Interview with Founders of Sister*hood Vienna

August 12, 2023

Exclusive interview with sister*hood vienna

A bout sister*hood vienna

Instagram | @sisterhood_vienna
Based in
| Vienna
| EU
| Women-led, Artisan Brands

Photo: sister*hood

Can you share the story behind sister*hood vienna? What inspired your collaboration with artisans from developing regions? 

sister*hood vienna is a concept store with a social impact mission. We connect female artisans from the global south and an international community of design lovers, fostering income generation and job creation for a better livelihood. 

The artisan and craftmaker economy, one of the world's largest employers, is mostly driven by women, youth, and rural communities. However, these pieces often don't reach international customers due to market access challenges, leaving artisans reliant on subsistence farming. We aim to change that by providing a platform that showcases the work of female artisans, creating dignified job opportunities and economic empowerment. Our product range – sourced from around 15,000 female artisans across 20 countries – includes rugs, baskets, home textiles, wall decor, and more.

Photo: sister*hood vienna

What was your experience like starting your brand as an offline business? 

From the beginning, we knew we wanted a physical retail space where people could come and truly experience our products – including feeling, touching and smelling them. Every item is so intricately crafted and the unique textures, distinct feels, and scents cannot be transpired through a screen, no matter how beautiful the product photography is. sister*hood also creates a space to connect like-minded individuals - travelers, curious minds, designers, craftmakers, entrepreneurs, and professionals from spheres of social impact and international development. Creating a space for exchange, conversation, and sharing of ideas was essential to us when we designed the concept store.

Photo by sister*hood vienna

Can you share your journey as sister founders and women entrepreneurs? 

Starting a company with your sister definitely has its unique perks and challenges. The months before launching the store were incredibly fun and exciting, and sharing such moments with your sister is wonderful! Communication and decision-making are much easier with someone you know so well. At the same time,, setting boundaries between private and professional life has been a challenge for us. It's tough to say when you “talk business" as opposed to "personal life" stuff. We got better at this over time, but there’s certainly room for improvement 🙂

Having worked first-hand with artisans, what fascinates you the most about them? 

A: If we had to summarize it in three words: resilience, creativity, and ingenuity. Artisans are essentially a mix of entrepreneurs and artists, combining the best skills of both worlds. We have never heard our artisans say “Sorry, that’s not possible.” They are incredibly resourceful in their problem-solving approach, always finding a way to make things work – whether it's customizations, short turnaround times, or logistics issues.

Photo: sister*hood vienna

What are some of the surprising things you've learned from being in this business? 

Our most important and surprising learning was that running a store is incredibly hard work. We were probably naive when we started, underestimating the consistent dedication and commitment required. Maybe in our heads we thought sister*hood would run itself once we had set it up successfully. But you need to put in the work day in, day out. We both have highly corporate backgrounds and have had completely different professional experiences until sister*hood. In these kinds of environments, sure, you work hard, but you also chill on the weekends or take 3+ weeks of holidays. With your own concept store, you simply never do that.

Photo: sister*hood vienna

Where do you get your inspiration from? What philosophy guides your growth? 

Traveling and exploring new cultures is definitely our main source of inspiration. There is such a richness of colors, patterns and experiences out there in the world we live in - it never gets boring! As sisters, we've collectively traveled to around 80 countries, and there are still so, so many places we want to see. To truly find inspiration, we visit local markets, villages, and people's homes, staying at AirBnBs or homestays. Senegal and Ghana, with their bustling creative industries and burgeoning fashion and design scenes, are currently at the top of our travel wish list.

What are you most excited about as you move forward with sister*hood vienna? 

Our next focus area for sister*hood is to grow our B2B operations, working together with players in the hospitality sector. Our dream is to bring artisans and their work into the international design scene’s limelight, and we think partnering with hotels and restaurants is a great way to do so! We've recently finalized our first two B2B projects with boutique hotels in Austria and will use this momentum to expand more growth opportunities in this area. If you know someone who runs a boutique hotel, holiday homes, or restaurant and is excited to furnish their living space with extraordinary and ethically sourced pieces, reach out 🙂

Photo: sister*hood vienna

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