Sunday, 15 August 2021

Vegan Croatian Miret Tennis Shoes Proudly Worn from USA to Japan

August the 15th, 2021 - Croatian Miret tennis shoes, which place the environment first, are gaining in popularity not just here within the country, but as far afield as the United States of America and Japan.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, caring for the environment is the latest big deal for the corporate world, but while for many it is just a good PR story and little else, this philosophy has been well and truly lived and breathed by the Croatian startup Miret since day one. The entrepreneurial project of producing tennis shoes without a negative impact on the environment was conceived by two brothers, Domagoj and Hrvoje Boljar.

“This project is a kind of homage to our father who had the Mr. Joseph shoe factory in the 1990s,'' says Domagoj, a bachelor of business economics. With his brother, an industrial designer, he wanted to continue in the shoe business, but then came the crisis of 2008 and their business, like so many others, simply began to sink.

Meanwhile, their father fell ill and several years encompassed by hard business struggles followed. At that time, they launched the Jots brand, under which they launched ''crossover'' trainers, a combination of classic footwear and sport trainers for the first time on the market.

This put them in the focus of well-known luxury brands such as Krisvanassche, Paco Rabanne, ETQ, Lemaire, for which they designed and developed products and honed their knowledge. After all the ups and downs, the crisis and lack of capital prevailed and the Mr. Joseph shoe factory was sadly forced put the key in the lock.

In parallel with the struggle for the family business to keep its head above water, the idea of ​​Miret was born. ''One day I walked into my brother’s office while reading an interview with French industrial designer Philippe Starck in which he stated that everything he did in his life was rubbish because he contributed to the wave of consumerism with all the negative consequences,'' he recalls.

Back then, much like today in some sectors, not much thought was given to sustainable business, microplastics, ocean and sea pollution, and the footwear industry was completely blind to its huge negative impact on the planet.

"Hrvoje said he wanted to go the other way and that's how the idea of ​​developing trainers that would be compatible with nature came about," he says.

The first nature-neutral trainer was made from hemp back in 2016, serving as a test of whether there might be any interest out on the market for such a product. This was followed by a painstaking search for suppliers of eco-raw materials to replace the standard ones, and today, Miret is cooperating with 16 suppliers from nine EU countries. It offers a high and low trainer made of 97 percent natural materials, mostly made of plants and not leather due to the way Miret tennis shoes are processed.

One model is completely vegan - it includes absolutely nothing of animal origin. For example, the interior is made of hemp because it breathes and is odor resistant. The ergonomic insole is made of bacterial resistant cork, the laces are made of eucalyptus, the reinforcement is made from corn...

"All of the raw materials we use for Miret tennis shoes must meet environmental and technological standards, be sustainable and aesthetically acceptable. Ultimately, ecology is the basis of all decisions for development and production, but the only thing that can bring long-term change to the environment is the market,'' says Domagoj Boljar.

Things changed for the better around 2018; the market had matured a bit by then, there had been talk of sustainable business, problems with plastics, Greta Thurnberg had appeared, and here in the Republic of Croatia, the blossoming startup ecosystem had gained more concrete outlines.

"The first support we received came in the form of 15,000 euros through the Climate-KIC Accelerator, which was implemented by Zagreb's Zicer, and since then our story has been positively rolling along,'' says Domagoj Boljar. Miret then secured a pre-seed investment of 50,000 euros.

After the initial capital role, Miret raised another 70,000 US dollars in their kickstarter campaign, 30,000 euros in the third phase of the Climate-KIC Accelerator, and in September last year, Fil Rouge injected another 250,000 euros.

New markets

The Croatian startup ecosystem has been completed this year, he adds. "The proper preconditions have been created and incredible things have been happening, after Nanobit, Infobip, Infinum and Rimac, it can be said that Croatia had its ''Skype moment'' as Estonia had not long before it. There will be some great acceleration, great opportunities are opening up here,'' points out Boljar, and as one of the most significant of those things, he mentions the change in the mindset which is of paramount importance.

The business philosophy of the Boljar brothers and their Miret tennis shoes includes direct communication with their customers and consumers, without intermediaries and additional margins, and their base is online shopping. Although they have targeted Europe for ease of logistics and returns, environmentally conscious customers in the US, Japan and Australia are walking around with Croatian Miret tennis shoes on their feet.

''We want to be tied to the company in the long run. We have accepted the investment game, we're aware that in the next five years there will probably be an exit of investors. It is important to us that the vision, mission and values ​​of a holistic approach of minimal environmental impact remain cemented,'' Boljar says of the next five years.

