Sandra Haischberger has found the secret to running a sustainable creative business: a dedicated team, a loyal customer base, and a bit of bravery.
Beloved by customers worldwide, feinedinge* produces tableware, lamps and more in their one-of-a-kind store in Vienna’s Wieden.
Never one to shy away from new challenges, Sandra Haischberger's professional career has been anything but straight-forward. A former teacher, she took up ceramics as a hobby, and discovered her passion for working with porcelain in the process. Today, her company feinedinge* has customers all over the world, from Scandinavia to the Middle East to Japan, and employs a team of seven women. After studying product and interior design in both Vienna and London, Sandra joined what would become her last workplace before becoming an entrepreneur—an architecture firm. “It was there that I started learning more about drawing plans and project management,” explains Sandra. Eventually though, all the computer work proved to be too much tech and too little craft for someone so passionate about creative expression. The birth of her daughter was what gave Sandra the impetus needed to get started. “It's now or never,” she told herself, and ended up renting her very first studio space.
Filled with excitement for her brand-new one-woman business, Sandra started by personally renovating everything in what she now calls her “unsuitable underground corner studio”. "By far the biggest expense was setting up the high-voltage electricity connection. That left me with very little money for varnish and paint.”
However, all the hard work and perseverance paid off. Armed with plaster molds and a kiln she bought second-hand, Sandra grew her customer base. The orders became larger, the clientele more diverse. “Being present at international trade fairs was and is decisive for our success,” Sandra claims.
As for any business, the start of the pandemic meant having to adapt to new conditions. Packaging, shipping and all internal logistics became much more time-consuming, which resulted in more work. The team, however, welcomed this new challenge as it had all the ones that came before. “We have been very fortunate to have a lot to do,” says Sandra happily. “We managed very well, and I'm very grateful that our customers appreciate our work so much and remain loyal to us."
"I was always very curious. I really wanted to make it," Sandra says. Driven by the desire to remain independent and by the joy she finds in earning a living through her craft, it’s no wonder she doesn’t see what she does as “work”. When asked about her tips for new entrepreneurs, she answers candidly: “It’s important to learn to react quickly to challenges. To follow one’s gut feeling and not let fear take over. And of course, to nurture a certain willingness to take risks, to persevere.”