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Advice for entrepreneurs: The foundation of a pocket label

To realize oneself both at work and privately, Claudia Weingarte and Tim Lorenz also follow this sheer freedom. As a flight attendant and pilot, the uplifting feeling of getting up in the air and looking down at the earth, the two more than familiar. But not only in their salary they always wanted high. Also for Rosenstaub, her company founded in 2005 for neoprene handbags, they cherish ambitious plans.

The idea of founding her own brand was fueled by Claudia’s desire to provide her mother with a platform for popular handcrafted art, which has been practiced for generations through crocheting in the family, among other things.

Claudia wanted to free this traditional craft from its old-fashioned image and began designing handbags with her mother to give this craft a place in the modern woman’s world. The intricately designed elements of yarn were combined with leather to bags and offered in a first boutique in Mannheim and online.

But a heavy stroke of fate befell the talented entrepreneur. Claudia’s mother fell ill and died shortly thereafter, so that the daughter played in her deep grief with the idea to end the project once and for all. Fortunately, in the same year, she met Tim, who gave her support, encouraging her and continuing to support her. He laid the cradle for the joint venture Rosenstaub.

Do not give up, even if fate strikes hard

Tim had no contact with handbags before, because he is a passionate pilot and dreamed as a child of one day to become the captain of a jet. As luck would have it, the pilot later slipped into the new business and inspired Claudia with new courage, which encouraged her to carry on. The fact that the handbags, which were already sold in a few Mannheim boutiques, had a market and found buyers, impressed the ambitious pilot very much.

“What do you think your mother would prefer?” He asked Claudia, “That you throw in the towel because she’s no longer there as an important part of the business, or that you continue the business in her favor?” She decided for the last one.

Today, Claudia takes the position of creative designer, brings the colors to dance and represents Rosenstaub on Facebook and Instagram. Tim, on the other hand, works behind the scenes, taking care of the bookkeeping, the content and the shop system. In addition, he is responsible for the handbag material used today, high-quality neoprene, which he has come to know and love through his hobby, kitesurfing.

In the interview, Claudia and Tim told us how they let their activities as aviators and online retailers benefit from each other. In addition, the two founders have revealed how they could handle difficulties with intermediaries and manufactories, what gross mistakes they made in the beginning and what they learned from them.

Tim Lorenz and Claudia Weingarte operate the Rosenstaub Shop together

Claudia’s drive for self-employment reflects her career. In her early years, the full-time flight attendant, together with her former partner, already worked in the catering industry on an independent basis. Again and again she felt the desire to do something own. But as a classic startup, the two Rosenstaub founders do not see themselves at all. Much more, the startup business did not develop until the attempt to sell their bags through brick-and-mortar stores failed.

In local industry, at least two persons must be convinced by an article, the seller and the customer. If you sell your goods online, the middleman is skipped and you just have to find a way to enthuse the end customer.

In search of boutiques that would offer their products, they visited fairs and made some nerve-racking experiences with their dealers. It was not always easy to get the money for the goods they delivered, so Claudia and Tim finally decided to orient themselves towards an online shop.

Why a pop-up store pays off

Building a fashion label with a very small budget just online is a difficult concern. Tim and Claudia often receive requests from prospects who want to view, touch and even smell their bags. The haptic experience plays a major role in the purchase decision, especially for products in the higher price segment. Many potential customers have a desire to carry a high-priced item of luggage and to check the wearing comfort and feel of the processed materials on the skin. Only then are they ready to spend their money on it.

At the end of 2018, for example, the couple decided to open a pop-up store in the fashion capital of Berlin and give their customers what they demanded. The shop was well received and the two new entrepreneurs were also able to collect direct customer feedback. Thus, the team has proven that it could and should also drive double track, namely by connecting the online shop and retail. As a result, the entrepreneurs plan to work with a sales agency and re-stock the products in boutiques.

