The basic idea behind SoLebIch is to bring interior design ideas together in one place. As Germany’s largest online lifestyle community, the platform inspires countless interior design enthusiasts. Not only can users post pictures of their own homes, but they can also get a virtual glimpse into other people’s living rooms. The aim? “SoLebIch wants to provide authentic inspiration for joyful living and to encourage everyone to find their own individual interior design style,” says Daniel Eichhorn.
He founded SoLebIch in 2007 with his wife Nicole Maalouf. The two complement each other perfectly. While Daniel takes care of the technical side of things and the marketing, Nicole is primarily responsible for editing and the community. We spoke to Daniel about motivation, inspiration and his experiences as the founder of SoLebIch.
Home has become a whole lot more important this last year. Whether we’re working, sleeping, eating, exercising, reading or simply relaxing – our own four walls are quite simply the centre of our lives, making it all the more important that we feel comfortable within them and make the time we spend there as pleasant as possible. This has also brought SoLebIch more to the fore, making it a central point of contact for many, either to share pictures of the interiors projects they’ve just started or to make use of the platform as an almost inexhaustible source of inspiration. Homes and interior design have always been very important topics, says Daniel. However, when the idea for SoLebIch was born, nobody could have predicted the current situation. Instead, personal curiosity played a key role. “Back then, we lived in Paris and loved to spend the evenings taking long walks through the different neighbourhoods. We wondered how the people behind the beautiful exteriors lived – and the idea for a platform on which people show exactly that was born,” he recalls.
The pair’s intention was for the platform to fill a gap. While there were 40 interior design magazines at the time, none of them had an exciting and, most importantly, more interactive online platform. Instead of enthusiasm, however, the two were initially met with scepticism. After all, your own home is arguably your most private space. When they told friends about SoLebIch.de, the most common response was: "I can’t imagine showing pictures of my home on the internet." This is still true for many people today, Daniel explains, but at the same time there are also those for whom living and interior design is a hobby in which they like to share ideas and seek like-minded people.
The SoLebIch founder also shares this passion. He has a particular soft spot for timeless mid-century furniture. He’s also a huge fan of Charles and Ray Eames, two of the most influential designers of the 20th century. "If I could build a house for myself, the Eames house would be a major inspiration," Daniel reveals.
For him, interior design generally starts with the architecture: "A room doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to have something special, a particular shape or a view, for example. Interior design adds those extra embellishments," he says, describing his personal style.
Turning a personal passion for interior design into a business idea wasn’t a completely random development. For Daniel, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs, it was always clear that he wanted to have his own business one day. He has the following advice for anyone pursuing a similar goal: "If you choose to embark on this adventure, you should definitely be aware that the highs are higher, but the lows are lower than in a regular job. You need to have plenty of stamina and not be easily swayed from your path."
He speaks from experience. Especially in the first few years, they thought about giving it all up many times. "After we founded the platform in 2007, it was very difficult to actually make money from our idea. This put an increasing amount of pressure on us," says Daniel. Nevertheless, the team were always willing to try out new ways of doing things and finally independently created an affiliate model that combines interior design inspiration and shopping.
More than 50 shops have now been added to the platform. Above all, however, one thing that continues to encourage the pair to this day is their close relationship with the community. "We saw that people really needed to share ideas and inspiration and that motivated us to keep going," he concludes.
Since then, it’s been one milestone after another: from the first permanently employed developer to the positive media response with a report on the evening news to the first book they published together with the community – there are just too many great memories to choose from. The latest big milestone was the SoLebIch apartment, a new venture for the team in which, two years ago, they became hosts in the offline world for the first time. Last October, Avoury was also involved. At the exclusive event "Tea Time with Tom Hagen" SoLebIch members could listen to the successful photographer’s exciting stories while enjoying Avoury Tea all day long.
When asked about their goals for the future, Daniel gives the following response: "We want to enable even more people to be inspired by images of real interiors." This is also reflected in the motto that also encapsulates the SoLebIch mission: "Live your way." SoLebIch currently helps people do this in several communities on Facebook, Instagram and, of course, where it all started, on SoLebIch.de – with the app in particular increasingly becoming the focus. However, Daniel is most excited about one thing: reopening the SoLebIch apartments and thus fulfilling the community’s desire to share ideas and inspiration offline as well as online.