This April in Belgrade I come across a small boutique shop for making brushes and decorative objects located in the very centre of the city.
This family business, opened in 1965, is now run by Ruzica Zivkovic, who personally makes all products by hand. As part of the manufacturing process, she selects the hairs, washes and dries them, and knots them together to different shapes. The wood is sourced from a local supplier and hand shaped to meet individual requirements. The final product is much better quality compared to those from industrial production, but also slightly more expensive.
In difficult times people do not have money to buy, and Ruzica struggles to keep up with the expenses. Some of her special brushes have remained on the shelves for years.
Ruzica tells me that Belgrade would benefit from a centre with the main purpose to promote precious traditional crafts and their conservation. And it is not just about the quality. There is passion, commitment and tradition behind each hand made item.
The point is that there many family run businesses like this, on the verge of closing, that need promotion to attract an increasing number of tourists visiting Belgrade.
Ruzica worries about the survival of her shop. Her husband passed away last year and her two kids, grown up and graduated at the University, might have different ambitions and not take the business forward. It is sad for her to imagine this shop closing down, it carries dear memories.
(Džordža Vašingtona 18, Beograd, Srbija)
Ruzica has welcomed us warmly, and I bought a beautiful shaving brush for myself. Next time I am in Belgrade, I hope to hear that her shop is doing well. I also hope to hear that someone has opened a Crafts Centre as it would be a fantastic add on to this fascinating, well worth exploring city.
London, 1st May 2014