Timon and Melina are rather introverted people. With their podcast Still & Stark they’ve proven that even quiet people have something to say.
Hello Timon and Melina. Can you tell us about who you are and what you do?
We’re from Lübeck, Germany and co-founders of the online magazine Vanilla Mind. We also moderate the Still & Stark [English translation: Quiet & Strong] podcast together. Our heart goes out to introverts and shy people. We raise awareness for the valuable qualities reserved and quiet people contribute to this world.
Yet somehow, what you do is the opposite of quiet. Of all things, why a podcast for introverted people?
Interestingly, ‘quiet’ has many meanings. At first thought, most people might think of “shy” or “not very talkative.”
‘Quiet’ often refers to a clichéd external perception, i.e., how introverted and shy people are viewed by others. Because in large groups they tend to take on an observational role and feel more comfortable in smaller groups. But quiet people have a lot to say! They can even become real chatterboxes if they talk about what’s close to their heart and find the right setting.
That’s why Quiet & Strong stands for inner peace, calmness and strength, which we need more than ever, especially in our hectic times.
Strong! How do you market your podcast?
First and foremost, through our so-called Mut-Letter newsletter, which has been read regularly by more than 12,000 people over the past few years. The Mut-Letter is sent to our readers every 14 days on Monday morning. Just in time for the start of the week, with a motivational boost and the current episode of Quiet & Strong.
Our podcast is available via Spotify, Apple, Deezer, Google, Amazon, Podimo and many other podcatchers.
What reactions do you get from your listeners?
Here are a few quotes that show how much the podcast has touched the hearts of introverts. When introverts give such feedback, you know you’ve hit a nerve.
“I came across Melina when I was in a crisis and actually doubted myself. I often asked myself back then whether I was too reserved for my work or didn’t have enough bite to stand up to louder people. First I read the book “Hiding is Not Valid” by her and then the podcast was added. You have helped me a lot to realize that I am not alone with my way of life and that there are also other ways to be successful than to be loud all the time…”
“Melina and Timon are super authentic and I like that they are two-of-a-kind. That makes listening very pleasant. The depth, honesty and structure with which they treat the topics makes the intro heartbeat faster. Absolutely recommendable for those who are quiet and want to become stronger, but also for the ‘noisy’ people who want to learn more about other personalities.
“Quiet & Strong is wonderful content! The topics are incredibly different and are not only “bequatscht,” [English translation: chatted about] but evenly discussed! The podcast has a wonderful tonal quality and I listen to the two sympathetic humans, with whom one connects, they are good friends, who want to help you simply and very gladly! … It’s the best podcast I’ve ever heard! Thank you!”
Wow, it definitely sounds like you’ve inspired a lot of people. How useful are social media channels for introverted people? Do you see potential or danger there?
Basically, we’re excited about the possibilities we have as introverts through social networks: We can express ourselves there visually and in writing. Some people prefer that to verbal expression. It also gives us the opportunity to communicate with people around the globe without having to leave our beloved couch.
Where there is light, there is of course darkness. We monitor our usage behavior very closely and have set up app limits so that we don’t spend too much time online and lose focus.
What do you use your different social media channels for?
Instagram is an important platform for us because we can be very close to our target audience there. We know that many people prefer to send us direct messages rather than speak publicly about their reserved way of talking. Many are afraid that colleagues or bosses might read it, so they prefer to write to us directly. Instagram marketing is something we would never give up. For us, the personal connection to the individual is far too important.
Pinterest is actually not a social media channel, but it goes hand in hand with it. We love Pinterest because, like Instagram, it’s a very visual platform. By the way, Pinterest traffic makes up one third of our total website traffic! Pinterest is, therefore, one of our most important strategic platforms.
How did you actually find Spreadshop? Was print-on-demand a key criterion?
Spreadshop found us ;-). Our community on Instagram asked us about products from time to time. T-shirts, jute bags and stationery were mentioned very often.
However, we didn’t pursue the idea of having our own Shop for a long time, because the effort and expense seemed too high at first – we didn’t know about Spreadshop then. It’s great to have a partner who handles everything, so that only the creative part is left.
The print-on-demand aspect was very appealing to us from the very beginning. No warehouse, no surplus goods – in our opinion, this is a very sustainable concept. It is also very important to us that the organic product range is constantly growing.
We’re working on it! You have quite a large selection of products in your Shop. How is your assortment structured?
We only started in October 2020 and have tried it out. We wanted to observe first: What does our community like best? Which product types are especially popular? We have over 80% female customers. For example, a really popular product is the Still & Stark Organic Cotton Hoodie.
Melina is a full-time Creative Director and enjoys testing new designs. We’re planning to offer seasonal collections in the future to provide more variety.
Why do you prefer selling organic products?
Because we have the choice, and the price difference is not that big. When we buy clothes for ourselves, we first look for sustainable options. Sometimes second-hand is a good choice, more and more often there are organic cotton collections. This is not always possible, and we are certainly far from doing everything right. But we would like to contribute to something to ensure that the Earth’s resources are not unnecessarily strained.
You seem to be marketing professionals. Have you both studied this, or has it grown over the years?
Yes and yes. We both studied a profession that is closely linked to marketing – UX Design and Communication Design. But the knowledge we have today does not come from books, but from years of professional experience.
To what extent has your Shop helped you with your podcast?
The Shop greatly strengthens the message that quiet people have a lot to say. Through the Still & Stark Shop every person can express their attitude towards life. Like with the motto: “Being loud is not your thing? – Okay, then let your clothes speak for you!”
That’s right! By the way, it’s also a motto for us. What does your name “Vanilla Mind” actually mean?
In the English-speaking world the word “vanilla” means something like “boring” or “average.”
Often people try to put you in a drawer and give you unasked advice if you are not yet adapted enough in their eyes to “belong.” Interestingly, these people lose all interest in you as soon as you really try to fit in. For example, introverts often feel that they have to behave like their extroverted environment.
With Vanilla Mind we want to motivate them to stand by their own needs, to recognize their own strengths and advantages, to trust themselves more and to show themselves! No matter if you’re loud or quiet, introverted or extroverted, uniqueness is a strength that should be preserved.
We see it the same way! How do you use themes in your Shop?
We use themes to sort our designs. Our handcrafted Still & Stark logo, for example, is available in several colors, so it makes sense to combine the Logo Collection into one theme. We also have a dictionary collection, which consists of funny definitions of single words. For example, Textrovert.
How did the overall design of your Shop go? What’s the concept behind it?
The Shop system of Spreadshop is simple and clear. You are not overloaded with options and yet it is still possible to customize the Shop to your own style. We have chosen a rather minimalist design that fits almost seamlessly into our branding.
We like your simple yet very aesthetic designs. Did you make them yourself or did you commission them?
We are designers. It is our sacred duty to make the designs ourselves ;-). But we also had the idea to collaborate with other designers and create collections together. Let’s see what will happen in 2021.
We’re already curious! What do you recommend to other introverted people who would like to open a Spreadshop?
Just start, take the first step, learn from experience.
The nice thing is that you are so flexible and can easily try out what works. If a design doesn’t sell, there’s no harm in trying something else. The fact that Spreadshop takes care of the entire process gives you much more room to experiment and try things out.
Thanks for the interview! We wish you continued success with your podcast and of course Spreadshop.