Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Anita Heiberg always felt drawn to Europe. Her father is Danish, she studied abroad in Finland and completed her postgraduate degree in London. Her next stop was Berlin where she got her Masters in sustainable fashion, and she hasn’t moved since.
Now Anita is an entrepreneur in Berlin running her startup 13 Dresses, an online business that crowdsources designs for sustainable fashion. Her mission is to optimize technology that will enable faster acceleration towards more sustainable fashion. This includes helping other businesses problem solve their sustainability challenges.
When asked why she chose this city to pursue her startup, Anita tell us, “Berlin just kinda happened by accident.” During her studies, she made strong connections to the startup scene and, when she got involved with the Berlin Geekettes, everything “snowballed from there.” The supportive network that Anita has built in Berlin is one of the reasons why this city is the right location for her business. Also, “Germany doesn’t have a huge distinction between foreigners and German nationals as far as entrepreneurs go. So that is huge.”
Anita named speaking German as her biggest challenge in Berlin especially when she has to navigate the ins and outs of the German bureaucracy. She explains to us there are many, relatively inexpensive services that have helped her as a non-German start her business. “Startup Clinics through Humboldt University is a great one. Expath also. They have helped me solve a bunch of problems and have partners all over the place.”
Many of the challenges Anita faces, however, are what any entrepreneur, foreign or not, could face. She is currently looking for a cofounder to join her and has also recently pivoted. When asked if there is something she would have done differently in her journey so far, Anita says that the main piece of advice that she has always gotten is to spend time working somewhere else for learning purposes. This is now the advice that she would give to other entrepreneurs before they start their companies.
“I always wish I would have been able to stick it out in a painful job,” Anita admits. If being employed by someone else sounds as painful to you as it does to Anita, then she has some different advice for you: “If you have a dream or something that you are really interested in: just do it. There is no right time, there is no wrong time. It is just about giving it a shot at some point. Just go for it.”
Image Credit: StreetScout.me