Posts tagged swing kitchen
It's a wrap! September 2019
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The assignment I've been most excited about this past month is giving Google Security training at Google Zukunftswerkstatt in Germany. I've always really loved training people, so I'm super grateful to be an UpSkill Digital trainer and for this new assignment. 

In September, I presented a training on reputation building and digital security in Hamburg. Next month, I'll be talking about family security online and reputation building at the Zukunftswerkstatt in Munich. 

Digital companies get a lot of criticism for how they use people's data. However, the internet is the most empowering of all tools – if you use it correctly. Once a person shifts their usage and becomes a producer instead of a consumer, they'll notice how empowering digital media can be. (You can read all about it in my books :) )

If you read my August summary, you've probably noticed I've been working on Swing Kitchen's rebranding for a while. In September, I gave a social media workshop to the marketing team, and I've finalized the brand bible and the language manual. I've also handed in a final report on the community initiatives I organized on their behalf in Berlin. At the moment, I'm writing the copy for Swing Kitchen's website, which should go live in the next couple of weeks. 

For CIEE's eLab, I'm currently working on curricula and an outreach strategy for a series of weekend workshops. eLab's courses usually take 6 to 12 weeks. But, for most people, it's not easy to pack up their bags and come to Berlin or London for that amount of time. Thus, we've decided to develop short-form workshops to make the eLab knowledge available to and accessible by a much broader audience. 

I usually have (a few too many) side projects. I've applied to MOE Foundation's mentoring program and got to spend three days working on-site with them in London. I also have an idea I’m working on with the "Act on Plastic Challenge" initiated by the Soul Foundation.

Also, in light of my food gathering research, I was lucky to host Yana from Salo Series on my sofa. It was inspiring to see her arrange a Kamayan dinner at my place. And we got to eat with our hands! If you'd like to read more about Yana's work, her interview is featured in my book Work Trips and Road Trips. I will also adapt her story for the book I've been working on so stay tuned.

Along those lines, I'd urge you to go and see the FOOD exhibition at the V&A if you happen to be in London anytime soon. Iif not, I can highly recommend the exhibition catalog, which I bought without even knowing it was an exhibition catalog in the first place. 

I'm currently available for projects, so please let me know if you need marketing, branding, or community building help. 



It's a wrap! August 2019

For three hot summer days at Alexanderplatz, I wore a Swing Kitchen uniform and had a camera around my neck. My job was to approach people, talk to them about Swing Kitchen, and invite passersby to try a vegan nugget. Most of them said they couldn’t believe it was vegan! I have to admit: I did create quite an unfair advantage for myself. Instead of standing inside our stall, I stood outside to draw people closer. And it worked! By the end of the three days, we’d talked to thousands of people and given away 1,000 vouchers.

You might wonder why vegan products taste like meat. Or why I even care to write about this in more detail.

With so many of the replacement products on the market, you probably wouldn’t believe they’re even fake. Which might make you wonder why vegans would eat fake meat that tastes like, well, meat. It’s quite simple, really: It’s because changing diets is really REALLY hard! Food is what gives us comfort. Food serves as an agent for many of our rituals and cultural traditions. You might have always made yourself a cheese sandwich for breakfast. Suddenly, once you decide to go vegan, you’ll need to change that – and so many other things. It’s a lot to think that you took for granted all your life suddenly. So the job of replacement products, like those vegan nuggets I shared, is to make the journey more comfortable. Maybe you’re able to change your cheese sandwich habit immediately. OR maybe you switch to vegan cheese until you find a new ritual and a new recipe. And maybe, once you think of yourself as a more “established” vegan, you won’t need these products anymore. But that’s a discussion for another day.

So let’s go back to why I stood at Alexanderplatz for three days wearing a service staff uniform and engaging in what I call community strategy and outreach...

