Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
5 percent inspiration and 95 percent perspiration, if you want to succeed that’s roughly the measure you need to use. And this week we caught up with a young lady from Dubrovnik who followed this golden rule to produce a rather ingenious product. By observing the situation around her she had a light bulb moment, the Hello Dubrovnik hand fan.
Ana Matušić is the brains behind this Dubrovnik idea and by chatting to her we saw not only how the fan came to life but the sheer determination you need to run a small business in Croatia “Once I really decide to do something then there is no giving up and no stopping. It’s like having tunnel vision. Whatever comes from the outside doesn’t alter my course,” said Ana with a smile.
How did you come up with the idea of the fan? It seems such a simple idea but I’m sure it wasn’t so easy to realise.
Two years ago when I was on a Croatian island it was just incredibly hot almost 40 degrees. And at that time there was a huge forest fire in Split and as I was on the island of Vis all the ash and smoke was blowing directly towards us. I was sitting in a café bar and looking at all the people around me who were wafting and waving everything and anything, from menus to mobile phones, just to keep the smoke and the heat out of their faces. That was my light bulb moment.
I thought what if I made a hand fan and put adverts on it, its practical and useful. So I came back home and immediately told my family about the idea and they were very supportive. At times when I felt like giving up on the idea they would always push me and motivate me to finish it.
Ana in her hometown - Photo Ivan Vuka Vukovic
Ideas are 5 percent; realization is 95 percent. How long did it take you from having the idea to actually making the hand fan?
It probably took me around 5 months, not too long really. But I would say that I managed to finish it so quickly because I have a very determined approach. Once I really decide to do something then there is no giving up and no stopping. It’s like having tunnel vision. Whatever comes from the outside doesn’t alter my course. I think I probably got this characteristic from my grandmother or my mother. I was always taught as a young child that when you are dedicated to something then be dedicated and make sure you finish it.
I also am a passionate person, and when I find something to do that I love then I throw myself completely into the project. I eat, sleep and dream about the idea.
There were days in the process that I was working 12 to 14 hours a day, and then I would go to bed and continue to think about how to make it happen. Brainstorming whilst sleeping. In fact, I got the name for the company and the fan in the middle of the night and immediately phone my friend in Zagreb who has a marketing company. As soon as I said the name Hello Dubrovnik he stopped me and said that’s the one. Often the first idea is the best idea.
The Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, with a Hello Dubrovnik hand fan - Photo Vedran Levi
What advice would you give to either like-minded entrepreneurs in Croatia?
Apart from being completely determined and dedicated you need to surround yourself with experts. Always have a person you can call to give you advice and a push in the right direction. But also believe in yourself and your own abilities. When I was making the fan I was constantly on the phone with people in various industries, from the marketing world to printers. I finished a PR and Marketing university in Zagreb so I even called my old professors for some advice. I also worked on myself by attending different seminars and congresses just to upgrade my knowledge.
Dubrovnik hand fan - Photo Miho Skvrce
You mentioned you finished PR and marketing, tell us something about your background
I was born and bred in Dubrovnik and then finished university in Zagreb. In fact, I have a good work ethic as I have been working since I was 16 years-old. I always found something to do, mainly summer jobs. After finishing university, I came back to Dubrovnik and started working in a company in the film industry. And then with all the money I had saved doing the summer jobs, and then the full-time job I decided to go to Canada, to Toronto, where I lived for a year. I wasn’t a holiday. I wanted to work. I knew nobody there really. But the experience I gained there was priceless. I basically wanted to put myself into the fire and see how I reacted. Of course there were tough times but I learned so many lessons.
What would you say is the biggest lesson you learned in Canada?
How to be independent. I found my abilities and I learned how to take care of myself. Living in Dubrovnik, which is a really small city, it is really easy to be narrow-minded but if you expand yourself, if you go and explore the you will discover amazing things. I got a whole new mind-set on working. In just three weeks I found a job and completely threw myself 100 percent into the work. The pride of accomplishing something lives with me today.
Once you got the idea of the fan what were some of the main difficult bumps along the road before it was actually on the market?
As I have mentioned I have a background in marketing so that certainly helped. So the side of marketing wasn’t so tricky. My main issue was to design adverts that would actually fit and look good on an odd shaped fan. I sat down with my graphic designer and we spent hours and hours working out the best design. And then the next difficult step was the print shop. I wanted quality in first place, so just finding the right printers took me weeks. Finally, I found one in Zagreb and they really did a great job. Of course I didn’t leave anything to chance.
So I jumped on a plane and went to Zagreb where I spent days and days, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, at the printers to get everything just the way I wanted. If you want to get something done in Croatia, you have to be persistent. Many, many people just give up. At the moment when you feel like giving up you have to dig deep and find more energy. Distribution of the fans also need lots of thinking out. To cover all the main points of the city and not just the Old City. The hand fan is free of charge and I would urge your readers to take then and use them.
Keeping cool in the Dubrovnik summer - Photo Ivan Vuka Vukovic
Fancy sitting next to the window, or maybe you need an aisle seat to stretch your legs out a little, from now on if you want to book your seat ahead of time on a Croatia Airlines flight you going to have a pay a little more.
Croatia Airlines have started charging passengers who want to choose where to sit on a plane. If you choose to sit in an exit row, or the ones with the slightly larger leg space, you’ll be charged an extra 15 Euros. If you want to sit in the first two economy rows, the so called priority seating, then a charge of 12 Euro will be added. And for all other seats in the plane a flat fee of 10 Euros will apply.
