What’s the first thing you do when you buy a new smartphone? For many, it will be sitting down and really getting to grips with its features and functions, while others will excitedly wave it around so all of their friends and family know they’ve made a costly new investment. However, if you’re anything like us then the first thing you’ll think of when that pristine piece of tech exits its packaging is: “Now I need a case for this bloody thing”.
We know this to be true because case review round-ups do decent traffic, and it’s clear that a lot of smartphone owners are (understandably) keen to make sure their investment remains in tip-top condition throughout its life. Given that so many phones have glass backs now (to facilitate wireless charging) they’re more vulnerable to drop damage than ever before; even the slightest knock can shatter that delicate glass, despite assurances from handset makers that it’s tough enough to withstand accidental falls.
Despite the massive market for cases, they’re not all created equal. Many of the cheap TPU cases you see on eBay and elsewhere will protect against scratches and minor bumps but won’t stop serious damage, and they’re often ill-fitting and yellow over time. At the other end of the scale, we have official cases that are often cheap to make but cost the earth thanks to the manufacturer’s mark-up (yes Apple, we’re talking about you).
Then we have the premium third-party sector, which is growing all of the time as more and more companies realize that people are prepared to pay top dollar for quality cases to protect their phone. One such firm is Dutch company Mujjo, which produces amazing quality leather cases for the world’s most popular phones. We got the chance to sit down with Managing Director Remy Nagelmaeker for a chat about what makes Mujjo’s products so special.
Can you tell us how your company was started?
My friend Tom and I started working together and were soon joined by my younger brother, Robin. The idea for our products always comes from our personal desire to declutter and minimalize our lives. We started designing touchscreen gloves that looked good, as well as being functional, which proved to be hugely popular.
What makes your products so special when compared to your rivals?
Mujjo products are meticulously designed so we are sure that we have a product that not only serves the purpose for the user but is also made of the highest quality materials. We use premium quality materials for everything, from our fullgrain vegetable leather to the paper in our packaging. And it shows. We put serious effort into the details. Furthermore, don’t source off-the-shelf materials. We develop the materials specific to our needs and liking in cooperation with the supplier or tannery.
What’s been your most successful product so far?
Our leather phone cases continue to grow in popularity each year, although this may be spurred on by Apple’s success! But our Touchscreen gloves saw tremendous positive reactions when we first released them, and still do to this day.
Why do you think people love leather phone cases so much? What is it about the material that makes people choose it over more robust materials, such as TPU and hard plastic?
I think that because the devices we cover are sleek, and look good, it really appeals for people to have a case that matches that style. Leather has the benefit over other materials that it looks, smells and feels good while sending out a certain message. It allows your phone to be an accessory and fit your style, rather than simply protect your phone. It also allows the user to have a case that develops characteristics personal to the user over time.
Can you take us through the design, testing, and production of one of your cases? How do you decide on the look, feel and type of leather?
We don’t chase after fashion trends. Instead, we design products that fit our own style, taste, and needs. The creative process really starts with realizing that there is a certain need for a product. That’s how the Touchscreen Gloves came to life in the early days of Mujjo. And that’s also how our Leather Wallet Cases came to life, born from our personal need to declutter.
With the colors for our cases, we wanted them to be strong and able to fit and not look out of place in different situations of people’s lives. The biggest challenge is staying true to our high standards for materials and at the same time keeping our product affordable. We set pretty high standards and stick to them. We definitely don’t like to make concessions, so that can be a challenge. But, like everything else, it’s born from our passion for what we do.
You currently make cases for iPhones and some Samsung phones; do you have plans to support other handsets and brands?
This is always a possibility. We want to ensure there is a large enough market for our products on other handsets, but we are still growing as a business, so the future could definitely see us doing this. Just not sure for what or when.
Where do you see Mujjo in five years?
We are constantly challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to improve. We aim to continue to produce our flagship products, adapting them and improving them when necessary and I do see the brand moving into additional product categories.
Damien McFerran has been covering phones and mobile technology for well over a decade. An Android specialist, as well as an expert reviewer of phones, Damien is one of the best technology journalists working today. He is also editorial director over at the excellent Nintendo Life.