Based in Berlin and mother of two young children, Nina Sudkamp opened blackbird/berlin, a PR agency that counts Smallable among its clients. Nina gives us an overview on the German market.
When did you start the agency?
My business partner Katha and I started blackbird/berlin in April 2012. But we didn’t start from scratch, Katha already brought a rooster of clients into the business!
Tell us more about Smallable, how did you start working with them?
I have been a fan of Smallable and their product range ever since my francophil friend Myriam introduced me to it shortly after the birth of my first daughter Karla in 2009. My second daughter Maxi was born in September 2012 and one evening in November – I was on maternity leave and browsing for clothes for my children – I realized that the shop had been translated into German and concluded that Germany was becoming more important for them. So, I wrote them an email and got an instant reply. Turned out they were looking into PR agencies in Germany, so the timing of my mail was perfect. We were invited to pitch and won!
Can you tell a few words about the other brands you do PR for?
Our brand portfolio has an emphasis on fashion and lifestyle brands. We represent some up-and-coming Berlin-based labels such as Blame, R.T.CO or Thone Negron but also more established brands such as Dr. Martens and Herr von Eden.
In addition, we see sustainability as an important part of our agency business. Since the beginning in 2012 we have been representing a sustainable fashion fair called ‘Ethical Fashion Show Berlin’ which is held bi-annually during Berlin Fashion Week. Since then we have been able to grow this part of business taking on board another fashion fair called ‘Greenshowroom’ as well as the two sustainable fashion labels ‘Deepmello’ and ‘Luxaa’.
What are the best German magazines and blogs?
Magazines with parenting topics I personally like to read are NIDO and Luna. And Kid’s Wear of course – it is a number one inspirational source!
As for blogs, I love Little years which was only launched recently (read their interview with Nina here), Paul et paula and also Familianistas from Switzerland.
How is the children’s market big in Germany : changing, evolving?
I believe so! As almost everyone in my circle of friends is a parent, it just may be a matter of perception. But in my personal opinion I do think the German children’s market has been evolving.
Previous to being assigned to Smallable, I had been working on children’s topics too. Comparing then to now the media landscape has not only changed – because back then magazines such as Nido, Brigitte Mom or Mum didn’t exist and also the parenting blogs were still mostly non-existant or in its infancy. Also the way fashion and lifestyle media handled children’s topics was fairly different then.
Even in the three years between my both pregnancies the market for maternity clothing got a push in the right direction. Thankfully!
You are looking at other brands to represent, what type of brands are you aiming to work with?
Having two children I obviosuly have a personal interest in children’s products and fashion and I enjoy working for Smallable a lot. So, of course I would like to grow this area of business and take other children’s brands on board. Children’s fashion brands would be a great fit of course, because we have strong ongoing relationsships with all fashion editors and media titles in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
And there are of course so many great brands I would love to work with – they are simply to many to name, such as Talc, Gold Belgium, Bellerose, Bobo Chose, Mini Rodini and on and on…
Apart from gaining new clients, I would also like to work more international and handle the European children’s press.
Does you job include social media management?
Yes, a big part of our media liason is with blogs and online media. As for social media channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram & co – yes for some of our clients, we also handle their channels.
Do you think there is a valuable market for foreign childrenswear brands in Germany?
Of course, there is a valuable market here! Have you had a look at the stroller brands that the Berlin parents are pushing!
Look at Smallable’s constant growth for instance: Comparing 2011 to 2012 they saw 165% growth in volume of sales and 215% growth in Traffic. If you look at the average Germans spend on their purchases at Smallable, they come in second only topped by the UK.
These figures don’t surprise me actually. For years, I have spend hours researching children’s brands and had to browse international blogs and sites for this purpose. The frustrating thing is, that in many if not most cases these brands are widely unknown in Germany and consequently hardly available in German shops. For instance, ‘Bonton’! Can you believe that the only boutique in Germany carrying Bonton is ‘Petite boutique’ in Berlin?
So yes, it is not only a matter of convenience that I buy most of my children’s clothing online and abroad!
But to come back to your question: Expecially in the bigger cities, parents ARE spending money on their children’s clothes.
Taste may be an entirely different story.
What are the most famous children’s indie brands, from Germany and from abroad, that you can find in Germany?
What are the good children’s stores in Berlin?
If I am completely honest, I have to admit that I buy almost everything for my children online!
A store I loved a lot and miss dearly since it closed was situated in Hanover, where I grew up and called ‘von klein auf’. They had a beautiful selection of brands such as American Outfitters, Bellrose, Pom d’api or Noa Noa as well as a Cashmere label for babies, I haven’t found anywhere else not even online…
One of the most beautiful adresses for kid’s clothes in Berlin is ‘Petit Boutique‘ in Berlin Mitte, d.nik in Prenzlauer Berg or Kinderstube in Prenzlauer Berg for toys.
What are the most famous online stores for children in Germany?
An aquaintance of mine started an online store for children only featuring scandinavian brands. It is called Nordliebe and offers a beautiful selection.
Photos courtesy of Little years.