Passengers who do not select a seat when booking will be automatically assigned one at check-in free of charge.
Health Minister Milan Kujundzic said on Friday that both short-term and long-term solutions should be sought for hospitals' debts to pharmaceutical wholesalers.
"Everybody has the right to to demand their claims, and debtors are supposed to cover their debts. We will continue to talk to find solutions," Kujundzic told Hina.
The coordinating body of pharmaceutical wholesalers at the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) announced on Friday morning that they were beginning a selective suspension of deliveries of drugs and medical supplies to hospitals after their debts had reached HRK 2.6 billion.
Commenting on the announcement, the chairman of the governing council of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO), Drago Prgomet, said that "Croatia has never been left without drugs, hospitals have never been left without drugs and they will not be left without them now."
It certainly appears the Sylvester Stallone’s three daughters are having a vacation to remember in Dubrovnik. And as the latest upload to their social media account shows they have seen the city at all hours of the day, and night.
The whole Stallone family arrived in Croatia back at the beginning of this month and jumped on-board a luxury yacht for a cruise along the Adriatic. Sylvester (72), his wife Jennifer Flavin (50) and three daughters, Sophia Rose (22), Sistine Rose (21), and Scarlet Rose (17).
The family cruise on-board the luxurious “Meira” yacht lasted for around a week before Sly and Jennifer jetted home and left the girls to enjoy the cruise with their cousins. Meira is costing Sly a reported 133,000 Euros a week. Making it not only one of the most luxurious Croatian owned private charter yachts but also one of the most expensive.
And the Sly girls have been living large in Dubrovnik with the yacht spotted in a variety of locations.
Their social media accounts have been bulging with photos and videos and this latest one shows the girls running through the streets of the Old City of Dubrovnik just after 3 in the morning. But Sly has been keeping an eye on the girls through Instagram as well, with regular comments and likes.
At the end of the school year the Nautical-Technical school in Dubrovnik awarded the best pupils in a slightly different way than in previous years. A one-day excursion to the Elaphite Islands was organized.
By organising this special day, the school wanted to emphasize the importance of the work and effort of students throughout the whole year. And to show students that they were not part of the local community, and to encourage other students to make greater efforts and achieve their own success.
The realization of the project was co-financed by the City of Dubrovnik.
Well done to all the organisers and especially the students.
Dubrovnik is certainly a magnet for the country’s politicians at the moment. With the President attending the opening of the 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival along with various Ministers and dignitaries comes the news that the Prime Minster will visit this weekend.
Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, will visit Dubrovnik on Sunday and Monday and will participate in the opening of the new water purifier in Komolac. And then Monday, July 15, at 9 am, at Hotel Palace, the Prime Minister will open an international conference of the Croatian National Bank and the International Monetary Fund "Demography, Employment and Growth: Managing the Future in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe". The Prime Minister will be accompanied by the Minister of Finance Zdravko Marić.
Two young ladies at a popular music festival in Serbia have been making positive waves through the media and social media after they decided to dress each other’s flags. Jelena from Novi Sad wore the famous Croatian checkboard flag of Croatia and Iris from Split wrapped herself in the flag of Serbia. And the photo of them together has gone viral with thousands of positive comments and likes. In fact, the pair have inadvertently started a whole new hash tag movement #sharelove
The packed audience applauded the two young women for their show of togetherness in the music festival in Petrovaradin Fortress in Serbia.
"Exit's marked social campaign aimed at spreading love, tolerance and maintaining of good neighbourly relations, has found inspiration in these two girls who at the festival wore the flags of each other’s country,” the EXIT Foundation said.
Jelena explained how the idea came together. "Iris and I have the same attitude on these things, we really like it because we are also thinking that other people should deal with each other as well. In our society, we do not see who is of any nationality, nor do we make any difference on anything! We want to send a message that we should finally look to the future, not in the past! We do not have to blame people for any differences! Stop hate, spread love.”
And Jelena and Iris received free tickets from the organizers of the Exit Sea Dance Festival, which will be held from 30 August to 1 September in Budva, to continue to spread love and tolerance throughout the region!
The 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival certainly got off on the right foot last night with an impressive concert in the heart of the Old City. After the opening ceremony on Wednesday, which received mixed reviews, the first night of the program hit the cultural nail right on the head as the Lower Saxony State Orchestra from Hannover and the renowned Ivan Goran Kovačić Academic Choir from Zagreb performed a gala concert.
The stage was set, and what a stage it was in front of the St. Blaise Church, for a great night with accomplished soloists, a legendary orchestra and one of the leading choirs in the country, and they didn’t disappoint. Beethoven’s ninth symphony echoed around the stone façades of the Old City and the audience demanded an encore as this impressive 70-minute performance delighted the generally hard to please Dubrovnik public.
The rich musical program of the jubilee 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival continues tonight at 9.30 in the summer residence Bunić-Kaboga with a concert from bass-baritone Krešimir Stražanac and pianist Danijela Detoni, who will perform works by Franz Schubert.
Tickets for the entire program of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival are available through the festival web pages www.dubrovnik-festival.hr or at www.ulaznice.hr and at the Festivals Palace (Od Sigurate 1), every day from 9am to 9.30pm.