INTERVIEW | Malai Concept Store: Zagreb’s most exciting new boutique
We caught up for a few words with Marina Vekic, the savvy young entrepreneur behind the recently opened Malai Concept Store: Zagreb’s most exciting new fashion boutique, and one of Muubaa’s latest stockists.
What is the concept behind the Malai Concept Store?
The whole concept is very simple: it’s about providing our customers with brands that are the best of the best. We keep our customers interested by introducing new brands on a monthly basis. We find high quality brands that are relatively unknown to the Croatian market – but are modern and stylish, and will make our customers feel confident. When it comes to the store environment, we’re trying to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
How did you get to where you are today? What has been your career path and what led you to opening your store?
I studied at the American College of Management and Technology in Dubrovnik, and after that I finished an MBA program in Finance and banking – so logically I always thought that working in a big bank would be my future career.
However, I’ve always loved fashion from a young age and thought of it as a fun hobby. Eventually fashion became more intriguing for me though, as I realised that Zagreb lacks concept stores with a variety of different brands – and that, walking through Zagreb’s busiest streets, I would see at least three identical high street outfits. It was then that I decided I should try opening a concept store in Zagreb and offer something different.
Describe your store in three words.
Trendy, stylish and yet different – with great emphasis on quality design.
How do you select which brands to stock?
When I started my business I knew that I would like to stock some of the brands that I was personally wearing (primarily because of their quality) and that couldn’t be bought in Croatia. However, I do spend a lot of time online searching for new brands and reading reviews about them, so a lot of my selection is made online.
What do you like about Muubaa and why did you decide to stock the brand in store?
I’ve known about Muubaa jackets for a while – ever since I saw them in an issue of InStyle magazine a friend brought from London I knew I had to have one. They were eye-catching and different from any other styles I’d seen. When it comes to statement pieces, I was raised to believe in quality rather than quantity, and I’ve never been disappointed by Muubaa’s quality – which is why I believed that more women in Zagreb should be introduced to the brand.
What is your vision for the store in future – are you thinking of expanding into different cities?
I have lots of plans in mind. Since Malai isn’t a large store, we’re definitely considering moving into a larger space, but we’re waiting for the right moment. One of our plans involves launching an online store that would make it easier for our customers to shop, since Malai has already become well recognised among Croatian women and fashion lovers from around the region, in such a short space of time.
How would you describe your personal style / fashion philosophy?
I like to mix and match different styles, so I wouldn’t say that I have one style and one style only. My clothing inspiration changes daily, but one thing never changes – all the materials I wear have to be natural and comfortable, and I should always feel good in what I’m wearing. I believe that if you feel good in what you’re wearing, you can’t go wrong with styling.
What trends are you most excited about for S/S and rest of the year?
This season I’m looking forward to pastel colours, monochrome trends, statement jewellery and flat shoes. I believe there have never been so many desirable trends at once, and so much fashion freedom, so I’m looking forward to incorporating all the upcoming trends into my personal style.
What is the fashion scene like in Zagreb?
Croatian women are not only known for their natural beauty but also for their perfect taste and style. However, as there’s not much variety of stores and brands, it’s not unusual to see lots of women wearing similar clothes or even whole outfits. Also, lots of women like to play safe and only wear current trends imposed by bloggers or magazines, instead of putting their own personal statement on every outfit.
What’s your favourite hangout spot in Zagreb?
Since I’m great food lover, I like hanging out with friends in restaurants. If I had to choose just one I’d go for “5/4” restaurant. When it comes to bars, I like “Time” and “La Bodega”, both highly recommended when visiting Zagreb.
What blogs/books/magazines do you read for fashion inspiration?
Like most women I read Elle and Vogue, but I get most of my inspiration from blogs (my favourite is “Atlantic-Pacific”) and Instagram accounts of people who aren’t involved with the fashion industry (at least not as their core business) but still share their personal style with their followers. A great example is “FashionistaAC”, who I think is a great fashion icon.
Visit the Malai Concept Store at Ilica 14, Zagreb, Croatia.