Dear Lisa, you decided to become self-employed two years ago – please tell us a little something what your idea was.
I am the founder of FOLKDAYS , a fair fashion label for fashion, accessories and interior. We are specialized on products that are handmade by craftsmen and women from all over the world. We are currently working with 25 producers from 16 developing countries. A fair payment from our producers plays an important role for us, but also to make sure that our products are made with the necessary diligence and precision.
It´s important to us, that FOLKDAYS is different from the usual "One-World-Shops": our customers are young people, that want to dress beautifully while being interested in what they wear and where the items originate in, that they buy .
You just recently opened up your own store in Berlin, how did that come along and where is the difference to your online business?
We thought about opening up a store for quite some time. We were afraid to lose focus. But then the perfect shop location basically fell into our lap and we moved in in March, including our storage and our office. At the beginning of May we opened the doors to our store and we are very happy with the decision. Because now we can finally have “real” contact with our customers and we can personally meet the people that have supported us from the start.
At which point did you start thinking about your own consumption?
Probably during the time that I founded FOLKDAYS. On the one hand, the development of our products changed my approach towards quality and I started paying close attention to quality, materials and processing. And I most definitely never had less money to go shopping in my life, which made me think about buying things five times and you start to choose items that might cost more, but last longer. Someone once said to me: Only rich people can afford cheap stuff. I think that's quite fitting.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability to me can appear in many different shapes. I believe ideas and concepts that are trying to work with existing problems constructively and that are trying to solve the problem are sustainable. That can either be a social initiative, a solidary rural community or a fair trade business. I am not a fan of stiff definitions, because with that you risk to exclude people who are doing things differently and better, which need every support and backup they might get.
Which advice would you give women, that think about starting their own company?
Most important for me was the thought that I don't have to subordinate myself in a society that is built around male employees. Especially in regards to the compatibility of family and job. Unfortunately during my times as an employee I had to witness that this can and will tear you apart.
Regardless of that, I was never a really good employee considering that I always had a hard time subordinating. Even if founding a company makes you face other challenges, I am really happy that I don't have to argue with any bosses and that I can decide and create on my own.
What are the most beautiful and most negative things about being self-employed?
The most beautiful thing is that my life has become an "asshole-free-zone". And even better: Everyone that I work with or that I interact with, I really like and I am happy to have them in my life.
Sure, the working hours are and will be a challenge. And also really taking a break, because I didn't have a vacation in three years, in which I could not read my emails.
Which five products are your fair favorites?
We have a brand new silk caftan in the shop that I really like. I also really love this scarf, for which I designed an ikat pattern for the first time and had it woven. I'm a little bit proud about that. Currently I am wearing these earrings in combination with our FOLKDAYS necklace nonstop. And my all time favorites are our beautiful Kilims from Anatolia, that just look fabulous anywhere.
If you could have one wish, where the journey with FOLDKDAS should go, what would it be? And what do you really want to accomplish?
I would love to travel to Nepal. There is still a really awesome craftsmen scene and wonderful materials like pashmina and yak-wool. And the people there are still rather poor and there we could do a lot with our orders.
And with FOLKDAYS I want to achieve a whole lot: The last three years have shown us how high the demand from people for alternate consumption is. I want to reach ALL of these people and to make them happy with beautiful, handmade products.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by people with a heart and soul that work for a better world.
And what does your mind take off of things?
Oh I'm really not good at that. Beach volley ball could be the thing.