Anne and Michi aka Bettnachbar (German for bedfellow) are lovers themselves and specialise in matching gear. We’ve asked them just what makes them so successful – and you’ll find out after the jump!
You’ve been bedfellows for eight years. How did you get to know each other?
We met at a party of a mutual friend. After a few dates, we quickly realised that we were a fit like a fist on the eye. Although we’ve been an item for 8 years now, it’s never gotten boring. We’re getting married in the summer!
You were a couple before you became business partners. All fun and games or serious business?
It works well because of our relationship. When we’re together, we keep coming up with new ideas. When we traveled for almost two years, we had a lot of time to spin ideas – that’s how Bettnachbar came into being. It’s a project to celebrate our partnership. We didn’t think long about how to approach this and concentrated on having fun together. We complement each other very well. If one of us doesn’t know what to do, the other will surely find a solution.
This sounds almost too good to be true. Are you really never at loggerheads?
We try to see the whole project as a creative playground. What we’ve learnt is that tenacity only gets you so far. That’s why we give each other the freedom we need as opposed to having ourselves overwhelmed with expectations. We keep focusing on those little things that remind us – day in, day out – how precious it is what we have. That’s exactly the feeling we want to capture with our designs and our Shop. Every order we receive makes us happy. It spurs us on to continue.
Improving brand awareness of a Shop also necessitates the fabled Unique Selling Point. What is your target group and how do you address them?
Our core target group is couples between 18 and 35 who like having a laugh together. People who’ve known each other for while, who are well familiar with each other’s irks and quirks. With our shirts, hoodies and pillowcases you can share the fun with your favourite person. Most designs have a matching counterpart to express that you belong together.
Our playful Shop design especially appeals to women. But we quickly realised that we can’t draw a line when it comes to love. Our target group includes women as well as men who are looking for a creative surprise for their partner or bestie. And then there are people looking for personal gifts for a wedding, anniversary or the birth of a baby.
Some designs are thematically quite unique. It makes them unsuitable for the greater public, but those who find themselves or their relationship expressed by a particular design will be all the more happy. That’s why we could actually identify a completely separate target group for each design. Our Spreadshop also offers the possibility to personalise products so customers can create super-unique gifts.
What made you join Spreadshirt? Was it love at first sight?
That’s it! As a designer, it’s easy to fall in love when given an opportunity to create custom products without having to worry about production and logistics. And to get the support of a great customer service should is definitely super helpful. We can focus on what we enjoy the most – creating designs that couples can use to celebrate their relationship.
You have a very nice Facebook and Instagram profile. How much time and energy do you invest in social media?
Thank you, that’s great to hear! It’s nice to be in direct contact with our fans. We want to put an even stronger focus on social media in the future. Next to our day job, there’s not always enough time to keep all channels up to date. At the moment we just dedicate about an hour or two a week, but there’s lots of potential to put a bigger effort into it.
And do you do social-media advertising as well?
We’ve tried out a few things and invested a bit of money. This is the only way to really find out what works and what doesn’t. Instagram and Facebook wasn’t really worth the effort as the initial investment outweighed the returns.
We’ve become more interested in “organic reach” and Google’s cost-per-click ads. And we are big Pinterest fans. There are a lot of potential customers there who are looking to get inspired for their gift shopping. You can create beautiful theme boards that help send visitors to your Shop, in our case with “gift ideas for couples”, “celebrating a wedding”, “wedding anniversary” and “house-moving party”.
Do you promote our Shop campaigns (15% off everything, free shipping, etc.)?
Shop promos are very good to get attention. We incorporate them into our ads as much as possible. Still, we need to use them even more in the future.
How much time do you spend managing your Shop?
That depends on our time. Sometimes we put a lot of work into it, and then there are weeks when we don’t do anything at all. Since the design of our Bettnachbar Spreadshop is pretty unique, we need to adjust to changes of the Spreadshop system. This always causes more work than just using a set template, but it’s well worth it.
Do you also take seasonal factors into account when uploading and promoting designs?
The year has three important seasons for us: Valentine’s Day in February (which is also Anne’s birthday), the wedding season in summer and of course Christmas. It’s high-season for gift buyers!
Are both of you trained designers? And how do you share your work?
Anne is the creative head. Whether it’s print, digital, film or DIY projects, she can never get enough of designing. Having studied media design, she worked in film and for an advertising agency for quite some time. Now she’s joined the marketing team of a well-known online store for sneakers.
Michi is the organizational head, but no less creative. He comes from the world of business and has always been interested in e-commerce. After his studies, he worked as a project manager for various online ventures, and now he’s responsible for furthering the development of a major outdoor store.
In addition to our daily work, we both enjoy letting our creativity run free with projects like Bettnachbar. Michi mainly takes care of the technical aspects of the Spreadshop. Anne creates the designs and is responsible for marketing. The ideas for new designs or promotions are usually created together – at the breakfast table with smoothies or a large coffee.
Which tools do you use to draw your designs?
As we believe that small corners and edges give a design that certain something, all our designs are handmade. Anne is a big paper fan. On her desk, piles of little scribbles keep stacking up. Until recently, we used to draw a lot of things with paper and pencil, scan it in and fine-tune the design in Adobe Illustrator. The paper chaos has lessened a bit since we started using a digital ink tablet. This comes pretty close to the “paper feeling”, except that you can draw the different layers digitally and load them directly into the graphics program. Anne doesn’t want to miss it anymore!
Do you have big Bettnachbar plans for the future or do you rather take every day as it comes?
We adhere to the old John Lennon mantra of “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” So we don’t really talk about plans, we talk about ideas. There are still some in the pipeline, so we look forward to realizing them.
Bonny & Clyde, Pech & Schwefel, Salt & Pepper – which couple represents you the best?
That’s a tough one! Somehow there’s a bit of each couple in us. We like to be bold, party like animals, let it get hot and greasy in the kitchen, etc. We like wearing our “Salt & Pepper” aprons when we cook. Michi wears salt and Anne wears pepper. And we wear the “To The Moon And Back” shirts when we go to sleep.
Could you pass on 3 vital tips for those who just got started with their Spreadhop?
#1: Keep it simple!
We know this is easier said than done. Especially when you have a perfectionist streak, you quickly lose yourself in the details or think too much. Even if your Shop is not yet perfect, it will surely grow with you. There will always be something that can be improved. The best thing is: You have nothing to lose! Just publish your Shop. Do it. It feels good!
#2: Tell everyone about it!
The most beautiful products are useless if nobody knows about them. Let them out into the world!
#3: Don’t lose the fun!
Everything can be measured in the digital world. You’ll be tempted to obsess with trends and data. We’re convinced that you can let your gut feeling is your best judge. It’s important to put your heart and soul into creating your designs and the Shop. Stay true to yourself! Stand by what you like, and others will get inspired by it.
Many thanks for the lovely interview, Anne and Michi. More love from your bed neighbours can be found at Instagram!