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Shopping + Products, Small Business, Travel

Frau Zimmer (Shop Owner: Collaborate)

March 14, 2007

Outside of the US, there’s a rising trend in collaborative boutiques, as well as online storefronts for those who rely on internet sales to supplement their income in order to maintain their storefront. In Hannover, Germany there’s a terrific example of a collaborative space that I visited called Frau Zimmer.

Frau Zimmer (Shop Owner: Collaborate) Located in Linden, a district known for it’s creative inhabitants, this store stocks gorgeous home accessories, fashion, and jewelry, arranged beautifully in several small rooms – one room a dedicated sewing area.
Frau Zimmer (Shop Owner: Collaborate)I had the chance to meet shop keeper Orike Muth, a textile and accessories designer that I wrote about last year, and she told me all about Frau Zimmer with details on each and every artist featured in the store. It was amazing to hear her tell their stories, but what struck me the most is how she knew their stories to begin with. That made shopping there such a unique, and memorable experience for me.

Frau Zimmer (Shop Owner: Collaborate)Left: Handbags by Dorothee Lehnen. Right: Orike Muth and the accessories that she designs with her business partner, Sandra Lindloge.

Frau Zimmer (Shop Owner: Collaborate)

Frau Zimmer is yet another example of a well-organized, collaborative boutique owned by passionate artists. If you can’t go it alone, pull in others that you love and do it together.

Continue reading this series by clicking here, or simply scroll to the next post: Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help).

Shopping + Products, Small Business, Travel

Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help)

March 14, 2007

Formenreich in Hannover, Germany leases a space in Galeria Kaufhof, a popular German department store. All three partners (Rike, Mareike, and Anette) are fashion designers and wanted to bring their designs into a retail environment, so they approached the big box retailer about a dead space they noticed adjacent to the music department that appeared to be used only as storage.

Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help)

To their surprise, the massive retail giant supported their indie store plans and approved their lease for a trial period of one year. Excited, yet no doubt fearful, these ladies jumped in and created Formenreich, a collaborative effort where they, along with other up-and-coming fashion, jewelry, and accessories designers from Germany and other parts of Europe, share this unique space that offers soaring ceilings, tons of natural light, a workspace, and a prime downtown location. They even have access to one display window on street level near the Kaufhof entrance.

Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help)I guess their mentality is that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Join ’em as long as you are still doing your thing that is… And these ladies are. I think it was such a smart move on their part to see an opportunity and then to actually do something with it. That’s an inspiring story, isn’t it?

Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help)Formenreich overlooks old Hannover and a beautiful church dating back to the 1100’s. Of course, without the support of other designers who pay a small fee to rent space in the store, it may be difficult to make it work – but with their creative colleagues on board, these ladies found a way to turn their dream into a reality.

Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help)
Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help)I visited them in their store this past November and met with Anette and Mareike, and they told me their story along with some very good news – Galeria Kaufhof extended their lease and they’re now in their 2nd year of business. I can’t wait to visit them again this Fall to see if they’ll be signing on for a 3rd year. Fingers crossed!

Formenreich (Shop Owner: Partner Up + Ask For Help)
Continue this series by clicking here or simply scroll to the next post: The Derby Store (Shop Owner: Get Online!)

Small Business

The Derby Store (Shop Owner: Get Online!)

March 13, 2007

While in Berlin in November, I spotted several boutiques that had a similar approach as Frau Zimmer and Formenreich – artists coming together that have a similar aesthetic and opening a store. One that stood out is Derby Store, a graphic design shop that features screen-printed tee shirts and accessories from some of Europe’s best graphics designers.

The Derby Store (Shop Owner: Get Online!)It was at the Derby Store that I met Mike Friedrich, and the designer behind Bloody Bunny, Britta, both artists that design and sell out of Derby Store. Both were excited and pleased to be working together, along with other creative types, and mentioned that in Berlin, this was becoming more and more popular. On one wall, I spotted Mike’s artwork along with his skateboard art, and in the window, was Bloody Bunny’s crochet and textile accessories. Mike was working the desk and Britta stopped in primarily to meet me and show me her wares since we linked up online via Flickr before I visited Berlin. I’ll be back to visit her in September, a trip I’m very excited about because I think she is a lovely person in all ways – she’s authentic, like all the artists I met in Berlin and Hannover. Their passion for what they created gave them the drive to make it work no matter what.

The Derby Store (Shop Owner: Get Online!)Mike manning the desk at the Derby Store

Both Mike and Britta bubbled over with enthusiasm and the prospects that await them. Through the store, as well as online (Britta has a small etsy store, a blog, and is on flickr and Mike has several websites, including a blog), both are able to make a living doing what they love.

That’s another way to make your storefront work, bring your store online by using the websites that are in place already to offer your products and services. Flickr alone can be an amazing way to connect to others, and of course sites like Etsy and eBay, as well as adding e-commerce to your own website. On days when your store is slow, you can still keep busy by networking online and running your business on the web. You are also able to reach out to a broader customer base.

The Derby Store (Shop Owner: Get Online!)
From my own personal experience as an eBay shop girl for several years while I worked in the corporate world (interestingly enough, it was a business selling home decor), I can’t stress this enough: go international. Often, your best customers live in another country. People want what they can’t find next door, I know I do, so make sure your doors are open to everyone. You can increase your business up to 50% in some cases!

