Break Time: An Adriatic Nautical Jewellery Hit in Split, Dubrovnik and Online
I have met a LOT of foreigners in Croatia over the last 15 years, who have come with big business plans. And left not long after, their youthful optimism killed by the Croatian reality. Some of the ideas were downright scary – opening a cafe selling just English breakfasts in an inland village on Hvar was up there with the best – and my favourite story concerned a British businessman who wanted to invest 2 million euro into a project in Croatia. He went to see a recommended lawyer in Split, who told him that the initial consultation fee for his investment advice was 500 euro. The Brit handed over the cash.
“My honest and best advice to you, Sir,” said the lawyer, “is to take the next flight back to London, and consider yourself lucky that you only lost 500 euro in Croatia.”
Exasperated, the Brit cut short the meeting, cursing the wretched lawyer. He went on to invest a substantial amount in Croatia, and ended up taking that place back to London, with considerably more than the 500 euro lost.
And so when I met a very nice Romanian couple from Bucharest at the Day of Croatian Small Boatbuilders and Tourist Attractions Fair in Podstrana a few years ago, I was expecting another story of youthful expectation which would be cut short with a return journey to Bucharest shortly after.
Especially when I heard the idea…
A couple who had worked in the construction industry for many years, but had fallen in love with Croatia. The husband, Ionut, had seen a bracelet made of rope which had him intrigued some time before. One thing led to another, and there they were in front of me, presenting a stand of nautical jewellery which he had made himself.
They were clearly mad.
But lovely. Mirela, his charming and bubbly wife, won over my kids in seconds, and they were both thrilled with their nautical bracelets.
And then something very unusual happened, by Croatian standards. Their idea began to work. And work well.
People loved the unique product, the simple but stylish (and very durable) designs, and young Mirela – a bit of a star with her online skills – started to make things happen. An online store on Amazon, Etsy and elsewhere, brought orders from the US, Dubai, Ireland and elsewhere. Mirela’s online wizardry matched Ionut’s stunning creations, and a successful business was born, moving from the online world to their first store in their beloved old town of Split, a city that they came to adore.
Although we kept in touch via Facebook, I had not seen them since until I was walking down Stradun in Dubrovnik during the festivities of St Blaise this February, when two cheery Romanian faces approached me from the opposite direction. Were they here for the festivities? No, they were opening a Dubrovnik branch just off Stradun, the latest expansion in this unlikely tale of foreign business success in Croatia. A quality and unique product, whose success was confirmed in that most Croatian of ways – when others started to try and copy it.
But copy they can’t, for this lovely couple have a winning formula of creativity and business know how, coupled with the most positive energy which has earned them much popularity among expats and locals alike. They deserve their success, and it was with a big smile, that I saw Mirela (lead photo above) with Jamie Foxx in Dubrovnik, presenting the Robin Hood: Origins star with a bag of Break Time goodies (see what was in Jamie’s bag here).
Wonderful products, a lovely couple, and a great success story. And with such positive energy that maybe it is worth having a Break Time bracelet on our wrist this summer just for the positive energy vibes…
Check out their entire range here, and visit them in their Split and Dubrovnik stores at the locations below. You don’t have to be Jamie Foxx to go and say hi.