Hamburg-Schnelsen is a sedate part of my childhood town where the butcher shop is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary and my brother’s kindergarten buddy took over the family pharmacy business. So my mother was excited to tell me about a new shop on our main street. “The woman who runs it just reminds me so much of you,” she said. And that’s how I met Alexandra in her store Das Kleine Koenigreich. The little kingdom over which she presides is filled with pretty pink and blue linens, fabrics, and other treasures she crafts in her studio in the back of her shop. Of course I had to stop by for a chat to find out how she became our new-girl-in-town.
So how did you get here?
It all started five years ago when my mother gave me a sewing machine for Christmas. I had never sewn before and started to teach myself while my toddler daughter was napping. A few months later, I was leafing through a magazine and found a pattern for a patchwork blanket. And that’s when I had this epiphany; I thought ‘I’d like to make this and sell it in my store.’ Of course there wasn’t a store, but the idea became my vision statement.
How did you make the jump from a hobby to a business?
First I sold my collection out of a stall at the Isemarkt. After a while, some stores around town picked up my products, but every delivery reminded me that my original goal was to have my own shop. My first location was in a shopping mall in downtown Hamburg. I had to close it, but was able to re-open this neighborhood shop. My present storefront works out much better for me. I’m only five minutes from my home. Whenever I have a sudden inspiration that needs to be executed immediately I can just stop by the workshop.
What inspires you?
My ideas seem to strike me out of the blue, but I also read a lot of home design magazines. My personal style tends to be cozy and Scandinavian.
What advice do you have for someone interested in starting this type of business?
You have to have realistic expectation and a certain level of financial security. For example, the closing of the first location could have had disastrous consequences if I had overextended myself. In the end, although it sounds like a cliche, you have to have a positive attitude and believe in yourself.
You can visit Alexandra at her online shop www.daskleinekoenigreich.de and take a look at the linens, pillows, bags, and musical pull toys she’s designed. Google Translate can help you with the German.
Also check out my post about alternatives to business cards to promote your crafting enterprise on craftevolution.com.