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A Conversation With Our Founder: Jasmina Dizdarević

At Waga, we are committed to preserving the rich tradition of Konjic woodcarving while blending it with modern design. In this interview, Jasmina Dizdarević, the founder of WAGA, shares insights into the origins of the brand, the challenges faced, and the inspiration behind their unique products.

Q: Your primary profession is architecture. How did the idea to start WAGA come about?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: I often find myself shaping the living spaces of my clients, but as an architect, it is my job to also add life to those spaces. Although there’s no direct link between architecture and woodcarving, both involve breathing life into living spaces. The idea for WAGA began when I wanted to furnish my home. Upon returning from my PhD studies in Istanbul, I felt a longing for my heritage, so I wanted to create a wooden serving tray.

Growing up next to one of Konjic’s largest woodcarving workshops, the Mulić’s family workshop, I was deeply familiar with the craft. When I reached out to the old craftsmen from my childhood, I discovered that they had closed their workshops. It was at that moment that I felt a strong urge to preserve my heritage and provide work for the craftsmen, ultimately leading to the creation of WAGA.

Q: How did you decide to focus on products that combine traditional craftsmanship with modern design?

WAGA serving tray

Jasmina Dizdarević: The idea emerged naturally from creating a simple object like a tray. The challenge was to design items that fit modern life while showcasing the beauty of traditional woodcarving techniques. After six years, our unique products honor Bosnia’s rich cultural heritage. Our mission is to preserve authenticity and the universal values of handcrafted items, reflecting the intimate relationship between humans and materials.

Q: WAGA is known for its unique carved details. Where do you find inspiration for new products?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: We believe each item carries the soul of its craftsman. Our artisans breathe life into every creation, making each piece unique. Our mission is to share the wonder of craftsmanship, where every stroke of the chisel tells a story of heritage and human connection. Konjic woodcarving is a limitless source of inspiration, offering endless possibilities for developing this technique and passing it on to new generations.

Q: Given the age-old nature of this craft, was it difficult to find artisans willing to train the younger generation?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: It was nearly impossible! I faced countless obstacles, but my guiding idea was to find young people who would embrace this work and train them. Today, our team consists of artisans of all ages willing to carry out this craft. Good craftsmen are limited, but we develop our skills and techniques internally. Our goal is to revitalize the centuries-old tradition of Konjic woodcarving, far from mass production, by embracing the timeless art of handmade craftsmanship.

Q: What are the biggest challenges in your business?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: Starting a business like this, which isn’t clearly defined in the market, and conveying the value of our work to people was a significant challenge. Financial and technical aspects also had to be managed to ensure the company’s survival. We’ve faced many turning points, but we continued, believing in our mission and idea. Our French partner, who is a great admirer of Bosnian tradition and culture, has also supported us largely on our journey.

Q: How did you handle the community's skepticism about the potential success of WAGA?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: There was always a possibility of failure, and it still exists, but we focus on “what if we succeed!” Not trying because of fear of failure is worse than failing. Part of my mission is already fulfilled, as Konjic woodcarving has found its place in many homes through our products. Our mission is to inspire young people in Konjic to learn this craft and become masters, making it a viable future for them.

Q: Where do you see your brand in the future?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: We aim to be more than a brand— we want to be a catalyst for meaningful connections. Each item speaks of its creators and owners, embodying creativity, tradition, and nature’s beautiful wonders. With each creation, we evoke moments of emotional and aesthetic immersion, encouraging slow living rituals. Our goal is to create aesthetically exceptional items that become part of people’s legacies. We strive to present ourselves beyond Bosnia and Herzegovina, aligning with current global trends. To achieve this, we improve production techniques, train new carvers, and develop a clear identity as guardians and ambassadors of our tradition.

Q: What are the biggest lessons you've learned personally and professionally?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: Working with people teaches and develops us. The WAGA idea began somewhat naively as a fulfilling hobby. I learned not to let the fear of failure block progress, as there’s always a solution. Mistakes happen, but they teach us how to do things correctly. Optimizing expectations is crucial, as unrealistic expectations can discourage us. Persistence leads to results if we don’t give up. Communication is key in business, and hard work is essential for achieving a vision. Luck plays a role, but effort and work are the main ingredients of success.

Q: Since founding your brand, what are you most proud of?

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Jasmina Dizdarević: I’m proud of the entire process. When circumstances align to continue the story, as they did when a French investor showed interest, you know you’re on the right path. There were challenging times, but we continued, believing in our mission. I’m proud of our team, who are deeply committed and continuously improving their skills despite having no prior knowledge of woodcarving. I’m also proud that our products have become authentic and unique gifts representing Bosnia and Herzegovina worldwide. Stories from proud owners using our products in daily rituals are particularly heartwarming.

By choosing WAGA, you help sustain the art of konjic woodcarving

We are excited about the future of WAGA and our mission to keep the art of Konjic woodcarving alive and thriving. Stay tuned for our new collections and updates as we continue to create and inspire.

For more information on the interview, visit Ljepota & Zdravlje.

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