The Kriechbaum family – that is the parents and their 5 children – mainly stand for one thing, and that’s their passion for fashion. Mom and Dad have been working in the fashion industry for more than 20 years and have now given their children the rare opportunity of experiencing what it means to work hard in your own business, but at the same time with the backup of a supportive family, and gave them two boutiques to manage on their own – and there are further projects in the planning! The names of the two existing shops “C5 Rinascimento”, located in the inner city of Salzburg, already tell the whole story: C5 stands for the first names of all five children, Carmen, Caroline, Chiara, Christian and Caterina, “Rinascimento” is the Italian fashion brand they sell. All children of the Kriechbaum clan have their own responsibilities when it comes to managing the daily shop routine, changing the product line almost every week and all other chores that have to be done, from staff appraisals to advising customers. We went to talk to the fashion kids and were astonished by how well this family business is working – but read for yourself!
Tell us a little bit about the family history – when did this immense love for fashion start?
Basically a long time ago with our parents, when they started working in the industry – we all grew up surrounded by fashion, therefore our passion for it feels kind of natural. Our Mom is Italian and we always spent our summers in Italy, where we didn’t only learn the language but where fashion is part of the lifestyle as well. Rinascimento, the clothes brand we sell in our boutiques, is – how could it be different – an Italian company that also produces their clothes in locally and we really love the sustainable idea behind the concept.
How does the ordering work – do you choose the products you sell in your stores only once per season?
No, we don’t – there’s a lot more to it than that! Rinascimento develops it’s lines constantly and produces more than 200 articles every week, therefore we have to commute between the factory in Italy and Austria every week – fortunately, this doesn’t have to be done by one single person but we split the driving up between us. We choose the articles for the stores directly on-site, so we can evaluate better what’s fitting for our shops.
Do you have a certain way of choosing when it comes to the items you want?
Basically, it’s the system that we chose for our shops that decides for us – we have one shop in the Linzergasse, one of Salzburg’s most charming shopping streets, that sells more elegant and grown-up styles, whereas our other store in the Griesgasse, right next to the famous Getreidegasse, is more dedicated to jeans and streetwear. But both shops sell clothes for fashion-conscious, young women that like to express theirselves through unique clothing. And that is also how we try to choose the items that will make it to our shops when we’re in Italy.
Having to change the range every other week sounds complicated – how do you organize it?
Carmen and Caroline choose the items down in Italy – they actually live in Düsseldorf, but travel to Italy every week as part of a German agency. Our know-how that comes from living in the German fashion capitol helps a lot when it comes to recognizing trends and choosing the right items for our stores – the final touches are being made in close collaboration with Chiara in Salzburg. Then, the items are being delivered to Austria. Our brother Christian takes care of all of the logistics when it comes to warehouse and assortment changes. It’s very helpful that everyone of us has their own strengths and assignments where they can put them to work. The weekly assortment changes are great for our customers as well because our product line never gets boring and they can always expect something new in our stores.
Who is currently working in the stores?
Chiara: that would be me! I’m taking care of the everyday business. That basically means everything from taking care of our customers, keeping the store clean and neat, hiring employees, controlling the revenue, briefing our employees on the trends of the season, organizing events like fashionshows and customer events like late night shoppings etc. But all of us are somehow related to the fashion industry – my brother Christian, as I mentioned before, is taking care of the logistics. Carmen and Caroline are currently living in Düsseldorf, where they’re currently working for an agency. Caterina is studying fashion nearby Stuttgart and is working in our boutiques when she’s at home for semester break.
The different tasks and responsibilities sound pretty complex – what did you study?
Now, that’s the tricky part – I’m not even finished with my education, currently I’m studying at the economic university in Vienna. But doing this and running two stores at the same time is really hard sometimes, therefore I’m a bit behind. Also, I have to commute between Salzburg and Vienna, and that takes up a lot of my time as well. But I really love my work as well as having a good education, so I hope to be finished within the next 6 months or so.
Generally spoken, what kind of education do you need to work in the fashion industry?
What you have to bring along is the joy and passion for working with fashion and also some kind of talent when it comes to outfitting your customers. In our boutiques, one of the main priorities is to take care of our customers – so you have to be an outgoing personality, certificates are a minor matter. To us, the most important quality one has to bring along is the heart’s blood for fashion. All of our employees – Marion, Nicole, Nora and Maria – work in our stores with gusto and not only work in fashion, but live and love it as well! They also love the brand Rinascimento the same way as we do – basically, they belong to the C5 family, because they take up a big part in our company when it comes to building the customer’s trust and communicating our philosophy, which is “honest, fitting style and fashionable”.
Last but not least – what do you like most about your job?
Finding the right look for everybody – some pieces look completely different when worn by different people, so you really have to be responsive to your customers needs. I love to emphasize different styles of people through clothing – this really is the most beautiful part of my job. Also, you’re kind of becoming the therapist of your most loyal customers that you see every other week, so I’m learning a lot about psychology as well.
If you liked the interview and if you want to receive regular updates of what’s new in the two stores, visit their Facebook page as well!