“What was once an idea and a dream became – after many years – a good business with stable prospects.”
Josipa Maslač Petričević, Owner of Naftalina
One of the biggest textile companies in Croatia
Produces clothes and suits, curtains and cushions (including service and laundry)
Her daughter Matea Pirić helps out in the business
When she was 19 years old, Josipa Maslać Petričević dreamed of having her own business and being her own boss one day. In 1983, she uncovered her passion in the textile industry and created Naftalina. Most of its products – including uniforms, curtains, cushions and chair covers – go to hotels or the Horeca sector. The Croatian company also produces promotional material, such as personalised t-shirts and mascots.
WEgate: Tell us more about your company
Josipa Maslać Petričević: I can say that today Naftalina is one of the biggest textile companies operating in Croatia, as the textile industry has almost disappeared here.
I founded the company in 1983 and have managed to survive in the market since its foundation.
The business evolved in small steps and today Naftalina employs 70 people and produces over 600 000 items annually.
During those years, we worked really hard and our costumers recognised that effort.
Naftalina is active in various areas, such as Horeca and light confection, as well as the medical and security fields. In addition, we have strong business relations with many hotels, restaurants and bars producing upholstery, curtains, seat decorations, workwear, marketing material (t-shirts, hats, mascots, etc.) and many more.
Being constantly in touch with our customers, I noticed that no other business was offering full services, so we expanded our company through a team of designers who can produce visual identity products in line with customers’ ideas and needs. Moreover, Naftalina also provides a full range of services related to the maintenance of the textile products.
It is very flexible company and our main advantage is that we offer tailored options for our customers. In this way, you can get a collection from its creation through to its maintenance; all in one place.
We are also slowly spreading in the EU, providing loan services in textiles in Sweden, Germany and Austria.
Every year, I try to invest in know-how, in the improvement of our employees’ skills and in new technology as well, with the aim of becoming even more successful and competitive on both the Croatian and the EU markets.
What or who inspired you to set up your own business?
When I was a 19-year-old law student, I dreamt of owning a company and being my own boss. I knew from the early beginnings that I wanted to work in a way which was different and I found my passion in the textile industry.
What challenges did you face when you decided to launch your company? Did you have any sort of support from organisations?
At the beginning, I merely had a strong belief in myself and my idea. The challenges I faced were mostly related to bureaucratic issues, so my story is similar to the experience of many other companies during the start-up phase.
The only support I had came from my friends and family; no organisations helped me at the time.
What was once just an idea and a dream became – after many years – a good business with stable prospects.
Entrepreneurship is still often considered a man's territory; what advice would you give young women who want to become an entrepreneur?
My advice to women entrepreneurs and those who want to start a business is to have a strong vision and to dedicate themselves to that vision; to stay disciplined, be patient and of course to do the job with passion, as this is the right route to success. Sometimes it seems that everything is going slowly but at the end the results prove you cannot fail.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is communicating with other people and developing new projects. These two activities are closely related to each other and often mutually dependent. At the end of the working day, what makes me most happy is to spend time with my grandchildren or to do charity work.
“Life has taught me to be a fighter and a dreamer at the same time.”