In K’furt ( short for Kirchentellinsfurt), a village near Tübingen/Germany, there is a cozy coffee place called „K`ffeehaus“. It`s been there for the last decade. Until recently Alexandra Pieper has been running it as a coffee shop with a lot of love and character.
Last summer, Verena Palermo and her beauty salon moved into the location, too. For the past 18 years, Verena has been seeing her clients in a designated room in her parents’ house, dreaming about welcoming her clients for a bit of downtime (which translates to “Auszeit”) in her very own location.
Alexandra had been dreaming of more quiet time in the K`ffeehaus. When Verena moved in with her business “Zur Auszeit”, Alexandra changed her business model: Instead of running a regular coffee shop, she switched to catering and events only. In the interview, they talk about how it is to share their location yet have each their very own business.
How did you experience your first couple of months as businesswomen with individual businesses under one roof?
Alex: I am surprised that it feels just right and not unfamiliar at all. Both Verena and me are people who like to share. Often, we leave a little something for the other one on the table – just like in a relationship only more perfect. We do a lot of events together however we each have our own sales revenue. So in terms of business, we have little to do with each other. We both do our own thing. And in our breaks we can talk – if someone annoyed me I can talk about it with Verena straight away. That takes the pressure off me and immediately, everything is nicer.
Verena: To me, it was a great honour to move in here and everything is working out just fine. Coming here means having a quiet space to myself – in combination with my work. And it helps me a lot to learn from the experience and knowledge that Alex has.
Were there also challenges and what have you learned?
Alex: We don`t count who has taken over which tasks, but we just trust each other. This works because we both love to give more than we take. We learned that we do have to consult our calendars together to review and match our bookings.
Verena: Especially when there`s a rough patch it`s better together: Sometimes I find myself uninspired and I struggle with advertising or posting on Instagram,… Then Alex may have more motivation and this is then going to spark my own momentum – that`s good for me!
Alex: Also, after consulting the other one we are more confident to decline a request when the gut feeling asks for it. By the way, turns out that we have a lot of mutual clients. I`m delighted if people I know from the coffee shop come in for a beauty session with Verena.
How did you actually find each other?
Alex: We have been each other’s clients. I wanted to scale down my coffee shop business because last winter didn`t turn out well due to the pandemic and I had hardly any staff left. When Verena told me that she was looking to relocate her business I asked her to share these premises with me. The K`ffeehaus has a great reputation in the area so it`s definitely a benefit for Verena, too. All I had to do then was to adjust my business idea.
Instead of a classic coffeeshop you now have a catering business and occasionally you open your coffeeshop for special events – did you find the change difficult?
Alex: I just changed my logo and that was about it. I have done catering before. So it wasn`t a big change for me. The organization is easier now because I can plan ahead how many cakes need to be done and by what time. That does me good. Also, my work environment is more quiet now – due to the lack of staff I had to be everywhere at once. And my clients are equally happy about a cake that`s being delivered to them, they send me feedback and that feels just as nice as it did in the coffee shop.
Sounds like a straightforward new start…
Verena: Yes, everything worked together. Both our dads started working on the conversion together and installed an additional wall for my treatment room. Everyone got on really well from the start and there was immediate trust.
Alex: You can`t plan such cooperation, you hope for the best and see what`s going to happen – and it`s nice when it`s even better than you hoped.
Has your business concept changed with the move, Verena?
Verena: A lot of my clients are coming in pairs or as a group, one gets a beauty treatment while the other relaxes with a coffee – that`s exactly what it`s all about. After my training in podiatry 18 years ago I have set up a treatment room in my parents` house, just to get started. With my podiatry clients, I have built a solid client base – a safe pillar that supports my business. Ever since I`ve trained in a lot of areas of the cosmetics sector. I have always dreamt of a place where I can welcome my clients for a few hours to get away from everyday life without having to go on a holiday. This is “Zur Auszeit” – time out.
Especially in the beauty sector there are new trends all the time and so much that one COULD offer. But as a business, one needs to commit to a concept. What has helped you with that Verena?
Verena: I used to be tempted by trends and went to all sorts of training and courses. Until I decided to only do what I actually liked myself. Now I don`t offer anything that`s artificial, because that`s just not me. I could earn a lot if I would offer eyelash compaction and shellac. But shellac for example is not good for the natural nail – I don`t want to sell such stuff. Now I`ve got a clear policy: I need to be convinced of something if I offer it.
An eventbased coffeeplace and a beauty salon in a rural area – that sounds a bit daunting. I mean there aren`t as many walk-in customers as in the city. What`s your experience?
Alex: The village is less of a challenge, but the current times are. First Covid, now the energy crisis – people are trying to save money. It`s not the time for everything.
Verena: We are encouraging each other and are discussing what kinds of advertisements or events might be worthwhile and what might be in demand at the moment. We listen to our customers. At the moment we are planning an after work-event, everyone is invited to come – a lot of our clients have asked for that. That`s not so much about earning, but mainly about advertising.
Great idea! How are people responding to your new joint offer – food and beauty for small celebrations?
Alex: We need to further clarify our concept for people. For that purpose, Verena has worked on cute flyers. On them, everything is explained and we will post them often from now on. We want to so joint events for small groups, for example, bachelor parties, birthdays, and company parties. I will cook, bake, and do the drinks and Verena is in charge of beauty treatments for everyone. In order for that to work for both of us, the guests need to both do the beauty part and the food and drinks part. To clarify that, we have thought of terms like „Beauty and Breakfast”. We also want to approach companies in the area with our flyers: “Who is cool enough for a Christmas celebration like this?”
What are your tips for a yummy and beauty-enhancing time out?
Alex: Ideally you take some friends and we are going to treat you for a day. Either you start with prosecco, appetizers, and coffee and each of you can choose a beauty treatment with Verena. Meanwhile, I`m cooking and when everything is ready to go we can all have dinner together. Or you start in the morning with a collective breakfast and afterward each one enjoys a beauty treatment while the rest of you chills out with coffee and cake.
„K`feehaus unterwegs” (K’ffeehaus on tour) and “Zur Auszeit“ are in Kirchentellinsfurt near Tübingen. The adress is Am Plon 2. Now and then, Alex and Verena have events – they usually announce them on their Instagram: @kffeehaus und @zurauszeit. You can find more info on www.kffeehaus.de und www.zurauszeit-verenapalermo.de
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