Founders of organic childrenswear brand Macarons, Julie Carol and Veit Kohlhoff, live in Stuttgart with their two daughters Cleo and Cecile. Citizens of the world, creative and talented green entrepreneurs, travellers, food lovers, Julie & Veit have a strong work ethic, combined with healthy family values. For this power team duo, the motto in life seems to be “Work Hard, Play Hard…with the kids”!
Julie, Viet, Cléo and Cécile
Julie is an enthusiastic, spontaneous, passionate and if I may, beautiful young woman. Her mother is French and her father German, so she speaks both languages to perfection. She studied fashion design&management as well as journalism, and started working in in fashion and media quite early, when she was still a student. Her experience include working with Jasmine di Milo in London, living in Shanghai for 8 months, taking frequent production/business trips to countries like Bangladesh and China.
Veit comes from a family of architects and design enthousiasts. He studied international business administration and international economics and his student life took him to spent time in Boston, New York, Paris. His mother, a fashion connoisseur and big textile collector pass him her passion for textiles, design and fashion. Before founding Macarons, he was “Eastern European and CIS Markets Responsible” for offices in Russia, Poland and Romania, travelling frequently to those and other countries. Julie defines Viet as dynamic, persistent, loyal.
Cléo Valentine was born in March 2010. The name Cléo has its roots in the name Cleopatra and means “The one that worships her father“. Veit thought it was really suitable for a first born daughter ;-)
Cécile Flore was born in January 2013. “We chose this name because Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of the musicians”.
The couple founded Macarons in 2012 and in only two years, they managed to turn it into a respected and internationally acclaimed children’s label. It’s a remarkable achievement for young parents, especially knowing they are very involved with their children’s education and making space for quality time with them.
Julie and Veit explain that life in a smaller city means shorter commutes, less traffic, less stress. Their daily business life is stressful enough that they choose to keep the kids routine and life as simple as possible. The house is just around the corner from a Waldorf Kindergarden and from there it’s 10min drive to the office or to the heart of the city. “The speed of living is very moderate here” comments Julie.
Stuttgart is small, but with many attractive points, especially for the owners of an ethical, eco-conscious and organic business like Julie and Viet. The city is very green with lots of space for forest, parks, nature in general. It’s also home for many pioneers in ethical living (Stuttgart is a hub for Rudolph Steiner’s Anthroposophy), and it has the best organic farmer’s market in Germany : “Real farmers, not hipsters trying to pretend to do so” remarks Julie, “Everything here is real and down to earth. I like that”. “There’s great organic fashion here” continues Viet, “not really stylish, but very forward thinking”.” The first organic food shops called “Reformhäuser” also were from Stuttgart. So in terms of organic thinking we are in the center- which is great”!
In addition to this great set up, the Kohlhoff also benefit from the help of Viets’ parents, who live just around the corner. They can give a hand with work or look after the kids, and it’s the ultimate luxury for them to have their grandparents so close. “It give them roots and knowledge” says Julie. “Today families have lost their bonds. We live with a sense of that and for us it is great to be so close to each other”.
Do you spend much time with your children?
We spend a lot of time with the children. We take Cécile to the office-she plays there and our girls in the office are all super child friendly. We play a lot with our children. Not prefab games but anything that we or they come up with. Especially Cléo is very creative in games and role plays that she invents. We and the kids also love to go outside and play in the nature anywhere from the beach to the snowy mountains and the green parks. I can also recommend every family a Waldorf Spielständer – hours of free creative play guaranteed.
Films, books, culture…what is the Macarons family into, these days?
The kids and we love the old books and films of Astrid Lindgren. Especially Pippi Longstockings and the children of Bullerbü. Cécile loves Barbapapa. So cute when she says it. We watch television only in form of Dvds, that we choose specifically, very rarely and not very long at a time.
Veit is interested in world politics and history loving some of the most interesting German statesman former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and just recently deceased journalist Peter Scholl-Latour
We love Karl Lagerfeld. He is just awesome
We like Sophia Coppola movies
We love music of different countries, for examples singers like Cesaria Évora, Mariza, Cheb Kader and many more
How do you feed you and the kids?
For many years now we only buy organic and preferably local food.
We have just moved so we have not set up a proper garden yet besides many pots of herbs and some vegetables that we planted and some fruit trees that we have including a variety of apple trees, cherries and plumbs. But Cléo already demanded from her granddad to plant a vegetable garden with her next season.
We love all kind of food markets. It is one of the first things that we go to when we visit foreign cities. We have the nicest open farmers market in Germany that I know and also some great organic farms and mills on the outskirts with amazing bread, vegetables and fruit.
Veit loves to cook and he cooks quite a lot. For him it is also a mean to decompress and relax. We always shop fresh at the markets and decide on what to make according to what is available in the season. A very close friend who is a professional chef also comes once a week to look after Cécile for half a day and then we cook together. We also like to make dinner parties inviting friends with kids to have a full house with lots of noise, food and fun.
A recipe to share, that the kids adore, and that the parents are happy to eat too?
There are so many options and fortunately our kids are just as food loving as we are. But generally kids love food that is rather simple. This evening we made a traditional quick dinner with thinly sliced raw potatoes. Dry them and sear them in hot olive oil until they are brown and crispy like chips. Add some salt and pepper and some garlic or herbs to your taste. Great with ketchup (too funny when Cécile says ketchup). To keep up the German stereotype we had some boiled sausages with those potatoes. Just great. A fresh organic salad with that. Everybody has got to love that.
What we have planed for tomorrow is also something that we just love. Tasty and healthy CousCous with fresh organic vegetables (carrots, zucchini) topped off with fresh Coriander, onions confits with saffron and tender lamb shoulder to make a typical Moroccan style dinner. Veit has already marinated the meat that we bought at a beautiful organic butcher. To die for.
A part from living an organic life, do you have other strong beliefs about the world ?
This is a very vast and open topic. One strong believe that we fought for and strongly believe in is the importance of the physical and mental connection to our babies and kids starting with the pregnancy, the birth and childhood. We followed pre-and postnatal haptonomie – that really changed our lives to give it a deeper meaning and also allowed us to build a very special relationship with our kids. Also a reason why we don’t separate from our kids also believing in carrying the babies as well as co-sleeping. But as I have said a never ending topic …