Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life: Lidija Azinović of Ella Design

Katarina Anđelković

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Vukovar, oh Vukovar. What comes to mind when you hear the name? Most likely war, the parade, the memorial museums. Its citizens are leaving, searching for a better life in Ireland, Germany, Austria. Fortunately, that is not all it is. It is a living breathing city, full of wonders and full of amazing people with passion and a vision for a bright future right here. The thing is, not many people realize how much potential there is in a place that is now brand new. How many smaller cities (bigger, too) can show off their refurbished baroque facades, perfectly maintained parks and greenery, strategically grown all around the city centre to allow for walks of several kilometres along the river? New infrastructure, housing, and roads? A 10-minute drive or a pleasant walk to get anywhere? An abundance of schools and kindergartens? What a dream. And yet, rarely is this a picture that is painted. There is tradition, culture, gastronomy, you name it. And with the implementation of Vukovar Card, outlined here who knows where we can go? Though the challenges are numerous, so are the advantages. 

In this edition, we will discuss business, ideas, perspectives. 

Running a small business anywhere in the world is quite a challenge. Doing so in Croatia is a slightly bigger one. Starting from scratch and running one in the east of Croatia, in Vukovar – mission impossible. Or is it? In a series of interviews, we present some excellent businesses in Vukovar. We talk to the owners to see how they are doing at the moment, the challenges they are facing, and their plans for the future. We also discuss the Vukovar Card idea with them to see what they think and if they would be willing to take part. Let their stories inspire you to visit and shop their products in Vukovar! 

Today we present Ella Design, a family-run creative design business. The owner, Lidija Azinović, is a bubbly personality with lots of stories to share and ideas to discuss. Her family’s way into this was not very straightforward, but eventually, Lidija and her husband, who is now her employee, decided that it’s worth pursuing a hobby if you love it.  They built a successful business selling personalised gifts such as picture frames, hanging decorations, and keychains. All their products are custom designed and made by Lidija and Kristijan in their home in Vukovar. Even though the times are quite challenging with the price of materials having gone up 100% for some, they keep a smile on their faces and a more than positive outlook with ambitious plans for the future. After our conversation, I had a sudden urge to go home and create something, start a business, be colourful, imaginative. I’m much better at writing though, so for now, I will only share what Lidija said to some of my questions:A person and person posing for a picture

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Tell us about your business – what do you do exactly? 

I am the owner of Ella Design, more specifically the brand “Mamine Ručice” (Mother’s Little Hands), and I make custom gifts for various occasions. The materials that I use include wood, MDF panels, different kinds of plywood, acrylic sheets, etc. We cut the shapes out with a CNC laser and then sand, paint, put together, and pack by hand. A picture containing text

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Where did you get the idea and how did you begin? 

I got the idea when I gave birth to my little daughter Ella as I was searching for something to decorate her room. Two months later, my husband and I created our first MDF wall decor and handed it as gifts to our little friends at my son Leon’s birthday party. Back then we did not have a laser but used my father-in-law’s manual CNC machine which was, you can imagine, slow and tedious. We managed to surprise our friends and family who immediately wanted to order more! And so it began.

What makes your product unique?

I think that our offer is quite unique in the sense that it is really wide-ranging and customizable. I really dove deep into the idea of setting up a business and used all the advantages that I had. We did not need to rent space since we had some spare rooms in our house. Also, I made sure that my products are available outside of Vukovar in all of Croatia. A picture containing text, indoor, different, chain

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How was it setting up a business in Vukovar? What is your outlook for the future? 

I am really pleased with the way we were able to set up our business, conduct it and grow so far. The fact that our efforts are seen even outside of Croatia makes me so happy. I am looking forward to all future projects and collaborations and I think that we will soon expand our business. 

Do you think that the fact that you are located in eastern Croatia affected your success?

The fact that we are located in the east did not affect our business in any significant way. I truly believe that the things that matter for success include willpower, desire, and hard work. With these combined, success will come your way no matter the location. 

What opportunities are there in our city and region? 

The opportunities in the city, as well as the region, are numerous, with a good business plan and vision, any business owner can create an amazing story of their business. I believe that it is important to connect with the city, the county, as well as the end client. A picture containing indoor, wall

Description automatically generatedLong-term success is not about how much money you make, but about how well connected you are and how much you matter to the community. 

What is your view on other small businesses in Vukovar? 

I liaise with other business owners, I buy their products and use their services because I want to encourage them and support their work and effort. Those who really try I support through my social media accounts, I praise their effort and recommend them to my followers. They do the same for me, creating an amazing circle of positivity. I see them as my partners and not competition. 


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If we were to implement the Vukovar Card, would you take part and offer our guests discounts or special packages? 

The idea is excellent! I would be more than happy to take part in order to boost the local economy and connect with other stakeholders and express our support in such a way. To make it all worth it, we would be happy to offer discounted prices of our products for the holders of Vukovar Card. 

Finally, tell us about life in Vukovar. What is it that you love the most, what would you say to all potential visitors? 

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I love everything about Vukovar! I love the fact that there is more to our city than war tourism and that is slowly but surely coming out to the surface. An excellent offer of restaurants, wine, museums. Vukovar is a place that is only about to reach its peak and our generation will make sure that it does soon. 

Where can we find you? 

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On my Facebook page “Mamine Ručice” and my Instagram – mamine_rucice.

Welcome! Hopefully, you can find something you’ll love. 

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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