J. K. Rowling: The incredible woman whose imagination shaped our childhood

“There is always room for a story that can transport people to another place” (J K Rowling). We were eleven years old when the first Harry Potter book was published. And since then the characters turned into an inherent part of our childhood. The stories of the three friends Harry Potter, Hermine Granger, and Ron Weasley turn around adventure, courage, love, and friendship. The books are beloved by children and adults alike and have been translated into 69 languages and sold over 400 million copies worldwide.

But how did Joanne K. Rowling manage to turn her books into such a gigantic success worldwide? And how did it all start?

rowling

In an interview in 2011 Joanne K. Rowling was asked about her favourite virtue. She answered without any hesitation: “Courage”. Being asked about her passion she said “writing” and she considered her strongest characteristic “to be a trier”. A person that would fight and never give up. She shares this characteristic with her principal character Harry Potter and it allowed her to overcome later on the most difficult period of her life.

Just like her principal book character she was born on the 31st of July and didn’t feel welcome in her family. The difficult relationship with her father was accentuated when her mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Joanne turned 15. After the death of her mom and a “catastrophic” marriage with a Portuguese journalist she was alone with a small child.

Realising the mess she had created in her life and living entirely on state benefits Joanne K. Rowling experienced a severe depression believing she could never be happy again. This experience would take the form of the ‘Dementor’ characters in her Harry Potter stories that suck all the happy feelings of people leaving them cold and numb.

But she also said that she wished more than anything in the world to be a writer and to be published. “Everything was stripped away, I had made such a mess of things, but that was freeing. So I thought I want to write, so I write this book. What’s the worst that can happen to me? If it gets turned down by every publisher it is not a big deal.”

And this book turned her life around. Joanne K. Rowling progressed from living on state benefits to being a multi millionaire within 5 years. But she has never forgotten what it feels to be poor. “I become most irritated and angry by people who have really no idea how it feels to exist in poverty”. She built a trust to help medical research for multiple sclerosis and funds several programs benefiting women and children facing social exclusion and social deprivation.

Seeing Joanne K. Rowling’s success made us feel extremely happy for her but we also could feel part of the pressure she must have felt before her final book launch trying to meet the expectations of her fans all over the world. We would like to end with a final quote of hers that motivates Ilaria and me to stand up again after each failure and continue believing in us and our vision: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Sources: Video J. K. Rowling – A Year In The Life, Wikipedia, Harry Potter books

A rollercoaster ride

The last two months have been rather hectic on our side and an emotional rollercoaster! After being incubated by the Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship in Munich and nominated for great teamwork by the leading German magazine for working women ‘Emotion’ life seemed bright on our side! But then things took a sharp turn…

The Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship had pushed us to show fast results. Feeling the time pressure we decided to hand over our business bag drawings to a professional leather craftsman to produce a first prototype. Unfortunately he produced something completely different from what we asked for!! The pictures below show the drawings versus the real prototype. The dimensions were wrong, the functionalities were wrong, nothing was quite like we had ordered it!

 

Ilaria had worked with professional manufacturers before and we had been warned by the startup Mime et Moi that a collaboration with a leather manufacturer would be difficult. While we were prepared to face challenges we did not expect that a handed-in design could be so drastically disfigured to a point that we could not recognise this bag as ours anymore. When we first saw it we did not know if we should start crying or laughing. We decided for the latter.

This was a big learning for us and we promised ourselves that we would not make this mistake again. From now on we produce all the prototypes ourselves, we look for the supplier with whom we’d klick, and only hand over a tested product for mass production to a craftsperson. This means we are back to the very beginning: drawing, measuring, cutting, sewing (yes we bought a sewing machine! :-)). Or in the words of Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better.”

So here are some lessons learned we would like to share with you:

  1. Try to generate your prototype yourself: This will help you realise what is doable and what isn’t. We wanted some design features that turned out impossible to produce (and this slipped through 3 engineers)
  2. If you work with a supplier make sure you are on the spot with him during this process: Every time the supplier had an issue we tried to answer the questions by Skype or phone. What made things even worst, the supplier was inpatient and incorporative making the communication almost impossible
  3. Draft a contract that states precise deliverables: Before you go for the design, as the supplier how he will be producing the bag. Follow each step and note it precisely down into a contract. Make sure that you get what you want and pay the supplier only if he really delivers what she/he has signed up for.

On the evening Ilaria arrived to Munich with the bag, we looked through each detail in it and decided to move on, stay positive and work on our next prototype. That night we popped a bottle of champagne and drank to our first real challenge in our journey. It was a beautiful evening and we were glad to have learned to enjoy our fails. After all, it’s not only the good moments, but also the tough ones that make a great team.

16114544_10211830839029372_6429699709641887865_n

We promise to keep you updated the moment we have a new business bag prototype! In the meantime: we are looking for a creative/ fashion designer to give us feedback and work with us on the bag design. If you know someone please let us know!!

Kisses, Nina & Ila

Nina taking her first sewing class

In an attempt of understanding better Ilaria’s explanations and the technical challenges our suppliers are facing I decided that it is about time to take my first sewing class ever!

The moment I arrived this big machine seemed way too complicated for me to ever understand. But under patient supervision and endless trials to pass the thread through the needle I was ready to sew! And honestly, it was so easy and enjoyable!!

