Meet Alison: A yoga bag & textile designer from Munich
Alison, you create yoga bags and travel accessories? How did you come up with this idea?
Yes, that's right! The inspiration for Wanderess Gear was derived of 3 things: my passion for creating, my passion for travel and my love of organization (Marie Kondo, anyone?). My soul is happiest when I am creating...and I was looking to find a way to turn my passion into work. Honestly, it was the Autumn of 2017 when the idea just popped into my head! I had lived the previous year mostly in Munich, Germany with my husband who was called over on an extended business trip. A 5-month stay in a hotel turned into 8 months and once I was back home in Greenville, South Carolina and reunited with all of my beloved arts and crafts materials...I was full of creative energy to spend! I pulled out my sewing machine which I had received as a gift from my in-laws just a few years prior and began teaching myself to sew (along with the mentoring of my mom). A few simple projects later and I found sewing to be an incredibly meditative process. From then on, I began practicing and improving upon my skills and in April 2018, when work called my husband back over to Germany for a second time--this time on an expat contract--I took it as a sign to create something of my own by throwing my focus into starting my own small business!
What brought you from the US to Munich?
Technically, my husband's work brought us to Munich...but I will go deeper in saying that our mutual German heritage and passion for travel brought us here. :)
What kind of yoga style do you like?
Well, it depends on what kind of experience I'm in the mood for...but Yin is one of my favorite styles of yoga for both deep stretching and re-centering myself. As for routine exercise, I practice traditional Vinyasa regularly for strength, flexibility and breath-work.
What is your most loved item from the collection?
My best-selling product--and my personal favorite--is most definitely the drawstring cosmetic/jewelry bag with 6 interior pockets.It is not only a traveler's essential, but also such a practical everyday item. It's the perfect size to toss into your purse or backpack and keep all of those small items (makeup, jewelry, hair ties, pills, etc.) easily sorted so that they don't end up lost at the bottom of your bag.
What is your best advice for expats living in Munich?
Sign up for an intensive language course as soon as you can! In 2016, when I first came to live here, I started taking German courses 4 days a week, 3 hours a day and I truly believe that this intensive format allowed me to absorb so much of the language in a short time, to then allow me to understand more of what was going on around me and to interact with others. Plus, you get to meet other internationals!
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?
Seek out community. This was huge for me. Before starting my own business, most of my friends held more traditional 9-5 jobs so I didn't have many people to turn to for inspiration in taking a step towards something more alternative. I think that starting this business in a new environment helped me to start fresh and surround myself with other creatives. I've met so many amazing women along this journey and I owe much of my success thus far to their community. Being self-employed can be very lonely work (although it helps when you're introverted like me HA), so having a community to engage with, in which you can support, encourage and inspire one another makes all of the difference!