As you enter the upper level of “MuKK”, you step into an oasis of calm. This is the home of “Königskinder & Rebellen” where Carmen Budke sells products, furniture and fashion for children. Although the selection of goods is great, customers cannot help but feel relaxed and at ease.
Large shop windows and a colorful lettering are appealing from the outside.
Welcoming, muted colours, bright, well-organised shelves and cosy carpeting draw customers inside. Housed within “MuKK”, a department store in Münster devoted entirely to children, it even provides a small service area with refreshments. Perhaps all that is missing is soothing background music, whale song or the rush of waves breaking on the shore. There’s no doubt about it – this store exudes harmony and wellbeing.
More than 15 years ago, when her children were born, Carmen Budke discovered a hidden desire to sell children’s fashion. Having been trained as an administrator, going into retail was not necessarily the most obvious choice. After all, she had very little experience in dealing with customers face to face. In fact, she was more used to “working with files than with anything or anyone else.” Not surprisingly, it took some time before she finally ended up where she is today.
Owner Carmen Budke has made a success of her passion.
Step by Step
It was not long, however, before the now 54-year-old saw at least part of her dream come true: being a great fan of wooden toys, she and her children would regularly frequent Kassel’s traditional toy shops. After talking at length with her then husband and father of her children and in view of the large number of children’s fashion stores in the locality, Budke finally opened a wooden toy shop in a wealthy part of her home town Kassel. And so, she finally took a leap of faith and entered the world of retail.
During a factory tour of Brio, she bumped into Jürgen Budke, the owner of “MuKK”. After a period of sharing information, they started visiting each other and eventually became a couple. Her first shop in Münster traded under the name of “Der kleine MuKK”, which was an offshoot of “MuKK” situated in the Münster arcades. Unfortunately, this venture proved unsuccessful, “Because customers expected to find the grandiosity of ‘MuKK’ – in an area of just 60m²”. Carmen Budke moved on, opening Königskinder & Rebellen in Münster in 2009, marking her first step into children’s fashion. Her range comprised high-quality textile brands and children’s products; Petit Bateau, Marc O’Polo and Steiff were among the partners represented on the shop floor. “We would’ve continued to do well here, but my husband was offered the building in which MuKK is located today,” says the passionate businesswoman. It was not long before they decided to join forces and “Königskinder & Rebellen” moved into the department store near the old fish market (Am Alten Fischmarkt).
Stylish presentation and good consultation are a winning combination.
A great combination
Together with the toys, the children’s products have been particularly successful. In fact, Budke has excelled in this field: “We now have a greater selection of high-end brands that I really believe in.” The names include, among others, Bugaboo, Cybex, Joolz, TFK and Hesba. More recently, the store established a shop for the Swedish pram manufacturer Emmaljunga. The children’s furniture and accessories are attractively presented and generate healthy sales.
By contrast, the textile division has been “scaled down” slightly – though not so much in terms of volume but more in price. According to the shop owner, this is because, “The really expensive products don’t tie in with the toys.” She focuses on clothes and underwear from 0-16 years of age, stocking brands such as Steiff, Name it, Vingino, Pepe Jeans, Replay and more: “From the age of about eight upwards, we have a lot of denim and tend not to go for pretty or chic. We focus more on everyday clothing.” When it comes to the product displays and to creating a range, the recipe for success at Königskinder & Rebellen is coherence. Visits to trade fairs provide indispensable guidance but the ordered products are still carefully surveyed on arrival. “It’s a lot of work. Well, I suppose we make a lot of work for ourselves because we give a lot of time and thought to making our sales floor look attractive and to ensuring that all the colours harmonise,” explains Carmen Budke.
Furniture and accessories are another popular string to Königskinder & Rebellen’s bow.
Fewer products, more service
The entrepreneur is keen to streamline the textile range and lend it a clearer structure. Brands that fail to generate healthy sales will be axed. This decision is partly led by sales, as the likes of H&M, Zara and online retailers continue to fuel competition, but also by the desire for less clutter. Budke wants to ensure that her customers can navigate the store and the broad product spectrum as easily as possible.
The maternity fashion line is being phased out completely: “It just doesn’t sell, and that’s all there is to it,” Budke concedes. She believes its poor performance stems from its inconspicuous location at the back of the store. “At the time, it was a conscious decision because we’d seen other stores where mothers-to-be were expected to try on clothes practically in the shop window and we felt they would find this unpleasant.” Not every concept can be a resounding success and the businesswoman and her team have many other strengths besides. In terms of the service and consultation they offer, they are hard to beat. Their services include, for example, gift baskets, a delivery service, consultation on slings and purchases, a product selection service, and a one-hour personal evening shop with the owner herself. Online shopping via the website of the MuKK is also possible