Christoph Munier and Andrea Dahmen will open their 17th Kauf Dich Glucklich store this year- and the first one abroad.
It’s true that the two didn’t finish their diploma at University of the Arts in Berlin, but their student days brought them something else: a (business) partner for life. Andrea Dahmen and Christoph Munier got to know each other at university and started by selling vintage furniture, coffee and waffles in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district.
Then they opened their first fashion store in Bremen in 2006–and only by chance too, for they were unable to get a permit there for the bar they had actually planned to open. Now the duo (by the way, not a couple) operate 15 stores throughout Germany and their own online store. Here, they sell a lot of Scandinavian style fashion, accessories and shoes by brands such as Minimum, Just Female, Dr. Denim, Samsøe & Samsøe, Selected and Vagabond, as well as jewelry, interior accessories, books and for the last three years also their own Kauf Dich Glücklich collection for women.
However, they have never had concrete expansion plans. “We are both people who are extremely focused on development. The dynamic between us means that many things simply happen,” explains Dahmen. The gut feeling always has to be right–whether it’s about looking for new locations, which tend to be “a little bit hidden away” or about purchasing, which is handled centrally from Berlin. Their range of goods covers about 70 labels, the lion’s share (75%) involving womenswear; in the smaller stores there is no menswear at all. “We always try to purchase enough of an individual label that an image of the collection becomes visible in the store.
At the same time we find it exciting to have a mixture of many different labels with which we also want to match the taste of many different people,” says Dahmen. New for example is the concept Design Studio, which the two have introduced at some of their stores to offer customers a selection of upscale labels such as Carin Wester, Ganni, and Pop CPH, too. Doing this, they always strive to retain the personal atmosphere. “We would like to offer everyone the most relaxed shopping experience possible. We guarantee that by really doing everything ourselves. We design every shoebox for our collection ourselves, every price tag written by hand, we’re the ones laying each and every power cable,” explains Munier.
But how big can you get following this philosophy? Dahmen says: “It’s important to hand things over to employees after a while. It’s a little like caring for children: At one point or other they start walking on their own and then you can look for new projects again. We want to experience even more with our company!” A new project is, for example, extending their own collection further, which now accounts for about 20% of sales in womenwear.
In the next one to two years they intend to catch up on the men’s side too and the two entrepreneurs would like to offer their own products in the home accessories area. The are also considering having their own cosmetic and stationery lines. A further milestone is already wrapped up: Their first Kauf Dich Glücklich store outside Germany opens in Vienna’s Neubau area at the end of July on 300 sq. meters (3,200 sq. feet). “We are very glad that we have finally expanded beyond Germany. If things go well in Vienna then we will also make it in Amsterdam or somewhere else,” says Munier. In fact, there isn’t much more room for expansion within Germany, for Kauf Dich Glücklich is a big city concept. At the end of the year an additional store will be opened in Hanover (the fourth new opening in 2014 alone). After that the east of Germany could be interesting, Leipzig for example.
Dahmen says: “But I think that we will then keep our sights set on foreign markets. We feel quite confident about what we do and regard nothing as impossible. Why shouldn’t we also open a store in New York one day?” The two would even like to open their own hotel in the next two or three years. And with all that positive energy they just might succeed.