroad. Not all of them stay, of course, and some only come for a year or two.”

She first came alone, lived in a dormitory on the Sava, and met a lot of people from Peru, Argentina and Canada at that time.

Studied Croatian As Scholarship Student in Croaticum

“I studied Croatian through the Croaticum program at the Filozofski Fakultet (Faculty of Philosophy) and it was quite challenging, but I believe it is currently the best program for learning Croatian. It was not my first contact with the Croatian language because I came here at the age of nine and went to school here for two years.”

She spoke Spanish all her life, but what she had learned as a child helped her a lot. "The Croatian language is very difficult, it is really demanding, especially when it comes to the cases. I can't compare it to Spanish at all.”

She speaks Croatian very well today, adding that she still messes up the cases sometimes. After her classes ended, she stayed in Croatia for another month before returning to Lima. But then she came back to after half a year and knew then that she wanted to stay Croatia. "I had a great roommate from Slavonski Brod and met a lot of foreigners, somehow it all fell into place."

First Job as Manager at Museum of Illusions

"My first job in Zagreb was at the Museum of Illusions. I saw an ad saying that they were looking for someone who spoke English and that Spanish was an advantage. I applied for this job thinking that I would be the guide in the museum, not run the whole museum. However, it turned out that I became manager of the museum and stayed there for about a year.”

She points out that it was no problem for her to get the job, and that she rejected as many as two offers in the meantime.

"Many thought I got the job through a relationship, but I really didn't. After a year at the museum I was working on another project for them, but it didn't work out very well and I was glad when I got fired. Everyone around me was amazed to see that I kept a smile on my face, but I just had to.”

She had her own business plan in mind by then, or rather she had just begun thinking about it, but hadn’t done anything yet.


Puro Amor Design | Facebook

Created Business Plan Out of Love for Collecting Cups

She first came up with the idea of making cups because she collected them. “I was constantly searching for cups with Croatian inscriptions and could not find them anywhere. Now there are several cups, but at that time I couldn't find anything interesting.” It occurred to her to start making them herself, so she began with drawings, and was somewhat inspired by the Spanish brand Mr. Wonderful, which does similar work in all languages. "So, I started and showed my friend some ideas and she really liked them.

"My dad lent me money to print the first 250 pieces, I opened a Paušalni obrt (or lump sum business – I still don't know exactly what that means, but I am a lump sum) and started the business.”

After she reached out to the Instagram profile @zagrebfacts as it offered her a lot of Zagreb slang expressions; people started inquiring. "That was two years ago, I remember that I had sold almost a hundred pieces in just a few days. That early success fueled my motivation to continue. "

After that, she bought her first printer, then a second and third. She started her business in a room in a rented apartment and eventually moved it into the living room. "My emphasis is on personalized mugs, and I offer customers five options to choose from. Then Mother's Day came, and the business simply swelled to such an extent that shops started contacting me with their orders.” Then the media became interested and there were competitions. She even tried to work with Croatian influencers, but that did not progress. However, she had the great fortune of opening a showroom in on Jurišićeva Ulica.

Opened Puro Amor Design Shop on Jurišićeva Ulica

"I am here alone most of the time. My best friend helps me, and everything goes from production to sale here." Although she started with cups, she began producing canvas bags and feathers last February, and next February she expects to continue with t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. Now she is making a decent living. "I do not expect to make a fortune, but I think something like this was needed in Croatia. At least that’s how it turned out for now.” You can follow Puro Amor Design on Facebook and Instagram.

Moonlighting as Stand-Up Comedienne at Studio Smijeha

She also took acting classes in Peru and was part of an acting ensemble, Dragitza has a few plays behind her. "This is one of the reasons why I wanted to go to America after college. I even auditioned for the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, which is quite demanding but too expensive, so I gave up. It was a good confirmation to me that I have talent, so when I came to Zagreb, I enrolled in Studio Kubus, but realized that it was quite difficult for me to act in Croatian.”

Shortly after, she found a stand-up workshop at Studio smijeha (Studio of Laughs) and decided to go there.

"Marina Orsag told me that I was very endearing, that I had a super accent, and advised me to write some text. She soon asked me when I was planning on performing on open mic, and although I was excited, I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it. The show turned out great, and the crowd was roaring with laughter. The topics revolved around my parents, life in Zagreb, about being told that I’d never find a job here, and about some of my observations as a foreigner."

She also draws his inspiration from her love life, which she says is totally chaotic. "Well, I borrow stories from girlfriends, funny down-to-earth stories but I'm pretty focused on women's topics. From PMS to the gynecologist.” She doesn't write as often as she would like but hopes to hold a new performance every month. "A lot of people come to listen to stand-up, it's brilliant to realize that you can make people laugh. I'm an optimistic person and see good things in everyone. I'm a positive person by nature."

