From OPB to employer – Interview with Sebastian Leitinger (Glein)
"I have big plans!"
Sebastian Leitinger, product designer and founder of Glein, designs high-quality everyday products. His studio store in Vienna Neubau features fashion, furniture and accessories made in European workshops.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I studied product design, then worked in design studios for some time. My approach to design is very holistic: For me, design begins with the question of what should be produced in the first place – and you don't decide that in a design studio, so the step towards self-employment was clear for quite a long time.
What was the first step?
The first thing I did was to develop the "perfect" everyday shoe for us together with a designer friend. But when it came to production and distribution, only I was interested in the actual realisation. And so I registered a business as an EPU. When I saw that this could actually work out, I abandoned all external projects and dedicated myself only to my own products – and now Glein has emerged from that.
In the meantime, you even became an employer...
Since I have big plans, it was bound to happen anyway! After the decision not to accept any more external design jobs, the first employee came quite soon. In the design of everyday products, other people are always very important, because you need constant feedback. So I hired an architect friend of mine. Then the store grew and the first sales employee joined us. At the moment there are five of us in the team.
What does the pandemic-related crisis mean for you?
The lockdowns were tough, of course, because we can't recoup the sales. At the same time, the web store has developed positively and we have invested a lot of our energy in expanding web sales for the coming years. For ourselves, the situation is very demanding and often annoying, but not threatening our existence and we are focusing on the future.
What have you learned from the crisis?
Quite frankly, I'd like to give some nice, clever wisdom from me there, but I don't know if I've "learned" anything. I had to adjust the strategy and financing again and again and postpone some projects, which was and still is a bit demanding on the nerves. For me, I learned to distance myself from my work every now and then. That's very important to keep motivation up and again, that's essential when building a business!
Glein Studio & Shop
Glein Atelier & Shop
Services by the Vienna Business Agency:
Advised by the Business Support
Status: May 2021