IMG_6458

Our workshop consisted of sewing a pillow and later a small cosmetics bag. Here you can see me extremely proud of my first sewing results. And I started humming to the melodie ”one day, baby, one day, I can sew the entire business bag for ya” 😉

IMG_6468

Habits of highly effective people 

How often have you noticed that you have been working for the sake of working rather than being really productive? Facetime in the office, constant coffee breaks or long over hours don’t make us more productive. They just stop us from developing a holistic view of the entire picture. If you believe it is time to boost your efficiency read our top 3 favourite habits to be more focused and optimize your time:

  1. Write down every day your top priority of the day. 1-2 things that need to be completed by the end of the day. This helps you prioritize your daily tasks and feel good when you completed them. The rest can wait.
  2. Deactivate your constant email synchronization. Only open the emails at certain points of the day. This helps you focus and not get constantly distracted with every new email coming in. Nina tried it out and says it has changed her life!
  3. Quantify the consequence of possible decisions or errors into numbers. Ask yourself what can happen if you are not available for an entire afternoon. Is it really the end of the world? Or if you got a customer complaint. Instead of feeling extremely stressed try to step back and take an analytical approach. Most mistakes we do can be fixed with a follow up call or will cost you under 100 EUR to fix. Being aware of this will change your life 😉

In a world that gets more and more connected and stressful it is important to set the priorities right. Books such as the “four hour week”, The “E-Myth” and “the hard things about hard things” are highly recommended to those of you who would like to optimize their precious time and become more efficient and productive. Success!

genderpaygap

Creative chaos

Designing a bag comes with endless design changes and new prototypes. We know that some of the most frequent complaints about handbags include the bag being too small or too heavy. So right now we are trying to find the optimal solution of making a bag for you that is as big as possible and as light as possible but still fits a laptop.

With the help of Nina’s (amazing ;)) husband we spent the entire last week drafting and designing the body of our bag. In order to understand the dimensions better we sew felt together to get a better feeling before we move over to leather. Here you can see Mahmoud in the process of sewing and the creative mess we have at home these days 😉

 

Brave Bessie – a shooting star

„The colour of my skin, at first a drawback, now drew large crowds wherever I went. At first, I was a curiosity, but soon the public discovered I could really fly.“ We love this inspirational story of Bessie Coleman, the first black aviatrix in the United States.

Born in 1892 in a segregated America, Bessie Coleman had one big dream: flying airplanes! Because no flight school in the US would accept a black young woman she decided at the age of 23 to learn French and move to France, In 1920 she travelled to France and earned her pilot’s licence within a year. After returning to the US Coleman participated in flight shows all over the country earning her nickname Brave Bessie.

800px-Bessie_Coleman_and_her_plane_(1922)

In 1926 Bessie Coleman died during an airplane crash. 10.000 people attended her funeral in Chicago. Jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges recorded the song Good Queen Bess in 1940 and her portrait appeared on a United States Postal Service postage stamp in 1955. Shortly before her death she had opened the first flight school in the US that would also accept black Americans.

We find the story of Bessie Coleman so impressive because she did not accept a defeat. When she was not allowed to attend flights schools in the US she decided to look further and took the courage to move to an unknown continent to pursue her dream. Bessie Coleman questioned the status quo in the US and set a sample for female and black pilots everywhere in the world.

Bessie-Coleman-portrait-small.2016-11-24-14-06-10

Source on which this article is based: http://www.airbusgroup.com/int/en/group-vision/Airbus-Heritage/female-pioneers/Bessie-Coleman.html

The importance of having fun :)

Over the past couple of months we realised that laughter is one of the most important aspects of our great teamwork. 🙂 We both work in challenging fields and sacrifice our weekends and evenings to bring our bag project to life. While we really love what we do it is important to have a good time together and laugh often 😉 The picture shows us with my husband and a common friend who are our closest advisors. They are both bright engineers and help us bring our project to live ❤ Tonight we simply enjoy life, but soon we will come with some new updates for you 🙂

 

FullSizeRender

Receptionist sent home from PwC for not wearing high heels

Unfortunately we have read several headlines like this one over the past year. Especially shocking was the case of Nicola Thorp who was told to leave on her first day at City accountancy firm after refusing to wear shoes with a 2-4in heel.

We firmly believe that you can look both elegant and professional wether you decide to wear flat shoes or high heels. And as long as you feel comfortable wearing them. It’s time to bring a fresh air to the corporate offices. 🙂

Link to the full article on the Guardian : http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/11/receptionist-sent-home-pwc-not-wearing-high-heels-pwc-nicola-thorp

 

We got nominated for the Emotion award!! <3

We have BIG news for you!!!! We got nominated for the Hand in Hand award for great teamwork by the Emotion magazine – one of the leading magazines for working women in Germany!

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 16.21.56

We feel so honored and grateful to be part of it! What an exciting journey so far and we can’t wait for the final result! Thank you to the Emotion magazine and everyone believing in us !!! 🙂 🙂 The winning team wins 5000 EUR that we would use entirely to produce the perfect workbag for you. In between please cross your fingers for us and our project ❤ ❤ ❤

Link: https://community.emotion.de/emotion-award-17/de-DE/abstimmen