As is the case with electric cars, more and more brands from the footwear industry recognise (and respect) environmental issues, and Miret sees them partly as a competition and partly as comrades.

"If we want solutions to become mass solutions, then products must not become a luxury, there must be no green premiums, that's the only way we can change things," says Domagoj Boljar.

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Saturday, 7 March 2020

Success of Croatian Miret Startup Interesting for Many Reasons

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Bernard Ivezic writes on the 7th of March, 2020, the success of the Miret startup via the Kickstarter campaign is significant if one knows that in one single day, it reached the level of turnover serious players and companies in that industry enjoy, with one third of its sales coming from exports.

It is a well known fact that startups in Croatia, as well as their respective successes, are mostly related to technological products, therefore it came as somewhat of a surprise when the Croatian Miret startup did things differently. It was on Kickstarter, the globally dominant crowdfunding platform, that this domestic company closed the largest sale of running shoes ever produced.

In one day, the Miret startup sold shoes in the amount of a quarter of a million kuna. In three days, it is expected that they will sell them for more than 50,000 euros, and the campaign on Kickstarter will last for a whole month.

The success of the Miret startup is interesting for many reasons, and the reasons for the level of interest isn't exclusive solely to startups, but also to much larger companies in Croatia, especially those looking for ways to expand their sales abroad. The first and obvious reason that makes the Miret startup and its campaign interesting is the initial sales volume.

A relatively new brand of Croatian-made trainers, Miret, which lacks the logistics of larger, more experienced players, has managed to reach the daily sales of far larger players in its industry.


Another thing that makes the Miret startup interesting is that in one single day, it immediately raised its share of its foreign sales to 30-40 percent. Namely, after Croatia, the next largest number of supporters, and consequently buyers of these Croatian shoes, come from the USA, Slovenia, Germany and Austria.

Supporters from Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Canada are also represented in larger numbers. There are more reasons still. The Miret startup's shoes are not low-priced merchandise. Premium trainer brands in Croatia sell for an average price of 400 to 800 kuna, and often more.

Miret's trainers, which include a Croatian design brand, cost around 570 kuna (85 US dollars), and the Kickstarter campaign just showed that there are people who consider that a very affordable price. Miret produces trainers made from natural materials such as hemp, flax, corn, eucalyptus and wool. In total, they claim that as much as 97 percent of the material in the trainers are natural, making these shoes among the most environmentally friendly in the entire world.

In addition, after three years, the Miret startup's trainers will have almost completely broken down when used for compost. The owners of the Miret startup are brothers Domagoj and Hrvoje Boljar, for whom this is a continuation of the family footwear business, in which they have had their fair share of ups and downs.

Their entry onto the market, and thus the Kickstarter campaign, is in line with the trend of a growing demand for organic products.

The trainer industry is very ''dirty'' when it comes to the environment. The main problem is plastic, both due to the intensive use of petroleum products in the production of the shoes, and due to the fact that they tend to be non-degradable.

As many as sixteen million tonnes of non-degradable footwear end up in the sea annually, and despite the warnings, the problem of waste accumulation in the seas hasn't really been reduced. In 1950, it was estimated that 2 million tonnes of plastic had been dumped in the sea, and today an average of 400 million tonnes per year continues to be thrown into the sea.

Up until now, the level of success we've seen from the Miret startup has generally been experienced solely by technological products on Kickstarter, making what the Miret startup has managed to acheive something special indeed.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Croatian Brothers Create Biodegradable Tennis Shoes

As Novac/Mario Pusic writes on the 26th of May, 2019, the story of two Croatian brothers Domagoj (34) and Hrvoje (33) Boljar from Duga Resa is an excellent one for many reasons, and one of them is that they don't need a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile phone for the presentation of their products. They wear them - on their feet.

Through their company Miret, they developed an eco-tennis brand that is almost completely biodegradable and was started with the EIT Climate-KIC accelerator, the largest European launcher acceleration program that develops solutions which have a positive impact on the climate. These new Croatian tennis shoes are one of the six innovative Croatian projects which will be developed under the leadership of the Zagreb Innovation Center (ZICER) in this program.

The Boljar brothers can thus expect symbolic financial support of 15,000 euros, mentoring and educational support from recognised Croatian and foreign experts, as well as a good opportunity for international networking.

It's no exaggeration when Domagoj and Hrvoje say that they're creating the most fashionable shoes on the planet. They are made of hemp, cotton and various other healthy materials.

