her job, moving from Munich to Leipzig, becoming a mother and going full-time with her new career as a designer of timeless handbags and accessories made from natural leather. Today Franziska works from her beautiful atelier and showroom in the heart of Leipzig where she and her small team create minimalistic design gems made to be treasured.
1. Sewing and fashion may be in your genes – your grandma was a seamstress and your mother works in fashion – but you had no formal training in the field you have now made your own. Do you see that as a disadvantage or are there maybe even benefits to being self-taught?
I can only speak for myself here, but this unconventional path has had more advantages for me so far. I am happy to just try things and keep learning - I learn from books, from other labels and last but not least from my little community on Instagram, without which I wouldn't be at the point I’m at.
I never had a business plan, never had to take out a loan and was able to grow very slowly. Sure, a few things went wrong along the way and some of those mistakes also cost me a bit of money, but so far I've always been able to cope with those losses and in some cases, I was even able to draw energy from it for new projects. It has also strengthened me as a person and as a result, I feel more confident in what I do and more daring than I was 10 years ago.
2. What 3 skills do you think are important for creative self-starters like yourself and why are these important?
Empathy: You often start doing something out of a passion. Ultimately, however, I also want my products to be used by others and, in the best case, even loved. Therefore, I find the exchange with my customers incredibly important and also enriching. I have often received tips and wishes from them that, once implemented, would go on to become bestsellers.
Keep at it, persevere, just do it: Here's the best example: At one point, my mum very kindly and protectively said to me, ‘Dear, who's going to buy a bag from you every day?’. Eventually, I had convinced her that that was indeed possible. My experience is that if you really want something and are diligent about it, you will achieve your goal.
Stay curious: Even if it is exhausting sometimes! For me, there is nothing worse than standing still. It's incredibly fun to try new things and take on new challenges.
3. What were the biggest challenges you faced along the way to creating a fair fashion label and what helped you to overcome them?
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case: If you run a small business as a woman, you are sometimes not taken seriously. It helps to grow a thick skin, to be persistent and to keep going. Especially if you are breaking new ground.
For example, I spent an incredibly long time looking for a leather supplier. I often ran into closed doors because my company was too small or I had such high ecological and ethical requirements. Eventually, though, I found the right partner who took me seriously. By now, I am one of his best customers.
4. What lights you up about the work you do now? What excites you and puts a smile on your face?
I love the feedback and the many little stories I experience with my customers. My shop window is Instagram. Here I’m not only showing what I'm doing, but I also get pictures of our accessories in action. A lot of great stories have come out of this, which I then like to share with my online community.
5. Running a business and being a mum of two young children is surely not stress-free. How do you take care of yourself in amongst it all?
Teamwork! I am happy that my husband came on board after the birth of our second child. We are good at dividing up tasks and it helps that we both know what our strengths and weaknesses are. We take time out for the children, but then often work until 11 pm in the evenings. We have been doing this for 4-5 years. It is super exhausting, but also motivating because we are working for ourselves and our - as we call it - 3rd child.
Personally, I find balance in yoga and in our little garden. I am very happy that spring is just around the corner and I can finally start the project "cut flower meadow".
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5 Questions for ... is a blog series featuring people who have reinvented themselves and created a thriving career by following their passion.
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Hi, I'm Chantal Valerie. I'm a writer and self-taught illustrator. I am inspired by late bloomers and creative self-starters (I only started drawing at the age of 34) and since I believe they deserve more visibility, I started my blog series ‘5 Questions for …’.