Mia Marić: ‘Heart cheers (for) Clox.’
With autumn's new scheme at the Croatian Design Superstore, our newly launched blog now presents its first regular column Designer Portraits – interviews with designers whose products can be found in Martićeva 4 and on our online shop. Each of them will share little secrets of their profession with you, but also thoughts on everyday occurrences which make them happy, inspire them and encourage their creativity and work. Find out what everyday life of designers is really like!
Mia Marić is a versatile Croatian designer of the younger generation, originally specialized in visual communications design (especially packaging and visual identity) and branding. Today she works primarily as a fashion designer who became well-known after she made her own, original brand of shoes – the popular “Cloxs”, footwear that combines refined aesthetics, comfort and timing! She gained extensive experience while working at first in the agency, and then in the Manasteriotti∞Maric duet together with her business and life partner Igor Manasteriotti. After having worked together on many high-quality and interesting projects, mainly in the area of visual identity and branding (for which they have received numerous awards), they decided to separate businesses. While Igor continued as Manasteriotti DS, Mia devoted herself completely to fashion design and her growing brand Clox. Read how it happened!
CDSS: How were the products and the brand that represents you in the Croatian Design Superstore created?
Mia Marić: “Cloxs” were created by chance. I purchased two old clocks in one antique shop and after a few months they ended up on my shoes. I often decorated my own shoes. The model with clocks has sparked the most attention, so one day Igor said to me: “Wouldn’t it be great if you made your own brand out of this?”. He soon regretted proposing that because from that point on (now more than five years), each kuna is being invested into Clox. Thanks to my original work and profession of a graphic designer I managed to run and finance Clox. Although the current year is the first year of my being employed only in Clox, at times I still design visual communications as well.
CDSS: What drove you to start entrepreneurship with your design?
MM: I realized that I need independence and freedom of expression and creation. I have worked in smaller and larger teams, but my work on Clox has always been something special and personal. Although initially I invested little time in Clox, it grew and developed, until the day when I honestly said to myself: “If I have achieved this much with 20% of invested time, what would happen if I invest 100% and focus solely on Clox? ” It was a risky decision, because Clox just reached break-even, and graphic design makes a safe and good earning (in my case). But love prevailed – my heart was beating for Clox, it was something I really wanted, not because of profit but because of the process. I enjoy working on new ideas and creating every new collection.
CDSS: What challenges do you meet during independent production and distribution of items of your design? What does it take to achieve sustainable production?
MM: Uh, the answer could be turned into a book that wouldn’t be short at all. Production for each small brand is an art – for starters, art is to actually find a factory that wants to “bother” with that, as first you have be develop a product, then make a prototype, and only then you can start production. Every factory wants to produce in large quantities, not small, because then the business is more profitable both to the factory and the client. Production in Croatia is expensive and difficult, there are a lot of difficulties and restrictions, therefore only the flexible and persevering manage to succeed.
At the beginning of their career designers have great will power and motivation that pushes them forward (with the encouragement of friends) and think they have the best possible idea that everyone is eager to steal and use instead of them. But then you come to a factory and realize that the amount you have been saving for years for your first collection is not large but so small that they actually say they will do you a favour if they accept the job. Of course, you can immediately forget the deadline that you had set out for yourself and wait for your turn between large orders. Also, a desirable quality in such small orders is sometimes not achievable, because people as well as machines need time to adjust to the new material, model, work… I would say that mastering the production and distribution is 99% of success, and 99% of designers fall at these points and give up. Of course, the 1% of creativity is crucial, but only when you overcome the other 99%. Today, designers are moving boldly because they have good ideas, and we often think that because of that everything else will be easy. Unfortunately, it won’t.
Lately I have been perceiving Italy as an interesting place for production of shoes because it managed to build very positive associations related to the “Made in Italy” status. In addition to that, Italy has a lot of competitions for fashion designers in which authors from around the world can participate if they have a “Made in Italy” collection. The prizes are participation in various trade fairs, media publications in the Italian Vogue, fashion shows and the like. I just got back from trip to Milan that I won through one such contest, in which I participated with a collection of pumps, which I produced in Italy. The Cloxs won one of 50 places intended for innovative international fashion designers. I got a booth to exhibit at the fair for three days and return flight ticket. There I have been noticed by one agent with whom I started cooperation. Everything starts when young people get specific opportunities.
I would like to say that Italy very smartly promotes “Made in Italy” signature and offers many opportunities to designers if they produce in Italy. Also, it is nowhere more difficult to find a shoe manufacturer than in Italy, as that is where the best ones produce and factories want to work only with them, but at least the price and labour pay off. Unfortunately, Croatia does not recognize me as a shoe manufacturer but only as a designer and therefore does not offer much in terms of incentives or support for the “Made in Croatia” product. Nevertheless, with my own example I want to show that it is not worth crying about living in Croatia, because we have the whole world at our disposal, and we create our own limits. What I can’t produce in Croatia I produce abroad, but in spite of the difficulties I am trying to continue to find ways to produce within our borders.
CDSS: When it comes to your colleagues, whose products would you highlight as beautiful, practical and useful?
MM: I admire colleagues who have the courage to invest their own money in their ideas. I know a lot of people who do not believe enough in themselves to invest or think they are not able to go through with it or don’t know how. Mainly I follow the ones that produce bags and shoes. I admire them because I know what difficult challenges must be overcome from production to distribution. I love Koza bags which are designed and hand made by my dear friend and her family. I wear Mammii jewellery by the talented Maja Miletic, I like the sneakers brand Miret that are made in the same factory as the Cloxs. I have a Patrizia Dona bag which I always carry to meetings and I love her concept! I admire the idea and product Baggizmo, and there are so many other products! In Croatia there are many talented designers. It is not easy to produce and go international, but it is not impossible! Every problem should be seen as a challenge, and i every defeat as one more step to success. Only a few succeed in the first place because it is not easy.
CDSS: What items you can’t do without in your everyday life and you always carry with you?
MM: Handbag and shoes (laughs)!
CDSS: Do you occasionally get a desire to take a break from designing and how do you do it?
MM: I meditate, run and walk with my dog… I also love to swim and jump into the sea, river or pool whenever I can!
CDSS: What’s your latest experience that you had that left you speechless?
MM: In Milan I was left speechless by the fact how designers are connected out there and open and willing to help and share information. A couple of times in Croatia I found myself in a position to ask for help or advice from people who are doing the same or similar things and I was refused with the excuse that these information are secret. I never understood that, but now I realize that it is only because of their fear and because our market is so small that everyone is considered as competition if we think just within our borders.
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