Sharing space and taking your business online, in addition to a storefront, is becoming more and more popular because the dream of sole shop ownership is quickly slipping down the tubes. Passionate business owners are thinking of alternative ways to keep their dreams (and their stores) alive. Many indie shop owners left behind a world where they felt out of control, which is why they elected to go solo and open their own business in the first place. We leave behind fat paychecks and bennies to gain our freedom. But, how much freedom do you have if you’re forced to go in with several others to create your business? I imagine giving up the control you longed to have is a difficult thing to do, so I applaud those who do it, and find success this way.

The Derby Store (Shop Owner: Get Online!)
It almost comes down to survival of the fittest these days, doesn’t it? Are there any decor8 readers that own/rent a storefront, and if so, how hard are you finding it is to survive? Would you consider taking on partners, or leasing spaces in your store to independant artists? What are the challenges you’re faced with on a daily basis?

I’d love to learn more about this so I’m inviting you to comment with your thoughts below with hopes that we can open up a discussion. You can comment by visiting the first part this series by clicking here. It seems that’s where the discussion is going on…

Arts + Crafts, Small Business

Freckle Wonder

March 12, 2007

I *heart* Freckle WonderFreckle Wonder is a girl that we’d all love to have as a friend. Jenny has style, she’s a woman doing it for herself (small business owner along with her life partner Matt, their fur kids, and their son, Henry), with a gorgeous mid-century retroish home, and she’s so pretty – like a grown up doll. Jenny sells everything from home accessories to shoes and clothes on her website, so it’s a fun browse and worth a bookmark so you can keep an eye on things – she’s constantly updating the site with new stuff.

Freckle WonderI think it’s great that she models everything and that Matt is the resident photographer, styling to perfection. I don’t know whether he does this already or not, but I’d love to see Matt sell some of his product shots, I think many of them would be great framed or as greeting cards. Anyway, I’m lovin’ Freckle Wonder and I hope you do too. Great girl, great site.

Psst: She’s a blogger, hurray!

(images from freckle wonder)

Inspiration, Small Business

International Magazine Swap – Sign Up!

February 22, 2007

Update 2/23: We need international swappers, US/Canadian side is now full and many await international friends to swap with. Email me if you’re interested. Thanks! :) International Magazine Swap - Sign Up!
It’s time again for our reader swap! If you’d like to participate, read the following guidelines and email me asap at decor8blog AT yahoo DOT com.

1) NEEDED: 10 international (outside of North America) and 10 swappers from America/Canada.

2) 1 us/cad swapper will pair up with 1 int’l. I’ll pick the pair and send both of you the needed contact information. You arrange everything from there. If you’re in America, you can fit two magazines in a US Priority Int’l flat rate mailer for well under $8.

3) Once paired with a swapmate, you are responsible to complete the transaction via email. I’m not involved in this process.

4) Mail 2-3 magazines from your country to your swapmate. They will send the same number of magazines to you. Make sure you agree on a number before sending magazines out.

5) Issues must be new and current for this swap, issues need to be dated March or April.

6) Registration ends Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 5pm EST OR when 20 participants are registered.

7) I’m sure we’ll have more sign up on the us/cad side, so I will accept only the first 10 that email me. Let’s hope we get more than 10 international swappers, in which case, we may be able to include a few more from us/cad side and up the numbers. Let’s wait and see… Last time we had 40 participate.

8) Remember that mailing magazines outside of the US can be somewhat expensive, I recently sent 2 magazines to Australia via airmail and it was around $17 USD. My swapmate spent around $35 Australian to send magazines to me (although she included an 3rd magazine and a little frame as gift). If you want to swap, remember, you’ll need to pay for the shipping. Some people may not consider this when signing up… Although int’l flat rate mailers are available, and those save you a lot of money, so please visit your local post office for details.

9) Ask your swapmate if they have a preference, some of us already have access to International magazines here (and vice versa), so you should let your swapmate know your preference up front.

10) To register, please send me your full name, email, and mailing address to register. Commenting below is great, but you are not officially registered until you EMAIL me at decor8blog [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Please help spread the word on your blogs so we can obtain plenty of International swappers!

Arts + Crafts, Events + Markets, Shopping + Products, Small Business, Travel

BKLYN DESIGNS + Accessories Mart Wants You!

February 8, 2007

Are you a Brooklyn-based home accessories or jewelry designer? Read on…

BKLYN DESIGNS is coming May 11-13th, but did you know that they’re also looking for Brooklyn designers that are interested in participating in their NEW cash and carry market, BKLYN DESIGNS + Accessories Mart. Yup. This market will offer products made in Brooklyn, from home accessories to jewelry. Interested manufacturers and designers should visit their website for applications and deadline information. If you qualify, register el pronto, people!

Here’s a sneak peak of some designs that you can expect to see at this year’s show…

BKLYN DESIGNS + Accessories Mart Wants You!
BKLYN DESIGNS + Accessories Mart Wants You!
BKLYN DESIGNS + Accessories Mart Wants You!
(images from brooklyn designs)

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