People who inspire : Alina Zara and Elena Daniela Graura

The first time I heard about Mandra Chic was through a wonderful page called “273 de locuri pe care trebuie sa le vezi inainte sa pleci din Romania” – ” 273 places you need to visit before leaving Romania”. The page  is founded by Magda Savuica and  has now, over 364 000 followers. Impressive. She is promoting Romania through her page, with beautiful places to visit and she is also promoting inspirational Romanians. Magda Savuica was showing pictures of the Mandra Chic t-shirts. I instantly loved them ! 

Why did I love the Mandra Chic t-shirts  so much ? Mandra Chic  and Alina Zara caught my attention as I look through the lens of the beauty and meaning coming from Romania. I support people who do something to strengthen the national identity in beautiful projects, in Romania. Mandra Chic does exactly that.

Mandra Chic “speaks my language”. It is a unique t-shirt line with a soul. It is also like a  “flyer” for us – people of the year 2013 – to come and discover , appreciate and cultivate the traditions that were prepared by our ancestors. The t-shirts speak the same language as an invitation. They are a true example of where beautiful folklore fusions with modern life.


Alina Zara with one of her  Mandra Chic t-shirts.

Second encounter was when a friend of mine suggested  that we should support a  project around Christmas, donating food and  with respect do something for people in the Fagaras area, who needed help. All initiated by Alina and her friend Dana, through Tara Fagarasului .

In February this year I finally got to meet up with Alina Zara and Elena Daniela Graura.

We met up at Elena Daniela, or  “Dana” as she is also called, at her  restaurant Casa Terra in Fagaras.

casa terra





We were met by Alina and Dana, with warmth, love and a ” joie de vivre” from both women. Inspirational in their own, special way. “Dana” with her cuisine, taking Transylvanian food  and inviting the village, the people , the community, the country  of Romania, and I hope:  the world, to her table.  Alina with her Mandra Chic and her Museum, where she organizes art projects for children and unite the older and younger generations of  the Fagaras inhabitants.
Alina and Dana are both  connected thorough the Tara Fagarasului project. 
Alina Zara & Elena Daniela %22 Dana%22 Graura

Alina and Dana, in aprons from Mandra Chic, in Dana’s restaurant.

This picture speak its clear language. Two passionate women. Through their passion they inspire others to  enjoy and be proud of the local strengths and beauties in the Land of Fagaras.  – To extend it to an even  larger perspective: they inspire others to be proud of their Romanian roots and heritage.

Alina and Dana also encourage us  to go a bit slower, in this fast paced world.

Take some time to “hear the grass grow” in the wind.

Casa Terra is a dear place. The interior goes in soft, warm tones of yellow, orange, and nature colours. It is easy to feel at home from the moment you come inside. The food taste like a summer day. Fresh and delicious. The presentation of the food is authentic and inviting.

casa terra

Their work is loved and appreciated in the whole community of Fagaras.

When entering the village  of Mandra, which is close by to Fagaras, this is what you see.

village sign

Within the Tara Fagarasului project there are permanent projects :

– People and stories – the “Tara Cerurilor Deschise – Travel Journal” (initiator and coordinator Alina Zara, along with photos: Marius Blana & Mihai Sin)

– Children’s education – the “I love Fagaras” (initiator and coordinator Elena Daniela Graura with teacher Monica Constandin)
– Food / catering – tastes, flavors, recipes and stories  by  Casa Terra (initiator and coordinator Elena Daniela Graura)  ” Traditional gourmet “(initiator and coordinator Elena Daniela Graura)
– Fashion & souvenirs –  “Mandra Chic” (initiator and coordinator Alina Zara)
– Promoting the ambassadors- ” Shuttles around the world” (initiator and coordinator Alina Zara)
– Museum : Muzeul de Panze si Povesti  (Cloth and Story Museum) (initiator and coordinator Alina Zara)
– Architecture & planning –  (initiator and coordinator PhD. Mihai Racu)
Both Alina and Dana are from Fagaras. Dana lived there all her life and Alina went to live in Bucharest for her studies in Art and also for some time to travel abroad. The urge to come back spoke clearer and clearer and Alina left the PR and marketing sector she was working in, to come back to her place of birth. She started to go out in the village and talk to the elder, hear their stories. She wrote them down in her note-book and started to share their life stories on Facebook.  People love it !  She also started to go on a “treasure hunt” for old items, kept in the attics of the elderly in the Fagaras area. She is now encouraging us, through her work, to see the richness of the older generation. To continue to cultivate what the generations before have given to us.
Dana and her mum. 
The older generation of Romanians are strong and enduring. But above all, they have a natural spirituality. They worked the land, they carried the water containers, they looked after their children and grand-children, they cooked the food from the land before we even started to talk about naming food like that “organic”.  They also carry a treasure in the colourful folklore. The ia, the traditional Romanian blouse, for example. Those hand-made things have a soul. Compare a  shirt bought at H&M. It is not vivid, it doesn’t have a soul, like an item made of hand. Think about it. With the ie: somebody choose the thread, the patterns, the fabric. Somebody sat down and did the embroidery. Maybe it took 3 months to make it. But it lasts for an eternity !  An ie  has an essence and that essence was given through the person who made it. The folklore of the Romanians is their essence,  their DNA of who they are, as I see it. What was cultivated before them.  The folklore is the essence of Romania.
Here are three pictures from the Museum that Alina was initiating. With the help of the community it is now a wonderful place to be for young and old.
    elderly bikes and youngsters oler kids
The other  members of the Tara Fagarasului are : Stefan Cibian, Drian Neag, Mihai Sin & Marius Blana.
I feel close to God when I am in Fagaras. There is something spiritual about this place and about those two women and their work.
They ignite positivity and possibility. They give to their community out from their hearts and passion.
They are truly People who inspire in Romania.

One thought on “People who inspire : Alina Zara and Elena Daniela Graura

  1. Yes, respect and love, for all the things they bring back to us. I left Romania 12 years ago, I used to live in Bucharest, with no close relatives in the countryside. But my father was from Tara Fagarasului. These people tell me there is somewhere else I come from. I will certainly go see them when I come to Romania.

    I am the proud owner of two ii and one skirt made of a fota, they were all bought in Bucharest:)

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