MORE THAN A PITCH
By Liesa Maria Lettau
2012 a 22 year old Berlin brat was dancing around the clubs of the capital city of Germany. A lover of fashion and apprentice of custom tailoring. Maybe putting a little bit too much enthusiasm into ecstatic dancing, soon being in trouble with everybody and especially with colleague apprentices at work and teachers in school.
The day had come that the big talk had to be made and sure enough I kicked myself out of the company. “Anyway… I’m done with this stiff Grunewald Ladies shit. I wanna make clothes for people who like to climb trees.” The birth hour of Lettau l|. Art Fashion had come.
Sure enough I was still a party girl – not having a plan nor a business education – and just my stubborn ambitious personality helped to push things forward. You gotta do the work before you get the props. You can plan on whatever project, if you are not a complete maniac about it you’ll not get too far… I can bet for that.
Too often I meet people that get lost in planning the mere idea. I’ll never argue that things could be easier with a good business plan, thoughtful decision making and a team to buckle up for you - but if you don’t even get to the point of presenting a product (a shitty proto type to start with) what are you even intending to sell?
Back to my case: I had no idea how to work with those new garments. My first items where of ashamedly poor quality. I still put out an editorial shoot, stomped together a Facebook page and started to talk to absolutely everybody about my project – of course always wearing my own items. With a bit of practice and learning the quality improved quickly to an acceptable level and guess what: people started buying. I had no shops to work with, no online boutique, no Etsy. Just a small room in a shared flat in Friedrichshain, and people passing by after every other weekend of self promoting myself on the dance floor. It was pocket money – I felt like the vacuum cleaner salesman. But it was great!
Just another Sunday at Berghain: a friend of a friend pulled me into a conversation and told me about some guy he knew that would be opening a small gallery boutique in Weserstr. in Neukölln soon. I might be able to join in with my collection. Said and done. The shop was quite a flop with vague opening hours, removing the clothes every other day to make room for a party or exhibition. They sold about five items in a couple of months. But still… they sold.
In August 2015 I returned from Ibiza and finally got in touch with a shop I discovered just before I left the city: Workaholic Fashion. Ibiza was a rave! It gave me so much energy and new motivation to put the work into my ideas. In Ibiza you have to get your life sorted. Acquainting contacts, figuring out your possibilities, finding a place to stay, the money, the drugs, the booz, the person who’s gonna fix your guest list and get you into the VIP area. Whatever you could possibly need as an expensive islander. You have to talk to everybody! Or you go home, crying like a baby.
At Workaholic Fashion we where selling like crazy! I was bringing new items every week and easily cracking the four figure payout after a month. For the first time I really knew that Lettau l|. Art Fashion was going somewhere. Unfortunately the owners Caro and Fabi already had the closing of their shop planned and so I was gonna start from almost zero.
I found some other stores and started selling through a boutique in Ibiza and Barcelona. Working with many shops gave me a more secure payout and I could start to make some sort of market research (What sells, what doesn’t?) to develop improved products. Still I wasn’t earning myself a golden hat, but I was getting there.
Spring 2018 branding had to reach the next level: A new website, an online shop and some serious Instagraming. The sales came in sooner than expected and the physical sales at Chaos in Form and SYLD Store where sky rocketing. Thanks for your support!
2019 was the year I came finally to built up a stronger brand awareness. Since collaborating with Studio183 Lettau l|. was published in magazines, influential YouTube channels and music videos. I feel like the ball is finally rolling, after six years of really heavy ballin. I can look forward to a 2020 with many new possibilities, room for ideas and the ability to reinvent some more elaborate fashion ideas of mine.
Why I choose to give this rather personal insight on the history of Lettau l|. as my end of the year resume?
I see so many people struggling to do the first step towards their success. So many people like to stay in the comfort zone and as they get older start to complain about their regular jobs and such. I am turning 30 in January and I definitely have less physical energy that I used to have with 21 – and what I want to say with this: postponing will not make things easier! (And what I DON’T want to say: “It’s too late”)
People seem to always see the enjoyable part of independence. The truth is: I have been working as a bar tender, waitress, hostess, flyer promoter and whatever other horrible job (for horrible companies!), since living, fabrics, marketing materials and photo shoots are not paying themselves – and yet the biggest excuse I always hear from people, as why they don’t start their own business is that they have another job aka. “No time.”
If you are one of many people who seek fulfillment in an own project and escapism from a job you never really identified with… this is my message for 2020 - You can’t knock the hustle. Amen.
THANKS TO EVERYBODY WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE, ESPECIALLY TO MY TRUSTED CUSTOMERS - YOU ARE THE BEST!
1) "Berlin's Girl Next Door" by Sebastian Pielles, Styling: Paula Bethge, Model: Noriah Santos (Iconic)
2) "Bombing" by Richard Berdich and Liesa Maria Lettau, Hair/Make-Up: Katharina Brämer, Model: Ella
3) Photo by André C. Hercher
4) Photo: Kilian Ullmann, Hair/Make-Up: Deborah Eliza, Model: Sonja Klinge
5) "Nightfall Side" by Zheng Sun, Hair/Make-Up: Sammi Mandoll, Styling: Tianyang Li, Model: Paulina Stepowska (M4Models), Retouching: Rui Luo, Assistant: Zhiwen Zhang
6) "Brain Flowers" by Chantelle Gomez, Heiner Radau and Liesa Maria Lettau, Hair: Oliver Weiß, Make-Up: Johi von Bruises, Models: Katja (Puls Models), Choitse (VIVA), Katharina Dezer (M4Models)