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Dreaming of the real thing with SNURK

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Dreaming of the real thing with SNURK

Editor's Note: Komodo's "10 Questions" series features kids brands and their founders. They reveal how they came up with the idea, what's unique about their brand and what makes them carry on.
 
Today we are introducing our series of brands founders’ interviews. As it's essential to know everything about the products we buy, especially those for our kids. And what better way to do so than by asking those who come up with the idea in the first place. As there is more to the product than its basic description. More than the materials used, its colour, size or the country where it’s produced.
 
We are starting this series with one of our new brands on board. A brand which stands "for a horizontal living". They started with a cardboard box and two passionate people. And so ladies and gents, without any further ado, meet SnurkWe caught up with Peggy van Neer and Erik van Loo to ask them 10 Questions to figure out what makes their brand unique and what makes them tick.

K. Could you tell us more about how you came up with the idea?
Erik: We started the company 12 years ago. I'm focused on the business side of the company and Peggy takes care of all the creative side. But also, communications, social media, press releases all the fun stuff. I do all the boring stuff. And we are married couple. We love to work together all day. But we never talk about Snurk when we are home :P
 
Peggy: We never planned to start this business, this was more by accident. I used to work in advertising as a creative. Twenty years ago [ when I was starting out in advertising], I had this idea in my portfolio. Making cardboard books bedding: I thought it's fun to have people sleep as if they are sleeping on the streets and not in their warm beds. And that the profits would go to help homeless people. One day I said to Erik: "I would like to make this idea real. And so, Erik had moved to Amsterdam and got fired from his old job. And he was like: "You know what, let me do some research". He started Googling and found a producer, how many pieces we would have to buy and at what costs. Now this was a plan. And then, we thought why not. It sounded like a great adventure. We would do something right to help the homeless. Let's do this project. And then it became a bigger success than we expected. We got picked up by a blog named Boing Boing. And we started to receive e-mails from all over the world. And from that point it started snowballing. The New York Times was on the phone.
 
Erik: We started everything in our small apartment of 60 square meters. The kitchen table was my office.
 
Peggy: We were giving away 50 percent of the profits. And so, we were not making any money. Then we decided to make more duvet covers because people loved them. And we said: “I wish there was more fun bedding like this”. This is when we had our light bulb moment: “Oh my god, this market is really boring!”. There are only flowers and squares. There are prints, but there are all ugly. And there's nothing in between. And that's how Snurk was born. I could do my creative thing, Eric could manage the business side.
 
K. How did you come up with your brand name?
 
Peggy: Snurk means snoring in Dutch, so it's actually quite straight forward. I sat down with a piece of paper, thinking about sleeping and then of course SNURK came to mind.
 
Erik: In the first five years is was not easy at all. We had the adult collection which was not a big success. After our first son was born, we came up with the idea to make children bedding.
 
Peggy: This is when I discovered that there was an even bigger problem when it comes to kids. It's either a high-end design which is it's too boring for my kids and expensive. Or not so nice prints which my kids like, but I refuse to use those for their beds. I saw a huge gap again and I said why not embrace the clichés, because kids love what kids love. They love princesses, they love astronauts. Whether you want to be hip or not, that's what they love. Let’s take a more design like approach, so that everybody can be happy. And that turned out to be a big success. And also, because we were the first to print the outfits, like the princess dress and the astronauts, in “real” size. We made it big because when you dream as a kid you don't dream of some childish version, you dream of the real thing. That's the dream! So, we got the actual NASA suit, we got an actual beautiful bridal gown. This has been our approach ever since: to make it as real as possible.

Snurk, duvet covers set print shooting       Snurk, duvet covers set
Peggy: For the pirates print, I found out that I needed to go to London. There it's biggest costume shop in Europe. I contacted them and they had all the pirates of the Caribbean outfits in their warehouse. I stepped on a plane and I rented one from them.
  Snurk, duvet covers set inspiration costume      Snurk, duvet covers set
 
Erik: And we got a real parrot.
 
