At DOMA Trading, our goal is to promote Croatia and its culture by creating more selling opportunities for Croatian artists and craftspeople, and more opportunities for those who love Croatia to support its people.
By ethically sourcing handmade products, designs, and works of art, purchasing them directly from Croatian artisans at a fair price, and reselling them to international consumers, we aim to foster a stronger connection between Croatian sellers and the world market, and a greater connection to Croatian culture for people outside Croatia.
In addition to selling products, we offer photographs, stories, videos, and other information about Croatian places, people, and products that we believe will further our mission of promoting Croatia and its people.
Who are we?
DOMA Trading is a family business. Our roots are in Dalmatia and Kvarner, and we have family and friends all over Croatia.
Between the three of us, we have decades of experience in retail, wholesale, art, marketing, design, public relations, and small business.
Deni (aka Mom) is our buyer and product manager; she is the face of DOMA Trading in Croatia, visiting villages and markets, meeting the craftspeople whose goods we are happy to share with you, sharing stories about the places and people she encounters, and bringing her dog along for the adventure. After feeling the call for many years, she finally made the move back to Croatia, where she currently lives full-time.
Megan manages our written content and handles customer service and order fulfillment. She has worked as a writer, copyeditor, and travel agent, has lived and traveled all over the world, and is now based in Nashville, TN, pursuing her calling in music. The language geek of the family, she’s picked up just enough Croatian vocabulary to get herself into trouble. Malo po malo.
Scotty is our guru for all things design, marketing, and e-commerce; if it looks good or you successfully found us online, Scotty’s the one to thank. From heading up the design and marketing for large companies to running his own small businesses, he’s got enough experience for three lifetimes. He’s also a master at sneaking Croatian checkers into his marketing materials.
Maybe it was inevitable that we would end up putting our skills together one day—and we can think of no better family business than one that is all about family.
Why are we doing this?
What if we could find a way to help Croatian craftspeople supplement their incomes in the off-season? What if we could encourage the keeping of Croatian traditions in the wake of modernization? What if we could help strengthen the bonds between the diaspora and Old Country?
When our Baba used to tell us that we had a home to go back to in Croatia, it was hard to grasp exactly what she was saying. We didn’t know how much of our family culture was actually Croatian culture that our grandparents had held onto—and we had no idea how our family across the ocean had held onto us—until we started spending time there ourselves. But we didn’t just feel a connection with our own relatives; we also felt ties to the people we met along the way—the beautiful bakas who sell knits and heklanje by the Lungomare, the precious man selling his wife’s Christmas angels at the market in Zagreb… Maybe it’s the culture or the blood or the fact that in one way or another, we’re all artists ourselves, but we’ve found ourselves totally enamored of Croatia’s artisans.
We’ve also learned that a lot of these people have to scramble to make enough money during tourist season and then live off those earnings for the rest of the year. What appear to be thriving ports of call during the summer can turn into near ghost towns for the other nine months. We started to ask ourselves if there was a way we could give back to our people—to use our collective business experience to try and provide more income opportunities for them throughout the year.
At the same time, we’ve learned that many professionals and especially younger people have left their villages, or even the country, in search of better work. It is estimated that there are almost as many Croats living in other countries as there are in Croatia. Meanwhile the craft traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation are at risk of going by the wayside. But if the traditional crafts were profitable, wouldn’t there be more of a reason to carry them on?
Lastly, in returning to Croatia, we have found a part of ourselves that we didn’t even know we had lost. We’ve learned things about our grandparents and the culture that flowed through their veins. If we can never go back to being natives in our mother country, still we know we are welcome there. But perhaps you are reading this and have never been back yourself; perhaps you haven’t walked the streets of a village that shares your name, or put your arms around a stranger who looks just like the people you grew up with. By bringing Croatian products to you, we hope to help you feel a little closer to home—to the home that will always be there for you, whether you can make the trip over or not.
What do we do?
We walk the stone streets of Croatia, visiting markets, villages, and homes, building relationships and finding you the best handcrafted goods in Croatia.
We are treasure hunters. We visit villages, homes, and workshops to find traditional crafts, exquisite handmade items, things that are typically passed down from generation to generation, and works that showcase what forward-thinking Croatian designers are creating today, and we bring those to you. We have a simple, low-overhead business model so we can pay a fair cost to our artisans and still offer you products at a reasonable price.
We hope in time our site will also become a resource for stories, photos, and videos that will give insights into Croatian life, traditions, and crafts.
What do we not do?
We believe in the Croatian way of life—that everyone should have time for their family and friends, for meals and coffees, for walks by the sea or in the hills. We believe everyone should be paid fairly. And we believe that family legacy comes first.
We do not impose pre-orders or deadlines on our artisans. Our standard model is to only purchase what we find and what our artisans choose to make available to us. However, some artisans have requested that we place advance orders to help them budget time and materials; in this case, we happily work with them to put together an order, and we guarantee that we will purchase what they make for us. This is done on a request basis only; in general we will not know from one buying trip to the next exactly what our inventory will look like. Our goal is to provide support and selling opportunities, not to instill an American way of life.
We do not haggle down prices to protect our margins. We appreciate—and hope you do too—that the amount of time it takes to make one piece of lace, embroidery, or other craft already far outweighs the price that most sellers will charge for it. We treat all our artisans with respect and dignity, and pay them fair prices, relying on the differences between Croatian and international market values to allow us enough margin to make this a sustainable, thriving business. The purpose of our business, first and foremost, is to connect and nurture.
Lastly, we do not try to part families with their heirlooms. From time to time we find antique items which may be from sellers’ personal collections. These may be things a seller’s grandmother handed down or perhaps something she made in preparation for her own wedding; on occasion a seller will have a surplus of these items. As much as we wouldn’t want anyone to take our grandmothers’ treasures away from us, we also don’t want to take those treasures away from anyone else’s granddaughter. For all such items we ask our sellers to sign a Pledge of Authenticity, which assures us they have the right to sell these antique pieces.