The Freshlabels journey began in a small garage in the Czech Republic, in 2006. In their hometown of Teplice, friends Jakub Veselsky and Jan Bouska began to curate an online collection of high-quality, unique brands who shared their passion for functional, stylish and responsible products. They have since grown out of the garage and now have four stores across the Czech Republic and Germany. We caught up with the team a few weeks after they opened their fourth store in Berlin, to find out how they're getting on in their new home.
Words by Jakub Veselsky and Jan Bouska | Photography by Freshlabels
When did your store open? Can you remember how you felt when it did?
JV: The Berlin store opened at the beginning of May 2019, so it’s a rather fresh memory. Currently, Freshlabels consists of four brick & mortar stores in Prague, Berlin and Teplice, our home town. We have also opened several pop-ups throughout the years. One might say that store openings are rather a regular activity for us.
JB: The Berlin store is special as it’s our first store outside of Czech borders, therefore we had to attract a crowd that might not have heard of Freshlabels beforehand. Based on the crowd that turned out for our opening party, we've been quite successful.
Why did you choose to open the store? What was the vision behind what you had created?
JV: We basically started in a garage in our hometown as an online store in 2006. Since then we have opened a few stores, fell in love with backpacks and started to think more about the impact of our business on the environment. Our love for backpacks was the main reason to open our backpack store in Berlin.
JB: We see Berlin as a city full of people on the move - urban travellers as we call them. Either people commuting to work, for longer escapes or micro-adventures.
JV: Our warehouse also sits in-between Berlin and Prague, so in terms of logistics, it was also a very convenient move.
What makes your store different to the others on the street?
JB: The whole idea of a lifestyle backpack store is pretty unique in Berlin and actually in Europe as a whole. And the selection of the products and brands is also something we are quite proud of. We cherry-pick only the best pieces. This practice takes quite a lot of time and resources, but it has been part of our DNA since the beginning and we’re not planning on changing that.
JV: Also, the size of the offer is quite admirable. If you need a new backpack or any travel accessories, our store is definitely the place to be. We are confident to say that we can serve any customer looking for a carrying option.
What is the view from your store?
JV: Long queues in the bubble tea place, lots of trams and quite a busy crowd of people going to or from Hackescher Markt.
If the walls of your store could talk, what would it say?
JB: During the construction phase we had some funny stories from the workers - they had started to share pictures from our store on their Instagram profiles, although we wanted to keep it a secret. Times change, everybody is on Instagram now.
What is your favourite feature of the store?
JV: We have spent quite a lot of time on the interior designer to make it perfect. We tried to make the store more interactive and fun for the customers - for example, you can try your new bag on your back in our 360° CCTV corner.
JB: My favourite feature is the pink pillar, that I helped to paint!
What are your favourite Millican products of the ones you sell and why?
JV: I love the Miles the Duffle Bag. I have had the 28L version for quite some time and a few months ago I needed something larger for travelling. After a long decision process, I have ended up with another Miles in 40L. And both of them in Gorse yellow!
Do you have any events coming up for the store to share?
JB: It's back to school season when almost everyone needs a new backpack so quite a busy time for our store.
JV: We are also working tirelessly on our large fall 2019 campaign, but that's top secret right now.
JB: And the Berlin concert of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in October, we can't wait for that! Unfortunately not in our store...