interview: TEKO student & entrepreneur, Carsten Bybjerg

07 March, 2013

Name: Carsten Bybjerg    Status: Dating     Age: (24  )    Studying: Bachelor in Fashion Design  at TEKO Denmark 

1.     Hey, Carsten! First and foremost, let’s talk a bit about your studies!

I’ve been studying at TEKO since 2010. First I did the the AP Degree, and currently I’m taking a BA in Fashion Design. Initially I was going to study branding and marketing, but after the first semester I changed lines, to study design instead.  

2.     What made you change your mind?

I didn’t really know where I wanted to go career wise when I first started. Only that I wanted to work with fashion. As I had a background in retail and IT I thought branding would be a good option. However some time into the course I realized that I was way more interested in creating fashion than to market and sell it. From talking to the design students I learned that I could develop the skills to become a fashion designer, if I would really work for it. And so I did.

3.     A little birdie told us about a fashion entrepreneurial venture that you have embarked on. Could you tell us more about that?

I started my own menswear brand, Bïmmel, in 2011 while still doing the AP degree. It all started when I, as part of my studies, did an internship in Shanghai. Here I established some good connections, and started developing ideas for a business plan, as well as samples for my collection. When I came back to Denmark I teamed up with a branding student, and started up the company. Later that year I went back to China set up production. The collection was launched in September 2011, and shown at a fashion show here in Herning. The collection was sold at various Danish web-shops and got mentioned on several fashion blogs. I found it very exciting to be my own boss, and to run a company but that is also very time consuming. So when I got accepted on the Bachelor course on TEKO I decided to put the project on stand by and focus 100% on my studies.

4.     Was it easy for you to take this decision?  After all, many would consider it a risk which might jeopardize your business, making it difficult to regain your customers.

I was at a crossroads with the company. When I started, I set it up to run with a low capacity. Small production, few sales channels, and everything I could do by myself, I did. It all worked fine in my situation, but to make serious money, and gain market shares, I would have to invest a lot in order to take the brand to the next level.
The alternative was to work more on my skills and developing my personal design DNA, while getting a BA. Degree. This will be beneficial, not only as an entrepreneur, but also if I should choose to apply for a job somewhere. I’m still young so I think it’s only right to study and gain experience that way.
As for the costumers, I didn’t have a huge clientele and no long standing contracts with anyone, so it wasn’t that difficult to pull the plug.

5.     Was there any sacrifice you had to make in order to pursue your dream?

Yes. It’s not cheap to start a fashion brand. I financed everything myself, so at times I had to live by very little means. I literally have to think wisely about every penny I spend.
Being an entrepreneur is also time consuming, so things like getting drunk and playing FIFA have turned in to luxuries that I can’t allow myself very often.

6.     What are your plans after obtaining the BA degree? Will you try to push Bïmmel beyond Denmark’s borders or you only want to develop it strictly as a Danish brand?

My plans are to develop an internationally acknowledged menswear brand. Whether it will be Bïmmel or something else, we will see.
Denmark is such a small market, so I will definitely try to push beyond when the time comes.

7.     How was your TEKO experience so far? Continuing the BA studies in the same institution was a personal decision based on your preference or one demanded by circumstances?

So far I’ve been happy with my studies. I’ve learned a lot, but sometimes it’s really a struggle. When we’re doing design projects, we often have to work late nights and weekends to meet the deadlines. The planning is terrible and so is the communication. I don’t know if they’re doing it on purpose, to reflect the “real life” in the fashion industry.
TEKO was my first choice, when applying for the BA course. It’s regarded as the best fashion school in Scandinavia, so despite its location, it’s a good place to study. Also I’ve seen the development that the former BA students went through, and I would like that to happen to me too.

8.     What’s your best advice for a fashion student?

Be a rebel! Don’t try to fit in. Do your own thing and embrace your mistakes as valuable lessons. Creativity comes from within, and cannot be taught. Therefore I wouldn’t recommend putting blind trust in any teacher, guide or whoever tells you what to do. Let your heart make the final decisions.

9.     Would you be willing to work for a company in the fashion industry or you would rather strive for making it as an independent designer?  What do you think is the easiest way to make it in the fashion industry?  Or is there no such word as “easy” in this equation?  

I haven’t decided what to do yet. If the right job offer comes, I wouldn’t mind to work for some years to gain experience and maybe put some money aside. The idea of being an entrepreneur still intrigues me though, and I’m absolutely sure I will start again sooner or later.

10.   Lastly, I assume your life isn’t entirely only about work, and hopefully, you also have some time to enjoy your student spare time. So, what’s the best “having-fun” tip you could give to the students living in Herning? After all, you managed to survive in this small town for more than 3 years!

To be honest, after starting on the BA I don’t have a lot of spare time. I stopped drinking and my social life is next to none. Its really sad.
However, I’d say that Herning is a place where you can have plenty of fun. People are always complaining that it is a small city and nothing is happening here but I think that’s ridiculous, because all it takes to have fun is PEOPLE. So my best advice is to gather your friends, and do something. Go to a pub, a friday bar, a concert, the gym, get drunk or stoned, dance, cook some nice food, start a riot, or whatever you feel like. Just do SOMETHING. If you’re bored it’s your own fault. 

A quick style Q&A with Carsten:

Q: Your usual go-to colour palette ?
A: I prefer wearing dark colours in natural tones, and perhaps sneak a sand or a washed navy in here and there.
Q:  Are accessories important in a man’s outfit? What are your favourite pieces? Are you a fan of the man bag?   
A: I definitely think men should accessorize!  I don't know about the man bag...I use one when it comes in handy, but I would never bring one just to look smart. Shades, on the other hand, are a necessity wherever I go. I'm also very lazy when it comes to hair, so I often wear a beanie or a hat.
Q: Favourite designers/brands ?
A: It's hard for me to name a favorite designer, as that changes with every season, but the ones that keep inspiring me again and again include Damir Doma, Rick Owens, Boris Bidjan Saberi, Yohji Yamamoto and the good old Vivienne Westwood, to name but a few.
Q: Where do you take your fashion inspiration from?
A: For style inspiration I mostly look at catwalks, street-style blogs and occasionally in vintage stores.

Carsten was wearing:

Zara jacket
 Uniqlo T-shirt
 Bïmmel cardigan ( his own brand) 
David Andersen trousers
ASOS boots 
 gloves from the Danish National Defence Forces (he did national service there) 

interview by SaraConstance

Thank you for reading ! 


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