Nicolas Gold and Markus Schaffer are the founders of Sheyn: a brand that combines a passion for design with the precision of architecture. How did they achieve their first success? What are the “big dreams of the tiny team”? Role Model Interview on Konsultori.
Your company enjoys a good reputation today. Where does the success come from, do you remember a big change in the last few years?
Back when we started Sheyn in 2016 it was more of a side project next to our studies. Back then, Nicolas designed a collection of jewellery pieces with his background in architecture and we worked with a manufacturing partner in the Netherlands to 3D print and then cast them in silver. One day in late 2019 we decided to finally buy our first desktop 3D printer with the idea of printing presentation surfaces for the jewellery pieces to showcase them better in the stores where we sold them. Shortly after, Nicolas started to design and print the prototypes of our vases. We took them to a design market in Vienna where we planned to sell our jewellery, and people loved them. They were all sold out and we even had to print more during the nights to keep up with the demand. This was when we knew we had to pursue this further. We applied for the creative_project grant from Wirtschaftsagentur Wien and with its support we were able to develop the whole homeware collection and launch it during Vienna Design Week in 2020. Since then we have been growing, we moved to our studio and shop space, hired our first employees and were able to build a worldwide retailer network.
“A strategy is necessary because the future is unpredictable.” Do you agree with the quote? Do you have an effective strategy for your business?
I think that having a strategy is important, this way you already anticipate different scenarios for many uncertainties in the future. Overall we have a vision for our business, and strategies for more specific endeavours – for example entering the German wholesale market or developing a collection of lamps as a new product category. Building those strategies also helps to think about every important aspect when engaging in this endeavour. However, it is also important to keep yourself flexible and see what the market demands. Sometimes we get feedback from retailers or customers to create products we would have never thought about – we think that this is also very important as everything changes so fast today.
When you face a difficult business decision, what helps you the most or who do you ask for advice?
As we are two founders with different responsibilities (Markus is in charge of everything business and IT, Nicolas of everything related to design), we are usually able to discuss everything between us – if we have to make a difficult business decision we always weigh out the pros and cons together. Sometimes though an outside look or opinion can help when you are stuck. For example, we have expansion plans and did not know how to formulate or execute them properly. Here the expansion coaching by Petra helped us a lot, as she was able to take in what we do successfully already and make a suggestion on how we can apply this to enter a new market.
If you could wish for one super skill, what would it be?
Nicolas says he wishes to be able to make decisions faster – we don’t know if this is a super skill but it would definitely help 🙂
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud that we were able to build this whole business from scratch. We started out from our living room while still being students and now work from our studio and started hiring our first employees. Also, with what we do we can show the world that local production with 3D printing is both possible and feasible – and that you can create great design products with it. We believe that local production is the future of production and that we can be at the forefront of this movement. Additionally, we are very proud to contribute to the image of placing Vienna on the map as a city of design.