My name is Ljiljana Stanko, and I am a co-owner of Unika-tno trades. I’ve always been surrounded by handicrafts and their making, so I’ve been learning even from my childhood all the different techniques of making different items. As a primary school pupil I began to dance in Vrbovec folklore ensemble and there I was infected with love for tradition, customs and folk costumes.
As a dancer I should have been able to keep the traditional costume well, because it would be easily destroyed if it was not well-structured. There were not many people who knew how to keep the traditional costume well, so I was forced to learn. There has been a need for a large number of costumes in the company over the years, so I started to work with garments. I was engaged in making traditional costumes from all over Croatia and beyond. I started to make traditional costumes for other societies and ensembles as well.
From costume to costume, I had to learn different techniques like ‘necanje’, ‘zlatnovez’, ‘šlinganje’ (all different techniques of knitting and weaving), which was very useful and served me well in the art of making souvenirs later. So today I make various different traditional costumes from all areas of Croatia, but also make souvenirs inspired by our tradition and culture, such as pads filled with flax seeds, lavender, ferns, pickling herbs, then bookmarkers, lace gowns, handbags with items characteristic of certain Croatian towns. Wooden items are made by my husband, the staple of a loom is made by our son, and our daughter helps with making the jewellery. Souvenirs are being sold in the tourist community of the town of Vrbovec, and were designed for some other tourist communities as well, while our traditional costumes are sold throughout Croatia. In the future I would like to realize all those ideas for which I have too little time at the moment and I would like to sell them all around Croatia