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An Interview with Johannes Morthorst
As a warm-up, let’s start with a little list of favourites.
(He smiles in anticipation)
Your favourite drink?
A fine dry red wine. (He grins)
Your favourite food?
Mixed fish grill. (He smiles appreciatively) With a spicy tomato-caper-olive sauce with a little pasta!
Your favourite singer or song?
(He considers briefly) The Bee Gees. Actually, I have a very broad taste in music. In any case, it can be a little groovy.
Your favourite colours?
Blue and pink.
Your favourite piece of clothing?
(He considers) My Jacob Cohen jeans. He is a super designer. The jeans have a green leather label on the back.
How did the idea for Creativ Knopf originate?
I started my working life in another button company. I thought at the time “I can do this better”. I had totally fallen in love with buttons for shirts and blouses. In my enthusiasm, I risked the leap into independence. That was in 1989, the year in which the Berlin Wall fell ...
Today you offer a wide range of buttons and accessories. How was the Creativ Knopf collection assembled at the beginning?
We started with very simple buttons for shirts and blouses. With women’s outerwear, I began with basic buttons at the lower end of the market. With shirt buttons, we were further advanced, because of my previous experience. Those were my two main products.
Materials play a great role in your button creations. What are your favourite materials?
Until a few years ago, the basic material was polyester. 90 percent of our materials are polyester buttons. You can make the most beautiful buttons from polyester. Nowadays many button creations are made from tagua nut, a nut from Equador, but buttons made of urea and horn are also indispensable. These materials have an amazing aesthetic quality. My personal favourite is horn.
Do you see yourself as Creativ Knopf, or as a businessman?
Definitely as Creativ Knopf. That was, however, not always the case. I used to manage the company on my own. There was no-one else until my son joined the company a few years ago. Since then, I have left the day-to-day running of the company to him. Before he joined Creativ Knopf, my son managed a small company that we had in North Macedonia. There he was able to gain plenty of experience and so join us later as a specialist.
How important is design for Creativ Knopf?
At the beginning, we were mainly a wholesaler. Design played only a small role. It was the same for many of our competitors. Meanwhile, we have become a pure designer and service provider for our customers. Each season we create new button designs. Whereas we formerly relied on the Italians, we now create our own button designs. We realize our ideas by means of small businesses.
I have read that you also have subsidiary companies in Hong Kong und Vietnam. What necessity lies behind that?
We want to be represented in Asia. Asian customers, who might not buy from European suppliers, order our buttons from our subsidiary companies in Hong Kong or Vietnam.
What can disturb your cool?
The preparation of our collection before our most important fairs, such as the Munich Fabric Start. The collection must be ready in good time with the right articles. I am stressed by thinking: do we really have the right items? (suddenly smiles mischievously): Ask my employees. It gets on their nerves, because I always make changes at the last moment. Always just-in-time - because we want to stay ahead of our competitors. We must be as dynamic as the fashion.
Everyone needs compensation to his work. What do you most prefer to do in your free time?
Golf! I don’t play very well, but I have won second place in the BMW-Cup!
Your son has also been working for many years in the company. Will he follow in your footsteps?
Yes, absolutely! He is already the more active of us. I concentrate on the collection and look after just two customers. My wife has her own role. She manages Human Resources, Controlling, and the presentation at fairs. My son manages everything else. Of course, I stand at his side with advice.
Would you describe yourself as one of the trend scouts (at vernissages, exhibitions and fashion shows)?
More and more so, since my wife and I find the time for it. For example, we will be in Florence in for the Pitti Uomo, a fashion fair for men’s fashion. I am very much looking forward to that. I can enjoy that much more now with my wife.