In her free time, she goes to Praćka for karaoke, while she chooses Katran for dancing. "Well, that was a bit of a shock to me. In Peru, you dance wherever you go but there’s nothing here. It's so hard to get people to move around here. And at first, I went to Latin American dance events, because I missed them so much.”


Dragitza Rastegorac | Facebook

Made it to Semi Finals on Popular Cooking TV Show

She loves to cook, mostly Peruvian cuisine, and her mom sends her spices regularly to make those dishes work. "We eat very spicy foods, and prepare meat for a long time, and coriander and yellow chili are my favorite spices." She admits he does not excel in preparing fish. In Peru, raw fish, known as ceviche, is one of the most famous dishes. "From Croatian cuisine, I love pate, beans and greens and Istrian specialties which my roommate’s mom sends." Dragitza also recently made it to the semi-finals on the TV show Kuhan i pečen (Cooked and Baked).

"She likes the pace of life here. Zagreb is not that big of a city and I can get everything done in one day. The only sad thing for me is that Croatians want to leave the country and they often tell me that I won’t stay here for very long. I don't think they appreciate what they have, but I don't know. And it wasn't that easy for me to start this adventure. There were days when I only sold one or two cups, but if you are persistent and if you work hard, there is no door that won’t open. Croatians do not consider the option of starting their own business after graduation, while that is common practice in Peru. If you don't find a job, you can figure out one out for yourself. I have a dozen more ideas, but don't have time for everything.”

Well, Dragitza is a good example of commitment all the way to the finish line, and nothing can stop her. She's truly inspirational.

Follow our Made in Croatia page and Diaspora page to keep updated on Croatia returnees, their business ventures and successes.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Lighting of Evolution Tower in Moscow Designed by Croatian Company

The Transneft global corporation has organised the opening ceremony of their new corporate headquarters in Moscow, one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in the world, the Evolution Tower, whose lighting design has been created by Skira. The award-winning Croatian designer Dean Skira and his team worked on the prestigious project of the new Moscow skyscraper for the last four years and have achieved outstanding results in the field of deployment of the latest lighting technology, reports Jutarnji List on February 2, 2019.

"I would like to point out that Transneft is the largest oil company in the world and I am personally convinced that our skyscraper will contribute to the reputation of the company. The Moscow Kremlin and the basilica symbolise the Russian past, while our building will become a symbol of Moscow's future,” said CEO Nikolay Petrovich Tokarev.

020219-Evolution Tower3.jpg

Skirin's task was to implement a complete interior and exterior lighting design with a centralised light management system. The project contains lighting solutions designed for the interior and exterior of skyscrapers in accordance with European and Russian standards, regulations and special requirements of the client.

“The Evolution Tower is an example of a project in which the investor's trust has resulted in an exceptionally successful and energy-efficient building. According to our knowledge, the Evolution Tower is the largest office building in Russia that is fully illuminated by the LED technology. The skyscraper is highlighted during the night because the light reflects the beauty of its architecture and at the same time allows a pleasant stay for its users,” explained Skira.

The unique spiral shape and extreme climate conditions (from -40 to +40 degrees) have demanded creativity in finding the best facade lighting solution. The specially designed products by iGuzzini have been mounted from the inside of the windows next to the glass surface so that the light does not enter the interior. The RGBW technology allows for endless programming of separate 3,500 mounted pixels. Horizontal white lines are illuminated with fixed white spotlights positioned around the skyscraper. Their purpose is to emphasise and highlight the architectural rhythm of the architectural lines. Each space is individually designed to achieve uniformity of lighting throughout the building. The glass facade tilt is different on each side of the skyscraper.

The Evolution Tower is a 55-floor skyscraper, with a height of 255 metres and the total area of 169,000 square metres. It is recognisable by its DNA form, and it was designed by Toni Kettle, in collaboration with Karen Forbes. The construction of the skyscraper started in 2011 and ended in late 2014. In 2016, the Evolution Tower was named as the second-best skyscraper in the world at the Emporis Skyscraper Awards. It was named the best Moscow office building in 2015 and won the first prize at the 2015 Glass in Architecture Awards and many other recognitions.

More news on the Croatian design can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Barbara Ban).

Monday, 26 November 2018

Croatian Jewellery Brand Opens a Shop in Miami

The Croatian jewellery brand Grubić Design from Zagreb has more than 30 years of tradition in creating unique jewellery, thanks to the efforts of Mladen Grubić and his son Petar. They have recently expanded their operations outside Croatia. In addition to selling jewellery through an official website, there have six stores, in Zagreb, Split, Šibenik, Cres, Pag and Novalja, and they recently opened a store in Miami, reports on November 26, 2018.