When I suggested to my client, Swing Kitchen, that they join the Vegan Sommerfest earlier this year, everyone was excited about the idea. Swing Kitchen has only recently launched in Berlin, and they’ve found it’s much harder than expected to bring guests in.

Being at a festival and among other entrepreneurs allowed us to connect with the local audience and show our faces. It allowed us to talk about our values. We were able to speak about why Swing Kitchen does what it does. We could discuss why we chose to have fake meat products on the menu that tasted exactly like chicken or beef.

The event was a great success, and I was grateful we did it. However, setting up a stand at a festival isn’t as easy as just popping up. You have to be prepared for such events, and Swing Kitchen is not.

For starters, nuggets and tiramisu were the only two products we could put on the menu, as they were the only two items we could cook on site. We had to rent all the necessary equipment and set up a “field” kitchen for three days.

What might sound easy in one country isn’t always easy in another. In Germany, you must have a tent with a roof. You’ve got to have a washable floor...that’s also detached from the ground in case it rains. All surfaces must be washable. Nothing is allowed to be directly on the ground either. There must be flowing water… the list goes on!

Given there were no tents for rent available in all of Germany, I had to buy a tent. And that was just one thing I had to figure out! Luckily, I was able to make it seem like Swing Kitchen always did these kinds of events. And for me too, this was something I’ve done the very first time. I must say my interior architecture studies really came in handy!

Right after the festival, I got to host an event with the Vegan Entrepreneur Network. We invited Annik from Einhorn Berlin’s marketing team and Irene, the founder of Swing Kitchen, to speak about “Vegan Entrepreneurship as Activism.”

We learned, from a recent customer questionnaire, that 80% of Swing Kitchen’s customers are carnivores. I’d say it’s an activist act to be able to convince non-vegans to opt-in for vegan foods! For every vegan burger Swing Kitchen sells, a real burger becomes unnecessary.

By now, you might have noticed that, when I work with a food business, it’s most likely a vegan company. That’s because I believe eating animal products is no longer contemporary. While I acknowledge how hard it is to change your diet, I think it’s necessary for the wellbeing of our planet.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that I’m interested in cultural and social change and – given that I also like to learn something while working on a project – working with vegan companies has been truly life-changing. I wasn’t a vegan until I left Veganz after the project last year and informed myself properly about everything we talked about in our conversations. It’s a strange feeling to look around now and feel astonished that so many people still eat food that, based on research, makes them, our animals, and the planet sick. To me, personally, this is not necessarily about animal welfare. It's more about common sense and integrity.

When I first started working with Swing Kitchen, I was only supposed to run a few events at the space. Then, I was asked to help with the brand bible, the language manual, copywriting, the new website, and a social media strategy for 2020.

I worked on the brand bible with Moriz Piffl, who is one of the most incredible marketers I’ve ever met. What I love about working with him is how much we both care and how we’re never scared to tell the other what we think. At times, we were like two Tauruses battling about what we wanted to say and how. It was a good battle and a necessary one. What was most rewarding about this project was the feedback we’ve received! The founders of Swing Kitchen loved how we framed what their brand stands for.

Two animal rights activists founded Swing Kitchen. The reason Swing Kitchen is a fast-food chain and not a hippie, vegan, superfoods joint – and I’m glad I can say that on my website! – is because of the astonishing popularity of McDonald's. The founders know that the more vegan burgers they sell, the fewer meat burgers will be produced (and needed) on this planet. They don’t want vegan customers. Those people are already doing what Swing Kitchen wants them to do. They want meat-eaters who opt-in for vegan food.

I love that!

However, it seems that veganism is becoming more mainstream every day (at least in Berlin). People are getting curious about the taste of plant-based food, and so, for the first time, Swing Kitchen is going to be bold and outspoken about being vegan. Given “2019 is the year of the vegan,” it seems fine – and highly appropriate – to suddenly be much louder about it. That’s exciting.

