The idea about Saint Martén was born long before we conceptualised it consciously – already back then, in the early 1990s. Or to be more precise – even a whole century ago…
As descendants of a merchant family, originating from Greece, which migrated to the Bulgarian Rhodope Mounitines Region in the middle of 19th century, seeking refuge from a violent local ruler, we grew up with the exciting stories our grandfather used to tell us: about his own childhood, parents, and grandparents.
The merchant family tradition was interrupted by the authoritarian communist regime in Bulgaria, which persecuted politically our grandfather and his family and let an imprint on their lives: they suffered imprisonment, forced resettlement, deprived citizen rights and discrimination. The family history had taken an unplaned turn. Even though all that had happened long before we were born, it was somehow alive in our children minds.
So was our longing for a just society.
And for continuing in some way the family tradition. Our play was full of design and production activities that were meant to do good: gathering and drying flower petals to play natural parfume factory and creating jewellery out of used drinking straws to give them a new life and to avoid waste were only some of our endless attempts to create value with our own hands. And to reconnect to the craft of our ancestors.
When we were playing, the time used to stop.
We used to enter into a world of creativity, beauty and joy that filled our childhood with magic and gave us a refuge from hard times. At the same time our grandparents’ life form maternal side on the countryside, on the right river bank of Danube, inspired us for everything natural and organic: their endless love for earth, soil and animals; their incredible talent for growing plants and vegetables; their passionate taste for homemade food; their authentic characters and unmade love for us.
Growing up, we both went for our individual interests and acquired qualifications to do our living from what we love and what best reflects our strengths.
Yet the dream to reconnect with our roots and to create together something that makes everyday life beautiful remained with us and waited dormant for the right moment to emerge.
It was our father, who in the end inspired us to do the first step and to give birth to Saint Martén. It was in the early spring of 2021. Capable and modest, he works in an industry that suffered tremendous losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to stay sane and motivated, he began creating wooden toys for his grandchildren in his little workshop at home. Friends began asking, if he could create toys for their children, too, as he was making them with so much love and this energy was staying with the toys. Talented craftsmen, our father agreed and with time he started to feel a calling –– to live more from his handcraft than from industrialised work that does not let space for the artist within to be and to create.
It was his longing that our Saint Martén-dream had been waiting for.
We named our brand Saint Martén, after the way its citizens lovingly call Marten: the little town on Danube we grew up in. And the place our grandfather’s family found refuge, after being forced to resettle. For us it is a symbol of life.
We hope Saint Martén will have a long life and we will be writing the next chapters of its history together with you.