“This is not an experiment, because the shops are the main point of contact we have with customers and tourists who visit us from all over the world. Americans are our best customers, so it is not a risk for us to present our work in Miami,” Grubić said, adding that tourists from all over the world like to buy their jewellery. “After buying, they return to their homes, write us, send photos, and come back again. We believe in what we create,” he said.

They started in 1987 when Mladen created his first pieces of jewellery. He still keeps the first necklace he made more than 30 years ago. Twenty years later, he was joined by his son Petar and their family business has become a true brand in the Croatian fashion industry. Mladen said that every business could be analyzed in several different ways, and in the late 1980s their main focus was on enthusiasm and curiosity.

“The clay was the first material, and it was used to create a number of elements which later became jewellery. We gave away our first pieces of jewellery because we wanted to test the market. I am happy I have experienced many different stages in my business development. You sometimes need to fall and get up; you need perseverance and faith in what you are creating. Today, when we have seven shops, numerous partners and associates, I know it was worth it,” Grubić said.

For them, every day is a new challenge that carries a great deal of responsibility. Over the years, they have created many collections of designer jewellery and have a recognizable style. “Our collections include metals, metal alloys, chains, leather, glass, Venetian crystal and semiprecious stones,” Mladen explained. Much of their business is tourism related. When one tourist season ends, they immediately start preparing for the next one.

In addition to jewellery making, they also apply their various projects related to art crafts for EU grants, which they use to decorate their shops’ interior, improve production and for promotional and marketing activities. They will strive to maintain their special approach because they do not want the business expansion to endanger their creativity.

For more on the Croatian design, click here.

Translated from (reported by Lucija Špiljak).

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Social Network Project Brings Urban Jungle Trend to Croatia

“Dnevna Doza Biljaka” (Daily Dose of Plants) is a new Instagram and Facebook project that is steadily growing and has the goal of starting the urban jungle trend, which is very popular abroad. This is the first such project in Croatia, and it has been developed by Tomislav Štrkalj and Leon Božić, reports on November 25, 2018.

“This is something we have been talking about for a while. We noticed that Croatia does not seem able to accept the urban jungle trend which is very popular abroad. We wanted to start it in Croatia as well, but we delayed it for a while because we were not sure whether it would make sense to our people and what would be the reactions. However, earlier this year we decided to step into the digital rainforest,” the founders explained.

251118 urban jungle trend 2

The reactions were great, and a community of greenery lovers developed around their initiative. “People send us photos of their new plants, seek advice for those which they have, ask us to assist them in their projects. People have finally dared to incorporate plants into their living spaces, and now they ask us for advice, as well as where they can buy a certain plant or a piece of equipment,” Tomislav said.

“After each workshop, we get asked when another one will take place and whether we can visit other towns besides Zagreb. The community tells a really beautiful story about the love which comes out from something as simple as a plant in front of a window,” Leon said, adding that their initiative is a Croatian product. “The name of the project is in Croatian, all texts are written in Croatian and we promote local brands and crafts we trust. We knew that we might lose some of the followers in other countries, but we believe it is worthwhile investing in the community and showing that there is room for good ideas in Croatia as well,” Leon explained.

251118 urban jungle trend 3

They have attended numerous fairs, met some of their idols and created wonderful friendships, including with the head of the Zagreb Botanical Gardens. The number of followers is growing daily. They brought together experienced gardeners, but also beginners who are just discovering the joy of living in a green oasis.

Their most important advice is to find a good site for your plant. “All plants like the sunlight, but it has to be mild sunlight that will not burn them. Western windows are an enemy to the plants; they will prosper if you put them in front of windows looking in other directions. When you learn the basics, you can really enjoy every new leaf and flower.”

For more on social media in Croatia, click here.

Translated from (reported by Antonela Žgela).

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Tabushi – When Croatian Design Meets Sushi

Design inspired by traditional Japanese food - meet Tabushi.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Most Beautiful Terrace in Croatia Selected

The terrace is located in the Srednjaci neighbourhood in Zagreb.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Retro Design from Croatia Winning Customers

Poppy's Happy Place’s goal is to be different.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Celebrated Rogaška Glass Factory Returns to Zagreb

An old friend returns.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Three Croatian Holiday Homes Among Best in Europe

Another award for Croatian designers and architects.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Croatian Artist Designs FIFA’s Player of the Year Award

The artist attended the recent ceremony where Croatia’s Luka Modrić was named FIFA’s player of the year.

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