Everyone who knew their late father, Josip Joža Boljar, knows of the source from which these two innovative Croatian brothers draw their passion, and the stubbornness of their father is not lacking, either, they say themselves.

In the second half of the nineties, when the textile, leather and footwear industry came together seamlessly, Joža decided to produce shoes. This decision was the right one and worked out fine, and ten years later, under his brand Mr. Joseph, he had a plant with 100 employees who produced 100,000 pairs of shoes per year, sold them in 22 stores all over Croatia and exported them all the way to Scandinavia. As excellent as this story is, sometimes things are happen in life that nobody can influence; the market was flooded with cheap Chinese products, there was a crisis, and long-established entrepreneur Josip Boljar entured a hard time and eventually died in 2015. These two brothers grew up with their father's factory, so there was no way they were going to leave it even during the worst of times.

"There was no family pressure for us to take over one day. And before we graduated from university, with me doing economy of entrepreneurship, and Hrvoje doing industrial design, I knew I would one day run the company and my brother would create new products. We inherited that from our parents, so there's this need to create something new, something useful and tangible.

My father was an electrical engineer who went into making shoes after having made machines. Working in his company wasn't something that was ''pre-programmed'' for us, but we both ended up there. However, the company's stability was sluggish, we were trying to save it by turning to the production of luxury tennis shoes, which was, back then, not something on the Croatian market or abroad.

We've created our own brand, Jots, we developed products for top European brands for buyers Croatia, Italy, Holland and France, all with the knowledge and the machines we had and the great people who kept following us. But then it just happened to take off,'' the Croatian brothers state.

You don't surrender in life when things get hard, but only when something makes no sense anymore. And these two brothers think that their eco-tennis shoes do make a lot of sense, and it's never really been easy for them anyway.

Behind the proverbial storm which pushed their core business ever forward, five years ago, they began to develop their eco-tennis shoes, and they knew they were doing the right thing.

The first 100 pairs were quickly grabbed by tourists in Split without any advertising as long as four years ago, and they continued to develop and offer their products through their webshop at

"I'm just persistent, Hrvoje is crazy and persistent. He had dreamed about this shoe before he even had the opportunity to get the materials he needed. They'd say we're producing garbage and that they don't want to participate in it. But we had to live on something. I stepped forward and fought with the problems and let him go and develop things in peace. He went to the extreme, wanted to make a shoe for which there's no mold.''

Nobody had ever done so, so this inventive Croatian duo couldn't even get their hands on any materials to make ecological footwear. Someone had to prepare it especially for them. They have a dozen major suppliers who helped them out, but not one of them is from Croatia.

''People were asking us whether or not the shoes will just fall to bits on their feet. Yes, the composition of the material is like that of a shepherd's pie, but no, they won't fall apart. We use certified suppliers, for example, a New Zealand wool processed in eco-colours with the most rigorous ecological certifications.''

Much later on, the EIT Climate-KIC competition was announced by their acquaintance Marko Capek, probably the most prominent and most controversial Croatian anti-plastic fighter, who worked in the UN after completing his energy studies during which he studied renewable energy sources.

"Our innovation is in the concept, ideas and materials and we no longer think about manufacturing, even though we've dreamed of that, but we'll use service production, what we used to do for others. We have great producers in Croatia and we hope that production will continue to take place in Croatia. What we need is stability,'' they state, adding that they do need a serious investor, and that they don't want for their project to simply remain a small and somewhat ''romantic'' one.

They will look for such an investor abroad, but they aren't even thinking of leaving Croatia, because, as they rightly say, no honey and milk is flowing through the rivers anywhere.

"A colleague told me after presenting the product to go to Sweden. If anyone knows how hard it is to work in Croatia, then I know, but I won't move because I like living here. Will we open an office in Berlin or America? I don't know, but we want to stay here. You're lying in bed tonight and you wonder how you'll pay for your electricity tomorrow and you think it would be best to move to New Zealand. You wake up in the morning and keep making shoes. Wherever you go, you are still here, wherever you go, nothing will change if you don't change it,'' concluded Domagoj Boljar.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and Made in Croatia pages for more on Croatian products and services, Croatian companies, Croatian businesses and Croatian innovation, and much more.


Click here for the original/full article by Mario Pusic for Novac/Jutarnji

Friday, 14 October 2016

Borovo Launched a New Line of Shoes in Tribute to the Danube

The leading Croatian shoe manufacturer, Borovo, presented their new fall line of the brand new Borovos - The Big Blue.