1. Dear Mandana, I am very happy to introduce you and Studio Lietz as part of our Female Founder Community. Please tell us a little about yourself and your company.

I like to do that. But first, thank you - for your female founder stories, the great spirit behind them and for allowing me to be part of it with Studio Lietz!

So I'm Mandana, 37, always a Berliner and always with a soft spot for beautiful things. In 2019, I gave up my job as a lawyer in a large law firm because I was no longer happy and wanted to make way for an interest in entrepreneurship that had flared up again and again over many years. Taking a detour from another business idea, I founded Studio Lietz in 2020 and am - I think that's currently the apt description - Head of Everything.

Studio Lietz is a label that makes tasteful equipment for yoga and meditation. With our pretty yoga things we combine these traditional practices with contemporary design. In this way, we make the topics of yoga, meditation and mindfulness even more accessible for urban women who live a conscious lifestyle and like beautiful things. We don't just want to make pretty products, we also want to do conscious business . That's why we work with local producers and suppliers, who have often been in family hands for generations, use cotton and organic filling material for our products and reduce packaging material.

Studio Lietz currently offers meditation pillows, yoga bolsters, yoga blocks and eye pillows in various designs. And of course many other beautiful things are planned.

2. What was your motivation to found Studio Lietz?

During the first lockdown I started doing yoga online at home. I love Yin Yoga, a very calm type of yoga. A lot of work is done with a yoga bolster. I didn't have anything like that at home and wanted to order one online. But I didn't find one that I liked. Not something I wanted lying in my living room. The items were either monotonous, traditionally patterned or esoterically colorful. While watching it I thought “That’s not me, I can’t identify with that.” After 30 minutes I gave up the search and decided, “Then I’ll just do it myself.” The story behind Studio Lietz is a real scratch-your-own-itch story.

I think we should all have the opportunity to surround ourselves with things we like. That make our hearts beat a little faster. And in which we find ourselves. Especially when these things are part of something we do for our well-being and are supposed to be part of our home.

3. After you knew you wanted to start a business: what did you start first & how did you proceed?

I basically started product development the next day. For my original business idea, I had already hired a freelancer who could tailor. I did everything else myself – from the logo to the design of the fabrics to the website. And everything was completely new territory for me.

Of course, the fabric design was particularly important. With the help of tutorials and a lot of trial and error, I found out which program I needed, how it works and how fabric design actually works. You create a kind of design snippet, which is then repeated infinitely on the fabric in all directions and must result in a seamless pattern. I had never thought about that before. The first idea often looks completely different on the computer than what you had in your head, you try it out a bit and then it develops. Of course, many things are completely discarded. It's creative work - something I've never done before, not even in my free time. Once something coherent has been created, I build a full-size meditation cushion model from a printout to see whether the proportions and density of the pattern are right. Then there is a first test print on fabric. And usually more test prints to match the colors, as they look completely different on the screen than on fabric. And then after several weeks you hold your own print in your hands and are pretty happy!

When it came to my producers and suppliers, it was important to me to work with companies that were as local as possible. I was very lucky that I was at a textile trade fair in Paris shortly before the first lockdown for my original business idea. That's where I came into contact with the textile printing company I initially worked with. I found other partners on the Internet. Because there were no more trade fairs because of Corona, this was the only option.

Since I did almost everything myself and everything was new, the first steps were quite tedious and often frustrating to be honest. But it's so fascinating what you can learn and achieve in such a short space of time! At the time it all took far too long for me, but there were actually only five months between the idea for Studio Lietz and the launch. Looking back, I can hardly believe it myself.

4. The production of products within the EU / Germany is often associated with much higher purchase prices (and accordingly also sales prices) for companies. Why did you still decide to have it manufactured here and not, for example, in a distant foreign country?

To a large extent this is certainly due to my influence. I was shown an appreciation for quality, for people's work, and for supporting small, local businesses instead of large chains. I am happy to pay more if fair wages and working conditions are offered or if I support a traditional company or local dealer.

The other aspect is environmental considerations. When I produce something far away abroad, the things have to come to me somehow in the end. So everything under the sun is sent back and forth around the world. As a consumer, I am honestly often not aware of the extent of the transport routes that I indirectly contribute to. This is probably the case for many people. But as an entrepreneur, I see it pretty directly for my small area and can have an immediate influence on it.

However, producing as locally as possible does not only mean that the selling price is higher. The company also loses revenue if fewer people buy the products because of the higher prices. Ultimately, it's a matter of weighing up values: Am I willing to forego income in order to take on some responsibility for our world and support certain corporate concepts and the people behind them? I answered this question with yes for Studio Lietz.

5. What tips can you give other founders who have just started their business and want to generate more attention for their topic?

I think the right channels and formats depend on the respective business and product. So think carefully about what might be right for you. For example, Instagram and working with influencers work great for us because the topics of yoga and mindfulness are strongly represented there, we have a visual product and the target group fits well. This doesn’t have to be the case for every company.

Networking with other founders and entrepreneurs should certainly not be underestimated. It didn't used to be my thing, but now I really enjoy it. You often experience a spirit of mutual support. This is a nice experience in itself and it can lead to great cooperation opportunities that can be real boosters.

In any case, it is important to be aware of your own message and positioning and to remain true to it. I didn't always find that easy. When your company is still very small and young, requests are naturally flattering and it is tempting to say yes to everyone. Only do this if it fits really well. But if it fits really well: then go for it!



If you would like to find out more about Mandana and Studio Lietz, please take a look here:

To the website: www.studiolietz.com

To Instagram: @studiolietz