Zagreb – Melbourne
In 44 years, Melem balm became one of the most beloved creams in Croatia. Its versatile use has led to many Croatians, myself included, having at least one small tin in their everyday bag. The Melem balm is an original Croatian product, created in 1977 by Ninko Nikšić. At first, sold only in pharmacies, today can be found in almost every supermarket with its easily recognisable purple and white packaging featuring a flower symbol logotype.
Melem is the invention of Ninko Nikšić, a Zagreb native who finished the Faculty of Chemistry and Technology among the best in his class. His father encouraged him to enrol, after seeing their neighbour Mr Kralj make cosmetic mixtures in his garden and gain business successes.
After finishing university and working at the Oil Institute and later at the Battery Factory, he went to Australia and stayed there for 15 years, until 1970. While in Australia, he worked at the Imperial Chemical Industry on product development and as a lecturer at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). After his return to Croatia, he decided to become an entrepreneur and started making his own chemical mixtures for different uses.
Melem was his third creation, after Softy, a liquid for softening tight shoes and 5 plus gel for dry hand-washing. In fact, he got the idea for Melem while trying to sell the 5 plus in the Vjesnik printing press. One of the workers told him about one printing press in Sweden where a manager handed a protective hand cream to every worker entering the production facility. Mr Nikšić started the research and came out with the lanolin, beeswax, castor oil and vaseline based cream – Melem.
The main benefits of Melem is its versatility, composition and practicality. What started as an idea for a protective hand cream, is now a product used for skin protection in general. Melem is used for tending all sorts of dry or hard skin and is safe to use as it doesn’t contain any preservatives, silicone, antibiotics or corticosteroids. It is not tested on animals and is suitable for pregnant women and babies.
The texture is soft and the scent is gentle and pleasant. Despite the main ingredients, the balm is neither wax nor greasy. Yet, the minimal amount, the size of a rice grain, is enough for the protection of both hands.
The balm was later renamed Zagrebački Melem (English: Zagreb’s Melem) to mark the place of its origin after the product gained popularity. Later, zagrebački was dropped out of the brand’s name. Over the years, the product was recognised amongst consumers and gained many domestic and international awards of excellence. Melem is one of the first holders of the Original Croatian brand mark.
In 2004, Neva, the company of the Atlantic Group, acquired Melem from Mr Nikšić. It was a turning point for Melem, because of the access to the global distribution network and the investment in the new visual identity and promotion. The basics remained the same, but Melem started to grow into a full range of products and multiple sub-lines.
The main product line extended into four different scents – precious oils, immortelle, rose and rice and the initial cream got complementary products. Among others six years ago, the Atopic line was introduced, consisting of oil bath and cream even more gentle than the original.
In 2018 Neva and consequently Melem, were sold to the Magdis company, another renowned producer of medicinal and pharmaceutical raw materials and products, known for its product range Biobaza.
Today, Melem has a range of over 50 different products, including lip balm, body wash and dry oils. The latest addition to the range are deo roll-ons and, deo sticks and intimate product lines. The new owner is dedicated to the constant delivery of new products. In 2019, they expanded the Melem portfolio with the Melem Sunline. Melem has great potential as a base product as well as a name that gains trust among users.
If you’re just heard about Melem, we recommend that you start with the small, basic tin, and go from there.