When Moriz asked me to also help out with the social media strategy, I must admit I wasn’t too excited about it. As someone who grew up on the internet, I feel like social media is becoming more and more outdated every day. It’s become so much more about commerce and so much less about adding value to people’s lives or about connection. People are getting tired, and I don’t want to add to the noise on the internet. I’d much rather build great products and have others talk about it then tell brands how to talk about themselves. It’s not exciting, and mostly, it doesn’t work.

At least it no longer works for the “target” group I associate with and the social media platform where people in this target group hang out – Instagram. But then, there are other groups who are excited about the internet and find things entertaining and worthy of their time.

You might have guessed correctly: I’m talking about TikTok.

To me, TikTok is like the modern version of the German and Dutch TV format Mini-Playbackshow in which kids dressed up and pretended they were famous singers. However, this time, the fun isn’t done after 60 minutes. It can quite frankly be as long as you want it to. TikTok is where employees record videos when they’re bored on break. It’s where girls and boys dress up and have the sort of fun I used to have when I was dancing in the living room in the 90s.. just, obviously, without the camera.

On one hand, I have very little interest in keeping kids fixated on their screens. Then again, if I have to tell kids to do something, I’d much rather ask them to eat vegan burgers than regular burgers. And, as you know, you have to use the weapons that exist and are accepted already.

TikTok is fun. I can only recommend you download it and browse around a little. As I was playing around with the app myself and trying to figure out how TikTok could be useful for brands, I uploaded a video and was astonished to find out it had more than 800 views within just an hour. If your target audience is in their teens, you might want to stop wasting your time on Facebook and Instagram and instead move to TikTok. Is this meaningful? Not really. Can it be made useful? That’s the real question!

Because September is usually the month when everyone goes back to school I thought about how I could give my approach to communication a different perspective. I thought about what courses I could take and how I could get better at what I do. I’ve signed up for improv classes at the Comedy Café Berlin. AndI’ve also started taking Dutch courses. I’ve been spending crazy amounts of time on Duolingo! While my screen time has increased to astronomical heights, so has my Dutch vocabulary. It’s very satisfying. At least for now.

Furthermore, I’ve applied to two mentoring programs for a business idea I have, and I’m happy to say I got accepted to both. I’ll be working with a mentor in Berlin through the Act-On Plastic Program initiated by ProjectTogether, and I’ll also get to spend three days with the coaches of MOE in the Dream Factory program. I know it might sound strange to do such a program as a participant given I’m usually on the mentoring side. However, it feels really good to have someone hold my hand for a change.

Before I wrap up what I’ve been up to this past August, I’d love to mention the books I’ve read and found very valuable. “Food Bigger Than the Plate” is the exhibition catalog of a V&A exhibition with the same name. It’s a great read to learn more about the current discourse on what we eat and how it needs to change. “You and I Eat the Same” is a conference catalog from MAD in Copenhagen and an examination of the similarities in food cultures across the planet. Last but not least, Chmara:Rosinke gave me their latest book “Essays on Kitchens,” which is inspiring as well.

As you can see, August was a little bit all over. September is probably going to be similar in terms of my workload. The good news is I’ll be available in October. Have you got a project you’d like to discuss? At the moment, I’m available for branding, copywriting, and business development strategy.

It’s a wrap! July 2019
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Sometime last year, one of my best friends and I conducted an exercise that applied design thinking techniques to what I think is best called “life planning.” Following a step-by-step manual, we had to decide on three guiding principles and values we consider essential. For each of the tenets, we then had to draw a visual five-year timeline. On each of the timelines, the task was to include personal and non-career events we’d want to see happen in our lives in the next few years.

Usually, when people think about doing something like this, they draft just one option. I personally find it puts a lot of pressure on me to only think of one option. Instead, drafting three different options – contradicting or similar ones – gave me a lot of inner peace. It was easy to write “everything” down because suddenly it didn’t matter if what I wrote down was the right choice. It was all optional and, thus, felt much more flexible.

