Fabula Organic Pencil, Another Great Croatian Innovation Story

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Fabula Organic Pencil Red Dot Award

Fabula Organic Pencil is a ‘home-grown’ sustainable innovation that is ready to take the market by storm.

More than a year ago, we featured a story on Fabula Organic Pencil when they were in the crowdfunding stage of their project; one year on, we wanted to check in to see the progress of this great Croatian innovation story.

Fabula is a recycled pencil made in collaboration with nature; it uses organic waste materials – coffee, tea & petals that are otherwise thrown away by coffee and flower shops. The company claims that one coffee shop can produce about 30kg of organic waste per month, which could instead be used to create 3000 pencils.

Fabula Organic Pencil is now on the market and has received many awards and recognitions: The Red Dot Award 2016 winner in the green category, A’Design Award winner – green category, Top 27 Sustainable Brands of the World 2016, Zagrebacka Bank Entrepreneural Award for Green Business 2015.  Fabula was also recently featured in Das Büro magazine in the top 100 best office products for 2017, in the company of other well-known brands such as Microsoft, Samsung, Canon and many more who are leading the field for sustainable office innovations.

 Fabula Organic Pencil Red Dot Award

The product and company has clearly come a long way in the last year, so we had a few questions for the CEO and creator of the product – Mateja Kuhar.

What experiences lead you to conceptualise and create Fabula?

 As a child, I was always writing creative stories. I loved writing. Along with that came my obsession with writing instruments and stationery, which I think I inherited from my late and beloved grandfather, who loved pens, pencils and any special office items. One day, I saw my friend drawing sketches for his designs with a very big wooden pencil and I noticed he had quite a few of them; I started thinking about how these pencils could be more sustainable…

I also thought about how a pencil could be more unique; especially since my friend, myself and every creative person I know, considers a pencil their inspirational tool, like a wand that gives creative power.

On a separate note, I was always using leftovers from coffee and tea to fertilize my plants at home, thanks to my Grandmother’s teachings. All of these ideas collided in my mind and the idea of a very special sustainable pencil was born. My goal was to create a pure and inspirational pencil. Later, the idea evolved into a business model, and so Fabula recycles coffee, tea, and flowers from coffee and flower shops.


When did Fabula officially launch and what is your main market?

Fabula launched officially before Christmas last year. The sales have been very positive and we have big plans for the future. A lot can be done, as long as you nurture the story. Fabula is now a special pencil who has a new usage dimension in offices and is a unique, sustainable, personalised business gift.

Creatives and designers love to sketch with a pencil, so they always look for the most unique one to be their inspirational tool. This is where Fabula comes in, Fabula gives them a chance to really think on a different level in the moment of creation – it motivates and challenges, just like the coffee from which it is recycled.

How has it been received by the public? Has interest ventured abroad, or is it more home-grown?

Fabula has been very well received by the markets of countries who care about sustainability and the environment. We are happy that Europe cares about the environment and businesses try to implement sustainability in every segment of their actions. The small innovations are the ones that teach us to think differently and to implement similar thinking in other areas of our lives. Fabula has received many awards and recognitions from all around the world, which makes me proud that once again, Croatia can be recognised for writing instruments. Everything good starts with a (written) word, I believe.

From conception of the idea, to holding Fabula in your hand, how long did the process take?

It took about two years to develop a functional prototype and along with the prototype, there was a need to develop an innovative manufacturing process. The product and the manufacturing process is internationally patented, which I am extremely proud of. It took a lot of work and persistence, but it was worth it.

 product news fabula organic pe

Is Fabula only available online, or do you have plans to get it stocked throughout Croatia and abroad?

Fabula Organic Pencil is available to order through our website, but we also have plans to put it on shelves across Europe very soon. We want Fabula to be a recognisable Croatian product, more so because of our Croatian innovator Slavoljub Eduard Penkala who invented the pen more than 100 years ago; now it is time for Fabula, so the world can think about a sustainable pencil from Croatia in the same way. That is my dream.

What were the greatest challenges you faced?

Innovating the manufacturing process was a challenge, along with money-flow – but this is a challenge all start-ups initially face. Hand-in-hand with this, is the investment of time; starting a new product from scratch, you need to be committed to working all the time, you almost need to be omnipresent!

What advice would you give to any aspiring “green-preneurs” (green entrepreneurs)?

Self-sacrifice is a must. You can’t avoid it. The project becomes so close to you and you grow with it. Persistence is the key and always staying hungry – asking yourself, “what does success mean to me?” I have a constant feeling that I haven’t accomplished what I want. There are always more ideas and I am constantly visualising ways to innovate and improve every possible detail in the process. It becomes like an obsession. A never-ending passion.

You can’t succeed without first believing in yourself. You have to listen to your gut feeling, that message you receive in your mind, out of the blue. Do that. Work hard. Rehabilitate in nature. Laugh. Do it again. At least this works for me!

What can we expect from you and Fabula in the future?

 Everything is possible. I have a lot of ideas I want to integrate into Fabula… But for now, I am thrilled with how far we have come and am so happy when people send us enthusiastic pictures of how Fabula inspired them – that is the inspirational magic that is in Fabula’s coffee-tea-flower core and this is what drives me to continue.


You can check out their website here

Or connect to Fabula and follow the journey on facebook


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