A shop system that makes programming knowledge redundant

The importance of the mobile display of the Rosenstaub shop has been heavily prioritized by Tim in the choice of the shop system right from the start. In addition, an easy integration of apps should be given. “Shopify is not a perfect platform, but from what’s available in the market, it’s by far the best shop solution for us.”

We did not want to rely on an administrator or go through a complicated programming process.

Before Claudia and Tim set up their Shopify Shop, they tried XT-Commerce. But they were disappointed to find that they were dependent on building external programming skills.

Finally, Claudia came across Shopify on the net. At that time the system was mainly known in the US and Canada and a German-speaking interface was not offered yet. The entrepreneurs did not let themselves be held off. Tim has lived temporarily in the United States and worked in the United Kingdom. Linguistically he was prepared and today the system is even available to him in German.

Why it pays to invest in relationships with manufacturers

In addition to the conditions that the shop system had to fulfill, there were above all demands on the processed material and the conditions under which they are produced. The production of rose dust bags commutes between Germany and Italy. The last two collections were, however, completely made in this country. Fair and ethical working conditions were a must for Claudia and Tim right from the start.

Everyone involved in the value chain should be fairly rewarded.

Contrary to popular assumptions that neoprene is a cheap plastic, the part-time contractors wanted to convince their customers that the material is durable, weatherproof and durable. “Neoprene combines the features that a modern woman, who travels a lot, expects from a bag. Neoprene is soft, but at the same time sturdy, easy-care and has a wonderfully futuristic look, “explains Claudia emphatically.

However, the elastic material is not at all easy to work with. For this reason too, the search for a suitable manufactory was harder than expected. When the bags were still made of yarn and leather, Claudia worked with a saddlery in the Black Forest. However, this was not specialized in handbags, so that the founder moved the production to Italy. The factory there was equipped with the right machinery and craftsmanship skills and experienced in the production of high-quality bags.

Made in Germany – The production conditions of rose dust

Unfortunately, there was also a hook on this cooperation. Commitments and promises were not lacking, but the reliability of the deliveries was often not given. Meanwhile, Claudia and Tim were waiting for the bags they wanted to present at a trade fair in Milan. The manufactory promised delivery on time, but as the event drew closer to the event, it became clearer that something was wrong. Finally, Tim drove to Italy to pick up the collection, but only half of the ordered goods were actually finished. The supergau for the couple, who wanted to present their product range at a fair, in the hope of finding the first customers.

A reliable manufactory is the nuts and bolts. If it lets you down, it can break your neck.

The cooperation with the manufacturer, which they subsequently found in Germany, works much better. In order not to make the same mistakes and to become more independent, Tim and Claudia want to distribute their production in the future to more than one factory. When selecting the partners, the founders convince themselves in advance and visit the factories in person.

A test run should reassure both sides that cooperation can be efficient and harmonious. The personal exchange from the very beginning builds trust, which serves as a basis for stable cooperation.

Fitting offline, increasing sales online

In a pop-up store, which the airmen operated around the Christmas period 2018 in Berlin, potential customers were able to get an idea of the neoprene handbags themselves. At the same time, the store provided the opportunity for Claudia and Tim to get to know their customers better. This option was denied them in the boutiques where their bags had previously been offered, as they merely handed over their goods to the middlemen and cut off customer communication.

Rosenstaub Bags – When shopping or traveling.

The store managed to bring more traffic to the e-commerce site and increase sales. New customers have taken a look at the bags in Berlin to order them online. Currently, Claudia and Tim still lack the time to set up and run a permanent shop. Nevertheless, they are extending their feelers, watching other traders, their actions and mistakes they are trying to learn for their own business.

Online trade besides the job, does it work?

The idea of spending a long and hard day working to find time for extra business may make many working people cross their arms and shake their heads: “When I’m finally finished work, I want to be free, relax or finally relax on the sofa” , you hear the ones often say. The others lift their heads in astonishment, wondering admiringly how the flight experts master their work.

