“My MBA at IFA Paris connected me to so many different cultures and perspectives!” tells the very creative PR, web producer, editor and community manager Marija Kata Vlašić.
Michel Temman: You are a Croatian born in the United States. Could you tell us more about your childhood and teenage years?
Marija Vlašić: Yes, I am from Croatia, however, I was born in a small town not far from New York City – in Greenwich, Connecticut. I spent twelve years of my life there, though I was always surrounded by Croatian culture. It was only in 2002 that I moved to the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia, with my family. The biggest difference between growing up in the States and in Europe is definitely the freedom kids have here to walk around their cities and discover the world on foot. It teaches them responsibility at an early age. I had a beautiful childhood living on both continents, but in my opinion, the quality of life is better in Europe.
M.T.: How did you gradually get interested in the fashion and luxury sectors while growing up and living there?
Marija Vlašić: In 2010, I was absolutely fascinated by the uprising trend of blogs and the digitalization of fashion and luxury. Suddenly, the world of fashion became so close to so many people around the world. During my studies, I became very drawn towards Paris, French culture and aesthetics. I was in my last year of college when I realized my dream of living in Paris could actually come true. I started my research for fashion master’s programs and quickly discovered IFA Paris. The rest is history…
M.T.: How valuable was your MBA in Fashion Business at IFA Paris? Did it change your views, thoughts and vision about fashion, luxury, creativity?
Marija Vlašić: My MBA Fashion Business at IFA Paris was an unforgettable experience in many ways. It definitely offered me much more than I expected. Primarily, it connected me to so many different cultures and perspectives – in our class alone we had about 15 different nationalities! We seemed to learn a lot from each other and the professors who were working in the industry. I believe I learned the most about creative processes and thinking. I also loved that we had enough time to explore the city, new concepts, galleries and shops on our own – this is something I find essential for anyone who works in creative industries.
M.T.: At IFA Paris, you realized several projects with your colleagues Jahnam Kerp and Reyes Lezcano Peñalva, for example the blog LeStandart.com. How did you start?
Marija Vlašić: One afternoon, I met up with Jahnam to talk about a new project. Her vision was to create a blog that would feature different writers from around the world to talk about inspirational stories of emerging art, fashion, music and travel from our own personal perspective, writing in English and our mother tongues. Within days, our colleague Reyes joined too. In those few years that the blog was going strong, we met so many interesting artists. Many doors opened for us, and what was most important – we really attracted a community of followers who let us know that they enjoyed our honesty and authenticity. I can’t be more thankful for the entire experience. Since then, my passion for writing has never died out.
Marija Vlašić during the Design District Zagreb Festival 2016 (photo Marija Gašparović)
M.T.: After graduating from IFA Paris, what happened? Any great experience, a memorable internship?
Marija Vlašić: Right after graduation, I spent two months in a press agency as an intern, after which came a very memorable six-month internship in the buying and production team of designer Damir Doma. Working in a Parisian office with twenty five people who all spoke three or four languages fluently while tackling the everyday challenges in the fashion business was definitely an experience that left a great impact on me.
M.T.: You also joined the Design District Zagreb Festival 2016. What was your role and mission then?
Marija Vlašić: I joined the biggest Croatian concept store – the Croatian Design Superstore as the PR and Social Media Manager in September 2015. Our creative director, Ira Payer, came up with the idea of a street festival in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Zagreb. In only four days of the festival, we closed off two streets, activated the majority of the local businesses in the area, and organized over a hundred workshops, gigs, and unique events. We revived an entire residential and industrial area of the city, with an estimated 30,000 visitors. I was in charge of making sure that all of that was in the media and on social networks!
M.T.: In your work, you tend to link people to their roots and nature. Linking creativity to the cultural heritage of your country is a key issue for you?
Marija Vlašić: Coming out of a communist system only a few decades ago, the mind-set here didn’t encourage people to be creative. Still today, Croatians aren’t brave enough to try and do things differently, especially because the standard doesn’t stimulate entrepreneurial projects. I see so much potential here, many opportunities for new businesses. Communicating these traditions, heritage, and culture is very interesting to me because it’s still unknown to the world.
M.T.: You created a captivating project online, a web-photo blog called MORES, a new, challenging adventure?
Marija Vlašić: MORES is an adventure that has just begun. For a while, I felt that I needed my own digital space to make something like a gallery, an archive of all of the beautiful things I see and the amazing people I meet while traveling. The challenging part is that as a freelancer, I am always on the lookout for new projects, so letting myself research and write freely is a test of faith at the same time. You learn that not all plans go according to your wishes, and that there is a much bigger puzzle we can only see bits and pieces of throughout the course of time.
M.T.: You’re also working on the communication and marketing of the Croatian fashion illustrator Mateja Kovać. What makes this artist so special?
Marija Vlašić: Mateja is a very capable artist, the type of person who learns and adapts very quickly, but also engages herself into each new task by paying attention to every single detail. She is very sensual, which allows her to deliver atmospheric illustrations with soul. Working with her has helped me grow as an independent professional in many ways. Her refined taste in aesthetics is what makes her work most admirable – which is why I highly recommend her for collaborations for fashion projects!
For more information on Marija’s program, as well as further MBAs, please see our postgraduate courses.