The history of Michael Jondral dates back in 1984 when he started to work as an employee at Heinrich’s, the high class destination store in Hannover during the late 80’s and 90’s.
In 2002 Mr Jondral became part-owner of Heinrich’s and continued to work there for another five years. He then had to leave for personal reasons and different visions with his business partner on how to manage the store.
In 2007 Mr Jondral finally opened his own store in Theaterstraβe 13, carrying his own name.
AA: So Mr Jondral, many thanks for this opportunity and for being open to let me know a bit more about how you manage your business today
MJ: I always put a lot of passion in my job, and I strongly believe that classic retail is dead. When I say classic retail, I mean the old way of buying and selling goods, something that most stores were doing ten years ago. Today you always need to pamper your clients with different and smart initiatives, like exclusive trunk shows and special order events. I could definitely not think of Michael Jondral without them.
The system has changed a lot, and I always enjoy the idea of creating what I call a “personal clubby atmosphere”. A store where all gentlemen find great products and a valuable staff at their service.
Today nobody needs to buy something new every season, yet I am proud to have clients that regularly join our trunk shows (even from South of Germany or from other countries) to enjoy a glass of wine with us and rely on our advice when it comes to creating a wardrobe for the gentlemen that want to always dress impeccably.
Many stores today are pressed by the need to generate high revenues every month; and as a consequence they very much press their customers to buy. At Michael Jondral this is not our philosophy; we do not like to force our customers in buying clothes every time they walk in, we are always happy to show the good things we receive from our suppliers and give them valuable advice, but never press anyone to buy what we stock. I feel people always appreciate our honest attitude towards them. And this is proven for example when a few gentlemen from Munich (south of Germany) come to Hannover on purpose to buy their Cesare Attolini garments.
AA: what makes the selection of the products so unique at Michael Jondral?
MJ: I put all my heart in creating the products for my clients and I am lucky enough to be working with the best manufacturers in Italy that I also consider part of my family (Cesare Attolini for instance, often mentioned during the conversation).
What I enjoy the most is picking exclusive fabrics and ask my friends at Attolini to make wonderful garments for my store. The combination of English fabrics made in Neapolitan tailoring is the best. When you pick a limited Shetland from FoxBrothers that I choose with my friend Douglas Cordeaux and have amazing unconstructed jackets made by Attolini I know my clients are going to just love them!
AA: I noticed you are also pushing your business through your e-shop, is that correct?
MJ: As much as I love the shopping experience that my clients enjoy when visiting my store in Hannover, I felt the need of offering the products I admire to a wider audience and finally launched my website three years ago, in December 2014, thanks to the precious help of Lorenz Kolbe.
I have always thought that most of the e-shops are too much sales oriented. “My” ecommerce has the aim to transport the same emotions to the clients in the closest possible way as when they shop offline.
AA: Are there any other e-shops that you look at and respect?
MJ: Every store has its own brand selection and way of mixing the products. But I do respect those who have a passion and personality and when that is also transferred in their e-commerce platforms. I could mention No Man Walks Alone, FransBoone and Beige Habilleur, each of them unique in what they do.
AA: Have you been adding new brands lately just for your online business?
MJ: I have not and I do not think I will ever do it; again, I believe that michaeljondral.com should be as close as possible to what the store in Hannover represents.
AA: Are you satisfied with your e-commerce today?
MJ: My e-shop turned out to be a winning solution for my business, and has grown very much (growth in 2017 vs previous year has been extremely relevant). Yet, I want to improve the way the products are shown and create more story-telling around them. The online shop also has to be a very nice display of the MJ world, and a window to the world of what my store offers.
We have a growing foreign clientele and because we have a large number of clients shopping from South Korea we will soon have the products descriptions translated also in Korean.
AA: what is Michael Jondral today then?
MJ: the business is divided into three groups: Special Orders (all orders placed during the trunk shows), which represent 50% of the total business of my company, the RTW business and the e-commerce. I remain convinced that the combination of the three is very important though, and each one helps the other.
AA: what is your opinion about social media today ? and how is MJ making use of them?
MJ: Instagram is such a powerful tool for me (we do not use Facebook that much). I originally thought that Instagram users were mainly young and of a different target to my “ideal” one, but I was wrong. I constantly have proof that this is used by more and more people that speak “my” language. Once in a while a new gentleman walks in store to try on some garments that he found via my Instagram account. I enjoy upoloading pictures or contents to transport all emotions that are key for me, not only the beautiful products that I carry but also the valuable partnerships that I have with my suppliers.
A few months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the House. It was great to celebrate this important milestone with all the members of my family, my wife, my wife’s sister that works with us in store, my daughter , Mr Gambarov also working in store. All our clients appreciate to see us as one family with the same taste, knowledge and values. And this is something we always like to communicate via our social media tools.
AA: Where do you see Michael Jondral in three years?
MJ: Oh my god, I always have a pessimistic approach when I look at the future (he laughs). I believe that special orders will continue to play a big part in my business, these unique happenings always create an amazing engagement between products and clients. Of course Online is meant to grow a lot and we are constantly improving the way we do it; not to forget our RTW business, which by the way had a 10% growth again this year!
We are today a “small team” and this is one of the reasons why our clients enjoy shopping with us. They do not need to call a “customer care number” but they can anytime make a call to the store, send an email or an Instagram message and the MJ family is always happy to support and help. Small team is synonymous of great communication, I believe.
AA: what is the biggest mistake that you have made lately ?
MJ: Well, I have always learnt from the several mistakes that I’ve made in my life. Probably my biggest mistake was to stay so long with Heinrich (over 25 years) and have invested 200K€ to become co-owner and having my business partner not involved the way I was .
AA: what are you most proud of Mr Jondral ?
MJ: I am very proud of my wife and my two children. Also I am proud of having this kind of shop and to be able to offer premium products and service in this economic time. Also not to forget the introduction of the Ecommerce with the level of brands that I carry
AA: what is the last brand/manufacturer that you would kick out from the store? And which brand would you be happy to stock but you don’t right now?
MJ: Cesare Attolini from Naples, both for my personal relationship with Massimiliano and Giuseppe and for the size of the business I generate with them every year. And no, there’s not really a brand/manufacturer that I would like to have, although I always enjoy going to Pitti to find out if some new manufactures show beautiful products that my clients would be happy to buy.