Claudia works part time as a flight attendant, Tim full time as a pilot. But unlike a normal office job, where the businessman or the tax consultant works from Monday to Friday between 8 and 17 o’clock at their desk, brings the activity for a airline a rather atypical work rhythm with itself.

Everyone has to rest in between and take a deep breath, but I manage to control my rest periods.

“In aviation, you sometimes have to spend several days at a stretch of leisure time and rest until it’s time to travel again,” explains Claudia. When she is not in the air, she works for her business. Tim is the same, because every spare minute flows in rose dust.

And the experiences and impressions that they gain from their full-time employment in the most diverse places of the world, let the entrepreneurs flow into their pocket label. Their designs are geared towards strong, independent cosmopolitans – trend-conscious women who travel and are constantly on the move.

The combination of the beautiful feeling of creating something own is the icing on the cake of the joint business. Missed neither Claudia nor Tim something in their profession and yet they experience their own online shop as an enrichment to their everyday lives.

This is how you learn from mistakes

The rose dust operators do not think they fit in the classic startup scene. Without experience in e-commerce, without any contacts or outside capital, the two went into the cold water of the business world.

We made every beginner mistake that you can do.

No commission basis

Today, Claudia and Tim would not take the risk of boutique-commissioning their bags on a commission basis. If a label is still unknown, this business model is often negotiated, so that the stores take the sales order in hand, but in case of doubt do not even sit on the goods. At first glance, a fair deal, but unfortunately there were middlemen who did not settle their bills or did not reissue unsold items.

Dealing with trade fairs

Claudia and Tim would no longer be able to enforce the visit of fairs at any price today, but instead wait for offers that are appropriately and helpfully presented. Initially, the new founders were assigned to their company stalls that went down in the jumble of trade fair visitors or in the farthest corner of a large hall, in which there was hardly a prospect. As a result, the couple sacrificed their valuable time and could not benefit.

Valuable cooperations

But not everything went awry during the entrepreneurial journey. For example, Claudia was able to use her stewardess contacts to offer the rose dust bags for two years in Condor’s on-board sales. In addition, the dealers have launched a continuing collaboration with the Baden-Baden Cosmetic Group, so that they can sell their survival kit as a bundle with various cosmetics.

Even today entrepreneurs are in a learning process in which they move steadily, in small steps.

No risk, no benefit – E-commerce will not work without the right dedication

Similarly, the commitment to sustainable production was a successful step in the development of rose dust. The founders believed in their products and were convinced that they could be implemented sustainably.

In contrast to aviation, where safety comes first, it is sometimes necessary to take risks in the business world to achieve goals.

Before he was allowed to fly an airplane for the first time, Tim first had to read a lot about the machine he was supposed to control, inform himself about all eventualities, and prepare for all sorts of situations. For a plane full of passengers several miles off the ground, this prudence makes sense and is inevitable, but when it comes to online business, it’s often quick decisions that count.

If Claudia and Tim were to deal with all kinds of issues before every step down to the smallest detail, they would probably miss opportunities to push their company forward. That’s why they act with their label following the motto of Richard Branson: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure if you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later”.

Set focus, achieve goals

In order to attract as many customers as possible to their collection and to minimize the risk of losses, the Rosenstaub founders are focusing on word-of-mouth marketing, their social media channels and good product images as well as cooperations.

Claudia and Tim are trying to gain notoriety over the German borders for their neoprene bags, build a team in the future and sell both in boutiques throughout Germany as well as on several online platforms. They know that the channel that online retailers use for their advertising must fit the products and audience they offer. They regard corporate blogs and well optimized content as a decisive tool for newcomers as well as experienced business people.

A balancing act between the main and secondary occupation has succeeded the couple. Whether soon rose dust bags in well-known boutiques of the major cities will be seen, that is still in the stars – but with the sky, the two are fortunate to good luck.


Also published on Medium.

Published inStartups

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