Mirela Džinić is the founder and creative director of the fashion company Senses from Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She says that the members of her family who were into sewing clothes instilled in her a love for creative work and fashion since her early youth. However, given the circumstances following the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina she had to accept the first job that she came across, which was an administrative position in the local branch of a bank. “Although I longed to work in a business related to fashion, I had no option. Opportunities were scarce and I was lucky to get this job at the bank,” she says.
Mirela kept this job for over ten years, and she would probably have stayed for the rest of her life if the bank had not gone bankrupt and been closed. She was in her thirties, the mother of two girls, and jobless, and needed to find a solution. Eventually she got a job with a textile factory, where she worked for over two years in various positions. “It was a different world completely. I worked as a project coordinator, modeler, constructor and technologist. I covered the whole cycle from the idea to the sample and to serial production and distribution,” she says.
Two years later, with a feeling of fulfilment and a need to explore more as she felt that she had nothing more to give to this company and nothing new to learn, she decided to make the big brave leap to opening her own company. The practical experience, the motivation and creativity were there, but Mirela was lacking experience in management and fundraising to start a new company. Right at that time she came across an EU-funded project that supported start-ups with management training and initial funding for the launch of their business endeavours. The project supported her with learning to think like an entrepreneur and trained her on the whole business cycle, starting from the basic business idea and going on to business plan, target groups and marketing plan. “The training cycle provided by the EU-funded project was really creative and inspiring and increased my ambition and motivation to start something of my own,” says Mirela.
She chose to develop an idea based on children’s fashion, as according to her something like that was missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she launched her company, Senses. Along with her team she developed a unique gift package of children’s clothes which was something totally new on the market, and success followed immediately after presenting the product to the market. “The idea was to start a small but high-quality brand that is competitive with the international and other brands on the market. By using high quality raw material, unique designs and handcraft we have achieved that,” says Mirela.
The EU support and progress for Senses continued even after the initial start-up process. This year, the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to support a number of small companies for promotion of their brands by connecting them with online influencers. Senses was among the companies selected to be part of this programme. Mirela was paired with an influencer, a mother of two girls, who was willing to promote Senses products.
Apart from the anticipated increase of social media presence and turnover in the local market, in Mirela’s words the other thing that happened was something extraordinary . A lady of Bosnian origin living in Qatar, who happened to be following the influencer, saw the brand and decided to contact Mirela for a business deal. The deal resulted in the production and shipment of the first load of Senses products to the international market. “As a small company from Travnik, being recognised by a market such as Qatar – that can afford to buy products from any brand in the world – was a privilege and meant a lot to us,” says Mirela.
The first shipment was of children’s clothes with designs related to the World Cup. Having been very satisfied, the partner from Qatar has already ordered a second shipment which will be based on another theme and delivered in 2023.
About the project
EU4Business is an EU project that aims to strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacity for economic growth and employment by fostering competitiveness and innovation in selected sectors. It has a budget of €16.1 million: €15 million funded by the European Union and €1.1 million by the Federal Republic of Germany.
EU4Business is part of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Local Development Strategies – Local Self-Government and Economic Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Photo credits: Senses
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