By Nicole Rauner
Emsud and Samka Deumic’s family had nothing but two suitcases of worn-down clothes when they came to America in 1993 and started a new life from scratch in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Today, they recently moved their successful clothing business into their dream store — an 8,000-square-foot building they helped design in southeast Lincoln.
Their American Dream story was not without hardship, they said. It took hard work and savings.
The Deumic’s spent nine months at a refugee camp in Croatia from fleeing a brutal war in Bosnia. First Plymouth Congregational Church sponsored the family when they first arrived in Lincoln, which helped them find an apartment and even supplied hand-me-down clothes for the children.
Today, Emsud and Samka are proud of what they have built and want to pass it on to their children and grandchildren.
“America has the best freedom and the work,” Emsud said.
The first two years were a jolt for the family. The Deumic’s rented an apartment, started English classes and the kids started school. But being the first Bosnian refugees in Lincoln added an additional struggle.
“The first two years I cried all the time,” Samka said. “When you don’t speak the language, you don’t have nothing, no family. It was hard.”
In Bosnia, Emsud’s family owned multiple clothing shops. But, overnight they had nothing. After spending time in the refugee camp Emsud and Samka’s family went to different countries: Emsud’s siblings went to Sweden and Samka’s to France. But America held Emsud and Samka’s dreams for raising a family and building a business. So, they ventured off on a different path.
“America’s the best country and absolutely, 100 percent we were right,” Emsud said.
“If you like to work, it’s best,” Samka added.
When Emsud came to America he became a tailor at Ben Simons Clothing Store. Soon, Samka joined him there, but work didn’t stop when the store closed. Emsud and Samka would work on alterations, sometimes until 3 a.m., in their basement for their own customers. After saving money, Emsud opened up Emsud’s Expert Alterations in 1998. To this day, the majority of customers started coming to the store when it was just the alteration’s shop. Then, they told their friends.
Emsud grew the business to include men’s retail clothing, so he renamed the store Emsud’s Clothiers. After moving to two other locations to make room for more merchandise, the family eventually moved to their new location at 56th Street and Pine Lake Road, which is the first store they built for their business.
The new store is now 8,000 square feet and caters to men’s wedding, formal, casual and sportswear as well as a new women’s clothing section.
The family had a unique way of working with the architect to create their new story, said Alma Sehic, Emsud and Samka’s daughter and full-time employee.
“We split up in teams and did blueprints of what we wanted our dream store to be like,” she said. “Then, we combined those parts together.”
The family business goes back to Emsud’s grandfather and continues through to his grandchildren.
The business remains a family affair. Their children’s spouses even help out. Emsud’s 8-year-old grandson, Kenan, comes to the shop to put price tags on shoes and sizers on all the hangers. Emsud is going to teach him how to start using the sewing machine soon.
“We build a business to leave to them,” Emsud said.
“We know they will stay with us,” Samka added.
Emsud and Samka are proud to be Americans and to leave a legacy for their entire family to continue and enjoy. Work has been demanding and the family has built their business brick by brick to achieve their American Dream.
“Don’t give up,” Samka said. “Be patient and positive and everything will be better.”