You know that you have succeeded once the Chinese start making illegal copies.
While they were buying boring plastic toys for children, paying 200 or 300 kuna for each one, Maja Korovljević and Sanja Đurić from Osijek started dreaming about toys which would have a real meaning. Back in the autumn of 2014, these were just dreams. But, the dreams soon became the reality, and today they are living a true fairytale. They are creating and producing toys made of wood and rags which have become a hit in Europe and beyond. Boxes of wooden toy cars and pillows in the shape of fish are being opened by children in the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, the United States, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand… Interestingly, there are even Chinese copies of originals from Osijek, reports Večernji List on March 1, 2016.
Maja, a mother of two girls, left her job in a shop, while Sanja kept hers, and they founded the Pinch Toys company. Their website is written in English because they have almost no customers in Croatia and their toys can be found on the shelves of just one shop in Zagreb. The toys are a bit too expensive for the average Croat. “The vision was to do something different, unique, with completely natural materials, wood and cotton. On the other hand, we both love Scandinavian minimalist style. We have decided to try, since we had nothing to lose”, said Maja and Sanja.
The idea was developed while Maja was on maternity leave so she started carving masks and figures with her older daughter. She called Sanja, and two days later they met with the first prototypes. “We very much liked the fact that we had developed the toys ourselves”, said Sanja who is in charge of sewing, while Maja deals with wood.
The first thing they produced was a pillow in the shape of fish. They photographed it, posted the photo on Instagram and waited for reactions. The first fish went to the Netherlands, and they soon became a hit. Maja and Sanja were surprised and decided to go big. Wooden cars, helicopters, a small town, elephants…. all these toys soon started filling the shelves in their workshop. The demand has grown so much that they suddenly had their hands full. So Maja quit her job to devote herself to her dream. Today they offer about 20 toys. Although they sell some toys to individual customers on the internet, mostly they sell wholesale to shops.
Maja’s life has been completely changed, but she admits it was not an easy decision. “For me, this is a perfect life. I manage my own schedule, I do not work all the time, and I can cook and hang out with my family and take a walk with friends, while earning enough for a comfortable life. I am not making millions, but for me this is enough”, said Maja.