Casually strolling down Rüttenscheider Street on a Sunday morning, a To Let sign plastered against the window of a small shop space caught, Thomas Siepmann’s watchful eye. His Sunday morning breakfast rolls – previously purchased from the bakery around the corner – was still warm, when he dialed the number indicated on the window’s poster sign. Surprised to hear the voice of a friendly old lady in contrast to a broker’s answering machine, Thomas immediately made an appointment to discuss sub-letting the store. Over a cup of coffee and a four hour conversation,Thomas ended up the lucky new store owner in Rüttenscheid.
After securing their new store, it took Thomas and his wife, Kyung-Ae one year before deciding upon the concept for The Poodles Core. Traveling through Europe on a regular basis, Thomas became aware of a popular trend: concept stores – offering a variety of products and ranges to fit an array of customized needs. It wasn’t after visiting a concept store in Berlin that suddenly, out of nowhere, Thomas and Kyung-Ae knew this was what they wanted to do with their store. They commenced by putting heads together to determine a market niche. After careful consideration and market research, it became clear that in contrast to a wide selection of concept stores for women, there were no such in their allocated area for men. Optimizing their new found opportunity and being the first of its kind – their store was finally in full swing.
Q: How did The Poodles Core come to life?
A: The Poodles Core is a joint project between Kyung-Ae and I. For 11 years and 11 months we owned a bar know as 11 Friends. The bar was very popular amongst soccer enthusiasts and thrived during its eleven year reign. At some point we realized that the concept just wasn’t working anymore. The time had come for us to find a new challenge. This is exactly when I stumbled upon the To Let sign plastered against the window of a small store space in Rüttenscheid. For those who know the area – it is extremely rare to find an open space in Rüttenscheid due to its popularity. In this moment, I didn’t have any idea what it could look like, but I knew it was a huge opportunity presented to me as a gift. I immediately shared my excitement with Kyung-Ae and she hopped on board. I have to say that my wife and I are a great team. I am the one who develops and my wife is the one who carries out. At this point in time, Kyung-Ae is responsible for The Poodles Core and it is her baby – I am more in the background supporting her wherever I can. She has such a passion for our store and for finding the best products to include into our exclusive collection of handpicked goods.
Q: Where does the name The Poodles Core come from and what significance does the name carry?
A: I grew up reading Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s legendary drama “Faust,“ first published in 1808. The drama is about Heinrich Faust, a scientist who struggles to enjoy his life. His determination to strive after knowledge consumes him insofar that he makes a dangerous pact with the devil. The devil promises him knowledge and in return Faust sells him his soul. In the drama the devil disguises himself as a poodle and tricks Faust into taking him home. When Faust becomes aware of the trap he has blindly stumbled into, he proclaims: “DAS ALSO WAR DES PUDELS KERN“ (Directly translated: so that was the core of the poodle/meaning behind the poodle). Many decades after, Faust’s well-known words still translate into a powerful idiom. The meaning – an answer/solution to a complicated riddle. Basically, this is what we wanted to say to our customers with our name The Poodles Core. Our store is an answer to the complicated question: what gift to buy a beloved husband, father, brother or friend. Looking for the perfect gift is never easy, but we desire to act as a counsellor to our customers – helping them find the best quality, unique and exclusive gifts for their loved ones. Nowadays, you can find 300 types of different shampoos at DM, that all clean your hair. Our wish is to say: “Look, here is the best shampoo from Canada that is 100% organic, naturally produced and unique – it’s not just hip, but it’s also really really good!“
Q: How do you decide upon which products to sell?
A: We treasure products that are unique and that only a few people across the world own. Blaumann’s Jeanshosen – a small start-up that manufactures their own jeans in Germany – are a great example. Their jeans might be more expensive than a pair of jeans at H & M, but they are extinguished from other brands due to their quality, style, elegance and individuality. They are not mass produced, but handcrafted with lots of tender love and care. Sometimes my wife and I disagree about which products to include in the store, but Kyung-Ae definitely has the final say. It’s important to make sure that the products we find aren’t just nice, but profusely fit to our message. We are constantly changing our products – staying in the loop with current trends and classic beauties.
Q: Where do you usually find your products?
A: Kyung-Ae is daily on the lookout for products that tell a unique story – staying in contact with small and unique business owners or scanning though product ideas and inspirations over the world wide web. When I travel for work I also keep an eye open for interesting, unique and good quality products. We also get a lot of tips from friends when they find something that might be of interest to us. A friend called us up the other day, raving about a beautiful leather belt he saw in Madrid. I love the fact that our customers recognize and appreciate the effort we make to find the best products from all over the world.
Q: What besides your carefully handpicked products makes The Poodles Core special?
A: In our store we offer small events to include our customers into the history and uniqueness of our products. A few weeks ago we hosted a gin tasting event for some of our regular customers and friends. We love to give our customers an inside look into the compelling stories behind our products. Another idea we have is to host an event for boys where they are taught the right way to polish their shoes. These type of events embrace the uniqueness of our products and safeguards the history behind our products.
With The Poodles Core’s breathtaking vintage interior and industrial look, shopping becomes an exclusive experience where customers are swept away by a mix of beautiful, unique and timeless goods. With their selection of just the best goods for men, Thomas and Kyung-Ae make sure that their customers never leave empty handed.
Photos by the-poodles-core.de
Report by Leandri Meyer for VINTAGESTYLE