I’m very excited to introduce to you my new favourite Berlin stationery shop. I stumbled upon Luiban completely by chance, while in Berlin a couple of month ago, and I knew instantly that I had found stationery nirvana. You get me, right?
What I didn’t expect was how nice the owner was. Humble, softly spoken, knowledgeable, polite and very entrepreneurial.
Tell us a little about your passion for paper and stationery. This passion started very early. When little I always used to drag my mum into my favourite stationery shop. At 16, I asked them for a job. After an apprenticeship I finally persuaded them that, despite my age, I’d be good fit!
Some things are just in our DNA. Although I own my own stationery shop, you’ll find notebooks and paper products everywhere in my home.
What happened after sweet 16? I studied social work and later social economics. Meanwhile, to nurture my passion, I still worked part-time in stationery shops. I gained experience in social participation and diversity and am excited that I’m finding ways to combine my social background with Luiban. We are currently manufacturing some of our own brand products in workshops for the disabled.
Many people these days start an online shop and follow it with a bricks and mortar shop. Makes sense? We started our online shop 5 years ago and never thought of opening a physical shop. There wasn’t a particular dream of a big business. We simply enjoyed sourcing stationery products. It started very small with a shelf in my living room. Soon after we realised we needed a warehouse and subsequently resigned from our jobs. Now we have a shop in Berlin. Everything just took a natural cause and we don’t underestimate the support we’ve had from our customers.
A phlethora of envelopes.
I love these envelope sets.
When and with whom did you open your shop in Berlin. How different is it to running just an online shop? Luiban was founded with a very close friend and we opened our shop in Berlin one year ago.
Everything has changed. We now have much more direct contact with our customers and working is so much more fun. We are far more motivated and love the input we get from people wondering into the shop (a bit like when you visited).
Greeting cards galore!
How do you select the products you sell? I used to trawl the trade shows but found less and less interesting products. What I did notice was that I came back from travelling with far more new contacts, products and ideas in my head. These days I try and source great companies and products from my worldwide travels. Last year we employed someone from Japan. It’s been very enriching. Not only does he help in the communication with Japan, he’s an artist and sees things differently to me. A big bonus!
Tell us about your customers. I’m interested what’s the ratio between females and males and what products do they like best? Our customer base is pretty balanced. However, we often do get told that our products are more masculine and a little simpler than you’ll find in other stationery shops. I’m sure that’s the result of us being male and choosing products.
We really have a wide customer base, from chauffeur driven people to those with hardly any money to spend. That’s hugely important to us. We want everyone to feel comfortable and enjoy our offerings, whether they buy or not!
What’s your favourite bit of the business? I love sourcing new companies and products. It’s like an exciting hunt! I get goosebumps when I discover something new I like and can’t wait to unpack it. A bit like at Christmas, I guess. It’s also humbling to observe how people appreciate the simple things in life, the way they touch the products and delight in them.
Beautiful leather coin purses.
What’s in the pipeline for Luiban? In November we open a contemporary shop in Bikini Berlin. We are always striving to find exceptional stationery products and hope to be further developing our own products. It’s important to us to deepen our relationship with the workshops for the disabled.
I’m delighted to have my own shop at 26 and look forward to this continuous journey.
I’m a great fan of Kaweco’s writing instruments.
I want to thank Michael for taking time to share his story. While there, Michael excitedly showed me and gave me this pen knife as a present. I’ve kind of been brought up with scalpel knives. This one here below has a ceramic blade, rotating head and makes it easy to cut curved lines. Thank you. I love it!
I know that many of you are stationery fans. Do go and pay Luiban a visit when in Berlin or take a look at their online shop. I’m sure that I’m not alone in thinking that Michael’s passion has found a great purpose. I look forward to seeing more products in conjunction with the workshops for the disabled.
Berlin – Germany
Mo – Sa12 – 8pm
This post will stay live until Thursday 26th June.