Tanja Isler of NIKIN tells us about making sustainable fashion affordable.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tanja Isler: Fortunately good, everyone around me is healthy (again).
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined NIKIN.
Tanja Isler: The company was founded in 2016 by Robin Gnehm and Nicholas Hänny. They have known each other since they were little children. Then, over a beer, they decided to start a joint project. Since it was autumn and the temperatures were dropping, they decided to make winter hats. Since they are both nature-loving, they also wanted to have one tree planted per product.
I myself joined the company in 2019, first as an intern and now as a permanent employee.
How does NIKIN innovate?
Tanja Isler: We make sustainable fashion affordable. Thanks to short transport routes and direct contact with the manufacturers (without middlemen), this is possible.
We also plant one tree for every product sold. This is our way of giving something back to nature and making the world a greener place.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Tanja Isler: We feel both positive and negative influences. The positive: people are more online, and accordingly, they buy more online. On the other hand, our shop partners had to close in the meantime, and we were not allowed to hold events or direct sales.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Tanja Isler: Fortunately, our online business was strong enough for us to continue paying all employees. But of course, it is a pity that almost everyone is in a home office and we notice that social contact is missed. We, therefore, had to learn that the interpersonal aspect must not be lost online. That’s why we regularly organize virtual team events. Last week, for example, all employees received a package with fresh fruit, tea, and a small message from the founders, which motivated us a lot.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Tanja Isler: Since we mainly sell online anyway, we didn’t have to make any adjustments there. We need Georgias to process customer requests quickly and efficiently.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Tanja Isler: Fortunately, that was not necessary for us.
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