Peggy van Neer ist eine inspirierende Frau, die ihre Träume lebt. Gemeinsam mit ihrem Mann Eric hat sie vor 9 Jahren das Label SNURK gegründet, dass seitdem immer erfolgreicher wird. Wir haben hinter die Kulissen des kleinen Labels geschaut und Peggy, dem kreativen Kopf von SNURK ein paar Fragen gestellt…
Dear Peggy, you founded the label SNURK with your husband Eric. How did that come about?
In 2007 we started a charity project, to help homeless youngsters in the Netherlands. To raise awareness for the issue and money for the foundation (SZN) we came up up with idea to make a product in stead of a communication campaign. The idea was to print cardboard box on bedding (named: Le-Clochard) so you would sleep like a homeless person. But at the same time, by buying the sheets, you were helping a real homeless youngster to get off the streets. The project was big succes and opened our eyes to the bedding and textiel world. We saw the opportunities and how fun it was to play with storytelling photo prints on bedding.
Which was the first item you designed yourself?
That was Le Clochard with the cardboard box print. Soon after came Le-Trottoir, a print of pavement on the mattress fitted sheet.
How do you organise the work for your label – are there clearly defined areas of responsibility?
Erik and I are a couple at home and at the office. He is in charge of all business matters (sales, buying, administration) and I am in charge of all creative matters (design, marketing, PR). We discuss a lot together, but we have made it a law, that in the end, he is in charge of business decisions and I have the final say on design. By respecting this (and trusting each other) we work really well together.
Would you tell us a story about your workplace? How many employees do you have?
We have gone from our kitchen table (in a 2-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam, surrounded by boxes), to a tiny room in a building for creative startups, to the office where we are now. Where we have office space and 2 big stock places, in the harbour area of Amsterdam East. We have 10 people working with us. Which is something we still find unbelievable at times.
Has anything ever gone really wrong?
Oh yes. In the very beginning we had many problems with our producer in Pakistan. New stock of products would be delayed with 2 months. That happened before Christmas (our busiest period) and this was a big problem, since there were no duvets to sell and many orders in the webshop. In the end people we ‘confessed’ our problem to each customer, and most of them were so kind to wait (it was the very early days of webshops). That could have easily killed us. Luckily we were able to switch to a producer in Portugal a year later… But that’s only one example. As soon as you tackle a problem, or growing pain, the next one is knocking on the door. We always tell each other: if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.
You are also partners in your private lives. Are you able to keep your work and private lives separate?
No, its impossible to keep work out of our private lives. That’s ok though, since we really enjoy what we do. Whenever it gets too much though, we simply say: lets not talk about SNURK tonight. It gives our kids a chance to also say something at the dinner table… hahaha. Working together has learned us to have better discussions and fights. And we have many discussions, since we are very different personalities. But where before a disagreement could linger on for days or weeks… now we resolve them much quicker. We cannot avoid issues or each other …we work, live and raise kids together, we HAVE to sort things out. It has actually improved our relationship, I believe. What I love is that sense of: we are in this together. And the knowledge that even though we are very different, together we make a great team.
Where do you get the inspiration for your new products and collections?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Fashion or design magazines, the internet, a movie, an exposition or concert in the city, a friend… Or our sons who simply tell us they want a Dinosaur duvet cover next.
Which is your favourite item at the moment?
Furry Friends is doing really well (rabbit, squirrel and acorns). Which I am really happy about , since it is a different print approach after our other successful kids designs from before (Astronaut, Princess, Firefighter etc..) It shows us there is life after the Astronaut and it inspires me to keep re-inventing ourselves.
Where do you want your label to be in five years?
We hope to still be doing what we enjoy most, which is actually a challenge in a fast growing business. We hope to have grown in a way that we feel is right: not too fast, or too big, still offering great quality and surprising prints that make people smile. We also hope that our new line of home & sleep wear will be a succes. I am aiming to make ‘the best pyjama in the world’. If there was an award for this, I hope to have it standing on my desk by then…
Why should people buy bedclothes from SNURK? What differentiates your products from those of other producers?
Because our photo prints are original. Designed and ‘homemade’ by us. It’s not some picture downloaded form the internet, each one of them were created and photographed by us. A lot of thought and effort is put in them, which makes they are of high quality and originality. We aim high always: our Astronaut was made from the original NASA moonlander suit. Our Ballerina was made in collaboration with the Dutch National Ballet, our Pirate print was a collaboration with the costume makers of Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. I believe it results in prints with richer details and approaches ’the real thing‘ as much as possible. Also the cotton we use is of outstanding quality (made in Portugal, percale cotton). We simply enjoy making a great product: seduce you with fun prints, surprise you with serious quality.
You produce your products in Portugal. How do you ensure the quality of your products and good working conditions for the workers?
We travel to our producer at least 5 times a year. This guarantees us for instance that the colors we want actually end up on the bedding the way we envisioned them. You need to be there in person to ensure that it does. Ours is a very sensitive production process and a ‘subtle ballerina pink’ can turn into a ‚bright chewing gum pink’ in a heartbeat. Also we are blessed with the best local agent we could wish for. He’s a German with that same passion for a great product. He is on top of everything. Since we travel there so much, by now we pretty much know all the people on the work floor. Some even by name. We can see that they are treated well and work in a safe environment. Also we pay a fair price for our product, so nobody needs to get squeezed or cut corners for us.
What do you think of the campaign „Who made my clothes“?
I think it’s good. People SHOULD care about how and where products are made. We may not be able to compete in price with Primark or Ikea, nor would we want to. As said before, we believe in paying a fair price. Which unlucky means that a lot of people see us as expensive. But luckily there is also a group who understands it, and believes this as well. From time to time we bring new SNURK employees with us for a visit to the factory in Portugal, where they can see how it’s made. Every time they are amazed at ‘how much work’ it involves and how many human hands are still involved. People have no idea.
What do you wish for in the future for your label?
That SNURK will continue the way it does now. We would be very happy and satisfied with that.
And when you look back on your current work and life situation in 20 years, what memories will have?
The day we decided to spend ALL our life savings on 1.000 duvet covers with a cardboard box print on it (and had no idea if anyone would ever buy one).
Thank you for this inspiring interview!