A One-Woman Startup in a 4,000-Employee Ecosystem

Germany’s biggest and oldest cosmetics company Schwan-Stabilo sent one employee to Mindspace, and here’s why

Written by Moran Zohar

3 years ago

Schwan Stabilo cosmetics is the largest producer of makeup, and are involved in producing almost every premium makeup brand worldwide. There are 4000 employees of the company worldwide, but only one sits at Mindspace Berlin, and she acts as a small startup within the Schwan Stabilo ecosystem.

“The idea behind it is that my ideas are new, I’m relatively new to the company, and we don’t want to put the old mindset on new business ideas. That’s why I work from Mindspace Berlin.”

That’s Marija Mustapic, the employee who sits at Mindspace. A one-woman startup, Marija specializes in biz dev, and building new business models in older companies. She’s worked with Schwan Stabilo for about a year now.

Marija Mustapic. You have to be brave

“Schwan Stabilo’s conservative structure makes us very successful in the current business world, but we are very aware of the fact that there are a lot of changes and improvements happening technology-wise, and we need to start adapting to new ways of doing business.”

There are many ways that old economy companies are adapting to the new economy, but Marija says that in Germany things move particularly slowly. “This is very typical for Germany. Here, we take a very long time to build up trust for a new idea or concept but when we start doing something we do it properly. A german does what he knows,” she explains, “but we are getting there.”

Part of ‘getting there’ is moving Marija to a coworking space like Mindspace.

“The advantages are that you have all the benefits of a free founder but at the same time, we also have the benefits of a corporation.” Things like resources, network, money, and power. “It’s a nice combination to be a big business in a startup environment.”

But there are growing pains for Marija, who feels torn between the worlds of old and new. “Sometimes, I have problems connecting with the old school side, because they don’t get the importance of apps and social media as much. On the other hand I sometimes have a problem to connect to the new school. It’s rare but it happens.”

Marija explains that Schwan Stabilo sits in Bavaria, near Nuremberg. Berlin is long way away, but they chose Berlin because Marija lives here and has a strong network in the startup scene. In addition, “Berlin is one of the most important cities in the startup hubs next to London, Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv.” If you want to mix the old with the new, Mindspace Berlin is a worthy option.

Moving to Mindspace has helped Marija “100%. As a one woman company with very basic work, Mindspace lets me take care of my work without needing 10-15 employees to take care of paying bills, managing the office, and daily administration.”

But not all coworking spaces are created equal. “I’ve researched that a lot, and what I love about Mindspace is that when I come here I don’t feel like someone that is renting an office. I feel like a friend.” Marija says that sometimes, as a one-woman startup, things could get lonely, but that’s different at Mindspace. “Here, I have friends that can’t wait to help me.”

Schwan-Stabilo Website

Working alongside friends in true startups has certainly imbued Marija with the qualities of a starter. “To build a strong brand, you have to be brave! Use your resources, find an easy way to start, like finding a coworking space so you spare all the contract work, and just try everything you can get your hands on.”

Don’t lose your motivation. 80% of your product projects will fail but you still need to wake up every morning with a good feeling and inspiration,” she advises.

As for where Marija gets her inspiration, she only has to look as far as her friends that sit at her Mindspace table. “People from the craziest industries that you can imagine come here. Super diverse people sit at one table and they challenge my ideas, and tell me what they think and what they would change. This is like an old consulting firm.”

But Marija’s appetite for meeting new people doesn’t stop. She’d love to get coffee with someone from an old-school German company, like Volkswagen, to exchange experiences and learn from one another. “Maybe have fresh knowledge that I could benefit from.” Marija, maybe you should meet Paul from Hertha Club?

“I’m not a big fan of nice words, but what is true needs to be mentioned. I’m very confident and happy about choosing Mindspace. And I think that Schwan Stabilo is on its way to becoming what AirBNB is for housing, only for the cosmetics industry.

If you have any ideas with Marija or want to get coffee with her, don’t be shy. Welcome to Mindspace Marija, and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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