Berlin is a great city for many reasons. But one of the things I treasure the most, is the fact that it hides so many wonderful gems; so many little streets to explore, so many little shops to stumble onto. I recently made another such a discovery in Schöneberg, at the bottom end of Crellestraße. There, under the shady trees, I found a sign that reads Monkind. And behind that sign, a beautifully styled window with children’s clothes so unique and pretty, that I could not help but to linger and venture inside.
Valeria, the designer and owner of the store, welcomed me in and called to Stewart in the back from where a rhythmic mix of lively music could be heard. “Stewart studied ethnomusicology” she explained and handed me a lovely cappuccino, after I enquired about the unique playlist. Stewart – who’s originally from Chesterfield – promptly appeared along with Yogi, their friendly and inquisitive collie mix, and together the couple proceeded to tell me a little about their store.
Valeria, who was born in the Ukraine, moved to Germany with her parents and studied fashion design before running her own women’s wear label here in Berlin. After the birth of their first child she felt dissatisfied with the inelegance and archetypal blues and pinks of children’s clothes and started making her own. This inspired her to develop the Monkind label and soon the couple opened up their first store down in Grunewaldstraße. Stewart was to take on the business side of things and left his job at the coffee manufacturer where he had picked up much of his business prowess (and subsequent penchant for good coffee as I learned through each sip of my cappuccino).
Not long after opening their store, they met Sarah Neuendorf, the illustrator and graphic designer who now has the adjacent studio, Gretas Schwester. Sarah produces the amazing illustrated paper goods, enamel cups and illustrations that you can find in the shop. Many of the fabrics used in the Monkind label also feature her stunning water-color artworks, like prickly cacti or my favourite, a blood red tiger.
As the label’s popularity grew, the team quickly needed a larger space and in January they moved their shop to Crellestraße 3 & 4. Monkind and Gretas Schwester have a strong emphasis on sustainability, from locally-sourced organic materials to recycled paper and organic cotton. Valeria, who used to make all the clothes by hand, now has a carefully selected network of small, family-run production sites in Poland and Lithuania.
To me this space is a marvellous culmination of pure talents. I simply love the playful sophistication of the Monkind children’s clothes. The beautiful watercolour artwork of Gretas Schwester adds a whimsical charm to an already magical place. If you’re looking for something cheerful and unique, this is where you will find it. I certainly cannot wait to go back for another visit.