Holiday Interview Series #4 - Julie & Veit Kohlhoff (@macaronsfashion)

Holiday Interview Series #4 - Julie & Veit Kohlhoff (@macaronsfashion)

Holiday Interview Series #4 - Julie & Veit Kohlhoff (@macaronsfashion)

By Yunyi Zhang, December 22, 2016
Macarons

Macarons is one of our all-time favorite brands. We first discovered their beautiful collection and met the wonderful husband-wife team (Veit and Julie) in New York City back in early 2015. Our first impression of them was they always put family first. We not only chatted about their design and manufacturing process, and their commitment of making the best and safest clothes for the entire family, but we also shared our experiences about breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, and baby-wearing. In other words, we bonded as only parents can do. :)

Stuttgart is the heart of German innovation and from there, Macarons draws inspiration from a legacy of not only incredible textile craftsmanship, but also a drive to weave modern innovations with old-world charm, resulting in beautiful clothes for kids and adults alike that are 100% organic, toxic free, and of the highest quality we have ever seen.

For this interview, we asked the Macarons founders about their thoughts on the fashion industry, achieving work-life balance (with three young children and a thriving business), and more. Here’s our interview with Veit and Julie:

What is your mission and vision for Macarons?

We started the Macarons project back in late 2011 and what started with the first product, our legendary outdoor baby overall OKI, has led us to a full collection for babies and kids up to age 10. It took us almost one year to develop our first innovative organic fabric, our winter IQ-fabric, which is a combination of organic merino wool and cotton finished with a traditional German felting process that creates a very warm and sturdy, yet flexible, material.

When we started our business, there was basically no choice for organic outstanding fabrics so we decided to develop our own.  We were looking for very high quality fabrics with exceptional colors and surfaces and since there was nothing that felt like “Macarons style,” we left our jobs to become textile developers. Now, we create all the knits in conjunction with our partners in southern Germany and we make the woven fabrics with our partners in Switzerland. Our work has already been awarded with the prestigious WGSN prize for innovation which has made us an international brand.

Having seen mass production in countries like China or Bangladesh we decided that we had to do it differently.  As a result, we use only locally made, high quality fabrics and finishing, and fair and responsible business ethics. Our mission is to create beautiful, very fashionable clothes that match 100% all organic and sustainable standards with small family led production companies in the region where we live. We start off by buying the best organic natural raw yarns from the spinning mills and from there on we develop all knits and weave fabrics with our partners in Germany and Switzerland. That guarantees us an outstanding position and one of a kind couture fabrics that are 100% organic and fair corresponding to the high GOTS standard in excellent qualities. Then, we test every piece thoroughly in our atelier in Stuttgart before it can go into production.

We live only short distances from all our partners, most of whom are mothers, and control every single step of the process from the spinning of the yarns to the knitting or weaving processes to the finished piece.  

In the future, we hope to build our own knitting and sewing facilities and prove that the textile business can be a great industry to work in. We continually fight against cheap and exploitative mass and are thankful that more and more people have started asking questions about who makes their clothes and how. This gives us hope for a better future for our children!

How do you maintain work-life balance while raising three young children and tending to the business?

Macarons is our passion. It allows us to take our love for beautiful things, our passion for textile design, our belief in organic and fair trade production and good business ethics, and combine these ideas with our roots in Germany.  Along the way, we’ve met very interesting, open-minded, nice people and have developed friendships.

Our children watch us and learn the importance of hard work. It’s a real family business so they come with us to meetings, fairs, and photo-shoots. Our children benefit from the time we spend with them and seeing our bond as life and business partners. Of course, having our own business also means that we have to work many evenings but we’re still able to find quality time with our children and be totally involved in their lives, which is important to us.

What are some of the challenges you face on a day-to-day basis as parents and business owners?

At the beginning, we had to learn so much! We are now specialists in fabric development but we weren’t always. We had to learn how to achieve top quality garments with organic untreated yarns and we also had to learn about the fits of our garments.  Then we had to build up a team where everybody has special competencies and experiences, which in our opinion, is the secret to our success. And, of course, we had to fight for our idea and stay strong because it took much more energy, time,  and money to make it happen then we thought it would.

Macarons has been a real journey for us. We struggled at first with the idea to quit our well-paid, secure jobs but we believe that it is better to take a risk and start something new than to say “Oh, I wish I would have done that, or tried this.“ Still, we have to admit that we would have never founded Macarons without each other. Having your own company brings freedom, but also a lot of work and sacrifice. All of a sudden there are so many business fields you have to master: sales, marketing, logistics, design, production, accounting. It is a 24/7 job, plus we have our family with two little girls and a baby boy. It is very good to be able to share all upcoming tasks with someone you can really rely on.

What inspires you?

Everything can be inspiring, from an old photograph to a beautiful fish in the water to a simple meal. It is important to see the world with eyes wide open and appreciate and be touched by all impressions around. This creates a feeling for current and upcoming trends and a feeling for new materials and colors. We are always doing research  - anywhere, anytime - and this includes when we are on holiday visiting other cities and cultures, while we are visiting fairs, while we are sitting at the playground with our kids and so on.

Because we develop our fabrics in house, several steps are taken simultaneously during the design process. We begin with taking all our sources of inspiration and putting them together. Those can be magazines, photographs, snippets from newspapers, drawings, various materials, surfaces and textures, or color schemes from past collections which we then interpret in a fresh way. With this mood board we create first concepts concerning colors and materials. Then we analyze the past collection and season paying close attention to which styles are timeless and will therefore be carried on, which could be refined, and what to create from scratch.

For us at Macarons it is especially important that our customers can combine the pieces they’ve bought in the past with pieces from our new collections. We want our pieces to be worn year after year and be supplemented with new pieces or passed on to the next generation of kids.

How do you celebrate the holidays in Germany? Any special celebrations?

Here in Germany the kids get to open little advent calendars every day from the 1st to the 24th of December. The calendars are filled with little gadgets or sweets. Then we celebrate St Nikolaus on the December 6th and children put out their boots to be filled the next morning with sweets from St Nikolaus. On the 24th, the celebrations start in the early evenings and families come together underneath the Christmas tree. The children unwrap the presents beneath the tree and a lot of families sing Christmas songs which is followed by a festive dinner where every family has its own traditional dishes.

Happy Holidays!

Shop here for our curated collection from Macarons.

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  • Is made for busy parents who want access to high-quality, well-designed children's clothes
  • Builds communities around buying and selling thoughtfully designed, ethnically made goods for our children
  • Supports sustainability and discourages throwaway culture when something is outgrown
  • Allows sellers to select a charity to support and do social and environmental good
  • Picks-up and delivers items door-to-door so busy families don't need to go to the post office