Laura Bohnenberger started her retail career as the manager of Sprout, the womenswear equivalent to Munich’s long-loved menswear destination Harvest which opened its doors in June 2013. After her and her business partner Philip Stolte decided to go separate ways, Laura kept the store location but reopened under a new, more personal name in May this year: Bean is a reference to her last name and a nickname she was given by her friends and family from an early age on (“Bohne” is “bean” in German). Right in Munich’s popular Maxvorstadt district, the studied art historian maintains her unique mix of upscale meets casual womenswear including brands such as Acne Studios, A.P.C., Carven, Lee, Libertine-Libertine, Maison Kitsuné or YMC, always blended with a lovely selection of accessories, jewelry and perfumes. To put it in her own words: “My approach to the product range for women remains the same: I’m constantly looking out for consistency. To be more precise: products which do not disappear or go out of fashion after one season, but are timeless and reliable.”
Interview by Maria Hunstig

Photo: Simon Burke
Photo: Simon Burke

What are the best things about being a store owner?
People and their stories. It is amazing what customers keep on telling me about their lives. I am happy to be a part of it – and the best thing is to make them happy, too by giving them a nice time in the store and to present them products they like and will love for a long time.

What are the worst / most challenging parts?

What makes the Bean Store unique?
The Bean Store is a place to get together: where young brands and designers (like Cocii, Annika Schüler, Fove, Katharina Heubeck, Brosbi, Nallik, for instance) have the chance to prove that they can also make it in the market alongside more famous brands.

One special attribute of shopping at Bean is my personal contact with my customers and the advice I provide them. I want to get to know my customers’ preferences to meet each of their individual wishes. Every customer’s requirement improves and varies our product range in a way; however, timelessness, quality and exclusivity will always remain our focus!

Where do you collect information on new trends and labels?
I am trying to look through all the lovely lookbooks and emails that people send me and of course I visit fairs and watch fashion shows. Most important though: I ask my customers and I listen to them when they are talking about new brands that they like.

Do you visit trade shows? Which ones are your favorites?
Of course I do and I would love to visit more but of course the time is not enough…
I love “Revolver” in Copenhagen. This is a brilliant fair in a brilliant city.
New York would be a dream though, too.

Have ordered any new brands or items recently that you are specifically excited about?
Valentine Gauthier is an amazing brand from Paris that we already love as well as Kow Tow from New Zealand – great people and a great collection and of course Carven- we feel quite honored to present them in the next season.

Photo: Simon Burke
Photo: Simon Burke

You have also introduced kidswear to the store…
Yes, due to high demand, I now ensure that children are not being left behind when it comes to the latest fashion; or rather that mums and dads can also come to my store and shop for their kids. So in addition to the exclusive selection of clothing, footwear, accessories, beauty products and perfumes for women, visitors are now able to find a small but elite area for children´s products in the store.
It is especially important for me that the offered children’s products are produced in a sustainable manner and of the highest quality of course – none of the brands I stock fail to meet these criteria; such as Lovem or Papua for example. We are also producing our own products called ‘Little Beans’: a range of children’s rattles including some Munich originals such as a little pretzel.

Which are your bestsellers (brands and items) in the store?
Right now we are really amazed how good our own products perform – or those we do in collaboration with other brands and friends. Such as the little rattle toys we make or the „BRRP” jumpers for children which we created in cooperation with friends of ours. We will soon be presenting our own nailpolish with a great brand called „IAM” as well.

How important is an interdisciplinary exchange in this field?
The combination of fashion and art have always been an integral part of my life. After my diploma at the Academy of Fashion and Design I studied history of art. In my Master´s thesis I’m dealing with the combination of fashion and art. My time as guide at the Biennale and my work at an art gallery in New York had a huge impact on my interest in art. For me, as a fashion journalist and art historian, art, music, even politics and sociology are inseparable from fashion. Fashion reflects the zeitgeist of our society, and I think fashion has to be held in high regard.

For these reasons I want to bring regular cultural events, such as exhibitions and reading events to my new store for a more diverse cultural interconnection.
The Bean Store will become a cultural place, where fashion, art, photography, sculpture and literature blend together. It will be a social place: to hang out, to exchange ideas, to have fun and to meet new people. It will be a place to come together, most especially for women.

Bean Store in Munich's Theresienstraße (photo: Simon Burke)
Bean Store in Munich's Theresienstraße (photo: Simon Burke)

Which role does the interior of the shop play?
On the one hand you need to deal with the representational values of a shop: a retail space with a big welcoming shopping window and strong corporate design etc. – on the other hand it is necessary to step into the background to avoid the space being too visual as architecture.
Daily business and the experiences gained during the last two years in the Sprout Store will help me building-up the new business, and ensuring that our products are presented in the optimal setting.

Who are you customers?
Nice people who love beautiful products.

What’s the Munich fashion landscape like for you?
It is growing. The new face of the Luitpoldblock for example is amazing. I love the Aspesi store and I am really happy that stores like this one as well as cool shops like the Acne Store are coming to Munich. It is important for small stores like mine to have such neighbours who show how interesting and fashionable Munich already is.

What’s your personal favorite store worldwide?
I like „Merci“ in Paris a lot and of course I like „Aspesi“ but my favorite store might be the record store „Record connection“. I think their owners had their dream come true the moment the Foo Fighters were playing there. I love it when a small store gets a moment like this. They obviously have done something extremely right!

Bean Store
Theresienstraße 25
80333 Munich