What happened in Sep/Oct?

A brief summary of the events in September and October. If you have been following our Business as Usual diary, then you probably already know that we’re opening an E-Textile Tailor shop for Wearable Technology in Berlin. We’re hoping to open the doors in late November this year, and the following is a summary of our progress over the last two months.

We spent most of September deciding on what kind of “Kiez” (neighbourhood) our shop should be in. We wanted it to be central, lively, multicultural and finally focussed in on Neukölln.

Then the search for actually finding a Ladenraum (shop front space) began and (of course) proved difficult as in any big city affected by the tolls of high rent and high demand. There were not so many new spaces opening up, and those that were, were mostly out of our price-range. On top of this, finding a space that would give us a one-year contract was also not easy. Most land-lords want tenants to sign at least a 3-5 year contract.

In the last week of September we got lucky. On Ebay Kleinanzeigen (classifieds) we saw and add for a one-year Zwischenmiete (interim rent) for a shop space in Kreizberg. Super central and in a street along the north side of the Görlitzer park, full of cafes and some other small shops. We went to see the space a few days later. Immediately fell for it’s size (it is huge!) and it’s rawness, as this triggered our imagination of what we could do with it. Up until 2 months before we saw it the space has been a Turkish men’s cafe for about 30 years. It reeked of smoke and the walls were yellow from nicotine residue. But somehow we looked right beyond this to how we would turn it into our tailor shop.

We expressed our interest in the space right away and the next day got the okay from the owner. We signed the contract and got the keys a few days later. We began renovating even before the start of October.

Now looking back, it took us the first half of October to complete the renovations. Mostly these were about scraping walls and deciding how much to scrape and when to just paint over. Tearing down a wall and all the unwanted cables that were mounted all along the walls for the stereo and alarm systems, cleaning the grime and recycling our waste. Waiting for Handwerker (handymen) to fix a few things like missing/broken windows, broken shutters and the electrical wiring. These things still aren’t all done, but the space is now painted, scrubbed and dimly lit.

Mid October we hired two men and a van to help us move all our studio stuff (materials, tools, furniture) from Mika’s living room to the new shop space. Packing took us one day and moving it took only 2 hours.

The last week we’ve spent unpacking and arranging the space.

How to divide the working space from the shop space and what working areas to setup where…

Unfortunately the place still smells of smoke and we might need to do something about this if it does not magically disappear, or we give up.

Oh, and we’re still missing a fridge. Once we get it we can finalize the kitchen, which will really make it feel like “home”.

Throughout this whole renovation process we’ve been talking intensely about our initial concept and the details of “really” opening a shop, “really” attracting people into our space, “really” getting those people to understand what we offer… How to communicate so that people walking past and walking in can understand what our shop is about?

Our next steps are to keep talking and start making. If all goes well then the next progress report will contain pictures of making things.

If you are on twitter you can also follow us here: https://twitter.com/kobakant