What I especially enjoyed about the exercise was that my friend and I read what we had written out loud and commented on each other’s. Because we know one another fairly well and are used to being candid with one another, we also called each other out on our weaknesses, insecurities, and patterns.

The afternoon was, as you can imagine, rather eye-opening. Nevertheless and as is usually the case, nothing changed immediately. I folded the three sheets of paper filled with my potential life plans, stuck them in the back of my notebook, and more or less forgot about them.

When, six months later, my friend sent me a message to wish me a happy birthday, he asked if I’d made any progress on what I had written down that afternoon.

To my surprise and in that very moment, I realized that I was pursuing one of the big things I had included on one of the timelines. Something that, at the time of the exercise, I didn’t even think was realistic in any way.

I had written down that I wanted to go on a road trip in a camper van.

That’s precisely what happened this past July.

My partner and I left Berlin for five weeks. We traveled from Amsterdam through the south of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol, Northern Italy, and further on to France where we drove from coast to coast before heading back up to the Netherlands with an overnight stop in Brugge.

It wasn’t my intention to go on vacation for five weeks; living in Berlin, I often seem to forget that the world is not as digital as I sometimes like to believe. For the first time since I started freelancing, it was difficult to get my work done – at least as soon I needed internet. So, even though I’m a member of the rebranding team for the Swing Kitchen, working on the brand bible and planning what we’ll do with Swing Kitchen’s website, which will be redesigned soon, there isn’t much to be shared about work in July’s review.

I'm currently fully booked and working on the rebranding of the Swing Kitchen, vegan burger chain from Vienna, and also producing and designing their stand at the Veganes Sommerfest at Alexanderplatz. I'm hoping to make more progress on this project now that I'm back from vacation, and I’ll share more about it here next month.


It’s a wrap! May 2019
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When I first discussed how we could grow Swing Kitchen’s community during our kick off meeting with the team, I made a remark that “our people” come together every Friday to demonstrate for climate justice.

At first, the idea for #friesforfuture was a joke.

Yet a joke everyone on the team loved.

We decided to give free fries to everyone who comes to the Swing Kitchen with a protest sign and do so until the school year ends.

However, it’s one thing to have an idea what you’d like to do (and even if it means you’re giving your products away for free).

It’s a whole different story to do so in a way that’s authentic.

I knew that if this idea was to materialize, someone would have to introduce me to the organizers of Fridays for Future.

I knew that if we wanted for this to succeed, the information about our offer had to come from within, so as it usually goes, I started talking to everyone about what we’d like to do until I met the right person who introduced me to the FfF team.

For the past couple of weeks and every Friday, I’ve started going to the demos.

And every week I was able to make an announcement on stage, welcome pupils and students at the Swing Kitchen, and give them free fries.

Having Swing Kitchen as a client is amazing for several reasons. The company is 100% vegan and sustainable. It was founded by an animal activist with the motivation to end animal suffering. It’s also a company from Vienna and I get to work on this project with old friends.

So many wins.

In the upcoming months, we’re planning a number of great events and also a special collaboration with Einhorn Berlin, which should be a lot of fun.

Yet, the month wasn’t just fun; the most challenging part of May was when I decided to discontinue a project I was incredibly excited about at first. I wrote a much more detailed article explaining the circumstances of what happened.

This past month, I’ve also worked on the messaging for eLab, which is a 6-week course for people who’d like to become entrepreneurs.

First, I’ve worked on their digital marketing strategy. I’ve refined their target group, which led to us deciding to change the messaging on the website.

eLab’s courses are ideal for several target groups, however, and given eLab mostly relies on paid ads, we’ll be targeting people who wish to make a career change and recent graduates seeking international experience.

The website with the new messaging should go live within the next couple of weeks.

I’m currently taking on remote work for the upcoming weeks, as I’ll be traveling around Europe in July. If you or someone you know needs help with online positioning or copywriting, please don’t hesitate to reach out.