Interview by Mateja Plaskan
Anna Bojic, is an inventor, and is the founder and CEO of Merisier. She studied art at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin, and also Cultural Studies at the Freie Universität, Berlin. She is interested in culture and communications, and for her, gift-giving is one of the oldest forms of communication.Merisier presents a new and fair direction for idea-creation as an online shop for stylish and sustainable gifts. Fair trade and sustainability play a central role in the selection of their products, because they believe that they can change the world with many small decisions. Merisier helps customers choose a handsome, elegant and original gift to give straight from the heart.
Does the name 'Merisier' have any special meaning for you, or for what do you do, or did you decide on the name at random?
Well, it’s a little bit of both. One day, back in August, we were just thinking of which name to pick as we were walking through Kreuzberg, where there are a lot of wild cherry trees. The wild cherry is an almost-black fruit, and the ones that had fallen on the ground looked marvelous, like little dark rubies. They were everywhere on the street, and were glittering beautifully; and we thought that would be a really nice picture with a lot of glamour. We wanted to take these colours and make a logo out of it. The German name for wild cherry is ‘Vogelkirsche’, which means ‘bird cherry’; and in French, the word is ‘merisier’. We picked the latter because it somehow matches what we do: we pick the most beautiful things that we find out of everything, and then put them together. I am like a little bird: I pick all those little things and try to match them with each other.
Nowadays, we are overcrowded with online shops. How do you handle the competition, and what makes you unique?
Well there are a lot of online shops, and also a lot of online shops that sell gifts, but I haven’t yet found a online shop that actually combines gifts in a narrative way - a way in which the gifts are telling a story. So this is what makes us special: we have a narrative approach to making and giving gifts, taking small components that we put together to tell a story. We find something new, funny, tender, loud; something that reminds you of the 80s, or of when you were little. We make those kinds of combinations, and that’s what makes us different.
Another thing is that we can send gifts you buy online directly to whomever you want - even outside of Berlin - including greeting cards with custom text, gift wrap, and so on - without having to receive and repackage it yourself.
"Himmel und Erde" - one of the many themed gift packages from Merisier
Your website shows us different target groups, such as “for her”, “for him”, babies, and business associates. Which one of those is your main consumer client?
So far, we haven’t found a lot of gifts for babies yet, but a lot of birthday presents for either men or women, and an increasing number for business clients nowadays.
How are you inspired to create and design the right gift for the right target group, and make them happy?
I try to find a gift that you wouldn’t throw away. I try to find a gifts that are both usable and special; that you cannot find in just any store or supermarket. Somebody can then get a present that he or she cannot easily find. And maybe that makes the gift more special and surprises the person, as they would be getting something they may not have seen before.
"You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" gift package
Are you collaborating with any other firms at the moment?
We work with a few other brands, such as the independent film store Arthaus, and the cosmetics company Uslu Airlines, and create gift packages with their products. We are also starting collaborate with Lego, the toy company. They introduced a new line called Lego Architecture, which is aimed at adults who remember playing with Lego as children. I’ve created some really fun and interesting packages from the Lego Architecture series.
How long has Merisier been existence? What are some of your plans for the future?
We just went online in the middle of November last year. Anyone who speaks German at this point can use this website, because we haven’t translated it into English yet - though we plan to do that in the next 2 to 3 months. You can also send gifts worldwide as well: there’s no problem if you want to send a gift to China, USA, or France. We actually have sent some gifts worldwide, which is kind of fun because it can travel across the world and make someone happy there.
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Let’s start with the big one. Anyone who has ever moved houses before knows there are tons of tiny expenses that suddenly add up to a very expensive relocation. And that’s just for you and your stuff.
When you start an office from scratch, you’ll have to invest in everything from new furniture to office amenities. You’ll need to outfit meeting rooms and stock the kitchen. Sign a monthly contract with the internet provider. Decorate. Even if you have a lot of these things from your old office, you’ll have to hire someone to help you move it and use up hours of your time getting everything set up.
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Choose a room with a view of the city or one on the ground floor with easy access to the garden. Change the lighting fixture or bring your own bookshelf. We want teams to be able to white label, decorate, and really make the space their own if they want to.
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Probably the biggest benefit of coworking is community and events. Now we know it may not be the first thing you’re looking for as you seek out your next office space, but bear with us.
Imagine using your lunch breaks to chat with someone in your industry. Meeting freelance developers at after-work beers. Networking with investors at BETAPITCH. Pitching at our weekly betabreakfast and getting support and feedback on your new ideas.
betahaus has spent the last 10 years cultivating a community of people who we genuinely like working with. And when you join, your team will become a part of it, too.
" People matter! Community was always what we were all about. ‘’
In June we launched #PeopleInbeta - our monthly blog post series in which our Content Manager - Vihra interviewed teams and freelancers from the betahaus community to present the variety of creatives we have in ‘haus, to understand their missions and get some useful advice for our audience. We talked on topics such as sustainability (with PlanA) , decentralized digital identity (with JOLOCOM), curated music experiences (with Bespoke Sounds), freelance photography (with Sara Herrlander), full-stack development (with Obst Digital), design (with LAUDO) and much more.
In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ.
Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture.
Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails.
This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.
‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)
''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’ - Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus)
This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.
Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.
One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.
This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.
We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.
Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.