We sat down with Berlin resident Marvin, an all-round creative & brand consultant who during our conversation shared his story from his beautifully furnished apartment which he just moved into with his boyfriend, where he shares his story starting as an athlete in South-West Germany to quickly establishing his name as an influencer when he moved to Berlin in 2012. We discover that Covid was a moment of peace and enlightenment for Marvin after meeting his partner Luke who helped ground him into new ways of thinking and living, as well as the new ventures that his relationship has taken him to in signing to a talent agency in Milan before hitting the ripe age of 30 as well as co-launching the streetwear brand DAGGER.
RF: Lovely. Okay, well, let's just start then, could you give me just a little bit of an introduction who you are, where you're from, are you a Berliner, are you not a Berliner, are you from somewhere else like everyone else who lives in that city?
Okay. I'm Marvin and I have lived in Berlin for 10 years. I come from the southwest of Germany. And actually, I moved to Berlin because I was like, ‘Okay, what am I doing in my hometown?’ There's no one like me. And I was in sports school, and all of my friends were athletes and stuff. And I lived a pretty good life, but it was just the life I thought I had to live, but it wasn't really the genuine me. I mean, of course, also sexuality, and all of those reasons. But then moving to Berlin when I was 18, I discovered that there is so much more, the world is so much bigger, and I wanted to have a bigger world, to be honest.
RF: Ok that’s cool so classic move out your small city with big dreams heading into a capital city.
Yes and I was lucky because I think the first week when I came to Berlin I met Bonnie Strange, and then we became friends. And then the friendship circle got bigger and bigger and bigger and I just met the right people at the right time, then everyone became someone now. With Bonnie I helped her with her Fashion Week looks and stuff like this, and everything formed so naturally. Then PR agencies became aware of who I was, just based on the people I was with constantly. At the time people didn't really know what a blogger was then or what you did with Instagram or how much money you could make. So I think 10 years ago there were a few guys that did it and I think I’m one of them. And then from now and then from then on, I think it was just, especially for the German market, I was just always there, do you know what I mean?
RF: I love those early blogger days such a throwback. So what happened after?
Then I became a PR consultant and worked in communications but then three years ago I met Luke. And then, of course, in those 10 years there were lots of ups and downs and thinking, "who do I want to be and who am I?" And all of that stuff. But then I think with Luke, the right person came to put everything together and put everything in peace. So now the last two and a half years have been probably the best years in my life, even though there was Corona and everything, it was just needed. There was this one person missing that just opened your eyes and everything you've done in the past now you can use for other things.
RF: Tell me about Luke, who is he?
He founded Dagger, a streetwear brand, because he had a job loss during COVID. After a short period of dating we knew this was something special and soon after became boyfriends. I remember after he lost his job, he came home and was like, "Oh my god, I lost my job." Like, "Oh my God, are you still going to date me?" And I was like, "Yes, of course, I will." [laughs] So he is like, "Yeah, but I have an idea," and together we launched it and it became successful pretty quickly.
RF: I'm interested because in your late 20s to early 30s they call it your Saturn return, your big Saturn return. So big change, big shifts. And I'm curious in the last two years to learn about those big changes that might have happened recently when you're like ‘fuck, maybe I do need to change, or maybe I do need to stop hanging in with these people or maybe I do need to shift things, or a way of thinking of working.’ So I'm interested because it goes in line with the pandemic. I think a lot of things have changed, but I'm curious because it sounds like you met your partner two and a half years, three years ago, and you're like, ‘life is amazing’. But those two and a half years were pivotal times for things.
There was a lot of learning and adjusting. I said last night that recently everything feels like it's a dream. But then also I've worked in this industry for 10 years now. But then I think the biggest change or what I really had to improve was believing more in my own abilities and also saying no and to be able to disappoint people and the idea they have of you. But then I think with Luke, the right person came and put everything together and put the puzzle in peace. So the last two and a half years have most likely been the best years in my life, even though there was Corona, but it was just needed. There was this one person missing that just opened my eyes and everything you've done in the past now you can use for other things.
For me, the biggest change was saying no to people, and actually surrounding myself only with people that are really inspiring to me, and that are really good by heart. That's when I met new friends like Nik and Dia for example. It was immediate, ‘those are my people,’ and with a lot of people I've met or we've met in the last two and a half years, it was like, ‘you are my people.’
