‘Kreativni Brlog’ by Jasminka Fuchs
(English: Creative Lair)
She is one of those people who make everyone around them excited about life. Anyone who interacts with her is left with a smile. She is an energetic businesswoman with a mission to help people find happiness and peace. By making custom meditation and yoga cushions, or teaching people how to sew or meditate through making dotted mandalas, she is doing what she loves and teaching others to do the same.
The idea for ‘Kreativni brlog’ started five years ago in beginners meditation and yoga classes. What was the incentive?
Back in 2015, I led quite a hectic life between office and raising two girls as a single mom. Deep down in me, I felt something was missing. At the same time, a yoga class in my complex just started, and I joined. Soon after, a friend suggested that we enter a meditation course. I wasn’t sure about it, and I said that I would think about it. On the same day, I sprained my ankle, and during a week, I had a chance to study that meditation course in peace. There was a line at the end of the invitation mail that said, “Please bring your meditation cushion with you”.
That was a line that I was hooked upon. Cushions and sewing were ‘my thing’, and I immediately went exploring what meditation cushion is and how it should be created. To make a long story short, I was the only one at the class that showed up with the cushion, and soon I made them for the whole group. Later, I expanded the product range and started making meditation sets, yoga bags, bolsters, ‘LaVanda’ eye pillows and sleeping cushions; all filled with buckwheat hulls. Word spread to yoga studios and people in the community, and that’s how it all started.
You make your cushions on demand. What is your creative process with each customer?
There are three different types of a meditation cushion. Every person has a different body type, posture and meditation style. It is crucial to make a cushion that will support the body in a perfectly comfortable position so you can concentrate on meditation easily. During the initial interview with the client, I ask all details that help me create the perfect cushion with the exact amount of buckwheat hulls in it. That part of the process is very important since the comfort of our buyers is the most important to us, and we make sure that the cushions are perfect.
How many yogis do we have in Croatia? What is their background (business people, athletes)?
There are a lot of people in Croatia that do yoga, as well as those who finish education for yoga teachers. There are many schools of yoga that teach all kinds of styles: Ashtanga, Dharma, Yin etc. Yoga unites people of different backgrounds, and the practice has increased significantly in Croatia over the past five years.
What is the role of buckwheat in your products? Where do you get it?
Buckwheat hulls and kapok are the only materials that can be used to fill meditation cushions. Anything else is uncomfortable for sitting. I am lucky enough that there is a buckwheat field in Croatia, near Zagreb, which is farmed naturally, without the use of chemicals or anything that could harm the buckwheat. The processing is done in Slovenia, in a steam process in which the kernel pops in a high temperature, then dries and sieves, all so I can get the best quality of the hulls.
Your daughters Luna and Stella are also artistic, creative types. Are they involved in your work?
Since the first day, I’ve had my daughters support, not only morally, but also in participating in material picking, helping me fill the pillows, thinking of new ideas and helping me with social media. My older daughter, Luna, is in the School of Applied Art and Design, in the department of textile design, so hopefully, we will have some projects together in the future. Stella is helping me with social marketing management and maintaining a webshop.
At the moment your products can only be bought in Croatia. Are you getting inquiries from other countries and are you thinking about going global?
Since the COVID pandemic started, we have increased web shop sales, changed distributors and set card payments. Until now we’ve been handling international orders as we go, but right now we are seriously planning to translate the webshop to English and opening a shop on Etsy.
With Melina Marelja, another Croatian designer, you are holding ‘Brijem da šijem’ sewing workshops for beginners. How did you start?
Sewing workshops started when we wanted to teach a few local girls the basics of sewing. It became popular, so we decided to keep doing them. After two years, Melina chose to stop co-running the workshop because of private and business duties, so my good friend Katarina Pamuković, who is a wedding dress designer, took her place.
What is the main idea that connects all that you do?
Passion for making meditation cushions and yoga accessories that have a unique design. Sewing and dotting mandalas classes are my mission to help others explore their potential, assist people in learning new useful skills that will help them improve their quality of life. Also, to awaken their creativity, not only in making things but feeling good about themselves and making the world a better place for all of us. I enjoy volunteering with homeless people and helping them integrate into society by making dot mandalas and selling them. I work with seniors and kids, and that makes me feel that I live my full potential. If what I do also gets food on the table for my family and gets others included in that process, my mission is complete.
As an economist, you worked in the event industry and later, your work was more connected to psychology. How is experience helping you with what you do today?
‘Kreativni brlog’ used to be my hobby for five years during working on my regular job at The Society for Psychological Assistance, where I worked as a Project Coordinator. Experience from that position helped me a lot as well as my previous job as an owner at an event marketing agency. As a small business owner, you need to know all stages in your business starting from planning, calculating, production, marketing, selling, accounting books, and all experience that I gathered helped in that.
It seems that your work is tightly connected with your personal growth and love for learning. What’s next for you and ‘Kreativni brlog’?
Challenge and a strong desire to change my life have led me to a yoga class where my personal growth started in a very subtle way. Life began to be so much more after that. I notice people around me feel the same; they want to explore their inner world, creativity and learn new skills. In my dotting mandalas workshops, magical things happen to most of them. Some have travelled the Mediterranean in a van selling dotted mandalas financing the petrol and food. Some have quit their boring job and started a new one, some of them come just to meet people that share their interests and can discuss personal growth.
In my future actions, I would definitely love to continue to inspire others to follow their desires, teaching them new creative skills. ‘Kreativni brlog’ needs to think outside Croatian borders and start selling products in Europe for a start. I would like to travel more, buy fabric from authentic places, and make meditation cushions that are special.