2 years ago we were in Belgrade searching for a new production site that would take our collections. We contacted one guy that we used to buy accessories from, and he told us he had built a production site and rented it out to some french guys. We wanted to have a look and scheduled an appointment. Two days later, when getting there, the place was empty – the guy that had rented it just „left“. The owner mentioned he wanted to sell it. And I had a feeling this had to be ours, my head started bursting with ideas – It is quite a small place, 400 sqm approximately, for about 30/40 workers max. – It was perfect for us… There is even more land that belongs to the factory – which means we could expand and build another building of that size. It has its own water supply, just 500 meters of the expressway – 35 km south of Belgrade. 45 from the airport. Just perfect. On the spot, the guy made an offer. And we considered. A year later, after a lot of check ups by lawyers and a lot of meetings with our business partners, we decided to get serious. So here we are, signing our contract and hell yeah we’re now factory owners!
We spend a few hours every day to visit our new project. We need to check the machines, make plans, or simply just sit down and enjoy the dream that is becoming reality just in a few days! Between appointments with Lawyers, Technicians and the Bank, there is a lot of time spent „waiting“ – for an appointment that has been postponed. The cooperation partner is stuck in traffic or something else just „came up“. The clock is ticking differently here, but that’s okay, you learn to deal with it. The people are very relaxed and really love direct communication. You will hardly ever get an e-mail – they just call.
Many don’t know that Serbia has a great manufacturing history – companies like Boss have been producing here during the 80ies, then the war started and everything just fell apart. But it is all coming back now. Also, the customs tariff agreements are really good with the EU. With a few simple certificates, the transaction of goods is customs free. The next big job for us is acquire really good people. Fortunately, we have a great contact at the University and there are some high potential graduates, really motivated to work. In Serbia, the economic situation is still so precarious, that students are frightened of not getting a job. They have so much potential and energy, and then the system breaks them. Sedina’s and my family both had to leave our home country a while ago. Being able to go back and give back something now just feels incredible. Also, we consider working with other small and medium size brands and taking their productions. We know how hard it is to be taken serious by good producers, and we’d be so proud if we can help our colleagues.
Apart from that, we love being here. „There is something else that makes you extraordinary – not just your beauty“ – a famous songline by a serbian Musician. And it fits so well. Belgrade is not what you would call a typically „pretty“ city, but it is a boosting town with an epic energy. Located on the conversion of the Save and the Danube, it has been in many different hands for centuries. There are a lot of influences to be found: Roman, Austrian, Turkish, those are only a few of the obvious ones. The city is always loaded, people just love to go out. The most special thing about the people in Belgrade is that they are amazingly open and communicative. Every cashier will address you with „darling“ or honey.
The old town, Singidunum (roman empire) is one of the biggest and oldest fortresses in Europe and it is very well preserved. I love to take a stroll on my favorite route, along the river, passing by the little churches Ruzica and Petka and then having a cold beer and watching the sunset on the Danube in the Fortress Bar. So during our stay, we enjoy the atmosphere of the city and local food in the evenings. We spend an obligatory evening at the SARAN restaurant, still the best fish place in Town. There is a live band, we do order some of our favorite songs – and of course we sing along.
Also never to be missed: Salon 5. It is a special place not known by so many, as it is located in a private apartment. They have the best cuisine and exquisite wines. Nikola, the owner has become a good friend, as well as his girlfriend Jovana. Beautiful people, very talented. For the ones that „want to be seen“ more amongst us, visit their second place, Salon 1905.
On Thursday after signing the contract for the factory, the former owner invites us for Lunch to Kolarac – it’s a total contrast. Simple Serbian cuisine, nothing fancy or posh, just really, really good. A lunch menu here costs around 5 €. Of course we drink some Rakija – a Serbian brandy that is not to be missed.
If you visit Belgrade in the warm months between May and September, make sure you visit ADA – our city beach. It is a artificial lake, surrounded by bars, sports amenities, water sport facilities, kids clubs, beach clubs, and everything else you might need to enjoy a day in the Belgrade sun.
Also, stroll down Skadarlija – a short but very impressive bohemian street in the heart of the city. Other places to see: Beton hala – a bunch of cool restaurants and Bars on the Riverside.
Our favorite is Ambar – Serbian Tapas.
Savski Kej – that is the less popular, but up and coming Riverside along Save river.
Jazz Basta – little bar „in the bridge“ – cool place, good live bands, really cozy.
Supermarket Concept Store, Uzun Mirkova 8 – they sell our stuff. And they have the best coffee in town.
Where to stay:
Square nine – best hotel in town
For the less expensive version, try one oft he boutique hotels: Belgrade art hotel, 88 rooms, Hotel Balkan.