Made in Croatia

Interview: Meet Najfiniji Sapuni Itd., All-Natural Croatian Cosmetics

By 8 October 2020
Maja Pejcic and Jasminka Grbelja of Najfiniji sapuni
Maja Pejcic and Jasminka Grbelja of Najfiniji sapuni Matej Paluh

October 8, 2020 - Najfiniji sapuni itd. (Finest Soaps, etc.) is a line of all-natural cosmetic products, owned by two Croatian single moms, Maja Pejcic and Jasminka Grbelja. With a breath of the Mediterranean and a lot of will, they have become noticed in Croatia.

So, “Najfiniji sapuni / Finest soaps, etc.” Not at all mundane or standard. How did you come up with the name? 

Najfiniji sapuni started with solid soaps. After that, we decided to start making face creams, lotions, balms… In essence, the name comes from a combination of what we are - the finest cosmetics for body care and growth. And now, we are going further with our product range.

What is in your product range? What are the ingredients used?

Najfiniji sapuni now has a nice range of body care products. Face creams, lip balms, butter and body lotions, part creams, hydrolats, solid and liquid soaps, shower gels, salt and cream peels, hand creams, and soon micellar waters and facial cleansing foams. We decided to go with simple basic raw materials: coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and butter, Mediterranean essential oils. We try to weave all the best from nature into our body care products (following all legal regulations and norms, of course). We want our consumers to understand what they are reading when they check out the ingredients on the bottle. That the raw materials are recognizable - we go to a lot of ingredients to win over the audience with a lot of text on the packaging - we go to quality and comprehensibility.

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© Matej Paluh

I believe that you like every product, but which one are you especially proud of and why?

All our products are loved and created with a lot of love. But we have our pride.

Maja: I am very proud of the solid soaps - they were basically made according to my grandmother's recipe. So here’s my significant sentimental connection. And deodorant creams.

Jasminka: Deodorant cream! My firstborn in the Finest Soaps.

When moving into each new product design, the guiding thread was: what would we want on our skin? What are the ingredients that are really good and what we don't like in the products? How do we use that wonderful Mediterranean of ours and its essences? So there was a lot of imagination, love, and effort to create the product.

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Najfiniji sapuni © Matej Paluh

What hindered you the most in starting a business? What motivated you?

Like everyone else, it is the bureaucracy. Collecting documentation, finding regulations, applicable regulations, reading the law, fighting various offices. These are things you need to learn on the go. No one prepares you for such a struggle; no one prepares you to understand systems and norms.

And what motivated us? Well, of course, the desire to put everything on a sound footing and start with the finest story. When you want something strong enough, then you have a powerful motive to fight for it.

The word "Mediterranean" runs through the whole story - how did it find its place in your laboratory?

It was a logical sequence. Najfiniji sapuni made our first steps in Baška on Krk. All these fragrant herbs, all these benefits were at hand, so why not use them and create something useful, that is, in body care? Thus, olive oil, essential oils of immortelle, lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, immortelle, lavender hydrolats, orange, and cherry found a place in our laboratory. The Mediterranean provides a great treasure.

The media often tells the fact that you are single mothers. When combined with the context of what you have achieved, is it a compliment to you, or do you feel it is not necessary to mention it?

In one segment, it is important for the very reason that many think that it is impossible with such a status to be equally committed to your home and work. The proof is there - it can be done. A lot has been achieved, but the fact is that it was not at all easy to reconcile everything. We don't consider it a handicap, but maybe even a benefit, because we are used to holding all four walls of the house by ourselves. Let that struggle be something to us every day, and we may have found it easier to cope with all the obstacles than others. We know nothing but persistence and strength.

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Najfiniji sapuni © Matej Paluh

Speaking of kids, are they faithful helpers, or do they still not know what mom is concocting in her dish?

Of course! Little Iva is a master at mixing with a spoon in her dish. She is a real lady who enjoys applying lip balms and hand creams. And Antonio is a teenager who uses solid soap and faces cream. They are faithful helpers because they are with us. They know what we are doing, but it is our job for them. Of course, with us, they learn to use the natural, to protect the environment - and when they grow up, who knows, maybe they will follow in our footsteps.

Where can potential customers find you, and what would you recommend from your product range?

All fans of our cosmetics can find us all over Croatia. We are on the shelves of specialized stores, souvenir shops, and we are also in the offer of larger retail chains. To make it easier, we have created an overview list of cities and shops under the contacts section on our website. For all those who do not have a point of sale in their vicinity, they can order directly from us through our Najfiniji sapuni webshop.

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Najfiniji sapuni © Matej Paluh

Do you have a message for the youth or maybe adults who would like to start something similar one day?

Our cosmetics are used by people ages 9 to 99 years. Women and men are equally represented, which we are happy about. People have recognized the benefits of such products. Anyone who wants to embark on a story like this must first know exactly what they want to produce. Furthermore, they have to be educated because, without knowledge, there is nothing. They also have to be ready for one big battle with bureaucracy. And now that they have set it all up like that and decided they have to know nothing happens overnight. It takes over half a year of effort and financial resources for a product to appear on a shelf and be ready for the consumer. Nothing will go smoothly right away, but when you succeed and see your product in someone’s hands - it’s a reward for everyone.

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