The story behind Moja Soba is not your typical business chronicle because it’s also my life story. My name is Hana Juric, and I am a Croatian visual artist. I grew up in Belisce, a small town in the region of Slavonija, where there’s not much happening culturally. Still, the beautiful nature, many rivers, and forests make up for it.
I started creating art in high school, where I studied to become a sculpture designer. I continued my art education in Osijek, and in 2014 I completed my Master’s degree in Education in Fine Arts.
How I became an artist
The Education part of my degree title was of no interest to me, so instead of teaching, I moved across the world to Canada and started working night shifts at a bakery. It’s a funny story that didn’t last for too long, but I continued to find different day jobs over the years and travel the world in search of inspiration. Doing so, I never quit creating art.
It was not an easy existence but crucial in following my path as an artist. I have seen so many independent art galleries and artists’ run centers, which I couldn’t find back home in Croatia. It was a bittersweet experience, inspiring but at the same time frustrating. It made me painfully aware of the shortcomings of the Croatian cultural landscape.
From artist to entrepreneur
I lived in Lisbon, Portugal, with my long-term partner when she got a great job opportunity that involved moving back to Croatia. We moved to Zadar, on the Adriatic Sea, and I won’t lie – it was a struggle for me. Again, beautiful nature, but not much happening culturally.
Zadar is quite notorious for the lack of cultural infrastructure. It wasn’t easy, but I continued to create art. Time passed by, and I quit looking outside for inspiration.
In 2019, we moved to Austria for a while. We were living in Graz, and there was a beautiful gallery walk right under our apartment. Small spaces, designer outlets, and completely different, exciting art styles. It was a wake-up call for me, and I realized I needed to become much more proactive in my environment.
“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
The summer of 2019 was a time for action. I made a decision – instead of waiting for somebody else to do it, I was going to start my own art gallery! It was not just an art gallery in my mind – it was everything I was not getting from the city I was living in.
It may all sound very romantic, and it was nice to fantasize, but here come some hard facts – I have no formal education in business. Except for being an avid fan of Shark Tank, I had no idea what I was doing. But I was so motivated to learn that I made it all work in one single month.
Now that I think of that period, it makes me proud of myself. I haven’t slept at all – but I managed to write a business plan that got me a nice grant for small businesses.
The funding was sufficient to get me through the whole year. While the amount of Croatian paperwork was unbelievable, I was happy to find a tiny space in the center of Zadar. With a little help from my friends, we made it work.
I chose the name Moja Soba (My Room) because the concept of the gallery was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own.
I remember ordering brown paper bags with the gallery logo. The moment they arrived was the moment I realized it was all real.
My own art gallery in Zadar
It is not easy being a full-time artist and running a business. It’s all about time management and discipline, but I will write about that in another post. Here I want to say something about my business plans.
Moja Soba is a commercial art gallery and a concept store. The focus is on developing artist products and creating artists-designer collaborations. I’m selling my own works but intend to feature many local artists as well. I would also like to inspire and educate other local artists to start their businesses.
Zadar is perfect for this type of venue – it’s a tourist city, and it’s hungry for some contemporary art! I am producing everything locally, and that is one of the backbone ideas of Moja Soba. It is a slow-paced production – and quality is always above quantity.
Moja Soba celebrated its first birthday in June. It was a fantastic year and everything you can wish for in the first year of business. I met amazing people and created so many plans, but unfortunately, the whole COVID-19 situation kicked in.
This is not the part where I cry about it because I managed to adapt and remain standing on my own two feet through it all. The gallery’s physical place is temporarily closed, but I haven’t lost my business, not legally and not permanently. I have created new plans, and while I’m preparing to re-open Moja Soba gallery space, let’s hang out here!
Don’t hesitate to say hello or ask me anything! I will feature many exciting stories, recommendations, and artists’ profiles. I can’t wait to share it all with you on my blog.
While you are here, check out the Moja Soba shop; the shipping is free worldwide!