So far, we’ve talked a little about Bazerdžan and the meaning behind it, about the beautiful city of Sarajevo and the majestic monument at Tjentište. Now it’s time to paint you a pretty picture of how we do the things we do here at Bazerdžan, an ongoing series where you’ll get a chance to meet our team members and get a glimpse in their routines and extraordinary experiences on a daily basis. For starters, here’s a little something on how we get a certain idea, think about it, think some more, and then get it done. Off we go.
Working with people
Because we are working with different designers and artists, there are so many unique items in our little shop. So, one of the common questions we frequently get asked is how we come up with such unusual and intriguing ideas, be it our product or a collaborative effort.
Well, it all comes to us in different shapes and forms. Sometimes we get a clue, usually from a friend or a brand we work with (we’re still developing our “spy” network) that either heard about someone or seen something that adheres to our taste. That taste is something we constantly try to preserve amidst all the uniform fashion you can find at almost every corner. For us, it’s about individuality, expressing yourself to be who you really are, different because no one is you but yourself. For that reason, we don’t like owning nor selling anything you can easily find around.
Bazerdžan just ticks differently. We don’t like to impose, we just try to live and breathe and be ourselves, searching, noticing, asking about unique people and products. We take this very seriously but also add a fairly personal touch to the business side of it. For us, it’s equally important that the other side is invested and good to the bone as much as they want to work and are good at it. We believe in the people behind the product as much as we believe in their creation.
Made in BiH
Sometimes, people and brands get in touch with us, inspired by our vision. By their own admission, they browse through our store, online shop, and our social media and realize they’re on the same page with us. In any case, a number of these tips and suggestions come our way and we try to get a first-hand look at the things. For instance, that’s how we recently made a contact with a group of women in Šerići, a small village near Živinice. The 5h road trip was totally worth it just for the fact to see how these women make real art with their woven items and traditional folk wear for the local folk ensemble that is distinct for that area. From the moment we stepped into the room where all the knitting, sewing, and stitching happens, we were struck by the honesty in that pure traditional Bosnian way.
“We were expecting someone more serious and mature, not some girls.”
Even though they’ve been expecting us and heard about Bazerdžan through word of mouth, they weren’t quite in the know about the people behind our shop. To our delight, this was a prime example of traditional crafts, all we ever wanted. About 10 or so women sat in a circle, each with an array of hand-made items laid out before them. We spent almost all of our time talking to these hard-working women, soaking in all the details. The knowledge these women have was passed on from their mothers and grandmothers, who, in turn, perfected their craft from their mothers and grandmothers and so on (you know how it goes), reaching back hundreds of years into local traditions and heritage.
Our haul (sort of) for the day were these beautiful body length shirt-dresses, part of the traditional folk wear specifically made for folk ensembles across the BiH.
In addition, one ornament, in particular, caught our attention, something that was unique even to us. The local women call it “čičak”, placed in a specific spot in the house (to the right of the entrance door) to keep the home safe.
That’s just one of the many examples of how a simple notion of a collaboration turns into something tangible here at Bazerdžan. These tips are what prompted us to create a special application form where all the budding designers, artists, creative groups, and individuals can get in touch with us. It gives everyone out there an opportunity to reach out, state their case and we’ll do our best to get the ball rollin’.
Just for the record: everything you’ll find in our shop is 100% made in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a genuine homemade product that comes right from the hands of locals. We pick partners on a simple basis: they either have to have something of their own or are working on developing it. The focus has to be on the promotion of our native heritage, with an appropriate amount of love and affection etched into it. That’s how we see it - when you’re on the same page, it’s much easier to work together and be successful.
You gotta’ be yourself
At Bazerdžan, we feel what we do is more than just running a small business. For us, it’s all about staying local, being true to your heart and giving people and communities a chance to be the stars of the show, all the while empowering them. Bringing back confidence to people, especially the young ones that are looking down the unemployment barrel, is a huge motivation for us. If we can create an opportunity for these people to advance and perfect their abilities and networking for better product placement (as witnessed on the Šerići women example), we’re all in.
What inspires us to keep going is the genuine happiness of people we work with, as well as the joy of our customers when they stumble upon our inventory. We’re honored to be that beacon of light to people who just need a small opening to make it through, as well as to people who share the same values as we do and want to support the work. It makes the days go slower (so we have more time to do what we love) and the business run smoother, and we’re all about that.
Fashion is a huge industry, and the growing globalization makes it tough, competitive, sometimes overly stressful and downright disappointing. You’re up against the best, competing with their low prices and mass production. Everybody has ups and downs and Bazerdžan is no exception in any way. Maybe combining local arts and smarts with technology into a modern mix of traditionally-inspired and innovative products is challenging. Maybe. We love it and it doesn’t stop us from going forward with our concept. And it shouldn’t stop you from being yourself.
For Sarajevo, with love.