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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Toni: Currently, we’ve somehow ended up in this niche of building a lot of internal tools for startups and teams. But this is not the only thing we want to do. What I like about it is that we’re starting projects from scratch and we have full control over them.
Martin: The first project we worked on was a tool for a large scale real estate development company. What they needed was a tool for their Sales people - to be able to mark their different spots and locations at different stages of the sales funnel. So we created a tool that helps them in this process.
Toni: And this one actually served as a starting point for the tool we’ve developed for betahaus, which aims to allow the Sales and Management team to see which team rooms are occupied right now, which ones are free or will be occupied in a few weeks or months, so no double bookings appear.
Alex: These two projects were more focused on real estate, let’s say, but we’ve also done more design-heavy projects like the one we did for Artique which is an online artists agency. For them, we built a whole website and an online system to present their artists starting only from their logo. It had to be very flexible, because the artists needed to be able to edit their own profiles, putting their resume, changing colours.
Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different.
Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally.
Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.
Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.
Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte
Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.
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