Nina Jecić owns a craft shop called Licitar in the neighbourhood of Trešnjevka. Even though she graduated Archaeology, she’s always been interested in ethnology and traditional craftsmanship, so she decided to open her own shop in the early 2000s. In her efforts to save Croatian Licitar Hearts from oblivion, she registered a trademark named Toplo srce hrvatskog puka (the warm heart of the Croatian common people) which includes products adapted for the contemporary market.
Melita Funda, Zg magazin reporter, talked to Ms. Jecić
Ms. Jecić, could you tell us what it means to own your own craft shop in Zagreb right now?
It means great responsibility, but also great freedom. You don’t have set working hours, but you need to get things done on time. You decide whether you’ll work in the morning or in the afternoon, but the most important thing is to be conscientious and punctual. You can’t leave things for tomorrow or hand them over to someone else.
I don’t regret a single moment. I used to do administrative work before, but the job didn’t make me feel complete and the business environment wasn’t stimulating. We’re a craft manufacturing company, which is rare in Zagreb in general, not only when it comes to Licitar Hearts. There are only about 20-25 traditional craft manufacturing companies left in Croata.
How did you decide to venture into the Licitar Hearts trade?
Well, I decided to Archaeology because I really love it, but when I thought about opening my own business, I knew that I couldn’t afford another university course, so I began thinking about doing something that is relatively easy to learn. I remembered how I loved buying Licitar Hearts when I was little, and you could only buy them in Bakačeva Street at that time, so I started reading about them and contacted Mrs. Đurđa Škedlar, who taught me a lot. We worked together at first, and then I started my own business in 2001.
First I carefully examined the market and after that I designed my own products and packaging. In 2006 we rented this space, mainly because Trešnjevka is a traditional working-class neighbourhood. Little by little we started growing, and there are four of us now.
Can you describe the world of Licitar to us?
It is a very interesting, wonderful and literally sweet world. We try not to limit Licitar Hearts only to Zagreb or Zagorje areas, but present it as an all-Croatian souvenir. A lot of people don’t know that Licitar Hearts were made in Crikvenica and along the coast after WWII, but, unfortunately, they abandoned the tradition with time, so Karlovac is the southernmost city where Licitar Hearts are produced nowadays. The Hearts used to be an edible delicacy, but nowadays they’re mostly souvenirs or presents. We try to adapt the text on our Hearts to foreign tourists as well.
Our products can be found in souvenir shops all over Croatia, and in stores such as Ina, Tisak, Hrvatska pošta, etc. We also ship our products to Croatian communities in Canada, the USA and Australia.
Have you had any specific orders?
Yes, we have, Milka, the famous chocolate company, asked us to make a Licitar cow, but we couldn’t find a cow mould anywhere, so we had to make our own mould. That being said, 3D printers have made our lives so much easier because you can simply print the desired shape now. Creating a metal mould used to be extremely complicated before, because you first needed to make a wooden mould which would then be used to form the metal one.
Source: Zg magazin