Peggy: We try to make it as “true” as possible. So, to get the best the ballerina, we partnered with National Ballet of Amsterdam. It’s a real antique Tutu. There's a professional ballerina in it as you need to have the right legs, you have to have the right pose. We try to execute everything in the best way possible.
Snurk, duvet covers set balerina    
K. What is unique about your products?

Peggy: We want to seduce people with prints, because visually we attract most customers. But then once they buy it I hope that we can surprise them with quality. I also try to combine high end materials with fun.

Erik: That's why we produce in Portugal because we can easily go there, we know everyone. We have the same DNA and we found a good partner.

K. How did you select the ONGs you are donating to?

Peggy: This was part of my initial project. We are now supporting 'Stichting Zwerfjongeren Nederland' which means Foundation for Homeless Youth in Dutch. It's a small organisation. We were reading about them and we got so excited because they focus only on youngsters. They are offering special houses and special programs to rehabilitate or finish school. We donated around 80.000 euros so far. We also work with Off Road Kids in Germany.

K. What’s your design thinking process? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Peggy: I'm not aware of it, but I guess the everyday life and my own kids. Sometimes they'll "order" one. They say: “I want a dyno duvet! When will it be ready?!!” It can be anything. Like trade fairs. Like the one is Paris. I like more walking around the fairs, riding my bike in Amsterdam, visiting a museum, reading or going to a concert. I guess it's about having your antenna on in everyday life.

K. Please describe a day at work. How do you start/end your day?

Peggy: We get up, we get the kids dressed for school. Erik is in the office earlier. I'm more with the kids. I go home at 15:00 in the afternoon to pick up the kids from school. This also means we often need to work in the night time, once the kids are in bed.

Erik: Once I am in the office I check my e-mails. And then I spend two hours a day on FaceTime with our production in Portugal. We're discussing production or buying fabrics. We have almost 20 different sizes per design. It's a lot of logistics production and accounting.

K. What are your future plans?

Peggy: Getting the whole horizontal project going was a lot of work. This was another crazy idea. We were talking about it for years. There was nothing on the market that you and I would like when it comes to sleeping outfits. And so, I thought there was a market and I thought would fun to make something new. We should not call it pyjamas. For me it sounds old fashioned and boring. We have different lifestyles: we work at home, we have weekends where we stay in and watch Netflix. Maybe you want pop out to the supermarket in the same outfit. I wanted to make a suit or an outfit that is more like a hybrid, that's for day and night. Whenever you choose to wear. We call it horizontal wear. Because it tells more about how one want to wear it: to sleep or relax. The fabric is a bit thicker than a pyjama and but less thick than a jogging. It's in-between. It was also designed to have pockets so if you want to run out then you can bring your phone. Right now, our future plan is to stay where we are and make sure that everything runs well. The horizontal line is actually growing fast.

K. What's a trip that changed you?

Peggy: I went backpacking Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. That was to remember.

Erik: I'm a cyclist so I'd like to spend time on my road bike. I'd like to go into the Swiss mountains and cycle up for a couple of hours. That's my dream day. During the holidays we grab the car, we get a small house in the middle of the mountains and we bike.

K. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Peggy: I don't know. When I was young I wanted to be a stewardess. I wanted to travel.

Erik: I wanted to be a professional athlete. But I had two knee surgeries, so I was not good enough. It was never the plan to have our own businesses, but here we are now.

Peggy: Now I know that it should have been my dream, because I enjoy this freedom a lot. I notice now that is my ideal way of working.

K. A message to our readers

Peggy: I would say “Never Grow Up”. Don't take it too seriously. I mean we do our jobs, but we don't take ourselves so seriously. We always say to each other: what's the worst that could happen?! We could end up with a thousand cardboard boxes of print duvets and no more money. That's the worst that could happen. But then we will have a nice gift for everybody for Christmas, every year.

This is a first of a series to come. Check out our website for the new brands in the weeks to come. Enjoy!


Photo credits @Snurk 2018
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