Ann Cathrin Schönrock is a Berlin-based designer, consultant and the author of Fashion Fika – a blogazine focused on slow living, ethical clothing, design, drinking countless cups of coffee, and everything in between.
The name Fashion Fika is derived from the Swedish concept of fika – which means slowing down and enjoying a nice, relaxing coffee break accompanied with cake and the company of you friends – a good example of the less hectic, Nordic lifestyle. We interviewed Ann about the contents of her bag and got a good glimpse also on her thoughts about conscious consumerism, gathering inspiration, design, cafés in Berlin, and of course – what does a dog owner carry in her bag.
Hi Ann! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure, happy to! I’d say I’m a tree-hugging realist. In various ways. As an entrepreneur at heart, on the one hand, I consult businesses who are trying to make more sustainable decisions.
On the other hand, as a trained fashion and knitwear designer myself with high ethical standards I know the struggle of hard decision-making in the ethical fashion business and ended up starting to produce my own wool. I like to wander in the areas many people would say are “grey”. I don’t only see black or white in ethical discussions, not only right or wrong. There is always more to it, which I like to explore. This black or white, right or wrong-thinking of many can be exasperating at times in this ethical fashion bubble we work and live in.
Fashion Fika is all about having a nice, cozy moment with a cup of coffee and reading your favourite fashion magazine or blog. How do you make the perfect cup of coffee? Which blogs or magazines do you read?
I love the idea of a good Swedish fika! Besides coffee, where I honestly and gladly have it made for me and I am not that hard to please, I nowadays often prefer a cup of green tea. More specifically a green tea by the last European tea plantation Chá Gorreana.
The fika is still the same but what kind of “fashion magazines” I’ve read in the past differ a lot from what I’m reading nowadays. About five years ago I still read the common high gloss magazines you can find at every corner shop. During a design degree, you are of course challenged with more art-related and photography focused magazines such as Dansk, Tush or Sleek, among others. Now, I mostly read online magazines circling around the ethical side of fashion [some of those which I recommend on my magazine and general important developments in the industry which is covered amazingly well at The Business of Fashion.
You have studied fashion and knitwear design. How do you recognise a good quality knit?
For me knitwear is the essence of sustainability. In a well-made knitwear piece, you hardly find any seams and close to zero waste material. It’s completely different from creating a garment from textiles.
For me, the most important ingredient in a good knitwear design is the choice of material. For me it has to be all natural, no artificial materials or plastics. Also, the piece has to be either made from a very special material when simple in design, or it can be very detail oriented but still rather modest.
What inspires you?
Sociocultural developments, i.e. the Zeitgeist and the people around me would be my spontaneous answer. It really is about observing: walking around with your eyes open. I find inspiration in the most uncommon places, like a messy corner in the street or a color combination by pure chance. It’s everywhere.
The insides of someone’s handbag can unveil a lot about the person. What do you carry in your bag?
I am not one of those “well organised bag” people. What’s in my bag changes a lot. Mostly - and hopefully - it’s my mobile phone, something to write, business cards, and as a responsible dog owner always some dog waste bags. Something like a wallet would probably be good to find in there as well. Currently I’m obsessed with a hand cream by AHAVA, and its natural care from the dead sea – did you know, that ahava means love in Hebrew? So, this is a plus you’ll find at the moment.
Are you a minimalist or maximalist?
Minimalist, but I have my crazy moments.
What is the most surprising thing you carry in your bag?
Probably the dog waste bags which you will ALWAYS find somewhere in there.
What is the most important thing to consider when you are looking to buy a new bag?
Versatility and durability. I am not someone to change a bag from one day to the next. If I have a bag it’s the bag I’m going to carry around until it needs fixing. We’ll be stuck with each other for a very long time.
If you could trade bags with anyone, who would it be?
I’m actually quite happy with my bag. Although, I’d love to see what Emma Watson is up to… Bag-wise. Just out of curiosity.
Finally, what is the best café in Berlin to have a Fashion Fika moment?
My current favorite place to meet, have coffee and talk about the sustainable fashion scene in Berlin by far is Neue Liebe in Prenzlauer Berg. They serve the best gluten-free waffles ever! Don’t forget to reserve a table when you plan on visiting on the weekend.
All images in the article by Ann Schönrock / Fashion Fika
Ann is carrying the MARILIN small bucket bag in brown