"Instead of entering the chain again, it is worth supporting Polish producers". Interview with the founders of the A Oui Viens brand
Is a family business recipe for success? They are excellent proof that a family company can develop perfectly. Konrad and Magda create a great duo not only in private life, but also in business. Their brand A Oui Viens is a combination of family passion, good tailoring and selected materials. In an interview with the founders, we learn the history of the company's beginnings and discover the secrets of running a family business in the fashion industry.
Paulina Filipowicz: How did your adventure with fashion begin?
Konrad: In addition to the fact that we have our own brand, we mainly run a tailoring studio. It all began with the fact that my mother opened tailoring services. It was an ordinary simple plant, where she really learned everything herself, because she is not a dressmaker by education. For the first constructions and designs, we waste some material before something specific was created. Real orders soon began. In the end there was an important moment when we had to decide what to do next, because the work was too much for one person. We had to broaden our actions. So we created a tailor's workshop together.
Together with my mother?
Konrad: That's right. Mom deals with the production side, and I am from the so -called. "Talking" (laughs). In this way we complement each other. We started employing people and undertake the first major orders. They were very interesting projects. Our studio carried out orders M.in. for Isabel Marant, for Vanessa Seward or for the Hugo Boss brand. The experience and portfolio that we built in a fairly short time gave us food for thought. We found that it would be worth showing something ours.
In those projects we got from customers, there was no place for our own ideas. We always got a technological book that had about 100 pages and guidelines that had to be carefully sticking, otherwise the project was not accepted.
And yet we have an artistic sense. Both me and Magda are graduates of the music school. We felt that we wanted to realize what was playing in our soul. However, it should be emphasized that my mother is actually the main heroine of the whole story.
Magda: Nothing would arise without it. We are the originators, but for the project to be physically among us, just like our brand – it was needed and her tailor's skills.
How the first orders for your tailor's workshop appeared?
Magda: Konrad is a very enterprising person. At the beginning of the company's development, he was everywhere. He fiercely searched for customers, orders.
Konrad: I got into the car at 2 or 3 am and returned at 23 o'clock, and on the meter I had over 1,100 kilometers traveled. Immediately after graduating from high school, I went to work in the publishing house, which was associated with the Marshal's Office in Warsaw. There, I established a lot of relationships that helped me find myself later at the beginning of my adventures with the company . I came across many people, thanks to whom I knew where to go to develop our workshop. I was able to send 200 or 300 daily messages with proposals to customers, and I got 2 answers in return. That was the beginnings.
Have you been prepared from the beginning for large orders that came later?
Konrad: The studio exists 2.5 years. When we started our team, it consisted of me, my mother and two more people. The studio took place in our home, but at some point we started to lack space, so we rented a new space. The company has been in the premises for 1.5 years. Actually, the whole family is already sitting in this business – I, Magda, mother, my dad gave up working full -time to help us organizationally. We deal with both the brand and the studio. We learn everything in turn, we don't have a ready way, a drawn plan. We are finally two students.
That's right, you study and work, you manage your own company ..
Konrad: That's right. The studio is located in Siedlce, and we study from October to July in Bialystok. Magda mainly deals with our brand A Oui Viens. My task is finance or stationary service. In Warsaw you can find our products at the Mysia 3 department store in the SVOI boutique. We also do not forget about the studio that is an important foundation for us. It started with it, we learned the basics there and this allowed us to open our own brand and Oui Viens.
How the idea for A Oui Viens was born?
Konrad: At one point we found that we have already done so much for others that it was high time to do something ours. We have already had a lot of work experience for other brands, we knew that we were doing our work well and we want to show our ideas, not just implementing someone else. We were also touched on that large brands produce huge storage and then announce … huge promotions. I began to wonder how the customer who buys the product at a full price is feeling, and in three weeks you can buy it at a significantly lower price. We do not sew in stock. When the customer orders our clothes, they do not yet exist. Within 7-14 days we send a ready product to the customer. We have a material beam in stock and we carry out orders on an ongoing basis. We import materials from Italy and the United States, set prices adequate to the product quality. We want it to be the best quality.
Magda: The right Poles are just learning to look at the tags, the composition of clothes. We are slowly giving up seasonal purchases and we begin to take care of the quality of clothes. We also want to teach our clients. First of all, we focus on classics and timelessness. In A Oui Viens, materials are very important to us. They are to be like the second leather – do not interfere with everyday functioning.
We look at current problems with the environment and strive to expand customer awareness. More and more Polish brands are being created, which sew locally and this is great. We want to support our Polish market. I think that even on the international arena, we have something to boast about. Instead of entering the chain again, it is worth supporting Polish producers.
That is, having your own studio is a lot of privilege?
Magda: Due to the fact that we have studios, we could also launch our premium version. We meet more and more people who do not fit into the standard size. We have a solution for these situations – We are able to sew clothing for any measure, on request.
Konrad: It looks like on our website the client complements the form. We send instructional video how to measure correctly, because this is a key aspect. Based on this, we process a specific order.
There are also people who want to change something in a standard project, e.g. They want to change buttons or the color of the material. This is not a problem for us. Such a personalized product is waiting the same as for the one in the offer, because all the work is done with us in the studio. Sometimes it happens that customers want to embroider initials or a specific logo. What we have on the site is a base. But if customers have their own vision, original idea, we are open to it.
What the production process looks like?
Konrad: It all starts with an idea. Then Magda enters, who searches for trends, inspiration for projects. Then comes the time for consultation together with my mother, about materials, construction. Once the decision is made to choose the fabric, we take the baton. I call, arrange meetings, set orders that dad usually drive for.
Magda: Later, a prototype is created, which I take to test. I wear these prototypes, I collect the opinion of my friends, I test how they work at a fast pace of life, how they behave after washing, when ironing. We test every product. We want to provide customers with the best products.
What is the division of roles in the company?
Konrad: Our team is me, Magda, my mother, dad and my sister, who also helps parents, being on the spot.
That is, a family business? Does this not reflect on family relationships?
Magda: We live all the time. During the week, we focus on college that intertwine with activities related to the company. We return home for the weekend and we live more in the company. The topic of the company is actually raised in the family all the time.
Konrad: There are, of course, the moments of cutting off. Together we determine that we do not mention work by the end of the day, but it rarely succeeds. We are at the initial stage. We make key decisions all the time. Before any of them falls, we have a joint conversation. We also have completely different characters, so the conversation often turns into a discussion. My mother is looking at everything the most optimistic, while dad is a realist. I and Magda are sitting in the middle and wonder whose solution is the best.
Magda: Actually, Konrad usually goes towards his mother, and I agree with the cool but objective approach of his dad.
Konrad: We discussed many times. Two worlds collide during such conversations.
Magda: And generations also collide. We have a slightly different view on many matters than Konrad's parents, due to age differences. But that's good. Thanks to such cooperation, we achieve the best solutions for our brand.