Recently a new kids concept store opened its doors in Zurich, KARAMELL. A true playground for the little ones (0-12 years) as well as for their moms. The brainchild behind it is no other than Sara Allerstorfer, who worked for 18 years at Switzerland’s renowned fashion magazine BOLERO as fashion editor and director. Through work, Sara and I have become friends and we always had a lot of fun when we travelled together, sharing a passion for Givenchy and being both working mums.
Sara and I working together during a shoot for BOLERO magazine in April 2011.
Sara has an expert eye when to comes to finding treasure from all over the world. Her store is filled with pieces that are produced in limited editions and in a sustainable way. The labels she carries come from all over the world, from Goteborg to Brooklyn to Tokyo and can only be found at KARAMELL in Zurich.
For us, she opened up about the challenges she encountered leaving her old job and how she feels today living her new dream.
You worked for 18 years as a fashion editor at BOLERO magazine. Why did you take the decision to leave such a «desirable» job and start something completely new?
The idea of my own store was a dream that I had already been dreaming for years. After my son’s birth, it was obvious for me that it would be a kids concept store because I could not find cool clothes for him in Zurich. And when he grew older, it even became worth. There were either clothes with allover prints in hideous colors, with tasteless motives or items in poor quality. Chains like H&M and Zara were no option at all, regarding their manufacturing process and quality.
And after 18 years in the print media world I needed a new challenge. Personally speaking, don’t be impressed by the «glamorous» fashion world. It is tough and not at all as glamorous as it sells itself via magazines and social media. All that glitters is not gold!
How long did it take you to get started?
To get KARAMELL on track took me one year. I had to find the right location, which is a challenge in Zurich; write a business plan; sort out financial matters; do research in kids fashion to find brands I liked and which are not distributed in Zurich yet; develop an interior concept, which then I realized with Virginia Maissen Interior Studio; go to fairs and showrooms for buying; etc.
What was your biggest challenge that you have encountered so far?
To have a good work-life-balance. To be a good mother and a good businesswoman.
What was the best moment you have experienced in your new environment?
When a customer came to the store and said: This is Instagram came true.
Once a little girl left her doll in the store. Several weeks later she came with her grandmother to pick it up. You should have seen her face. I have never seen such a happy little girl. You could almost touch the emotion she had in that moment, when I gave her back her beloved doll.
Do you think that your previous job as a fashion editor has helped you for your new task in terms of trends, contacts in the industry etc.?
Yes, absolutely. In the beginning it was not easy to convince brands to sell to me, as I did not have a physical store yet. I could not show any images, only talk about my concept and show moodboards. But I had my (good) name and credibility as a Fashion Director.
My expert eye helps me a lot in terms of trends. Sometimes I am a little bit too fashion forward for the kids world but luckily in the children’s universe fashion trends are not changing as quick as in the adult fashion business. It is also a lot more functionally and practically driven.
What is your favorite item in your store? Do you already have a bestseller?
I have three favorite items: The Jess Brown Rag Dolls, which are handmade from used clothes and old fabrics and therefore each one is unique. The sweaters and hoodies from ABC123me. The colors are amazing! And the jeans from East End Highlanders, a Japanese brand. Japanese are famous for the best denim in the world. I can only agree.
My bestseller so far is the tutu from Atsuyo&Akiko.
Would you do it again?
This question is maybe too early to answer, as I have opened my store only 6 months ago. But I am very enthusiastic and excited about the project.
Thank you, Sara, for giving us this insight in your world!
I am so proud of you that you have dared to live your new dream and I am wishing you only the best!
KARAMELL is located at Seefeldstrasse 44, 8008 Zurich / Switzerland.
Phone: +41 44 558 25 19, E-mail:
Monday to Wednesday 09.30 am – 5.30 pm
Thursday and Friday 10.00 am – 7.00 pm
Saturday 10.00 am – 5 pm
Photos: Courtesy of Sara Allerstorfer / Karamell