"I do make pants"
Tell me about the work
I don't get tired of it because I feel mastery. I can feel and see exactly what people need. When they come in, I learn a lot. Every day I learn more. I'm not a fashion lady. I do fashion, but I'm very professionalized in how I do that.
It's not only a looking thing, it's also a feeling thing. We are giving with our pants feelings back. It's not only how we make you look.
I'm connected to you when you come in the shop.
I want you to be happy, and I want you to feel proper served if you come along. If I didn't I say excuse me and ask for the reason what happened. One out of 100 sales, the people complain. Then I try to solve it and be nice to them. “I'm sorry, we did something wrong.” This is not how it's done in Germany.
In between I organize. I do lots of different things.
I'm not sewing because I'm too slow. I'm just making the prototypes. There are two tailors.
I make the patterns and cuttings. Finishing pants. I put button holes and buttons, cleaning up.
See what we need, order new materials. I organize new nice material. Every day is discovering something new, what I can do with new fabric.
I look what's happening outside and what kind of style we should
make. I talk to customers. I write the contracts with the customers and manage the orders and control the quality.
Make ads and photos. What we have to do next.
That's the main work. I do this 4-6 hours per day. I don't like to work all day long as an artist. So I like to have half a day.
In between I paint. It's my passion. I'm a realistic painter. That's why I opened up the shop. I didn't want to depend on selling paintings. I wanted to have that for my own pleasure. In former times I thought it might be nice to be an artist, but I couldn't get along because I needed money.
I saved my apartment building from being sold to a bad investment group. I was the only person from the building to employ lawyers and saved a whole Berlin place (Zossener48.de). I made a company who is owning the building for itself, so nobody can make anyhow for 100 years any profit. I made a company and complicated structure so nobody can sell this house on the market. It can never be part again of a speculation. If I had a job I wouldn't have had time for that.
About one time per month I travel and show our collection and take orders from women wherever they join or see us. We are visiting another place in Germany or Austria.
I work with my partner. She does exactly the same. And our two colleagues, the tailors, are producing and finishing the pants.
Together we are sort of a family, we meet every day and we discuss everything.
I didn't want to separate the making from the buying. The tailors work in the showroom. They are offering their lifetimes for making pants. Why should I lock them in some back room? The customers can recognize immediately this is value, because they can see and feel that a person is giving their life to make it.
It should cost €300 or more euros.
Why do people buy from you?
In the last 16 years we measured 5000 women. From that research we found many new results...Why does the body work like this? What does the body do about walking?...The pants show the body. It should be a nice picture and painting. We want to make that possible. That was our purpose. We've never been satisfied by anything that is half.
I'm always very tied to the customer. I'm a very high in my expectations as a customer, so I want to give you as a customer that. Just to make pants is useless. You need something in the pants. It sounds exclusive, because you pay 2 or 3x more than for industrial pants.
When they purchased before, they come back because they are fully satisfied. 99% come back. Not immediately. Yesterday there was a lady who bought a pair 10 years ago. She's still using them, but now she's ready for a new pair.
New customers are looking for pants because they are unsatisfied with what is available and unsatisfied with their shape. Or they have special imaginations about what they need, what they'd like to have. And they look to see if I can meet their needs.
“I heard that you use 3 patterns. I want to know and try.”
“I saw you in another city and now, visiting Berlin, the first thing I want to do is visit you.”
Nowadays after 16 years they also come because they see the pants on other women's bodies. They ask other women where did you get these nice pants? We hear that so often. “I saw the pants on my friend. She was looking so gorgeous. I finally managed to come here.” They are ready to be positively surprised, because they are already surprised that pants on their friends can have this look.
They are not coming around because I am known as an artist. They have a need which they like to have fulfilled. Later, they come to see me, the pants maker. They have a personal need.
I produce something which you need.
After 16 years it goes by itself. We don't have to make any more ads.
How did you start the business?
After fashion school I didn't want to go to this superficial business. I was working in other companies and always I observed in the fashion business.
I could never imagine myself being in a company, stressing for another company's economical success. It's useless. I can't do that.
But I observed that what I never found was good trousers. People were suffering how could they find good pants? So I thought you might have a good idea to do something not everybody else is doing to have success on the market. I made a business plan.
I put in every light myself. For every pair of pants we sold then we put the floor or a table. So we solved from everyday money our problems. It went quite well.
After 3 years through a sad reason, Tina received some money from her family. Then it went better. But it was hard at first. We realized there is a need for a certain amount of money to open your own business which we had not done before.
At first we thought it might be too little just to do pants, so we started with pants and skirts for the first 5 years. The customers were so amazing and encouraged us to do blouses and coats. But we realized that it's too much. We were not getting any knowledge any more. Too many extras. Not economical. It does not lead anywhere that we could see this makes more effort than what we get back.
So we thought it over and we decided to stop with other items and to specialize in trousers. This is what people need. You can get everything else somewhere else.
Moneywise it was a disaster the first 10 years because we made so many changes to make the pants better. Through this work we experienced a lot so nowadays we have a treasure here. Every person sees themselves as a problem because industrial wear is not serving them. I not only can help them, I can make them happy in a nice and valued way.
Tell me about the math
The money is not the focus.
People are searching in their lives for ways they want to go. They want to feel themselves and their life have meaning. This is has so much meaning, it makes us very happy and it gives us the money we need to live. We are so happy here so we don't need so much money.
Nowadays we have no money problem.
We pay our people properly. The tailors get more than we do. The ethic for me is – I never thought of it.
Tell me about your materials
We use high-quality material and fabrics. I don't put in my time with rubbish material. It's my lifetime. What I do for you is with my lifetime, so why should I work with rubbish?
I go to a fair twice a year. I also go to many different countries, Italy, little companies in Germany. I have a certain feeling for material. For pants it has to be stable and robust. We have super soft wool, 200, and rough things like corduroy.
I have no principles or rules. I'm not going to say this has to be a story with ecological perfection. lI don't observe the companies if they produce without toxic things. In fact, based on the quality of the material. I realize what happened in the back. There's a big Italian company where we order, and I cannot tell what they do.
This denim comes from Turkey. The biological denim is not giving the quality i'm looking for. If you pay 300 for pants you want them to last longer. Also I have to also pay attention what does it look like? Some bio denim didn't look good. If it doesn't look like that you will not want it, regardless how much I'm telling you that we caught it at night by moon.
Sometimes the quality and the production ethics comes both together.
The way I'm doing it already is the right path, to put in ethics. I try to do the rest of it correctly, the production. Nobody is producing for us. We do every single pant by ourself.