“It is motivating as hell, because you actually care about what you learn.”
Today, we have a chat with the twenty-year-old Constantin Whale, who’s born in Germany but lived in Vancouver, Toronto, Switzerland and now Amsterdam. Together with his business partner, Kick van Doorn they created the creative platform Skandl. We talk about the master’s programme, about Skandl and he shares his tips & tricks for those who are considering applying for the Master’s programme.
Article by third year Fashion & Branding student An-Sofie Vandecruys.
During an event which they organised at the byAMFI store.
So, Constantin, could you tell us something more about your background and why you chose for the AMFI Master programme?
I was studying sociology and I actually didn’t want to do anything with sociology. The only thing that kept it interesting for me was doing research. I was already working in fashion, for a contemporary menswear brand, and through that I connected with a lot of people within the industry. Entrepreneurship was something that I was always enthusiastic about and I knew that one day I wanted to have my own business, my own company. So, I started doing research on what I wanted to do next. Should I find a job or look for a study that offers something to me, in the direction of fashion and entrepreneurship? I somewhat stumbled upon the AMFI master’s programme. Surprisingly, it was kinda exactly what I was looking for. Because of my sociology background I didn’t want to do a theoretically masters with a lot of theory and research. Also, the fact that you have to start your own company was for me a very positive factor.
Thus you applied and subsequently created Skandl. What is it and for whom?
Skandl is a creative platform, a service. It exists out of two sections. Firstly, there’s the commercial side, the digital agency. We provide digital strategy, which includes marketing, digital branding and contact strategy. We create a lot of media content, like lookbooks, videos, and photoshoots. Besides that, we do also content production and engagement marketing. That’s how Skandl generates revenue.
For example, we are now building a guide for small, sustainable brands to really communicate the values of sustainability, so they don’t have to use the common narrative of sustainability. We want these brands to communicate in a way that is cool and actually speaks to the people that don’t necessary care only about sustainability.
Secondly, which is a special thing we developed, is our creative network. This is where we try to find and support creators whether these are designers, producers, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, etc. By giving them a platform and a commercial opportunity.
And what about the Master programme, what’s your experience?
It is a very multidisciplinary programme, because we are with a lot of people from different backgrounds who do different things. So they had to find a way to make all the information useful for all of us. The programme is divided between service and product. If your company is delivering a product than you follow classes in supply chain management. These are obviously not useful for me, so that is one distinction within the Master. It’s an interactive programme and the fact that we exist of a small group makes doing workshops easier and are also able to help each other. We think about scenarios with the teachers that we can apply to our company. It’s not boring at all, you actually want to go to class because you know you’re going to learn something useful. It is motivating as hell. And you care, you actually care about what you learn because everything you learn in class, you can apply to your own company.
In regards to the company, it has to be fashion and sustainable. You start with the Master thinking you have the idea that you want to execute, but it involves so much more. They encourage you to do a lot of research, which is nice because the idea I started with is nothing like what it is now, it is always changing, you know. But that keeps it interesting too.
It’s not only about you and your company, you have to help each other out and everyone you meet through these people. The Master acts like a safety net, they guide you, have a lot of expertise, a lot of connections. The teachers have maybe already failed for you which allows you to speed up things, because if I just moved here and I didn’t meet the people that I did whether it is through AMFI or the teacher network, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now and how my company has evolved.
You talk a lot about your company. It sounds like you get a lot of freedom within the programme, how’s that?
Of course, it is still a Master and you have to do certain assignments. Because it is an accredited programme, there are requirements. Sometimes you’re stuck in between. Like, do I focus on this now or put all my effort in my company and projects that you don’t get marks for? Sometimes you have to make a choice. It feels like you’re working two full time jobs but after awhile you get used to it.
And another thing I learned during the masters is a lot of entrepreneurs say don’t sleep, work like crazy, and don’t go socializing. But I don’t agree with that. If you’re in this kind of industry, like fashion, like music, you have to go out. That’s how you connect and meet people of the industry. It’s about finding the right balance and keeping things exciting.
The Master programme is fairly new. Was there room for feedback?
Yes, sure. Because we are the first years of the Master programme, it is still evolving and growing. We give feedback to the teachers so they can improve it for the next generations. We’ve already come up with some things than can be improved. The team of teachers is really proactive and changing things for the better, seeing what’s working and what’s not. I think that’s important to like to help them out.
And I wish we had class in the AMFI building as well, to connect also with the students from the Bachelor programme, as they may be maybe your target audience or you could network with the teachers. I would easier ask a teacher what they think because they’re all experts in the industry; it would be more useful for all of us I think.
And last but not least, would you encourage people to follow the Master programme?
Yes, if you want to start your own company, and if you have the drive to do your own thing, for sure. If you’re just doing it to get another degree, definitely not, just go get another degree instead. You should really care about the company that you’re starting and how this Master is going to be a tool to get there. I don’t think anyone in the program looks at it, like ‘oh I want to get a degree’. Everyone is very focussed on how this will help their businesses, and that is the main objective of the masters and it definitely should be.
Do you have tips or key advice for people who are thinking about starting their own business and applying for the programme?
I know this will sound cliché but pick something that you can see yourself doing everyday. You must want to think about everyday because you will end up thinking about it and working on it everyday. I am thinking about things related to my own company all day long. Also, don’t only think about it, but talk about it to other people as well. Don’t think of it as like this special idea that only you have and that someone would want to steal it, because that’s not the reality. The company is eventually going to become what it is, because of how you execute your idea. If someone else had your idea it would look totally different.
Don’t be scared to get feedback from people and share and talk about your idea. Also don’t be so set on that one idea, it’s just an idea and it will evolve and change. You should be open to change, and be flexible, especially within the Master programme because you’re going to get feedback all the time from people who really know what they’re talking about and work in the industry or have their own company. They will give you feedback and what you think will work, might not, so you’ll have to adapt it. Those are the main three things that are important, even if you would want to start your business without going through the programme, these are some things you should really consider.
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