I think before that it was like, ‘you are a part of my [professional] world and I'm hanging out with you because it's just how it’s supposed to be’, and you didn't really look deeper. Now that I’ve been looking deeper and really just spending my time with the things that are beneficial for my mental health and also creating new habits.
RF: I always find it very interesting when couples start businesses together. Can you talk to me a little bit about each of your roles within it?
So Luke does all the creative work so he creates the fit, the graphics, everything.That's all him, which is super cool. And he came up with the brand name, the brand DNA, it was all him because it’s his story. And I was simply there to help him to bring his vision to life and supported him where I possibly could for example network within the fashion industry, communications and no one's favorite - admin. Luke is more creative and decides how it's going to look, which is good because it's like yin and yang.
RF: What are some of the challenges you face together when running the business?
Sometimes it's difficult to balance this, because at the end of the day it's still your boyfriend. Do you know what I mean? There's no office space in a normal sense where it's like you pissed off your colleague but then you get to go home at six. No, he's your lover, your best friend, everything like this. You're together 24/7. I think you have to be even more aware of how you communicate your concerns and what you think needs to be improved. It's a quite delicate way of doing things and it's working surprisingly well.
RF: Wow, that's so cool - and what about your ambitions for Dagger, what do you have planned?
Well.. The more cryptic answer is A LOT but I can't tell you about that just yet (laughs)
I think it's about being more innovative. As we evolve so should the brand but we want to take things relatively slow and work on learning and development. We want to add more purpose to the brand too because I think that's something I struggled with sometimes. I want to help people to accept themselves for who they are and not who they think they need to be. That was one of my biggest learnings in the last two and a half years, with really doing what you want and not who you think other people want you to be. Do you know what I mean? One of the best ways to do that for me is through representation. And it’s cool because Dagger can be one of those vehicles to be able to portray more queer representation. For example, in one of our campaigns there's two guys with big hoodies and baggy pants, holding hands and just being a couple. It is a more day to day realistic viewpoint on queer life which does not take place on a nightclub dance floor or in a gym.
RF: Beautiful. That makes total sense. I want to transition and talk a little bit into how your city, the people and the spaces you hang out in influences your creativity.
Recently, we moved to Neukoln, which, of course, is more of a creative district whereas previously I lived in Mitte which served a specific time in my life. I'm so creatively stimulated here; if I want to wear a skirt, I'm wearing a skirt, I can wear whatever I want and I don't feel a certain way because there is such a diverse community. It feels safe and everyone accepts everyone. And I think that's a cool thing because I don't feel a certain way leaving the house. I'm just feeling like myself. And that's really something that helps me be creative because it helps me to not be in a box and not be scared from everything.
RF: I love that part of town. What about your building where you live?
It's filled with different characters. The difference of where we live as opposed to our previous residence in Prenzlauer Berg is that it doesn't discriminate according to financial status so much. It’s clear that we all walk different paths but I meet such a wonderful spectrum of humans in my stairwell everyday and we all live together with peace and respect.
RF: How long have you lived there?
Three months now but having this space is such a privilege, which is why I'm so particular with my home after living in a much smaller space before. There is nothing here that doesn't give us joy. There is also nothing rushed. My parents taught me that ‘if you want something, then wait for that, work hard and don't settle for the alternative’. I want to spend money only on what I actually want and that's what I'm doing with this apartment. I'd rather have an empty corner because the idea of the product that stands there makes me happier than seeing the alternative product. Everything takes a while, but it's slowly coming together.
RF: How do you think you would describe your relationship to your home? What does home mean to you? And then I want to go into how you would describe the style of your home?
So for me, home means everything because I can be a hundred percent myself. in my home.t's so important for me because it really helps me rechargeIt's about letting go of entertaining others and just allowing myself to be still. So I always come home, have a shower and use my favourite products and then I go in the living room, lay down, listen to music and have my sage burning,I reflect on what happened that day because sometimes things happen so fast, that you already forgot what you've done.
RF: Beautiful man.
That's why it’s also important to have a ReFramed bed because it helps you to reflect as well.
RF: Sponsored content [laughs]. This has been a really, really beautiful conversation and really nice to hear a little bit about yourself and where you're at in your life and where you're thinking of, and how you want to live your life. It's really cool to always hear stories from people. So, I want to say thank you so much for sharing everything you've shared with me today.