- How did the idea of founding your own company come about?
I grew up in a family where everyone around me was independent. My father had a logistics company and my mother had a practice for podiatry, so I always wanted to start my own business. After my education I worked for two years in a salaried position, but I soon realized that 9 to 5 is not for me and I want to realize my own dreams. So it came about that I became interested in e-commerce / online trade on the side. I ordered my first products back then in China. That was a total flop. While I was then looking for more sustainability and quality, I found the manufacturers in Istanbul and India and so the company grew bigger and bigger.
- What is behind the name ETAVI?
ETAVI was created in one creative minute. The word flew to me, so to speak. It is a fantasy word and is supposed to stand for freedom and independence. I also think that ETAVI simply sounds very beautiful.
- What is especially important to you in the production?
There are three aspects that are particularly important to me in the production. The first point is good communication with the producers. The manufacturers should be easily accessible and should be able to respond to requests for changes, for example. The second important point is quality. It can happen that you order a sample from a manufacturer that looks very good, but then the quality of the mass production is very poor. You always have to keep an eye on that. You have to be able to rely on business partners. The third and most important point for me is that the workers work under fair working conditions and are adequately paid. We have already seen that manufacturers send out invitations to visit and prepare everything perfectly beforehand, but the circumstances look completely different in everyday life. We therefore often visit the production facilities at irregular intervals, without prior notice. So far we are very satisfied with our locations. It is also important to me that we are always careful to leave the smallest possible ecological footprint. We have optimized this concept from product and shipping materials to our shipping methods and we are very happy with it.
- What are your ideas for the future of the company?
For me, the goal is quite clear: to become the market leader. In doing so, we must constantly develop new products and keep an eye on trends. Currently our bestseller is the Slim-Wallet Taipei. However, the trend is moving towards card payment. This means that we have to keep working on new products. In the long term, we want to establish ourselves in the retail trade and become a renowned brand. I can also imagine offering a range of products for women in the future.
- How did you decide on the production locations?
At that time I had ordered the first samples from a manufacturer in China. Unfortunately, that was a total failure. The quality was bad and the material was plastic. So I was looking for good quality, unique materials and fair payment of the employees*. By a lucky coincidence I ended up in Istanbul and India. More about it under Story
- What has been your greatest sense of achievement so far?
For me, the greatest feeling of success was when I first held the sample (pattern) of my own product idea in my hand. It feels a bit like Christmas every time you see your own brand logo and hold a product in your hand that you have developed yourself. I am still happy every time we get a new sample sent to us and have a look at it.
- What difficulties did you have to overcome when you founded the company?
For me personally, I believe that the coordination of all factors is the biggest hurdle in everyday work. Bringing everything under one roof and not losing sight of anything can sometimes be a bit challenging. Also the visibility of the brand is challenging and needs a lot of persistence. Building and strengthening the relationship of trust with our customers is one of the most important aspects and requires a lot of sensitivity in customer support and in the transparency of our company. Since I do all this with passion, I see the hurdles and setbacks in retrospect as an incentive to develop myself and the entire company.
- Why did you decide to work with the German Doctors?
I am firmly convinced that everyone who founds a start-up or a company today has the responsibility to make a social contribution to society. It is no longer enough to just sell dull products. For me, it was simply a matter of course that we should make a social commitment. I actually came across German Doctors by chance. I became aware of them through social media and then simply called them. Then we thought about a project together, what we would like to do and also what our donation program should look like. We made a conscious decision to donate per sold product so that our customers know exactly what they want to do with each purchase. I am of the opinion that transparency in a company inspires trust in the customers. It is also great to support a project in Calcutta, because that is where we have one of our production sites. So we are able to give fair work where it is urgently needed and at the same time do good on site. In this way we create a coherent, responsible cycle of which we are very proud.
- What makes ETAVI products different from other products?
We develop designs, such as the Slim Wallet Taipei, which you cannot get in this form anywhere else. The compact size and handling is simply great. This is also the feedback from customers. In addition, the quality of workmanship is flawless. With our bags we have completely new developments. The interior layout of our duffle bag Kensington is an absolute novelty and, according to initial surveys, is very well received by our customers. The leather and the workmanship is flawless.
- Can you imagine offering vegan options on the products?
We have already thought about it. For example, there are manufacturers in Turkey who make wallets from old tags of worn jeans. You can also make wallets from cork, we have already tried that. However, besides the high quality, the design is also very important to us and optically these two options were not yet the right one for us. However, I can imagine to produce wallets from vegan material in the near future.
11. do you have any tips for people who also want to start up a business?
If I can give one more tip, it is that everyone should believe in their dreams and work hard for them. There will always be obstacles to overcome. Stay tuned, reflect on yourself and your already collected experiences and then at some point it will work out. Especially in the beginning I can recommend to everyone to look for people who support you and have similar goals, because you are not yet so solid with your idea.
Jan from ETAVI