Coworking spaces can benefit just about any kind of work, allowing for increased productivity, inspiration, and a sense of community. Unsurprisingly, we are beginning to see more spaces that apply the principles of coworking to a number of different fields that reach beyond traditional office work.
Since September 2011, a former apartment in Neukölln's trendy Reuterkiez has housed a co-sewing space – Nadelwald. This new space offers sewing equipment, patterns, workshops, and other facilities for designers and hobbyists alike to be inspired, create projects, and share their ideas and creations with others. We asked founder Swantje Wendt a few questions about her charming new space.
How did you come up with the concept of co-sewing – the idea of applying the principles of co-working to sewing?
I originally wanted to start a fashion label, specializing in scarves and accessories, and had been searching for a place where I could work on that. Since I couldn’t find a space where I could leave my patterns and materials, I simply created my own space, and began offering it to others.
What kinds of people normally use this space - professional designers, or simply hobbyists?
At the moment, the space is used mostly by people who sew as a hobby and who like to do their own alterations. Only one of our customers is a professional designer who comes here whenever she needs equipment she does not already own.
There seems to be a growing interest in sewing these days, particularly among younger people. Why do you think that is?
I think that, in the case of younger people, sewing and other forms of handiwork can be seen as an alternative to daily work, as many people these days spend most of their time at their computers. They enjoy being able to create something with their hands, something they can be proud of in the end.
You hold a lot of workshops. Do your workshops mainly focus on sewing, or do you branch out into other forms of visual art and handicrafts as well?
Our workshops focus on any skills related to fashion. We offer workshops on different sewing techniques, and even knitting, which is taught by a guest instructor, as knitting is not my area of expertise. I plan to offer a workshop on pattern-making, as that is my specialty.
You have a store here as well. Do people who use this space sell their finished work here?
Yes. It’s part of our concept – you can be inspired by our fashion and pattern books, work on your project and finish it, and finally sell it, all in the same space.
You yourself have worked as a designer, and have done some work for Berlin Fashion Week. Could you tell us a little more about that?
I started out as a tailor, but I felt I wanted to go further in the world of fashion. So I started out working for a Berlin-based high fashion label before working for another, larger-scale label based in Bremen. I found that working for a larger label really limited my ability to be creative – I simply communicated ideas between designers and buyers, and never created anything of my own. When I finally moved back here, I decided to start my own business instead of working for another firm. At first, I wanted to start a label as a designer, but since I was unable to find space to work, I simply created my own, and that’s how Nadelwald was born.
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Cost is a big one here. In regards to total transportation costs, the last mile comprises up to 53% of those - making it the least efficient part of the supply chain. Expectations of free shipping and next day deliveries add up to this.
Due to increasing digitalization and convenience services in every area of people's lives, the smooth and flawless process of getting the delivery to one's doorstep is exceedingly becoming what customers care most about. On top of that, for companies that package being delivered is an extension of their brand. The consumer is basically coming face-to-face with the brand, which makes it the biggest opportunity to heighten customer satisfaction.
If you live in a city and have even slightly observed your urban surroundings you’ve probably witnessed it first hand - urban congestion and crowded cities make it pretty tough to satisfy the growing demand and rising expectations of super quick deliveries. Add unpredictability in transit (like weather conditions), an incorrect address or remote locations, just to name a few, and you can see where this is going.
The worst part is, all those delivery trucks and vans that also produce a fair bit of emissions, are often only half full when they roll out for deliveries. This is mostly due to low drop sizes and stops along the route that are far and few between.
It’s not all hopeless though - Where there is a problem, there are solutions.
Same old, same old - isn’t always all that bad. Sometimes, all that’s needed are some new perspectives! The city of Utrecht, for example, implemented a zero-emissions electric barge nicknamed the “Beer Boat”.
Since 2010 it’s carrying beer and food to the city’s downtown restaurants by using waterways. Other electric barges in Amsterdam not only deliver but even collect organic waste, which is then turned into biofuel in processing plants! Isn’t that cool?
It becomes clear that cities, logistics, as well as urban planners, are equally part of solving the inefficiency of the last-mile. Tackling this mountain of issues calls for teamwork!
A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.
Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!
Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.
Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company.
Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.
Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard. The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.
Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one?
Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.
Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.