Our brand spotlight continues and this time we talk to Nina Nägel who re-launched the iconic brand ByGraziela together with her mother Graziela Preiser. We love their bright and bold colours and cult retro style! And, as someone who lived in Berlin as a child myself I have a particular soft-spot for this familiar and endearing label and very pleased it had a revival.
Describe your business set up and how long have you been established?
ByGraziela is a small design label, which mainly focuses on a range of items for children. I re-launched the label together with my mother Graziela Preiser in 2008. My mother’s designs enjoyed a huge fan base in Germany, back in the 1970s. Many of the children who slept blissfully in my mum’s bedding back in the day are parents now and have fond memories of the designs so they want our products for their own children. I am no exception because I was pregnant with my first son when I had the idea for byGraziela. At that time quite a few of my old friends started asking if I had some old fabric left as well but our private stack in the attic was soon finished. I also saw that the original bedding sets from the 1970s were sold on ebay for remarkably high prices. So it felt like the time to re-launch had come.
Can you tell me about your work studio and where it’s based?
I work from home in South East London. As a mother of three, this is the perfect solution for my family and me.
My mother and I are constantly phoning each other, texting or even sending a fax. Everything is discussed between London and Hamburg, where I’m originally from and where my mother is based. She often comes to visit as well and that’s the time when we draw up new designs and talk about new products in depth. Her experience from so many decades in the textile industry is invaluable to me and she often predicts well how customers will respond to a design.
What does your typical day involve?
I guess, it’s quite similar to other families. I get up early, ideally when the children are still asleep, to have a shower. Then we have breakfast together, where the cornflakes fly through the kitchen, the milk finds it way onto my sons’ clothes instead of into the bowl and then we rush to school and kindergarten. After that I usually started working for my company for the rest of the day but my newborn baby girl is, of course, my priority these days. She comes first and I’m very happy that I can organize my workday fairly flexibly. Being self-employed makes a huge difference when trying to manage career and family.
Fridays and the weekend are always family time only.
What products/collection of your brand is your favourite?
Our bestseller is and has always been our bedding sets. But the new bone china mugs are also in quite high demand. Personally, I like it when we come up with new products and try out how our customers respond to it. That’s always very exciting.
How do you gain inspiration for your work?
Honestly, I get inspiration from everywhere. I am also a big fan of Pinterest and Instagram, which are great platforms to see what’s going on out there. We also receive a lot of emails from customers who tell us which products they miss. They often ask about items from the 1970s and if we could re-launch them.
How would you describe your style?
Our designs are simple, timeless and are all based on a creative idea. ABC, numbers, the farm life or the train designs are focused on a particular aspect. The kids can explore and always discover something new, while the parents can invent stories that go with our products. It’s always important to my mother that there is a proper concept behind each and every design. This approach works as much today as it has in the 1970s.
As for my own style, I like everything that reflects personality. For example with the interior design of our house, I don’t like it when everything is planned in detail. Perfection bores me because often it looks like no one is actually living there. It doesn’t mean that you have to live in chaos but keeping little things like souvenirs from a nice holiday, postcards from friends, shells from the seaside, everything that gives a home its soul, is important to me. I also think you sometimes have to be tolerant – my three kids and my husband may like different things and that’s okay too.
How did you get started down this route and what did you do prior?
I worked as a graphic designer after studying in London. I also lived in New York and Paris for a while. I met my husband while studying and got stuck here. I love the city though, especially because it’s so child-friendly.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I think, I always wanted to create things. As a child I often sat and drew under the table while my mum did her designs. When I was a little older she taught me how to draw properly. As a teenager we often sat together at the table and drew her favourite flower, the tulip. Creativity was encouraged from a very early age and there was no doubt about me studying something that has to do with art and design.