''The works of this handicraft incorporate the best achievements in Croatian traditional art.” Jadran Kale, graduate ethnologist, PhD, the Museum of the City of Šibenik
The Mara handicraft shop was founded in 1999, when Vesna Milković left her career as a lawyer and chose to realize her dream: to promote Croatia’s ethnic heritage and traditional crafts through fashion design. Vesna was born in Slavonia, so she found inspiration for her work in the rich tradition of hand-made items of her family, which originated from all around Croatia. Drawing upon this inexhaustible well of national heritage, she has revived the ornaments and techniques of workmanship. Her daughter Marija, who has a degree in fashion design, is following her on this path, continuing the family tradition with much love and optimism. Since 2004, they have been promoting and pushing the limits of the domestic ethnic scene, skillfully balancing tradition and urban fashion, with their joint creative and entrepreneurial forces at a well-known address in Zagreb – the Ethnic Boutique Mara at Ilica 49 (the passage of the Croatian Crafts Center).
''The collection was rated as a superior and refined promotion of Croatia’s written heritage.'' Academician Anica Nazor, PhD, Old Church Slavonic Institute Zagreb
Woven from local cotton and fine factory cloth, the collection proudly carries motifs from cultural and historical monuments, such as Glagolitic script, early Croatian interlacing pattern, the borders of the Baška Tablet, folk costumes (alkar uniforms, a coat from Šestine, an ornament from a traditional Šibenik cap, Zadar and Konavle folk costumes, Slavonian zlatovez (golden embroidery), white and colored embroidery, and stylized ornaments of Pag and Lepoglava lace. The creation of each collection entails thorough research and cooperation with the museum and with academic institutions. In the creative merging of national regional and cultural values, they acknowledge the culturological and ethnographic characteristics of folk creations of individual regions and global design standards. Because of its inspired use of ethnic heritage, the Ethnic Boutique Mara has won many awards for originality and authenticity, such as the special award for innovation “ARCA 2006,” and the status of “Traditional Handicraft Shop” from the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.
''Ethnic Boutique Mara – fashion with a recognizable touch of tradition. We recommend that the Mara handicraft shop be awarded the sign of “Artistic Handicrafts” that it truly deserves.'' Katarina Bušić, Senior Curator, Ethnographic Museum of Zagreb
Because of its authenticity and special value, the signature of Ethnic Boutique Mara is even recognized even beyond Croatia’s borders. Vesna and Marija are deservedly proud that for the last 15 years their clients have been ambassadors of Croatian clothing souvenirs around the world. Their guiding principle is preservation of the beautiful motifs of the past by skillfully incorporating them into modern design. With perseverance and ceaseless development, and their participation in international conferences, exhibitions and fashion shows, Mara’s educated team, with their constant innovation and experience, is determined to fulfill their life and business mission.
“Let’s take our national treasure out from the closets and chests and show the world what we have!" Vesna Milković, owner and designer