pero is a line of Croatian eco cleaning products with plant and mineral based ingredients that are produced renewably and are also biodegradable.
We caught up with founder Davor Ćiković as they just have been selected for the finals of the European start-up competition Playpark in Venice to talk about his interesting range of products, which are also available internationally.
Can you tell us about the pero range of products?
We developed a full range of products for dishes, the kitchen, degreasing, multipurpose cleaner, bathroom, toilet-bowl, floors and concentrated laundry detergent. All products are compatible for nurseries including toy cleaning and baby laundry. The brand is focused on reducing packaging as much as possible, so we provide reusable spray bottles and refills. We are also developing formulas for new products and plan is to release them by the end of this year.
What are the ingredients you use in the products?
Our philosophy rests on avoiding nasty toxins and using plant and mineral based ingredients that are produced renewably and are biodegradable. We are dedicated to supporting the local economy so at least 85% of our ingredients are produced in Croatia. Natural essential oils of Mediterranean plants such as lavender, mint, rosemary, sage and bay laurel are responsible for a variety of scent options in our products.
In our formulations we don’t use any artificial colours, perfumes, phosphates, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and other potentially harmful ingredients so pero products are gentle on the skin and allergies – they are specially formulated for people who have sensitive skin. In 2018. all products obtained the ECOCERT label what makes them the greenest products on the market.
Also, we are especially proud of the fact that we are not owned by some big corporation that tests products on animals and uses animal ingredients. When we say that pero products are vegan and cruelty-free they are exactly that – your money will never end up in some animal testing laboratory. We prefer transparent relations with consumers – all of the ingredients we use are listed on labels and on our website www.pero.bio. There we made a little encyclopedia with detailed information about every ingredient and its origin.
What is the story behind pero? How did it start and what was your first product?
I like to say that pero was founded by an agronomist-come-punk in Rijeka in 2016. During my student days, I started mixing DIY cleaning products to clean the mess after parties. I was living in one very old apartment that hadn’t seen any change since the 1930’s so I was also using cleaning as an excuse for learning. That being said, I was cleaning very often, and I was satisfied with the effects of my products. After finishing University I worked as a manager of the vegetable production in the biggest agricultural company at that time, and after that, I worked as a maintenance manager at a 5-star hotel. Both of those jobs included enormous amounts of harmful chemicals and pesticides.
As an environmental engineer who always imagined contributing to preservation of life and not the opposite, I decided that I was done with dirty jobs and from now on I’m going to do some cleaning. The first person who invested in my idea was my sister. I needed to convince her of the quality of my products and my plans. I made a prototype of my first product – a multipurpose cleaner with rosemary and sage essential oils. One night, after a family dinner, I held a product presentation at my parents’ house. At first, they looked at me like I have lost my mind but after a few minutes, they tried the product themselves, enthusiasm grew and they got interested. I broke the ice and started running around gathering documents and doing all the paper work. On my thirty-first birthday I got a court resolution and my company was established. One of the best birthdays ever!
What are the benefits of using chemical-free products like pero?
Conventional products are full of ingredients which are harmful to humans, animals, and our environment. By using them, dangerous compounds are being released into the water and air which causes pollution, getting into our body and endangering our health. There’s no point in cleaning while making things dirtier. I think it’s hypocritic to clean with toxins. By doing that you’re lying to yourself and others and hide beyond the visual impression of clean. And if you are not concerned about all those fish and vegetables that are soaked in sodium hypochlorite and eaten after, remember that cleaning your tub with chemicals is like cleaning yourself with it because you would need much more water to wash that chemicals off than you’re probably using.
Cleaning with chemical-free products like pero means you can clean without gloves and any guilty conscience while having a cleaner and safer home. Our products are biodegradable, gentle on the skin and harmless, safe to use indoors and outdoors, safe for children and pets. People usually have concerns about the effectiveness of natural products. Like they think that if a product is green they must suffer for mother Earth, and sacrifice cleanness of their home or their muscles.
The fact is that it’s cheaper to produce and combine dirty synthetic lab made ingredients then to research, analyze, formulate, pick controlled source of ingredients and ensure safe and efficient formulations. We can go on listing all the benefits but the point is that our team of biotechnologists is already continually suffering while conducting researches to create authentic, naturally strong and environmentally safe formulas so you really don’t have to.
Your slogan “prskaj od sreće” (sprinkle happiness) suggests cleaning is not just an unwelcome domestic chore for you?
When we talk about cleaning, usually we’re dealing with a category that is undesirable and boring. And I think that the worst and hardest things to do in life are those that you have to do. So imagine doing something you “have to do” and even more you can’t find one good thing about it. Sounds like real torture. We want to change the perception of cleaning – cleaning can also be fun and relaxing. We made a product that is beautiful on the outside, but also beautiful on the inside.
Cleaning but not suffering, having fun and a nice companion while doing it, and breathing Mediterranean essential oils instead of toxins. This allows cleaning to be observed as an exercise, as a time to switch off from stress, the activity for whole family if you want. When you stop to experience cleaning as an unwanted activity, you become more relaxed in everyday situations and it enables living a healthy, positive lifestyle. You’re not burdened with whether there’s any new stain on your children’s clothes, whether something dropped on the floor if oil spills while frying. And I think that this change of experience made it possible for our products – stop worrying, sprinkle happiness
What is the philosophy behind pero?
Our philosophy blends awareness and style. As a company founded by a biotechnologist, we are focused on providing eco-tech solutions that make sustainability possible, but at the same time enabling green to be fun and hip. Is about progress and bringing innovation accessible both from a price standpoint and from an aesthetic standpoint. Our goal is not to appeal to a closed group of people who are already aware of the environmental issues, but to let the experience of a product make a change in people’s habits.
pero’s lovely product design features star mediterranean plants. Who is responsible for the design?
Design credits go to Draga Komparak, a young and perspective designer. The idea was that product design follows the philosophy behind our brand – it is fun, transparent, clean and minimalistic. Essential oil of Mediterranean plants is one of the key ingredients in our products and we wanted to visualize the natural scent of these plants.
Where can people buy or try your products? Do you ship outside of Croatia?
People can buy our products in our web shop www.pero.bio or order it on our Facebook page. Also, on our website, we have a list of stores which sell pero products. We ship outside of Croatia when orders are made by e-mail [email protected] or Facebook messenger and then we agree personally with buyers on delivery. We’re also working on enabling international orders through our official web store at www.pero.bio.