The founders of designer label MANIKÓ explain why freedom brings happiness and reveal their favourite places in Berlin
Once in a while, if we are lucky, an new fashion label comes along, that has exactly the right balance between nonchalant sophistication and luxurious materials. We had an undeniable feeling you would love their style as much as we do, or even twice as much. So, most recently we chatted to the creative minds behind MANIKÓ, Madlen Lecoutré and Isabelle Mbarga, who give us a sneak peek into their fashionable lives and explain why working as a team is not always easy if you're stubborn.
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HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY?
Madlen: Good, but everyday very tired.
Isabelle: Good, but also tired.
HOW DO YOU USUALLY START YOUR DAY?
Madlen: I get up, brush my teeth, clean my face, dress myself, pack my bag with my laptop and a bottle of water, get on my bike and rush through Friedrichshain directly to our Lichtenberg studio. When I'm there, I have a cup of coffee and breakfast. Than it‘s time to check our mails.
Isabelle: I get up early enough, so I have no stress because I hate stress in the morning. I take a shower, have my breakfast and a coffee. If time is left, I check my mails before I go to work.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO HAVE YOUR OWN LABEL?
Madlen: Yes, since I was in school.
Isabelle: Not just from the beginning - it became a serious thought during our studies, while working on the project MANIKÓ.
WHAT KIND OF WOMAN BUYS MANIKÓ?
MANIKÓ dresses self-confident women for whom fashion has a considerable value. A woman for which it's not only a question of age, but a question of attitude. Someone that easily tries out new things, she's open in her mindset. She has her own style. She values it when things are easy, clear forms and lines. High quality [MANIKÓ is entirely made in Germany], perfect fit and generous silhouettes would be important. Details support the form, but do not become decoration.
IN WHAT WAY DOES THE BRAND REFLECT YOUR OWN PERSONALITY?
It reflects our style: clear lines, spacious silhouettes, unlimited combinations and possibilities but always important: wearability.
WORKING TOGETHER AS A TEAM, DO YOU ALWAYS AGREE ON EVERYTHING? HOW DO YOU OVERCOME CONFLICTS?
Working in a team means not always being of the same opinion. A different opinion is not always negative. It can encourage to think about your own idea again and being receptive for something else or something new is important. If we have differences we both can be stubborn and everyone tries to maintain one‘s ground. But it's just for a brief moment.
A BURNING QUESTION ALWAYS - HOW DID YOU FINANCE YOUR BUSINESS?
Just at the beginning [MANIKÓ was founded in 2010] we got a bit of financial support, but for some time now we are able to sustain MANIKÓ by ourselves. The label is still our own, there is no one who holds shares or something.
I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT…
Madlen: My little sister, water, coffee and nature.
Isabelle: My family, friends, water, Nutella and my apartment where I can retire.
WHAT’S YOUR LITTLE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR WOMEN WANTING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Every woman should prepare herself properly before she starts her own business. And then, just have the courage to do it.
THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB IS:
Literally to be independent in every respect. We do exactly what we want and love.
WHEN WAS THE YEAR YOU WERE THE MOST HAPPY AND WHY?
Madlen: As a little girl at a time when no problems existed, I spent my holidays with my family and sister on Rügen and the Baltic Sea.
Isabelle: I can‘t say it was the most happy year, but a very happy time. After my A level I went to Italy to learn the language. It was the first time being on my on. I felt very free and independent for the first time in my young life. It was great!
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS?
We hope that MANIKÓ will grow more and expand internationally, maybe with our own boutique. And we want to stay true to our principles.
You can shop MANIKÓ online or check out the website for a stockist near you.
Best vintage shop
Best place to have coffee and watch people
Nest in Wienerstrasse
Morgenland, Görlitzer Park
Favourite multi-brand boutique
Villain in Gormannstr. 23. Great store concept, fantastic designers and you can shop
MANIKÓ there too!
MANIKÓ there too!
—interviewed by LS
Images: PR; Eileen Huhn und Pierre Horn @ Schall & Schnabel