Anna Rohr is a fashion designer who started her own brand KAPKA specializing in handmade hats. We meet at the end of a market day at the Flea Market on Boxhagener Platz in Berlin where she had rented a stall for her hats on that beautiful day in October.
Has it been your plan to go self-employed with your hats, or did this come about more like by surprise?
It was my dream to become self-employed with some sort of product. And one day, the hats came about. I had sewn myself a hat – without really thinking much about it. And a few friends liked it and wanted one, too. So I thought: let`s give the hats a try! There isn`t much risk in hats because you don`t need a huge amount of fabrics and other materials. That would have been a different story had I chosen to produce another kind of outerwear. Well, I tried the hats – that was almost eight years ago – and it has gone well so far.
When you started producing hats you still had a day job – how long did you do your hats as a side hustle until you could live on it?
Only half a year in I quit my other job. Of course, money was tight for the first one or two years. What helped me was an assignment for a wedding dress that I got shortly before quitting my day job. This way I could earn some money to buy fabrics and to cover the first months. And along with spending little and deliberately, it worked out!
How do your hats find their owners?
I sell them on markets. In fact, I`ve done that from the start. Starting out, I tested a few different markets in Berlin. Now, I`ve got my stall on the Mauerpark Flea Market every Sunday. And sometimes I`m on some other market on a Saturday. That also depends on how much I`ve managed to sew during the week – all the hats are handmade by me, so I`ve only got a limited number of items to sell.
Have you tried other opportunities apart from going to markets?
I tried selling my hats online – on Etsy and I even opened an online store. But I have closed it all down again because I didn`t enjoy selling online at all. It takes away all the fun when I can`t meet the clients and don`t get any feedback on the fit of the hat. I put a lot of effort into each hat and if I just send it out and don`t get any feedback, I won`t know if the size and color were right for the client. On the market, I see that every visitor of my stall tries on many hats until she or he finds the perfect colour and size. Depending on the fabric the size and shape will vary slightly. Therefore, the markets are the best choice for me. However, I do consider bringing some hats to different pop-up stores. And I want to test another market: a Christmas Market for designers and makers in Copenhagen. This market will be way more expensive, but people say it`s worth it.
What are your plans for your brand?
Sometimes I consider outsourcing some areas of the business, to just focus on design and coordination and employ someone for certain areas like sewing and selling. If so, this will evolve gradually and organically, in small steps – as it has done so far. Each next step has naturally evolved, and I will see what else will come into being.